Weight Loss FAQ

How do I lose weight?

You have probably heard, "eat less and move more." This has truth to it but is very simplistic. Our bodies do need calories to make fat or muscle. We don't gain weight from breathing air, and nobody is immune to the laws of thermodynamics. 

There are many right ways to lose weight (and a few less than optimal ways) but THE right way is different for every person, in every stage of their life. A person who overeats would see weight loss progress by eating a more appropriate amount. A person who eats appropriate portion sizes might try increasing energy output, ie, exercising. Often people combine the two to reap greater health benefits. 

The bottom line is that we do need to burn more calories than we are consuming to lose weight, and there are many ways to do this.

Is it true it's 80% nutrition and 20% exercise?

No! There is no magic number for how effective nutrition is versus exercising. What works for you will be different than what works for your best friend. What works for you will be different than what worked for you 5 years ago. 

It is true that you can consume calories quicker than you can burn them, so managing caloric consumption is crucial for weight management. 

When is the best time to do cardio to lose fat?

The best time to do cardio is when you feel ready to work hard! Calories aren't "fatter" at 6 pm compared to 6 am. Depending on a host of variables including time and composition of your last meal, exercise intensity and duration, you will use different amounts of fat versus glycogen (carbohydrate) sources in your body.

However - 300 calories burned is 300 calories burned. Your body knows the deficit, and will adjust accordingly. 

Four hundred calories burned with a greater percentage of it coming from carbohydrate sources will still cause you to lose more body fat than 150 calories expended using fat as an energy source.

It is confusing! Prioritize hard work and you will see results! 

What type of exercise is best for weight loss?

This is where it gets confusing. Most people, even people who look thin, have enough fat on their body for many many days of walking on little to no food.. We can look back in history for times large migrations have happened, such as the Biblical Exodus of the Indian Trail of Tears. 

This is because the body has a lot of fat stored in non-visible places, like around internal organs. The process of using fat as an immediate fuel source is very slow, however. The body uses fat while we sleep, while we walk or move slowly and steadily, and even as you are reading this now.

When we initiate movement, the body prioritizes using carbs in our blood sugar or glycogen (carbs) in our muscle because it is a more immediate fuel source. When we sprint, we use carbs. When we are startled and jump a mile high, our body uses carbs because it simply doesn't have enough time to break down fats for that immediate need. When we work at a high intensity, we use carbs.

This means that a slow walk will use fat as a fuel source, but it is using fat at a very slow rate since energy demands aren't high. Let's imagine you walk for about 45 minutes and cover a couple miles. You might burn about 200 calories.

A high intensity, but shorter workout, might burn 400 calories in 30 minutes. Those calories will come from carb sources in the body, but the difference in 200 calories per day burned will add up to more fat lost over time.

Should I do fasted cardio?

I generally recommend against fasted cardio. Again, prioritizing honest hard work will get you the best results. Exercising in a fed state usually results in a better, stronger workout, which will burn more calories and create more change in your body. This is especially true for high intensity workouts. 

The exception is if you feel better exercising fasted. Some people train early in the morning but don't like food in their belly while they train. In this case, they acclimate to training fasted. Experiment with what works best for you. 

How do I get rid of belly fat?

Unfortunately, we don't get to pick where we gain or lose fat. We can "spot build", since muscle responds to very specific stimuli. If we want to build our biceps or pecs bigger, we can build those muscles by working them specifically. But, we can't spot reduce. (Some studies have shown a teeny tiny bit of a local fat reduction, but this is not a significant way to lose fat. It is generally understood that spot reduction doesn't exist for fat loss.)

Everyone has stubborn areas, or those places where fat hangs on, but generally speaking, we lose and gain in a very general, non specific manner. If fat reduction could be specified to an area, I sure wouldn't have any fat on my face. I've been told I'm a talker. ;) 

The best option to get rid of belly fat is to lift weights, do high intensity interval training, and eat the right amount of calories, including enough protein to support your muscle building efforts.

