Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Weighty Issue

A few of my clients are very, very concerned with their body weight.  Many of them have a goal weight they'd like to get to, and those numbers loom large and heavy on their minds.  We've been led to believe that the numbers on the scale equate to our bodies in a way that they just don't, and this can be problematic.

Weight, as in "scale weight," is important for people who compete in sports in which weight plays a role, such as horse riding, boxing, wrestling, biking, and such.  As a tool for body composition, however, it is of little importance. 

Your weight basically tells you what your body weighs, all components considered.  Denser objects will weigh more than less dense objects, and yet will take up less space.  So a pound of feathers, for instance, will weigh the same as a pound of rocks, but will take up much more space.  Muscle is much more dense than adipose tissue (i.e., body fat) is.  Therefore, two people who weigh the same may be completely different clothes sizes simply because of their body composition (and because of the distribution of that composition). 

See what I mean?
So while your weight may be a decent baseline measurement for you, it should not be what you base your goals on if you are solely on a fat loss path.  And if you are gaining muscle (which, if you're trying to lose body fat, you should be doing, as muscles boost your metabolism significantly), you're likely going to weigh more than you think you should.

Measurements that make much more sense for those looking to get leaner would be:

-body fat measurements
-waist/chest/hip/arm/leg/neck circumference measurements
-how your clothes fit

So, seriously, if you're still obsessing over that scale, it's time to hide that thing in the closet or give it to Goodwill.  Look in the mirror and see the changes happen there.  You'll be much more satisfied with your results. 

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Monday, June 6, 2011

@#$%^ Cellulite

If I had a quarter for every person who has come to me asking how to get rid of her/his cellulite, I'd never have trouble with meter parking again. 

Here's my layman's explanation of cellulite:  Take some pantyhose, and put a stick of butter in there.  Now squeeze.  This, sortakinda, is what cellulite is.  It's just body fat that's escaped the connective tissue that generally holds it together, and it lies beneath the skin and blobs around there.  And there it stays, like a nasty, annoying house guest who never plans to leave. 

Skin looking a bit like this these days?

Cellulite comes from a number of sources.  It definitely has a hereditary component (thanks, Mom and Dad!).  Age has some say in it, as does total amount of body fat.  But the fact of the matter is, you can have extremely low body fat and still have cellulite.  It's just One Of Those Things. 

There are a million creams, lotions, potions, and procedures out there that claim to target cellulite.  The problem is, most of them don't work.  A few people I know have reported some success with caffeine-type creams, but this is all hearsay.  Studies (such as this one) confirm that most cellulite creams and massage treatments such as Endermologie are not effective in reducing cellulite.  Liposuction is also generally a bad idea for this-- getting fat removed from an area close to the surface of the skin will simply result in pitting and bumpiness (and I don't recommend lipo for anything, anyway.  Ick, yuck, ptooey). 

So what about exercise?  Well, diet and exercise will minimize the look of cellulite, mostly by building muscle and helping to smooth things out.  But the unfortunate fact is, all you can really do for cellulite is minimize the look of it with healthy habits.  If you have it, you'll probably continue to have it in some form no matter what you do.  So keep on eating healthy, keep on exercising, and learn to love your body with all its imperfections.  Life goes on, cellulite or not.  Enjoy it.