I’ve been a personal trainer for almost 10 years and I’ve talked to literally hundreds of women who want to tone their arms/legs/abs/every other body part. I love when women say this to me because while they might not know it, what they’re actually saying is they want to build some muscle (yay!) as well as lose fat. Because being toned is just that- it’s shedding the fat that’s hanging out over your muscles so the muscle definition shows. That means #1 these ladies need to keep their nutrition in check and #2, they absolutely have to make sure that strength training is a regular part of their exercise routine.
How important is nutrition when it comes to getting toned? Very!
What and how much we’re eating is so important to reaching any kind of fat loss/toning goal. The single most important factor to reaching a fat loss/toning goal is to consume less calories than we take in, and there are two ways to achieve that:
1) Track, log & count every calorie/macro. This will work in the short term, but it’s not a sustainable way to achieve your goal because who can track every single calorie for the rest of their life? Not only that, but my biggest issue with tracking apps is that they don’t teach us how to actually eat according to our body cues. Instead, tracking, logging and counting teaches us to neglect what our bodies are telling us and instead urge us to eat according to a number that some app/program gives us. I mean, let’s be real, if someone is doing Weight Watchers and at the end of the day they have 8 points left over, chances are incredibly high that they’re going to seek out something to eat that’s only 8 points whether they’re hungry or not.
2) The second way to achieve fat loss is to eat when we’re physically hungry and stop eating right before the point of fullness. Yes, easier said than done, but it’s also 100% sustainable and actually teaches us how to eat according to what the body (not the mind) wants. If we can get really in touch with our hunger and fullness cues, we’ll stop overeating- plain and simple. Gone will be the habit of stuffing ourselves and eating even if we’re not hungry or are already full. It’s also a much more sane approach than burying your face in an app every night to recount everything that was eaten that day.
As far as nutrition selection, zeroing in on protein is top priority. Not only will protein help you stay satisfied for longer, but it will also ensure that you keep the muscle you already have while losing fat and will help your body repair and recover after your workouts to build even more muscle. Add some veggies and that’s just the icing on the cake ;o) Veggies will keep you full, healthy, filled with nutrients and fiber and will give you tonnnnnns of energy! Of course carbs are important, too. Whole grains and fruits should be incorporated into your diet on the regular to sustain your energy and keep up with the intensity that you’ll need in your workouts.
What about workouts? What should they look like if you want to tone up?
Workouts should include two things- heavy lifting and intensity. As I said before, in order to see tone, there has to be some muscle to begin with and a great place to start building some serious muscle is by keeping things basic. That means heavy squats, deadlifts, presses and pulls. Heavy is relative, of course, so a good way to measure if something is heavy or not is if the last 3 or so reps are tough. Another benefit of heavy lifting is that the more muscle we have on our body, the higher our metabolism will be and the more calories our body will burn at rest making fat loss and weight maintenance much easier. Need I say more? ;o)
The last key to getting toned is this: bring the intensity to your workouts. You can’t just simply go through the motions when you want to shed fat and get toned. You have to get INTENSE. You have to get ready to feel your muscles burn, get ready to sweat and get ready to get uncomfortable. Find the place where you can’t imagine having to squeeze out one more rep, but you do it anyway. The place where you’re working so hard you need to take a 10 seconds rest and then pick back up as soon as you can. THIS is what intensity is and you gotta bring it!
So, what do you think? Do you have what it takes to lose fat and tone up? I think so, and I want to help you get there.
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