Question for Fitness Trainers

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Like many overweight women I have tried to loose weight several time in the past 8 years, and succeeded only in gaining and extra 40 lbs from when I first started trying. I have accepted that this is due largely to poor consistency on my part and also a general lack of education about how weight loss and fitness work.

Almost a year ago now, the penny dropped for me on the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change. I finally accepted the idea that if I am really committed to getting my body into a physical condition that I can feel proud of that I need to find a healthy eating and exercise program that works for me for a long time in the daily grind and not something that is short term.

I went back to a site that I’ve used successfully for short term weight loss www.caloriecount.about.com and I invited members to join me on this challenge to really discover what a consistent effort to change our eating and exercising habits means and requires as opposed to short term diets.

In the last year we have learned a lot. We have identified triggers for why we don’t follow through, we have exercised goal setting, and learned personal motivation and commitment.

New Rules Of Lifting For Women was introduced to the group about 6 months ago. One member has had significant success with it. I asked around and found three more of my friends who have also had significant success using NROLFW. Regardless of the questions I am asking below I am excited to try this out for myself.

I should say that for the past six months that this book has dramatically changed the tone of the women in the group from ‘why can’t I keep myself on this low-calorie diet’ to ‘I feel so much better when I lift and can eat more, this is great!’

However now one of our members seems to be completely stalled in her progress, and there are now several threads on the site that suggest that NROLFW is ineffective for women who want to loose weight….

Okay, I can see the weight loss point… muscle by volume weighs more than fat. So if you build muscle you may not see the scale go down.

I should mention at this point that I do think we are a group of women who are not focused on the scale are focusing on getting physically fit, that is loosing size and gaining muscle. This is commonly articulated as weight loss, but I do believe after a year that the numbers on the scale are not the primary motivator for these women. It is more likely the dress sizes and pant sizes.

To that end the criticism of NROLFW is best demonstrated by a post from trim4ever’s post on this form and on cc forums.

The idea against NROLFW is that because you need to increase your caloric intake to build muscle that women who want to loose size / weight will not see the results they are expecting, further more that because (according to this poster and others on cc) to loose fat you need to be in a caloric deficit that the goals of muscle building and fat loss are mutually exclusive.

The general theme seems to be that if the women on the forum want to meet their size and weight goals then the only recourse is to return to a low calorie diet until the fat is lost. The thread author calls this fat stripping and advocates keeping weight lifting to ensure that fat is lost instead of muscle.

They would follow up the fatstripping with a bodybuilding / muscle building program.

This opinion seems to boosted by this article by Alwyn Cosgrove, although in my opinion I don’t think he’s actually advocating for fatstripping as opposed to muscle building.

Now, I’m not an expert by any stretch, but this seems to be completely against everything that I’ve just read in NROLFW and also on several fitness blogs that I trust.

My understanding is that on a low-calorie diet you will loose weight, and you may loose that weight in fat, but there is no way to control if you are loosing fat or muscle.

Also, the general problem with low-calorie diets are that they do slow down your metabolism, are very difficult to maintain and result in the kind of yo-yo dieting that I myself have been victim to for the past 8 years generally resulting in overall weight gain as opposed to weight loss.

Further more it’s my understanding that muscle gain and fat loss are not mutually exclusive. Muscle if built, will increase the basal metabolic rate and make the body more efficient at using energy thereby actually helping to burn fat more effectively even when the body is at rest.

I have three questions based on my much too long introduction (thank you for your patience)

1. Am I on the right track with my thinking about low-calorie diet effects and the idea that muscle building and fat loss are not mutually exclusive?

2. If so, where can I get more concrete information to show that so that it’s not just my opinion, and is at least backed up by someone who knows what they are talking about.

3. If the above is correct and building muscle is the best route to size loss and a healthy body, what would be encouraging to women who are not seeing results on the scale or on the tape measure? What initial indicators of success could they look for?

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