This looks SO awesome. Spoiler alert, though!! It doesn't come easily. {Source.}
No doubt this chick looks INCREDIBLE. Spoiler alert, though: It doesn’t come easily. {Source.}

I have three major pet-peeves when it comes to the typical discussion of weight loss…

1. “A pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat!” …no. A pound of muscle and a pound of fat both weigh the same amount–a pound. What’s true, when muscle and fat are considered, is that each type of tissue has a different density. Muscle is more DENSE than fat. That is, a pound of fat takes up less space than a pound of muscle. And, on your body, muscle looks lean and tight while fat looks, well, fatty. But pound-for-pound, they weigh the same.

2. “Lose” vs “loose”. It’s “lose” weight, not “loose”. You lose weight. When you lose weight, your clothing become loose.

3. “Gaining muscle”. Wait, what?!

…Hear me out on the third one!

Gaining muscle is, obviously, a totally real phenomenon. It’s something that actually happens with hard work, training, and dedication. The type of muscle gains I’m referring to, though, are more…magical in nature. I’ll set the scene. A woman starts a weight loss program that contains an exercise component. After 3-6 weeks on her program, her weight loss stalls. She plateaus. Maybe she even GAINS weight. Irritated, dismayed, and potentially discouraged, she confides in her friends {both real and virtual} who offer the suggestion, “ohmigod, no! Weight fluctuates! Besides, you’ve been working out! You’re TOTALLY gaining muscle!” I hate to break it to you, angels, but if you haven’t been deliberately trying to increase your strength and muscle mass by eating a surplus of calories and lifting heavy, you probably are NOT gaining muscle. Oh, and if you’ve only been working out consistently for the last two-to-three months or so? Any muscle gains you may have actually been making are incredibly minimal. Building muscle and losing fat at the same time isn’t impossible, but that kind of body recomposition IS difficult. And if it’s not deliberate, it’s almost impossible.

As women, many of us overestimate both how much muscle we can build, and how quickly we can build it. It’s common for women to worry about gaining too much and looking “bulky” as a result. Many of us accept {and WANT} “lean”, “toned” muscle, but even that is much harder to come by than you may think. According to this article, for example, the average “natural” woman {that is, a woman who isn’t using steroids} is capable of gaining a maximum of 20-25lbs of additional muscle over the course of her entire LIFESPAN. So really, do you really think it’s possible that you both lost weight and gained muscle simply by upping your  milage and adding in a few casual lifting sessions each week? Probs not. If you’re focusing on putting on muscle, as a woman, you’re likely to do so at rate of around 0.12 – 0.25lbs per week. Between half a pound and one pound a month. So there’s that.

I get why people want to tell each other {and themselves!} that they’re gaining muscle. Really, I do. When you’re working hard, you want to see that work reflected on the scale. As I’ve touched on previously, though, the scale doesn’t tell you everything when it comes to progress! All the scale tells you is how much you weigh. And that number changes based on hydration, what you’re wearing or not wearing, your monthly cycle, what’s in your stomach, ALL of it. Sometimes, the scale sucks. But, at least in my opinion, it’s best to be realistic. If you’re improving your level of fitness or are on a weight loss journey, you’re still awesome. You’re a still doing something awesome. You still look awesome. More often than not, though, unless you’re REALLY trying, that magical kind of rapid “muscle gain” is a myth.

Myth busted!

xx,

Liza

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