From Skinny Fat to Strong and Lean

Alexandra Grapa
November 11, 2018 6 min read

After gaining a lot of weight in my teenager life, with no exercising and a crazy unhealthy diet I decided to move for college to a bigger city and do something about my weight.

Like every newbie i started on the treadmill

I started on the treadmill

Like every other newbie, when I first entered the gym I started doing cardio every day. The treadmill was my best friend but there were some days where I would switch for a stepper machine. I'd run 20 min, then 30..then hitting 1 hour of treadmill daily embracing those long boring runs which my body came to be really familiar with.
Even though I lost weight I wasn't healthy or strong in any way. I lacked the strong physique and the nice curves I desired.

Out of boredom, a coach at the gym I was going to introduced me to weightlifting. At a very slow pace and with a very small weight I started squatting. The soreness I felt after was tough but somehow I enjoyed it, leaving me to want more. I kissed cardio goodbye and started going into the weight lifting area more often. Keep in mind I was going to a small gym in the college campus so I would have a discount and I was living with rent in a shared apartment more than 1 hour away, changing 2 busses, 1 city train and walking just to get there. There were days when I didn't get to classes on time but I wasn’t skipping my workout.

After only a few months of training I could see my body changing, my muscles were growing but I still had a good amount of fat covering them up. So...what was the flaw in my daily routine?! Yes! You're right!

My eating habits and my food choices

My eating habits and my food choices

The choices I was making weren't helping my body achieve what I wanted so I started eating healthy, searched and tried a lot of healthy recipes from my good friend Google but I was still doing something wrong. You guessed it! I was eating too much! Even though it was healthy food my body would deposit the extra calories as fat.

This is the main problem I had: "Portion distortion" . I was cooking one meal and thought :" oh great, here`s one portion" but it was often too large, like 2 or 3 portions.


Meal prep

Sometimes I encounter a different problem with my clients and that they are:

NOT EATING ENOUGH Does that make you gain weight? YES, in different ways. If you`re a type of person that eats a few meals and snacks a day, but on different days you start skipping them,it can get you hungry enough to stray from your planned healthy meals and eat foods that don`t support your weight loss.

Second, when you`re not eating enough calories , your body can go into starvation mode – meaning the body wants to conserve energy by reducing the number of calories you burn and starts slowing down the metabolism. It`s just your body`s natural mechanism to help you maintain your energy levels ( Note, I used a weight loss plan called Intermittent fasting in which there is a longer gap between meals, to encourage the body to burn fat, while still eat the necessary calories per day).

If you see yourself being stuck at this plateau, make sure your body is always properly nourished by eating healthy and snacking when needed ( snacks can help manage your hunger and also prevent binge eating ).

Be aware of what snacks your choosing! Don`t grab the cookies and chips, go for the low calorie nutrient – rich options that will give you energy , feed your body and support your weight loss goals! Snacks rich in fiber and water like fruits and veggies help you fill up, nuts are another great choice but eaten in moderation ( high in fiber ,protein and healthy fats), greek yogurt, avocado, low fat cheese etc.


Water Retention

I struggled with water retention a good amount of time, not understanding what that means. So let me explain this for you! Your body is mostly water and can hold onto excess water at times . There are a lot of reasons why that happens : Consuming too much table salt or eating processed foods – your body retains water to help maintain the chemical balance . It can also occur because of standing or sitting too long, hormonal changes and even certain medication. And Ladies, especially during and before the menstrual cycle ,you can retain enough water to even show on the scale.

I used to eat a lot of cheeses , and I would wake up a few times in the middle of the night to just drink water. Being a well-known foodie, when I would have a cheat meal like pizza, I`d have all the "good " toppings on it. All processed meats and 4 types of cheese. My body would look different in the morning after! Always a massive water retention.

So what can you do to minimize excess water weight?
Cut down your sodium intake ( not only using less salt at the table but also giving up processed foods) and Check the labels when buying food, you`ll be surprised how much sodium can some "everyday foods" have ( meats like cold cuts, bacon, sausages, hot- dogs etc., canned foods and salted nuts ).


Unhealthy drinks

Don`t think ONLY about what you`re eating and the calories from foods! People often forget about what they are drinking. Paying attention to what beverages you consume because plenty of drinks are unhealthy and loaded with calories that can derail your weight loss goals. Energy drinks and "natural" juices can also be the culprits. Consume them in moderation!

And let`s not forget alcohol! In all my college years I used to make new friends often and the main activity of the night was going out drinking and dancing. You might think that 2 glasses of wine won`t hurt but that adds up 300 - 350 calories which can be equal to snacking on 4 chocolate biscuits.

So.. In this article I wanted to point out that even though you have an active lifestyle : train, run, practice any type of sports, you won`t see major changes if you don`t pay attention to What and How much you eat and drink! When they say nutrition is 80% and training 20 % they weren`t wrong. Start making small changes in your eating habbits, trust that it will be worth it in the end, progress will increase over time and everything will come natural!
Stay Healthy!

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