Weight Loss Goals & Tracking Progress

Weight Loss Goals

There are many different reasons why you want to lose fat & exercise more – but are you setting realistic goals & tracking them in an appropriate way?

Probably the most common reason that anyone starts to look at their diet and start an exercise program is because they want to lose weight.

In my case, I had been road cycling for a couple of years – whilst my fitness level was pretty good & I had completed my first 100 mile sportive, I was still wasn’t completely happy with my performance. Despite riding long distances on a regular basis, my weight didn’t drop & my riding ability wasn’t improving. Putting my details into any BMI calculator (use BMI with a pinch of salt) told me that I was pretty seriously overweight.
I decided that to improve my cycling ability & for the sake of my general health, I needed to lose weight.

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss

Now, you’ll notice that so far I have been saying lose weight rather than lose fat – I didn’t understand the difference at this point.

I set myself an initial set of weight loss goals. At the start I weighed 94kg, the first target would be 90kg, with the hope that some day I might reach 87kg & then 85kg or lower would be the holy grail.
Initial diet changes (see this post on simple diet changes to boost fat loss) combined mostly with cycling indoors on a turbo trainer (due to poor weather & injury) made it surprisingly easy to reach my first target of 90kg. Once I had reached this marker, I decided to take the exercise side of the equation more seriously – after weighing up numerous options, I bought myself a RIP:60 suspension trainer & followed the exercise plan (with a few tweaks). Initial results were a little slow to pick up – but after a few weeks the weight was dropping off again…I dropped down to 85.1kg – I was amazed that I’d made it that far. Because the level of the exercise that I was doing had climbed to quite an advanced level, I had also started taking protein shakes to help my body recover & build a little more muscle. With that goal came a realization that to progress further, I needed to address fat loss rather than weight loss.

A little before this point, I had bought a pair of body fat calipers, mostly out of curiousity. My new goals were set based on body fat percentage with the intial target being 17-18% & a hope that one day I might get down to 15%.

A few months on & a few weeks into following the Rushfit program – my weight hasn’t dropped in several weeks (I’ve actually put a little back on) – but my body fat has dropped during the same period…I appear to be growing muscle at the same rate that i’m losing fat. Without realising it I have now dropped to 16-17% body fat & can now see that sub 15% is a realistic achievement. If you had told me this 10 months ago I simply wouldn’t have believed you.

What can you take away from this slightly rambling story?
If you have the motivation to take control of your body, the goals that you set may be much more achievable than you initially think.  Take care when choosing your goals – while body weight might be the focus to start with, longer term you will find that body fat percentage is a much better way to keep track of your progress…particularly if you are building muscle at the same time.

As a note, take the results from BMI calculators with a big pinch of salt – as BMI doesn’t give a reliable result for everyone.

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