Shrinking can be a positive, negative, or both when it comes to our goals. Our bodies' sizes can be manipulated through eating and exercise habits. Healthy bodies aren't necessarily a specific size or weight. Body size parameters are, however, associated with greater or less risk for lifestyle disease (type 2 diabetes and heart disease). If that's not motivation to attain a particular body size, then vanity usually is. How, then, does shrinking help and hinder reaching those body size goals?
Losing weight is the most common health related goal in our society. This, of course, involves shrinking of bellies, hips, thighs, etc. Because it's such a common goal, one might wonder why so many reach a point to have this goal in the first place, but that's a topic for another time. There are plenty of methods to be found on losing weight. Some involve a systematic diet approach, while others are more behavioral oriented focusing on learning to make healthier choices. This author prefers the latter when tackling the weight loss process. All methods involve some amount of shrinking food portions. Although specific diet systems (ex: the variations of low carb eating) are effective, they are not comprehensive for the long haul. No matter the method chosen, there is always a high level of motivation and will power involved. Staying motivated and sticking to the plan will result in the desirable shrink.
Another common goal is achieving more "muscle tone." Muscle tone is simply another way of describing muscle hypertrophy. Just as much as shrinking those dreaded fat cells is desired, shrinking muscle is avoided. Still there are many (primarily women….sorry ladies!) that insist they don't want to build muscle at the risk of looking bulky. They only want to "tone up." As previously stated, there is no muscle tone without building muscle. So, whether you are looking to dramatically increase muscle mass or simply tone up, avoiding muscle shrinkage via strength training is a must.
Finally, what is exercise's role when shrinking and achieving weight loss? We all know that burning additional calories is necessary. We also know (or at least have heard) that strength training should be part of any weight loss endeavor. This is when shrinking can be both a positive and negative. Burning calories through more physical activity does help the fat cell shrinking process. The counter to this (similar to the “I just want to tone up” fallacy) is building muscle and avoiding lean tissue shrinking also helps the weight loss process. As much as this message has been talked about, written about, and proved, there are still people that avoid strength training in their routines. Although this may not be breaking news, the fact of the matter is people still don't strength train. If you are beginning the road to your weight loss goals, your exercise routine must include strength training to minimize muscle shrinking and maximize fat cell shrinking!
Go grab some friends and celebrate Shrinko de Mayo! The goals of weight loss and muscle building both lead to decreased disease risk. You can use a healthy diet and exercise to get your body shrinking and not shrinking in all the right places.
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