March 11th, 2013

It’s Not About The Body Fat

How they lost 100 lbs or more was the subject of a recent Burn the Fat newsletter. Email flooded in after that, from readers who were inspired by hearing about these huge body fat losses and before/after transformations.  I was inspired too. But sometimes I think we focus too much on the almighty scale and body fat percentage and forget about something even more important…

Your Health.

shawn_phillips_strenghHealth is what psychologist Abraham Maslow called a deficiency need, which means that when you’ve lost it, getting it back is the only thing in the world that matters.

Unfortunately, two corollaries to this theory of human motivation are:

1. Most people won’t lift a finger to improve their health until something bad happens (they have to hit “rock bottom” to change), and

2. When you’ve got your health, you tend to take it for granted.

That’s why we need constant reminders to keep our focus on health and keep health right on top of our list of life values.

As you remind yourself of the importance of your health every day, it also pays to consider how you define it.

Fitness and transformation icon Shawn Phillips, author of Strength for Life, says that if your definition of health is merely the absence of disease, then subconsciously, the mere absence of disease means you’ve achieved your “goal.”

Therefore, you feel no motivation and no need to move above and beyond that and strive toward this definition:

Health: “A life of ABUNDANT energy, vitality and strength.”

We NEED these reminders.

That’s why I get such a thrill when people send me success stories that are not just about the scale and body fat percentage, but ALSO about health and what that new-found health has done for a person’s life.

A Before and After Success Story You Don’t See Every Day (But Should)

For example, this success story comes from Burn the Fat reader Craig B:

“Tom, I visited my Dr. today and he was stunned at the change in my blood results. Check out this before and after:

232 before
121 after

185 before
87 after

HDL (good cholesterol)
32 before
41 after

VLDL (bad cholesterol)
40 before
17 after

Total cholesterol/HDL ratio
5.63 before
3.0 after
(I dropped from 2X average risk to less than HALF average risk!)

4.8 before
2.1 after

3.90 before
1.02 after
(I moved from High risk to Low risk.)

I have burned 34lbs of fat and put on 7lbs of lean muscle.

I have moved from 40% body fat to 32.9% (My scale may be off, but I am hoping to verify those body fat % measurements with a dunk test during my next visit to S.F. or Portland.)

The doctor, in short, was blown away with the results.

I have tried Atkins, Protein Power, Lindora (medical weightcontrol), each of these over the years and probably too many others to mention. Never have I felt this empowered and well armed with information and insight.

When I was not getting the results the math would have me believe, I had the tools and community support to explain what Beta Blockers do to cardio and metabolism then took that insight to my doctor and he has reduced and changed those meds.

I am now off statins all together as of today!

I have a ways to go to reach my final goal of 10% body fat,but I have the tools and I can accomplish it. I am, as you suggested, putting the date when I achieve it in pencil,but the 10% BF is in ink. I will get there.

It is amazing how empowering feeling good and controlling your blood chemistry through nourishment (both physiological and physical) and being consistent with the hard work in the gym and changing to a new lifestyle.

Thanks Tom – you are helping a lot of people, clearly. I will be telling anyone about the book and Burn the Fat website that has any questions or looking for answers.”

Gaining muscle and losing fat is nice, but what could be better than gaining muscle, losing fat, getting stronger AND feeling your health, energy and vitality skyrocket!

As Craig shows us, tracking your health improvements, not just what you weigh, gives you another source of tremendous motivation and a feeling of empowerment.

You realize that you are in control of your body. You are the maker and master.

One final thought: It’s a misconception that the “bodybuilding” lifestyle is in some way not healthy or doesn’t dramatically IMPROVE your health

Nothing could be further from the truth, as Craig’s results prove. Craig was not just doing aerobics – he was pumping iron and feeding the muscle, not starving himself.

If you do ANY kind of resistance training, you ARE a “body-builder.”

When you do NATURAL bodybuilding, you’re also a “health-builder.”

It’s about looking great AND getting healthier. That’s how I do it – naturally – and that’s how I encourage you to do it too.

