Don’t Let One Number Weigh You Down
By Dr. Rick Kattouf II
In the world of health, fitness, nutrition and body transformation, it is very common for individuals to focus on only one number. And that number is their body weight. In their mind, this is the only number that matters and this will determine their success (or lack thereof). And yes, no doubt, body weight is very important for overall health and fitness. Losing weight is just a small piece to the puzzle. What individuals have to understand is that losing weight is not the finish line; rather, it’s just the start line. Once an individual loses weight, now the real work begins. Think of it like starting a business. When an individual first starts their business, they get their first business card printed and they are pumped, as they should be. But the start of the business and having the business card is like losing weight; this is just the starting line. Having a business card does not mean the individual has a successful business. This is simply just the start line and this is where the big work, time, effort and energy begin; much like losing weight. Now the work begins.
And when it comes to weight loss, it’s much like Baskin Robbins; there are many flavors. The majority of weight loss is not good (meaning that it is not meaningful & sustainable). How do most people lose weight? They go on a diet. And a DIET is simply a, Disaster Imminent Every Time®! For weight loss to be meaningful and sustainable, it must be done properly. What is the guarantee of every diet? The guarantee is that you will regain some, all or even more of the wright you lost; that’s not success, not even close. Remember, losing weight is easy; just stop eating. No, I’m not promoting this whatsoever. This is simply showing the power of how easy it is to lose weight (albeit very unhealthy of course). And this is exactly why we do not want to focus on body weight. We want to focus on body transformation; and these are 2 completely different animals. When a person loses weight by fasting, low carbohydrate diets, liquid diets, calorie restrictive diets, etc., this is not body transformation and its definitely not meaningful and sustainable (because it’s not body fat loss, it’s simply water loss; hence the very fast regain). It’s very fleeting because it’s not going to last.
Therefore, reducing our body fat percentage is a key component when it comes to improving overall health, heart health, athletic performance, recovery, etc., not weight loss. Let’s not let only one number (body weight) rule our world of health and fitness. Let's bring in some additional parameters that will help monitor our progress and bring about meaningful and sustainable results.
The key to improving cardiovascular efficiency and overall fitness is to work out smarter. Working out hard is easy; but working out smart takes time, effort, energy, focus, patience and discipline. Working out smart is all about tapping into and maximizing our own physiology. And this is done by working out in the right heart rate zones. When we work out smart and start to build efficiency, will be able to teach the body to go longer, harder and faster at the same or lower heart rate. That's the key to success; longer, harder, faster at the same or lower heart rate. If we just go out super-hard in a workout (which virtually everyone does when they are trying to lose weight because they think working out harder will help with weight loss), we are going to jack up that heart rate and the metabolic cost will be very high. This puts us at risk for injury, overtraining, impaired recovery, fatigue, lack of results in terms of body transformation despite the high intensity, etc. When we start to see an improvement in cardiovascular efficiency, this is a direct sign that we have drastically improved our overall fitness.
Here is a great way to measure cardiovascular efficiency. The goal is to run 3 miles at a pace that is 2 minutes per mile slower than your 5k race pace. For example, if your 5k race pace is 8:00/mile, run this 3-mile effort at 10:00/mile. The key to measuring your efficiency is to have laser-like precision. And this laser-like precision means that we want to bring a "I'll do whatever it takes” mentality to the workout in terms of staying in the proper parameters.
I would highly suggest performing this on a treadmill at 0% incline and run at the same pace each time. This way, every time you assess your cardiovascular efficiency, the method will be the exact same and you will be using the same assessment procedure each time. Perform this assessment and get a baseline in terms of average and max heart rate. Record these numbers and then retest yourself every 2-4 weeks. Over time, what you will notice is that as this same pace, your HR will be lower. Let’s say on your first assessment your average heart rate is 150bpm. In time, watch this average HR drop to 140bpm for example. Wow, now that’s an increase in fitness efficiency. To sum it up, you are running the same pace but at 10bpm lower, whoa! Your heart is having to work less hard to move you at the same speed. With this increase in efficiency you will notice a big improvement in speed and endurance. Keep in mind; this is not about how fast you can run 3 miles. I know you can run a lot faster; this run is being performed 2 minutes/mile slower than your 5k race pace.
Strength & Conditioning Assessments
Strength testing is another great way to monitor our progress. The reality is this; if we are getting stronger, this means where building muscle. And, if we are building muscle, we are well on our way to a stronger, leaner, lighter and healthier physique; now that's exciting. Here are five great bodyweight strength exercises that you can do:
- Sit up
- Mountain climber
- Jump rope
Just like with the cardiovascular efficiency, we want to get a baseline. In order to assess your strength using these exercises, perform each exercise for 60 seconds. Complete as many repetitions as you can for each. Rest 30 seconds in between each exercise. Record your total repetitions for each exercise and every 2-4 weeks re-assess yourself. Be sure to perform the exercises in the same order each time. You will be amazed how, in time, you start to see some great improvements and increases in your total repetitions for each. And again, just like with the cardiovascular efficiency testing, it's not a matter of seeing improvement each and every test. Rather, it's about seeing a net improvement in time over the next 6, 8, 12 months and beyond.
In summary, weight loss goals (and even more importantly, body transformation goals: body fat loss) are absolutely fantastic. But, we want to be sure that we have additional ways to measure our progress. And there is no better way to measure health and fitness than by assessing cardiovascular efficiency and strength. As you continue to workout smart and eat right, you will be blown away by the improvements that you start to make. This will be a direct indicator of your hard work, time, effort, energy, focus, patience and discipline is paying off. Get ready to wow yourself!
WORKOUT SMART, EAT RIGHT, GET RESULTS®!
Rick Kattouf II, O.D. is a 2x Best-Selling Author and Fitness & Nutrition expert and has been named one of America’s PremierExperts® and one of the World Fitness Elite® Trainers of the Year. Rick is a Sports Nutrition Specialist, Heart Rate Performance Specialist, Master Personal Trainer & Triathlon Coach. He has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates around the country as well as in the USA Today, Chicago Tribune, National Examiner, Ironman.com, Livestrong.com, Runner’s World, Bicycling Magazine, Men’s Health UK, FIGHT! Magazine, Florida Cycling Magazine and The Independent in the UK. Rick is the CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf® Inc, CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf® Nutrition LLC, CEO/Founder of Virtual Gym LLC, Creator of TeamKattouf® Nutrition Supplements, Host of Rx Nutrition, author of Forever Fit, Creator of 5-Round Fury® Nutrition Supplement, 5-Round Fury Fitness® workout app, Creator of Coach2CEO, Creator of Fuel Keeper®, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. Dr. Rick has personally coached individuals in 30+ states and 10+ countries.