But, when you are working towards the goal of a healthier, shapely physique it's not your weight that you should be concerned with - it should be your body fat percentage. And the truth is that you can have a 5'6" women who weighs 115 pounds and a woman of the same height that weighs 128 ... and the woman who weighs 128 will be more shapely, have a tighter physique and be more fit. That's because she has less body fat and more muscle tone - and that is what we are all after!
I am sure many of you have heard this ... but here are the basics.
Fat is less dense than muscle. So that means 5 pounds of fat takes up a lot more room than 5 pounds of muscle. Think about it ... it makes sense. If you pinch a waist/arm/trouble spot and you may feel the mushy fat. You can roll it between your fingers, right? But if you have a muscular arm, you can't pinch anything because it is too tight. But that tight muscle weighs more, inch per inch, than the fat you can pinch.
Fad diets and quick weight loss plans ... they may make you lose "weight". But often it is water weight. Your body is pretty much 60% water. In fact, when body builders compete they do try to lose the water in their system the day of the competition (they dry out) to better show their muscles. But it is not something these toned people do every day. They count on muscle growth to give them their tight look, not a lack of water.
So how can you gain muscle and lose fat? You have to build muscles through resistance training, either with weights or use your own bodyweight as a tool. Plus, building muscle will allow you to enjoy more healthy foods, because muscle burns more calories than fat!
Next, how do you know you are losing fat and gaining muscle when the scale doesn't budge? There are a few ways.
1. You can have your body fat measured with calipers at a gym.
2. You can also do measurements of your legs, arms, waist, etc.
3. You can trust your clothes. If your weight goes up but your pant size goes down - you are rocking the fitness boat! That's the method I am using right now - clothes. I can tell my shoulders are widening - which is good because it will make my waist look narrower. And my waist is tighter, so my clothes are getting looser. I want from a size 4-to-6 to a definite 4 now.
4. Pictures! Obviously, I like taking progress pictures every two weeks to see my progress, muscle gains and fat losses.
Body Fat Percentages
Now, as much as we don't want to be called "fat", we do need fat to function! It keeps us warm, cushions our organs, allows our joints to function, etc. People who have eating disorders like anorexia, when their body fat is too low cannot even walk or sit comfortably! Plus, their body starts trying to protect itself by growing extra hair for warmth. So body fat is necessary. But how much do we need, before we are on the other end of the health spectrum and suffering from diabetes, heart disease and others diseases associated with excess body fat.
Men ideally would want a body fat percentage of 15 - 18%. A healthy women would have between 20 and 25%. Athletes tend to have lower body fat percentages. An athletic male would be between 5 and 12%, while a woman athlete may be between 10 and 20%.
If you are going to make a fitness goal, make it a good one! Determine how much bodyfat you would like to lose or what size jeans you want to fit in - and forget about losing those 5 pounds. When you start a work-out routine you may be shocked to learn you gained 10 pounds and look sexier and feel better than ever!