Leah and I began to work together back in February and I could tell from day 1 she was going to be a hard worker – all she needed was a little guidance. She seemed slightly skeptical when we were going over foam rolling techniques as well as some dynamic warm-ups to help prepare her for the strength training and metabolic portion of the workout. I mean wasn’t I supposed to beat her into submission with a heavy dose of burpees, jump roping, crunches, lunges till she couldn’t see straight? All that makes for good television – not necessarily good training.
Now, don’t get me wrong – Leah busted her butt during our sessions. But we also made sure she was ready for our sessions by taking the time before the work outs to take care of her body and help reduce the chance of any injuries from occurring.
First things first, we had to get her diet squared away. I hesitate to label it a “diet” because I didn’t really want her to eat less – but better instead. First thing I saw right away in her food log was that she took in a lot of carbohydrates and not nearly enough protein. All I told her were some simple guidelines that I tell all my clients: eat more protein/fiber/good fats, and eat fewer carbs/sugar/bad fats. Every week, I looked over her log and let her know some simple tweaks she should make and any foods she should add/cut out.
All too often, I see people jump into these ridiculous diets and workout routines without ever being prepared for them and end up being completely overwhelmed. So, instead of instilling healthy habits over time and realizing that losing weight requires a lifestyle change, these people jump into an entirely unrealistic program that promises results in the short term without first changing their behaviors to set them up for success in the long term.
After setting her up with a plan for her “diet”, I then had to get rid of Leah’s notion that waving small, pink dumbbells in the air would be the key to her fitness endeavors. Somehow, women have been brainwashed to the fact that lifting up a weight more than 5lbs would suddenly make them the female equivalent of Hercules.
Here’s what I wrote in my last client spotlight with Andy concerning my thoughts on resistance training for fat loss:
“What many fail to realize is that the more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will be. Your RMR comprises approximately 70% of your total caloric expenditure per day (the rest is made up of physical activity and the energy it takes to break down food), which means the amount of muscle mass you have is crucial for any fat loss endeavors. Unfortunately, your body doesn’t deem it quite as necessary because it’s so metabolically “expensive”. For that reason, any time your body encounters a period of lower caloric intake (a diet), lean muscle mass is often the first thing to go. The only way to “bypass” this is to strength train with weights challenging enough to provide the proper stimulus that tells your body that it needs to hold on to the muscle mass.”
Translation #1: When you’re on a diet, muscle is very hard to maintain because it uses up so much energy (burns calories). The body’s survival mechanisms kick on and are stubborn to release any fat stores it has in case it needs to use it in the future for energy during periods of “starvation”. You need to lift challenging weights to make your body hold on to that muscle and burn fat instead.
Translation #2: Lift.
Leah met with me once a week and generally took 1-2 classes at the Training Room per week (Circuit Training/Cross-Training). She was also very diligent with the “homework” that I gave her, which usually consisted of a circuit of four-five strength training exercises coupled with about a 15-20minute bike interval set. Being an athlete throughout her life, she loved the way the classes and training sessions pushed her to her limits and were not boring like traditional, long duration cardio sessions. While losing more than a pound of body weight per week, Leah also got more flexible, stronger, and overall in better shape and conditioning than she has been in a long time. Here are some clips I took of her last session:
Trap Bar Deadlift: 145lbs
Kettlebell Swings: 16kg
This is just the first part of Leah’s journey! I have no doubt I’ll be writing again soon once she hits her next goal of dropping below 25% body fat. Until then -