A practical guide to changing your body composition

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Do you have bat wings, a big belly or “thunder” thighs? These are just a few weird names my clients call out in their workouts to refer to parts of their body they don’t like. When people grace my studio, they usually look in the mirror and start poking and pushing the body parts that drive them crazy. They can ask me to get rid of their wobbly arm (but keep their butt), lose their belly (but keep their legs), or tone their thighs (but keep their calves). These types of requests are called “point reductions”.

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Spot reduction is what you think of as targeting a part of the body through specific exercises to reduce it in size. However, spot reduction is a myth. Despite what health and fitness magazines and their headlines tell you, targeted exercises only build muscle under the skin. To get fit and look our best, we need to stop thinking of exercise as a way to fix individual body parts, like plastic surgery. Instead, a full-body strength training plan will help you build muscle, cut fat, and reshape your entire body.

Full Body Strength Plan

Naturally, the weightlifting section scares a lot of people. When they hit the gym, most people head to the cardio machines hoping to sweat it up to the body shape they’re looking for. However, if you’re looking to reshape your body, the hard truth is that cardio alone won’t get you there.

The effectiveness of strength training depends on the number of calories your muscles burn at rest. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns to fuel your muscles. Although cardio can burn more calories during your workout, it doesn’t build the amount of muscle needed to keep your calorie burn high once the workout is over. Strength training can burn fewer calories while you’re at the gym. However, your muscles will work overtime and burn more calories throughout the day.

Aside from body recomposition, strength training should be a crucial part of anyone’s exercise plan because it can also improve our coordination, balance, flexibility, and bone density.

Muscle is denser than fat, so having more muscle but less fat can make you look smaller but still weigh the same (if not more). This phenomenon can be demotivating for people who live and die by the scale. Therefore, I encourage you to weigh and measure yourself only 1-2 times a month. Instead, chase non-scale victories, like feeling more energized, getting stronger, or seeing muscle definition in the mirror. To see the results:

1.Start by doing a full body strength training plan 3-5 times a week for 30-45 minute sessions.

2. Start by working on movements related to your basic daily activities; squat, deadlift, lunge, push and press. If strength training is new, use resistance bands to challenge yourself and switch to free weights when you feel comfortable.

3. Aim to do three to four sets of 12 reps with good form and basic commitment.

Once you feel comfortable with your new routine, add gentle cardio (walking, jogging, swimming) throughout the week to relax and restore your muscles.

Find the right nutrition plan

Many people reject strength training because they don’t want to get bulky. However, the truth is that it’s not the kettlebells you should be wary of; it’s the door to your fridge. The reality of any successful transformation lies in reducing your calories to a point where your body burns your fat stores for fuel. The balance is tricky to master. If you reduce your calories too much, you may begin to experience increased food cravings, increased appetite, and other physical symptoms like loss of your period, increased fatigue, and higher risk of injury. If you don’t cut calories enough, you may not see the results you’re looking for.

Eat more whole, natural foods
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Instead of focusing on exactly how many calories you should cut, your first step is to eliminate all foods that don’t provide your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive, such as junk food, fried foods, and refined flour products. These foods contain “empty” calories, which means very little nutrition in exchange for calorie consumption. It also means cutting out desserts, reducing your sugar and caffeine intake, and increasing your whole, natural foods like vegetables, fruits, smart carbs, essential fats, and lean cuts of meat. You’ll notice that because these natural foods are lower in calories, you can eat more food throughout the day and feel fuller while losing weight!

Fix your stress and sleep

Two unsung heroes of weight loss and body shaping are reducing your stress and increasing your sleep. Stress can cause you to gain weight mostly around your waist and retain water, making you look bloated.

One way to reduce feelings of stress is to try something called “box breathing,” which lowers your heart rate and calms your mind. You begin by inhaling through your nose for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and then holding your breath for a count of four. Repeat this process with your next inhale.

The slimmer you want to get, the more sleep you need

The slimmer you want to get, the more sleep you need
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A little known fact is that the leaner you want to get, the more sleep you need! Sleep deprivation is a significant barrier to weight loss and muscle building. If you are someone who regularly gets insufficient sleep, this can reduce your calorie expenditure by up to 20%! Your goal will be to increase your sleep to 7-8 hours per night.

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Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

It should be noted never to compare your trip with anyone else. The transformations you see on the internet only show two moments in time – before and after, they rarely highlight the hard work in between.

Weight loss is not a quick process, no matter what diet companies will have you believe. Within two weeks of starting your new program, you may begin to feel better and more energized. Around 4-6 weeks you can start to see some definition budding all over your body. It is only after about three months that you will begin to see your transformation begin.

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