You woke up and stepped on the scale – what did you see?

A number that darn near made your skin crawl.

A number that made you consider pounding out some burpees or sprinting in place to burn some serious calories.

A number that totally killed your mood, your day, and any chance of eating today…

Whatever it takes; however you get there; you will do ANYTHING to see a lower number the next time you step on.

You just want to lose SOMETHING – ANYTHING!

I know this feeling all too well.

But when that number drops, what are we actually losing?

“Weight!”

Sure, but is it really weight or is it something else?

Because did you know there are different ways to lose?

What’s the right way?

How can you change the way you lose?

Well, let’s get into the truth.

Weight Loss

Now with my experience as a coach, I look at weight loss as a broad, all-encompassing term.

Losing water weight is weight loss.

Muscle loss is weight loss.

Heck, even fat loss is weight loss.

Technically, anything that causes your WEIGHT (the number on the scale) to decrease IS a form of weight loss.

But you’re not a coach, so weight loss just means one thing to you – the number on the scale dropping.

That is the ONLY thing that matters to you.

I’ve been there.

I’ve done whatever was necessary to move that scale number down even 0.2 pounds.

I’ve focused on weight loss SO MUCH that I know that’s not what you really want.

Because do you know what happens when you focus solely on weight loss?

You chase and chase and chase this number on the scale that you believe fits your ideal body image.

  1. You finally get there, but you look in the mirror and still see skin hanging loose and areas you wish had tightened up a bit more. You’re STILL unhappy with the person you see in the mirror, so 1 of 2 things happens:
    You set a new, lower number and continue the chase and discouragement cycle.
  2. You get upset and convince yourself that you were meant to be fat, quit dieting, quit exercising, and abandon all the good habits you’ve built which leads to a complete regain.

How do I know?

Because I’ve lived it.

I filled out the BMI chart that told me that with my frame I need to weight 155# to be healthy.

So, I chased it, HARD.

Like 3 workouts per day and under 1,000 calories eaten hard.

I actually reached my goal weight on vacation after a few days of near starvation, and I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking to myself “You’re STILL fat.”

Unfortunately, I chose option 2.

I ate everything because in my head I was destined to always be the stocky, bulky, and built girl from middle school. Why should I try to be anything different?

Because I still lacked confidence in and love for my body.

That’s when I seriously hired a coach and truly educated myself on weight loss.

The cool part is that as I’m writing this blog, I’m back to nearing 155#.

My body is leaner.

We’re still on the mend post-accident, but prior to, I was stronger.

And there are far fewer days where I stand in front of the mirror telling myself how much I hate my body.

I’m not meant to be the stocky, bulky, built girl.

I’m meant to be a fit, sexy, and complete badass girl.

Okay, now that my ego is pumped, I want to get back to weight loss.

In my coaching, I talk about 3 different types of loss that contribute to overall weight loss. I want to share those with you to better educate you and help you understand what it is you are truly after in your weight loss journey.

Water Loss

Have you ever woken up one morning 3 pounds heavier despite eating PERFECTLY the day before?

How about the other side – step on the scale THRILLED to see you’re down 4 pounds, but deep down wondering how that’s possible since you had a couple of cheats yesterday?

Water weight is EASILY the most fluctuating form of weight.

But just because it can fluctuate like crazy doesn’t mean there’s no way to control it.

Let’s first talk about the things that make us gain water weight.

Salt

Water and sodium together to trap water in the body causing fluid retention.

Carbs

Not all carbs, but a high consumption of or consuming them after a period of restriction can lead to water retention. Carbs not immediately used are stored as glycogen which requires water both for the conversion and storage.

Menstruation

Typically believed to occur the week of your period, but women retain water the week prior due to fluctuating hormones and peak retention occurs just before the period actually starts.

Cortisol

Most commonly recognized as the human stress hormone, cortisol can lead to water retention after a very high cortisol spike or chronically elevated levels.

Travel

Moving your body literally pushes fluids around your body, and lengthy periods of sitting causes blood and fluids to pool throughout the body.

Medications

It’s always important to know and understand the side effects of medications you are prescribed, and there are many that can cause fluid retention. Do NOT stop taking your medication because you find fluid retention to be a side effect, but simply talk to your prescribing doctor about possible alternatives or the best strategies to mitigate this effect.

Poor Circulation

Age weakens our circulatory system, but there are also some individuals or conditions that result in poor circulation. This causes poor return and blood pooling in the lower extremities.

Hormonal Birth Control

The worst water retention typically happens at the onset of a hormonal birth control, but both estrogen and progestin pills can cause a slight fluid retention.

Pregnancy

Water retention causes swelling, and what isn’t swollen when you’re pregnant? The pressure in the belly and the growing baby place massive strains on blood vessels and weakens the return and flushing of fluid.