Should I use a waist trainer, corset or body wraps?

No, no, no! Put it down! Unless it's for one night (Halloween), don't do it!

Waist trainers and corsets just squeeze your organs out of the way. They can decrease the size of the waist while you are wearing it, but don't promote long term results, cause you to lose any extra fat or burn any more calories. They do stress your organs and increase the chances of pelvic prolapse and incontinence. Not sexy. 

Body wraps are a similar quick "fix". They build up heat and cause you to sweat. The loss of water may cause a temporary feeling of weight loss or change in size, but it is not permanent. They do not detox you either.

Personal Training FAQ

Why should I hire a personal trainer? 

Experienced personal trainers can help you reach your fitness and health goals faster and safer. A good trainer will expertly guide you through a training plan that works best for you by taking into consideration your individual goals, limitations, and opportunities. He or she will make all the decisions about what exercises to use and what weight to lift, allowing you to focus on just working hard. 

A good trainer will help you avoid dangerous activities that waste time and risk injury. Remember, the side effects you earn in the gym are yours to keep: feel energetic all day, love how you look, and sleep like a baby. What do you have to lose?

How much does a personal trainer cost? 

The average personal trainer cost in Austin area is between $65-$100 a session. Expect to pay more at high end gyms. A YMCA personal trainer might be priced very differently than a small, niche gym personal trainer. 

Training rates vary greatly between cities, so look around in your area. Beware the very low priced trainers, and understand there is no one standard. However, remember that training is an investment. You won't regret taking better care of your body and working toward your health and performance goals. With the right trainer, it is absolutely worth it. 

What personal training certification is required to be a personal trainer?

None! The United States does not have a universal certifying body, or requirement. The certification organizations that exist (NSCA, ACSM, ACE, Cooper Institute, ISSA, NASM) provide elective certifications, but legally, anybody can take money for personal training services. This is why it is so important to ask your trainer which certifications he/she holds and maintains.

What personal training certification is best? 

The National Strength and Conditioning Association's (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) is the industry leader, as it is tested and comprehensive, and requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.

The gold standard after NSCA is the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Most CPT (certified personal trainer) certifications require only the candidate to be 18 years of age and have a current CPR/AED certification. For example, the NASM cpt requires candidates be 18 years of age, hold a current CPR/AED, and advertises that exam can be successfully prepared for and completed in 10 weeks. Yikes.

What should I look for in a personal trainer?

Your personal trainer should have a current certification, some years experience, and should look the part. Now, your personal trainer does not need to look like he or she just stepped off of the highest bodybuilding stage, and neither does he or she need to be the strongest person in the world. However, a combination of credentials, experience, and willingness to practice what they preach is important. 

You should also enjoy your personal trainer's company. You don't have to - and probably won't be - BFFs, but your personalities should be complementary. It is a bit of a matchmaking process, so choose someone who feels trustworthy and respectful.

How do I find the best personal trainer in Austin TX (or how do I find the best personal trainer near me)? 

You can begin by googling in your area. For example, "personal trainer Austin tx" or "Austin tx personal trainer". See what individuals and gyms show up in your search. If any pique your interest, read about them a little more. 

You can also ask your friends and acquaintances if they know of any trustworthy trainers. From here, you can collect contact info, and reach out. Most trainers will be happy to talk to you and/or do a consult to see if you are a match.

For more details, including exact scripts for reaching out to potential trainers, read this blog post about how to find the best personal trainer for you

Do online personal trainers work? 

They absolutely can! It depends on both the trainer and client. The trainer must have excellent organization and communication skills, in addition to a sufficient program delivery. The client must be self-motivation enough to do the workouts on his or her own, and communicate the results back to the trainer. The trainer will want to know how the sets and reps went, if the workout was too hard or easy, and any other pertinent feedback. From there, he or she will adjust the training, and the plan continues. 

If the trainer and client communicate well and the client sees progress, then it is absolutely a worthwhile endeavor.