How To Change Your Body Composition From Skinny-Fat To Lean & Strong


I'm sure you've heard the term "skinny-fat." Being skinny-fat is very common among women and men alike. And, you're probably wondering what skinny-fat means? While you have a thin, lean appearance and look fit in clothes, you actually have low muscle mass and a high body fat percentage. So, a normal BMI but high body fat percentage. I knew this all too well and used to fall in this category. strong not skinny

Often skinny fat people don't have to lose a ton of fat, but they need to gain quite a bit of muscle to compensate for their body fat percentage. This could mean gaining weight from a scale perspective. But, how do you get rid of your own skinny-fatness?

There are risks to being skinny-fat

In our culture, it's tempting to embrace simply being skinny because, based on appearances alone, you look great. But appearances are not everything. Just as being obese comes with an array of health risks, having too much body fat and too little muscle poses similar risks. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar are all risk factors for many diseases. While the amount of fat might not be high, it could be tucked away as visceral fat, which means it's dangerously surrounding your internal organs. Just remember that looks can be deceiving and a crappy diet composed of processed sugar may not be showing up on your waistline but instead could be wrecking your health overall.

Cut Back on Cardio

One of the causes of being skinny-fat comes from too much cardio. It may seem counter-intuitive but burning too many calories while endurance training will burn fat as well as muscle. Muscle is a highly efficient source of energy, and if you're burning too many calories, not eating sufficient calories and neglecting resistance training, you're not going to see gains in body composition. A lot of cardio is a great if you need to lose a lot of fat but not good if you want to reverse your body composition.

...And Focus On Resistance Training

Instead of focusing on endurance training, turn your energy and focus to resistance training. This includes lifting free weights, using weight machines, and classes like TRX or megaformer sessions that involve strength training and isolated muscle movements.

Lift Heavy

We, women, are afraid to lift heavy weights because of the fear of bulking up or possible injury. Rest assure that you're not going to end up looking like John Cena or the Incredible Hulk by lifting. With proper guidance, there's no reason to neglect to lift. Women will not gain bulk without extreme dedication and diet supplements (including steroids). Lifting heavy builds muscle, not just strength. Building lean muscle will amp up your metabolism, and your body will be much more efficient at burning fat. If you're interested in gaining muscle, lifting is the way to go.

Calculate and Eat Your Macros

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? This is especially true with diet and exercise. Diet is 80% of the effort and crucial when changing your body composition. You need healthy carbs for energy, protein to keep and gain muscle, and fat for proper nutrient absorption. Don't stress too much but make sure you're getting a suitable amount of each macronutrient at meal time for your specific needs! Also, remember that calories are just as important and too little means your body will burn muscle for energy, reversing all your hard work. Not sure how to calculate your macros? Here's a great resource for this very purpose. Calculating them, you'll probably be surprised at how undernourished you are.

Measure The Inches And Not The Lbs.

We are all guilty of being slaves to the scale. Stop it! Seriously. Through that shit out the window. Why? Because what the scale says isn't the end all. And, it's not a great way to track your efforts. When you're on a fitness journey, specifically one that's focused on gaining lean muscle mass to be healthy and toned, you're going to most likely gain weight. You see, muscle weights more than fat and takes up less room to store. Instead, focus more about how your clothes fit and the changes you see in your body. You can lose 2 inches around your waist, and thighs yet weigh the same on the scale.

Focus On Different Muscle Groups

It's easy for us women to forget to tone and strengthen certain muscle groups. Particularly the arms, shoulders and back. The traps are the massive muscle group along your shoulders and upper back, which help keep you upright and effect the range of motion in your shoulders and neck. Don't neglect any muscle group as they are all important in how your body moves and performs basic functions

So there you have it, some important ways in which you can change your body composition from skinny-fat to lean and strong. Do you have any fitness tips to add? Share them with my on Instagram by tagging your photos with @valeriefidan!

Keep Motivated and Stick To Your Goals

Two months into the new year. (February, already? Really?) But, how do you stay on the plan?

Okay, one month down and a start to another month. This means the first month of the new year is over.

You did great for the first few weeks of keeping your resolution and goals to eat healthily and stick to a workout schedule. But, now as the second month of the year is here, you’re rolling your eyes as you open the fridge… ugh… you literally just want a slice of pie or Chinese take-out, and watching a marathon of whatever is on Bravo sounds a lot better than the gym. Each day you find yourself thinking of different excuses to possibly avoid the gym.

Let’s be real, we’ve all been at this point. The point where it is so much easier to fall back on old habits. But, ask yourself: how will this year be different? You’re got 10 months ahead of you to accomplish what you set out for. To keep you motivated, here are a few tips to keep you on track, and meet the goals you set for yourself. (Babe, you’re too legit to quit! )


Visualize it, and honestly see it

You need to see it to believe it. Sometimes a simple picture of your goal will help you stick to your plan. Cut out photos of whatever your goal is, and create a vision board. Are you more digital? Use Pinterest for this. Maybe it is a new swim suit from Oye Swimwear, or maybe it is a healthy recipe you’ve wanted to try, or maybe the number of the date you wish to reach your goals by. Regardless, put the pictures up all over where you will see them often. Maybe your bathroom mirror, your closet, your fridge, your laptop home screen, phone home page. The more pictures you can post the more it can really help you stay motivated.

Get in the right mindset

At some point, we are all going to come up with an exercise excuse or lack motivation. It’s normal. However, if we want to see a change in our bodies and our minds, we have to shift our mindset towards what we can do and not what we can't do. In fact, take "can't" out of your vocabulary. The next time you find yourself coming up with an excuse, whatever it is, try shifting your mindset to focus on something you could do and think positive. Shift your thoughts from the weak excuses to the attainable positive actions. Only you can overcome your excuses and though it might be hard and a struggle at times, your body and mind will benefit infinitely from the mere acting of doing something instead of making up an excuse.

Create everyday healthy habits

This seems obvious, but it’s much easier said than done. It is said that if you can do something every day, after 21-days it will become a habit. That said, give yourself 21-days of commitment. No matter how flustered you might become, just tell yourself you will make it 21 days. Break it down into 7-day segments, but whatever you do, don’t quit. You will thank yourself once you have made it to day 21 and now that “new thing” has become a part of your habitual routine.

Grab a buddy

We all do better if someone knows what we are up to. Find a friend who you know will help keep you on track. Maybe your friend will be sure to meet you every day at the gym, help you prep food every week, or even be a check in coach for you to see what you have done each week to meet your goal. A friend can be a world of difference when you are feeling unmotivated to stay on track. When I was living in San Francisco, my friend Lauren was my workout buddy. SoulCycle, yoga, Megaformer classes, you name it, we did it. It was a way to hold each other accountable.

Reward yourself for your hard work

Set smaller goals towards your big picture goal. If that means you went to the gym five days in one week, give yourself a treat like a facial, manicure or buy yourself something. Be careful not to reward yourself with binge eating. That can cause your reward system to backfire. And, do remember that cheat meals are just one meal, not the entire day.

Are you staying on track for your goals/resolutions? Tag @valeriefidan on Instagram to show us your goals!