Women go through insane and often unhealthy lengths chasing the illusion of “skinny.” We can deny it all we want, but when another woman says, “My goodness, you look so SKINNY!” we can’t help but beam with pride. Compliment accepted, girlfriend.
Here is the actual definition of the word “skinny”:
- resembling skin : membranous
- lacking sufficient flesh : very thin : emaciated : lacking usual or desirable bulk
Raise your hand if you immediately zeroed in on “very thin” and ignored ”membranous” or “emaciated.” I thought so. (Note: I must admit that I was excited to learn that my love handles might be seen as “desirable bulk”. Thanks, Dictionary!)
Skinny shouldn’t be taken as a compliment. It’s not a particularly healthy or attractive state of being. The way most women work to attain “skinny” is an unhealthy combination of yo-yo dieting and excessive “chronic” cardio exercise. Which is a proven recipe for repeated fitness failure.
There’s a smarter way: Instead of starving and sweating away towards the unrealistic end goal of skinny, try working smarter to achieve “lean.” Lean is healthy and strong. It’s sculpted and high performing. With a higher percentage of lean muscle in your body, your metabolic rate is higher. So, you burn more calories all the time, not just during exercise.
And being lean is easier than it sounds. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Eat Whole Foods. Simply put, the more natural your foods are, the better they are for you. When you eat doughy stuff, your body gets…doughy. Reduce the processed foods you take in and increase lean proteins and veggies. This will give you the sustainable energy you need to fuel your workouts for better results.
- Embrace Strength Training. Can’t stress enough the importance of strength training for slimming down and truly sculpting your body. Circuit strength regimens have the ability to burn nearly as many calories as cardio per workout, build strength andimprove aerobic fitness by 7-15% over time. The calorie burning and aerobic improvements from circuit strength training make it a fair trade-off for a straight cardio workout. Try 30 minutes, three times a week.
- Do Smarter Cardio. Cardiovascular training is still important for extra calorie burning, but it should be done in addition to strength training, not instead of strength training. To improve the quality of your cardio, try shorter, more intense cardio training. This can mean varying the speed and intensity when working out on cardio equipment, or adding some short sprint intervals to your next jog.
The ratio of strength to cardio exercise we aim for at Koko is 2:1. For example, for every 30 minutes of strength training, you’ll do 15 minutes of high-intensity cardio exercise. This combination is much more powerful than 45-60 minutes of low intensity cardio alone.
Wearing skinny jeans can still be your goal, but with a smarty-pants strategy for getting there, you’ll have a stronger, leaner body that can look good wearing them for the long run. Or, at least until bell-bottoms make a comeback.
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About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.