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Consider reasons for weight loss

By Reggie Palma

LAST UPDATED: 02:07 a.m. HST, Jun 29, 2010

What does weight loss really mean to you?

Say you want to lose 15 pounds. Have you ever given serious thought as to why? Does the 15 pounds off mean you would be able to wear that dress you purposely bought smaller for your cousin's wedding? What about after?

Do you now go back to your regular habits and gain the 15 pounds back plus an extra five because your body was starved of many essential nutrients? Does a 15-pound-lighter you also mean a happier you? Is there a certain look you wish your body would emulate? Does the weight loss represent the means to that end?

Asking these questions ranks among the most important actions you should take toward achieving a maintainable, healthful lifestyle. Answering these questions will give you direction in setting achievable and logical goals to ultimately make your hard work permanent.

Assuming the answer to the last question posed is, in fact, a desired look, then your real goal is not weight loss, but body transformation. These are two very different goals requiring different approaches. The former requires only caloric restriction, while the latter asks for a two-pronged approach involving balanced meal choices and an exercise routine with both strength and cardiovascular elements.

The weight loss goal, once achieved, yields a lighter version of the body but with little to no change in composition, thus, little or no change in appearance.

The body transformation goal yields instead a small to moderate loss in weight, but this is accompanied with a significant change in outward appearance due to the steps taken to change the actual composition of the body.

In other words, the program was centered on muscle maintenance (the shape of the body) and fat loss (so you can see the muscle underneath). Both goals are equally achievable and valid, but their results are significantly different from each other. Therefore, when you are setting out on your path, it is imperative to know where that path ends and what is waiting for you when you get there.

Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. He has a fourth-degree black belt in the Filipino martial art kali.

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