CW: Talk of fat loss, body size and calories
Do you have fat loss goals? How are you defining them? Are you trying to reach a particular number or size, or is success defined by a feeling? Why is your goal the goal?
Many folks are in perpetual fat loss attempts, or more likely, cycling between fat loss and throwing in the towel and eating all the things. Extreme strategies result in extreme behaviors, both during the periods of apparent success and those of supposed failure. If health is the goal, in my humble, non-professional opinion, extreme behaviors are neither ultimately successful nor necessary. The ladies at Balance 365 agree with me, and that is why I so often highlight their conversations about fat loss. It’s my hope that more people will learn to move away from extreme, unhealthy (both physically, and equally important, psychologically) fat loss behaviors.
This week’s podcast is a conversation about how our approach may need to be different if we identify as a “smaller framed” person. More than a decade ago, when I was a size 22, I would have told you that I was “just a big person.” I had been a “big kid,” and I believed that I was just genetically inclined to being larger. I’m 5′ 8″, so I’m not exactly a small person, but it turns out, my frame is actually not all that large, especially in my upper body. I had to reassess my identity as a “big person” as my slowly healthier lifestyle resulted in a significantly smaller body. And as such, much of what they discuss in this episode now rings true for me. I also suspect that folks who are in the bodybuilding community, or bodybuilding adjacent lifting culture, may find these perspectives useful as well, especially if they don’t have a lot of body fat that they are desiring to lose, or if they are hoping to access their leanest, healthy size.
Some of their very practical suggestions include recognizing that it may be healthier and more sustainable to lose fat at a much lower rate than someone else. Jen suggests that 1-2% a month may be reasonable. This also means a less severe caloric deficit of perhaps only a few hundred calories a day rather than the often-cited 500 calories a day we see in so much diet media. We may have less wiggle room, may need to accept that serving sizes may be smaller for us than for others, and may have to be more mindful about highly caloric, less-satiating foods.
Much of this feels right to me, although I have learned that I do best with fairly high volume of food to feel satisfied. But I eat a lot more fruits and veggies than pretty much anyone else I know, filling myself up on stuff that doesn’t have much calorie density. I also have a lot more wiggle room when I’m training regularly and at higher intensities. I found it difficult to “bulk” when I was training 5 days a week, stuffing myself and still not seeing the scale move upwards. I don’t think much of the Balance 365 community or audience comes from lifting culture, though, so it makes sense they wouldn’t mention these sorts of caveats.
I love that this conversation ends with a discussion of thin privilege and the importance that we be mindful of where and with whom we discuss our fat loss goals and choices. It is important that we keep in mind that these conversations have different impacts on different people. For myself, in real life, I don’t talk about it almost ever. I write about it here on the blog because folks can choose to not read it, can choose to not engage if it’s harmful for them. But out with friends, with my spouse, whatever, I focus on my habits, if I say anything at all. I talk about how my lifting is going, whether I went for a nice run over the weekend, how I prepped a mountain of chicken, whatever. And I leave off the part that I hope these behaviors will impact my physique in the long run. It’s the least interesting part of that process in any case. No one else cares if I’m enjoying seeing my triceps pop!
If you’re looking for practical strategies and important mindset tips for getting away from the urgency and extreme behaviors during your fat loss process, I hope you will give this episode of Balance 365 Life Radio a listen! And I’d love to hear your thoughts about it!