Water Restriction

Now this is the one you really need to pay attention to because it’s commonly misunderstood by dieters. Restricting your water intake can actually cause you to GAIN weight.

I remember working in the 6-Week Challenge world, and we told everyone leading into weigh ins to cut their water intake because it would help them lose the last few pounds.

Well, we were wrong.

You see, restricting water sends a distress signal to the body. The body sees water is limited, so it does whatever is necessary to keep what it has in its system.

That’s where the hormone aldosterone comes in. This grabs hold of water molecules and holds on for dear life, which in turn leads to weight gain.

In my opinion, water restriction should only be reserved for physique competitors, so if you fall into that category, ,CLICK HERE and we can talk about it more, but otherwise, drink your water 😉

But you didn’t come here to learn all the ways to GAIN weight, so let’s get into how you LOSE water weight.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps you to flush water in 2 ways:

  1. Exercise increases sweat, which leads to water loss.
  2. The contraction of muscles is like a pumping system, and water is moved throughout the body.

Manage Stress Levels

As said earlier, rapid increases or chronically elevated cortisol levels leads to water retention.

What causes cortisol spikes?

Stress.

Stress/cortisol increase the Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH), which signals the kidney to either excrete or pump water back through the body.

Management of stress and cortisol levels maintains a normal level of ADH.

Get Adequate Sleep

Lack of sleep is by nature a stress on the body.

Adequate sleep maintains the health of the renal nerves, thus regulating water and sodium levels.

Aim to get NO LESS than 7 hours of actual sleep (not just lying in bed for 7 hours) per night.

Minimize Processed Foods

The more processed a food is, the further away it is from its natural state.

The less natural a food, the harder the body must work to breakdown and digest it.

And guess what?

Those processes require A LOT of water, so the body holds as much water as possible to assist in the digestion.

If you want to flush out water weight, then consume more of the simple, minimally processed foods that are easier for the body to digest!

Consume Fibrous Dense Foods

This piggybacks right off eating whole, minimally processed foods.

Fiber feeds the “good” bacteria in your gut.

When your gut bacteria is functioning properly, it reduces inflammation and helps to fight and eliminate foreign invaders. The absence of inflammation and foreign invaders means less water is retained for various processes.

Utilize Electrolytes But Monitor Sodium

Electrolytes are minerals with an electric charge that help to maintain the body’s water balance.

Examples of electrolytes are magnesium, potassium, and sodium.

It’s important to maintain a healthy electrolyte-water balance.

Too much water with inadequate electrolytes causes a flush of water out of the system.

Too many electrolytes with not enough water causes an increase in water weight.

Drink Water

Sounds counterproductive, right?

But truly, if you drink enough water and are adequately hydrated, you can actually reduce water retention.

Your body strives for balance; therefore, if you’re someone who is frequently dehydrated, your body attempts to reestablish balance by retaining water.

Adequate water intake prevents activation of the hormone aldosterone, the trigger for water retention.

The better hydrated you are, the less likely your cells have to work to pull in nutrients, which typically require water to enter the cells or carry out their functions.

Besides weight, water has COUNTLESS other functions – liver functioning, kidney health, brain health, muscle functioning, and so many more.

Now, please know that I am not encouraging you to drink excessive amounts of water because that means you will not retain any water weight. As with everything else, there is a balance, so strive to drink 1 gallon of water per day.

Muscle Loss

On a VERY rare occasion, I come across an individual looking to “lose muscle.”

Most often, this is a female who has been told her whole life working out makes her bulky and that the reason she is not losing weight is because she is building muscle.

PLEASE STOP THAT.

If you’re another coach reading this, do your research and get educated on the science behind body losses and gains.

Heck, even if you’re a regular individual who truly believes this to be true you should do some research. There is SO MUCH out there because THIS IS NOT TRUE.

Better yet, if you fall in to either of those categories, CLICK HERE and I will free up as much time as necessary in a day to help you better understand the truth about this matter.

YOU WANT MUSCLE.

I don’t care who you are or what your goals are – YOU WANT MUSCLE.

Here’s the problem…

As a society, we’ve correlated having muscle to being a physique competitor, a bodybuilder, an athlete, a weight or powerlifting competitor, or a CrossFit athlete.

Stop believing everything the media tells you, please.

Those individuals train with the intent to build large amounts of muscle because it is necessary for their sport or competition.

If you don’t want to be an athlete or competitor, GREAT!

I offer coaching services FOR YOU and they are designed with the intent to build muscle fit to the body you desire. CLICK HERE and we’ll get you started today so that I can educate and show you, so you can get results FASTER!

Outside of the RARE occasion wherein someone wants to LOSE muscle, it can happen if you’re not intentional about keeping it.

