Why you should stop focusing on fat loss when working out

We’ve all become too obsessed with aesthetics, but there are so many more benefits to exercise that don’t stem from negativity

We all know that if you want to slim down, you need to eat better and move more. And often, the reason people hit the gym or start pounding the pavements is with the goal of fat loss in mind.

Thanks to the rise of fitness ‘influencers’ on social media, much of the fitness industry preys on people’s negative emotions about their bodies with the aim of luring you in to buy products or sign up to fitness regimes.

We see these people showing off their ‘perfect’ body, eating the ‘cleanest’ diet and living the ‘dream’ life.

And this means that lots of us focus on the negatives to try and find the motivation to exercise, being sucked into the idea that the only reason for working out is to get a thigh gap, bikini bridge, six-pack or whatever else is currently trending on Instagram.

It’s not healthy.

Instead we should be focussing on the positive aspects you can improve on by exercising, of which there are many.

According to personal trainer Tom Mans, these include:

  • Physical strength
  • Mobility and flexibility 
  • Mental wellbeing - better mood and feeling less stressed
  • Increased athleticism 
  • Increased energy levels 
  • Increased appetite 
  • Better sleep
  • Increased bone density 
  • Increased lean muscle 
  • Increase cardiovascular fitness (healthy heart and lungs)
  • More social interaction 

The list goes on.

“The positive aspects of fitness will have a much bigger impact on your life,” Mans explained to The Independent. “Don’t always focus on what you’re trying to lose.”

Mans explains that when fat loss is the sole focus of your training, it can be quite demotivating.

“This is because the fat loss journey takes a lot of effort, discipline and patience compared to trying to improve on some of the other aspects of fitness listed above,” he says.

Fat loss takes time, but you can see improvements in other areas of your life sooner once you start exercising in a new way or increase your activity levels.

“Quite often my new clients will tell me they feel better, stronger, are less stressed and have better energy levels long before they notice any changes in their body weight and image,” Mans says.

“This means they adhere to training on a regular basis, long term, as they can see the link between training and the improvements in their life.

“Then over time as you are gaining on other aspects of fitness, you end up looking leaner, losing fat and you feel better about your own body.”

Loving your body and feeling happy with your shape and image is important for confidence, but Mans says that for him, that’s a byproduct of exercise and training, rather than the main aim.

He is of course incredibly fit, but takes a more relaxed approach than some personal trainers who are solely focussed on aesthetics.

“I do not have a six-pack and probably never will,” Mans says. “I enjoy my life (beer and cake) too much, and I am happy with that.”

So instead of thinking about what you need to lose by going to the gym, think about what you can gain.

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