Muscles help burn calories faster so therefore you should get muscles first to lose weight – apparently…
Ok so it’s no secret that I don’t like going to the gym. It just doesn’t do it for me from a number of angles. Despite the fact that the fitness crew out there still blast away that it’s the best thing ever and many, many weight loss programs insist that you must go to the gym to lose weight, I am finally at peace with the facts:-
a) I don’t need to go any where near a gym to lose weight
b) I don’t need to feel bad, less than or hopeless because I don’t go
c) it’s perfectly fine to know what you don’t like and it doesn’t mean you are lazy
d) some people love it – so go for your life! Just leave the rest of us alone.
(In fact truth be told, apparently the stats are that only about 10% of the population go to the gym, so there is way more of us who don’t – interesting!)
Anyway, I just wanted to take you through some of the steps I have been through when trying to lose weight via a gym method and trying to put into practise the theory in the title above, about muscles burning more calories than fat cells. Well it’s probably more than a theory, I am sure it is a scientific fact with a whole pile of studies done to back it up. Funny how things don’t always match the lab in real life, not sure if it possible to factor the human brain and feelings in the study?
Ok so here I was say 20 kgs (44lbs) overweight, I was already feeling pretty crappy because everything else I had tried to lose weight hadn’t worked so far. Approaching the whole thing with trepidation already, because the last time I did any physical stuff was way back in school or something. So you know it’s going to be hard, probably hurt and be embarrassing because you are only starting. Everyone else around at the gym is bouncing around with perfect bodies, making you feel even more self conscious and crappy.
Sheesh! And we haven’t even started doing anything yet and look at that overwhelming wave of crap.
So away we go, trying to do some standard program, set by a personal trainer who probably was never overweight to start with and therefore just doesn’t get it. Often the ‘start’ plan is harder than you would ever normally do because they don’t understand how unfit you really are. Even the necessity to do reps of some weights to exhaustion, as that apparently is the only way the muscle builds, gives me the heebee geebees already.
So you puff and wheeze, get all red in the face, hot and sweaty, trying to lift the weights, do the machines, stick to the program, not enjoying any part of it, using muscles you probably haven’t felt for years. Then while you are relieved it’s all over for a while, then comes the wave of physical exhaustion limiting whatever else you should be doing in your life for the day. Bummer.
Then the next day the muscle soreness kicks in, oh joy! Which gets even worse the following day. Not happy Jan, not HAPPY!
So let’s recap so far – crap, crap and more crap topped off with still overweight and feeling tired and sore as well. Excellent.
Does it make you want to jump out of bed with unbridled enthusiasm and do it all again? No way, not me.
So say you manage to keep it up for a few weeks, pushing through all the pain, because they promised that the sun is shining at the end of that dark, horrible tunnel. You are trying so hard to be motivated, strong and show them you have what it takes. So then you jump on the scale because you have been working so hard and doing everything they said. Surely you would be rewarded with some weight loss and the scale says… increase in weight!
Oh yeah, apparently muscles weigh more than fat, so you are likely to weigh more initially. No way! Not fair! And double bonus, any muscle you do have is underneath all the fat making you look even bigger. Worse still you don’t even know that it’s there anyway because you can’t see it! Excellent.
Are we having fun yet?
So what happens now is you feel deflated, useless and hopeless. What’s the point of going through all that pain and agony if you don’t seem to be getting anywhere at all? You are going backwards in fact and hating every step of the way.
So it’s at this point most of us drop out. Well I did, probably a few times, stopping and starting programs because it just felt awful. We don’t even get to the point where the muscle can burn more calories than fat because the journey was so miserable and not worth continuing.
And if the gym program was not backed up with any changes to eating habits, which was the case when I tried to do it, then your success is even less likely. Brilliant.
The statistic is something like 80% of people who join a gym don’t go.
Also the fact is that anything you do to lose weight must be a lifestyle change f-o-r-e-v-e-r people. That’s right forever. Are you planning on going to the gym forever? Some people do. j\Just twice a week, listen to their music, do their little program and enjoy the heck out of it. Makes them feel alive, strong and ready to conquer the world. So if that’s you, then go for it. Have a blast.
But if that’s not you and just the thought of it fills you with dread, then it’s not going to work for you. So stop being hard on yourself if you don’t want to do it. It doesn’t mean you are lazy or useless; it just shows you clearly know what you don’t want. And that itself is a positive thing.
So while the statement theoretically may be true, in reality the key is feeling good. This method didn’t get me to a feel good place soon enough to encourage me to keep going to the place where it may have worked.
So my advice is don’t go anywhere near muscle building until you get to the point where you could actually see the muscles if you had them. The right food choices, the right calories and frequent activity throughout the day, is the way that worked for me. Nary a barbell in sight!
Your weight loss journey should be painless and stress free. Make tiny changes that you barely notice and before you know it, you will be everywhere you want to be.
Bye bye pain and misery, hello happy body!
Since writing this post, I have created the diet and exercise plan that actually does increase your metabolic rate. It helps you lose weight and get healthy all at the same time. They are called One Ten Toned and the Zen Beach Diet and both are available here.
Note: Image by www.adrianalfordphotography.com
Thanks for your comments Amanda, awesome perspective.
I feel like you’re trying to be positive overall but I saw A LOT of sarcasm and negativity in this article. Sometimed we have to do things we don’t enjoy initially and can learn to enjoy it, especially after one sees benefits and results from it that, yes, are proven with science but also in real life. I’m surprised you take such a hard stance again this when I have seen results from people in real life and Instagram and myself. Yes, I go to the gym and yes I like it. I was exposed the the gym early on as a teenager since I’ve been overweight my entire life basically and my grandmother purchased a lifetime membership to a gym where we lived. I learned a lot there and lost off and on over the years and now I’m losing it for good. I do plan to go to a gym for as long as I live or am able, it is a way of life and sometimes it’s hard but so are a lot of things in life only I can see results and have fun learning new exercises both cardio and with weights. When one loses weight, one will lose both muscle and fat, I for one prefer not to lose any more muscle than I have to so I like lifting for that purpose and I am getting smaller and I’ve been lifting semi-heavy plus doing cardio and eating a balanced diet trying to get more protein and using my fitness pal to calorie and macro count. It’s great that you’ve found what works for you but don’t be do harsh on other ways of doing things. I don’t look down on people who don’t lift weights or go to the gym but I encourage people to lift weights for example because it is so good for the body plus cardio of course. I’m constantly learning and researching and what I’m finding is that each person has to experiment basically and see what they like and what works and find out what their goal is. The most successful people I see are those that incorporate weights and make exercise part of their life along with eating healthily.
I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences or thought of it but it’s not painful. I didn’t start running on the treadmill at 303 pounds, I walked slowly. I didn’t start chest pressing 50 lbs I started with a few pounds, you work your way up and build up endurance and strength. No one said it needed to be painful or full of misery.
Hi Janine, thanks for taking the time to have your say and good on you for finding the exercise that rings your bells. The great lifestyle you love creating the body you love. I just wanted people to feel ok about hating the gym or running or whatever, and let them know its not an essential component of losing weight. Sunshine and sparkles.
Seriously that so could have been me writing that post. I haven’t had any bad experiences using a gym but I can honestly say that I have never really enjoyed lifting weights and pushing myself so hard that the pain the next day is unbearable. In fact I can go as far as saying I hate going to the gym!!!! I’d much rather find an exercise that I get enjoyment out of (and I have). I agree that for things to work and for you to be able to make changes that will work for you forever it must be what you like and enjoy doing. Thanks