Your body LOVES efficiency. The goal of the human body is to do as much work as possible with as little effort.

Unfortunately, muscles are not always viewed as efficient organs.

If a muscle isn’t activated or used frequently, the body begins to believe it’s unnecessary.

If your body is in a caloric deficit or worse, starving, your body looks to reduce or eliminate the things that are inefficient.

It begins by decreasing energy levels and activity.

Then, it begins to pull nutrients from and reduce the resources sent to muscles.

“Why muscle? I’m trying to get rid of fat, can’t it take it from there??”

Muscles require more calories than fat because unlike fat (which just sits there), the constant contraction and relaxation of muscles burns A LOT of calories.

The best way to stop this process is to prove to the body that the muscle is necessary. Fire it up through consistent resistance training. If you’re a cardio lover, this doesn’t mean you need to give up your form of cardio, but it just means that as little as 1 strength training session per week can remind the body that that muscle is needed!

There’s one more way to stop or even prevent this process.

EAT ENOUGH FOOD.

If you’re reading this blog, you know that calories in vs. calories out leads to weight loss.

But, if you’re reading this blog, that also tells me that you’re not entirely satisfied with your results no matter how far you push into that caloric deficit whether that be through cutting more food, pounding out more exercise, or a combination of the two.

What’s the fix?

I’ll say it again – EAT ENOUGH FOOD.

Because your muscles burn so many calories, they NEED nutrients.

I have seen NUMEROUS clients get better results on the scale, in the mirror, with adherence, and with confidence than any other strategy by simply increasing the amount of food being eaten.

Starvation is not the answer because like I told you before, when there’s too little food your body gets rid of the least efficient items first, and that’s muscle.

Preventing muscle loss is really very simple – fire and feed them.

It’s when you don’t properly fire or feed them that you lose muscle and end up at your goal weight still disappointed in the body staring back at you in the mirror.

Oh, and this is only partially related to this topic, but something I feel very strongly about and need to address.

Your weight loss has not stalled because you are building muscle.

I’m sorry, but that is about as untrue as the story that resistance training leads to bulky females.

Think about all that I just shared with you – calories deficits that are too large lead to the reduction or elimination of the least efficient units in the body, AKA muscles.

Major muscle gain (or gain that counteracts a loss on the scale) requires a serious caloric surplus.

If you’re not seeing a decrease in the amount on the scale, you are either eating too much or doing too little activity, which as a result is not tipping the scale far enough into a deficit.

So, do me a favor.

Save this blog.

Re-read it before you’re seriously ready to start on your ‘weight’ loss goal.

Then, re-read it once you’ve stalled out and you find yourself saying your progress has stopped because you’re gaining muscle.

Fat Loss

FINALLY!

The good stuff.

The stuff you ACTUALLY want to lose.

But sometimes, I think that because we want it SO BAD that we skip over the details and don’t bother to actually understand it.

By this point, I hope you understand that you CAN lose weight without losing fat…

Does anyone want to be skinny fat?

NO!

So, let’s get into the real details about fat loss.

Fat loss comes through a process known as lipolysis, the biological breakdown of fats.

There are 2 strategies in which lipolysis is initiated:

  1. Consumption of fat as part of the digestive process.
  2. Resistance Training, which triggers an up-regulation of lipolytic enzymes and an improvement in functioning of the mitochondria (the powerhouse and calorie burner of the cells).

Now, HOW and HOW OFTEN you trigger lipolysis is important because remember, we want to prevent unnecessary water weight loss and any muscle loss.

Let’s take a look at the 10 ways to effectively lose fat.

Food Quality MUST Be #1

Food quality matters all the time, but food quality REALLY matters when aiming for fat loss.

You’re going to be in a caloric deficit, which means you’re decreasing the pool from which your body can pull nutrients.

That means the food you do take in NEEDS to be full of nutrients to meet your minimum needs, and the only way to do that is to eat nutrient-dense, high-quality foods.

Eat enough food.

Remember what I said happens when your caloric deficit is too great?

Your body begins to pull from its most inefficient parts – MUSCLE!

The best way to prevent that is to eat enough.

Your body NEEDS nutrients and supplies to adequately fuel its parts.

“But then I can’t lose weight!”

Yes, you can.

You just don’t need as large of a deficit. Try something along the lines of 250 to 500 calories per day, which is more than enough to spark some serious fat loss!

Aim for 0.5 to 2.0# loss per week.

One of the biggest mistakes people make in their quest for fat loss is rush the process.

Too often when people have HUGE losses in Week #1 (3+ pounds), they believe that will continue for the remainder of the journey.

IT WON’T!

And if it does, you’re going to feel awful throughout the journey, reach your end goal, and find it incredibly difficult to maintain your loss.

The healthiest and most effective rate of loss is 0.5 to 2.0# per week. This ensures your body is receiving adequate nutrients and, in a state, to promote true fat loss.

Trust me, I know that seeing a number 3+# lower looks WAY better than 0.5#, but I also know that being lean for life and reaching a point where you don’t need to diet

Eat adequate protein.

In all my years of coaching, I’m still not quite sure why protein is the first macronutrient to go when people decide to shed some pounds.

Protein IS essential! Your body needs it for a NUMBER of functions whether you’re aiming for fat loss or simply a long, healthy life.

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and when you’re in a caloric deficit you’re going to want to do everything you can to make yourself feel full.

Besides satiation, protein also provides amino acids to fosters muscle tissue formation and maintenance.

Oh, the simple act of eating more protein causes your body to burn more calories. Protein has a high thermic effect of food (TEF), meaning the body works harder to digest and distribute the nutrients.

Last note on protein. I put together an entire blog on protein – the right sources, how to eat enough, and tying it to your goals. CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT.

Resistance Train.

Strength training has been found to have multiple health benefits, especially in relation to burning fat.

Resistance training has been shown to preserve fat-free mass, reduce body fat, and decrease visceral fat (the dangerous fat the surrounds organs in the belly).

There’s also the fact that resistance training has a greater caloric burn post-exercise, better known as EPOC, than its cardiovascular counterpart.

Fill Up on Fiber.

Fiber is another satiating nutrient. It moves through the digestive tract slowly, and soluble forms of fibers absorb and pull water into the digestive tract to keep you fuller longer.

Aside from increasing fullness and decreasing hunger, various studies have shown high-fiber foods to protect against weight gain and fat accumulation.

Great sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Eat Healthy Fats.

Fats confuse people.

Many wonder why they should consume fat when they’re trying to lose fat.

Well, that’s because fats are an essential nutrient, which means your body NEEDS it for survival.

Fats are necessary for hormone production and function and also have satiating properties.

Think about consuming fats like olive oils, coconut oils, avocados, nuts, and eggs, but keep in mind that fats are still high in calories and an overconsumption can prevent any fat loss.

Prioritize Recovery.

Fat loss is a stressful and taxing process, so it is SUPER important you fight the urge to push every second of every day and to make recovery a priority.

When your body is constantly stressed, it’s constantly pulling glycogen, which is stored in the muscles, and releasing cortisol, which encourages fat storage particularly in the abdomen.

During low-intensity activity and rest stages, the body prioritizes fat as fuel; therefore, adequate recovery time gives your body the opportunity to pull nutrients from fat cells, repair damage, and build muscle cells.

One of the best and easiest ways to prioritize recovery is to get adequate sleep.

There are PLENTY of studies demonstrating sleeps significant impact on weight loss.

Set yourself in a consistent sleep schedule that allows for 7 hours of sleep per night, decreased technological use 60 minutes prior to bedtime, and minimal to no intense activity 90 minutes prior to bedtime.

LISS Training

Speaking of recovery, let’s talk about low-intensity steady state or LISS activity.

Like I said before, low-intensity activities prioritize fat as fuel.

Last I checked, you’re reading this blog because you want to lose fat, so why not add in some LISS training sessions to push fat loss?

The 2 reasons people push against LISS is because we 1) live in a society that believes more is better, so a lower intense activity is less effective and 2) it’s time consuming and everyone claims to be on a shortage of time (SHOUTOUT to my Live Training on Thursday night – Nutrition In No Time – CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!).

But here are the top 3 reasons I love recommending LISS training to clients:

  1. It’s exercise that still encourages recovery.
  2. It’s a multi-task activity.
  3. It burns A LOT of calories.

How long, how often, and the type of LISS varies for everyone, so if you’re interested in incorporating LISS into your training practice, CLICK HERE and I’d love to show you where and how to fit it in!

Hire a Coach

Sustainable fat loss is difficult to achieve on your own.

Go ahead and call it a shameless plug for coaching, but it’s really not that.

It’s truly that I have spent years trying to achieve fat loss on my own because I told myself I knew what I was doing and whatever I didn’t know could be found on the internet.

My most successful fat loss has come through with the guidance of my coach, Cody.

Go through this process with someone who studies fat loss, who has the experience to guide you on the perfect next steps for you, and who has LIVED IT.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR A FREE COACHING CALL AND TRIAL WORKOUT.

So what are you going to do?

If you’re still not sure, then I have 2 great opportunities for you this week:

Here are 3 options for you to start on your LAST fat loss journey EVER:

  1. Sign up for the Live Training: Nutrition In No Time
  2. Sign up for the Diet Done For You FREE 5-Day Challenge

Give both of these a shot, get started on your fat loss journey, and experience what it’s like to work with me as your coach.

About The Author

Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.