Train hard and expect success,

Tom Venuto,
Author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle
Author of The Body Fat Solution
Founder & CEO, Burn the Fat Inner Circle

PS If You have a body fat AND health transformation success story, I’d love to hear about it; post below or e-mail me

About Tom Venuto

Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, fitness writer and author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets of Bodybuilders and Fitness Models (e-book) and the national bestseller, The Body Fat Solution, which was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Oprah Magazine, Muscle and Fitness Magazine, Ironman Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine, as well as on dozens of radio shows including Sirius Satellite Radio, ESPN-1250 and WCBS. Tom is also the founder and CEO of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community for inspiration and transformation

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13 Responses to “It’s Not About The Body Fat”

  • Julie

    Love this post and especially the following statements:

    “If you do ANY kind of resistance training, you ARE a “body-builder.”

    “When you do NATURAL bodybuilding, you’re also a “health-builder.”

    Thanks for the reminder and for sharing Craig’s story!

  • Hey Tom,

    I am glad to see this post. I came face to face with this massive life reminder when at the very end of 2012, I found myself in the hospital having emergency surgery due to a perforated large intestine. I will spare you my speculation on how much this was a result of 25 years of neglect before turning my focus on my health back in 2007. But the fact is that even after losing 70 lbs, quitting drinking, re-claiming better health and “transforming”, I lost sight of this most important factor (health). I started overworking, slept too little, did not manage my stress as I could have and was eating more poorly (even though fat or weight gain was not an issue). I forgot to take care of my health. All the above factors mentioned above, combined to find me in a life threatening situation. Fortunately, the surgery was done soon enough and I received excellent care from my surgeon and other health care providers. I spent 11 days in the hospital reflecting on what I could have done differently and what I was going to do differently. Tracking grams of fiber and water consumed daily, as well as giving my gut flora what it needs in the way of probiotics are part my daily routine now. But I will tell you this honestly, even after being in a life threatening situation a little over 10 weeks ago, I still have to remind myself to stay focused on my health factors. Human nature surely does come into play, from the standpoint that when I “feel” fine, my health focus can diminish, at least somewhat. I still find myself standing in front of the mirror being concerned about how I look, while momentarily forgetting that my health is the most important thing. Human nature in full effect! So, I took the 25 surgical staples that the nurse removed from my stomach, put them in a zip-lock bag and pinned them up on my wall, next to my bed. This serves to remind me of what can happen, if I don’t make my health, the absolute number one priority. I hope you are well Tom and thanks for his great reminder!

  • Tom Venuto

    Scott, great to hear from you. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad to hear you are fully recovered and re-focused on health… with reminders in view. Cheers! Tom.

  • Simon

    Great post Tom.

  • Jim Shelton

    Tom – I’ve lost 34 lbs in the last 2 months but still have 80 pounds more to lose (ouch!). However, I’m thrilled that my resting heart has dropped to 48 bpm and at the age of 58 that my asthma and lung function are the best they’ve EVER been!

    • Tom Venuto

      Jim! Congrats! youre on your way with the fat loss. Celebrate those wins along the way – including those great health improvements – it sure keeps you motivated and feeling empowered. Cheers! Tom V.

  • Karina Cerda

    I am so happy you posted this. I pray that it open the eyes of the general public and serves as an important reminder that it *Health* and *Fitness* are not always about the *LOOKS* or the *SCALE*. Real Health and Fitness work the same way that the spiritual light of TRUTH works within the human soul. It all begins with the INSIDE! A person can LOOK physically stunning on the exterior in eyes of someone else, yet have a horrible personality (a.k.a character). And the same holds TRUE in the Spiritual Realm. To become a beacon of TRUTH demands that an individual purify their soul by transforming their heart and mind.After an individual has successfully done this, further enlightenment and strength can be obtained through proper nutrition and exercise. And it does not always have to be about getting cut or ripped or even built for that matter. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being passionate about seeing your Blood Pressure become stable or seeing your Cholesterol level drop. I HAVE TO GO NOW… FMHTY… GOODBYE…

  • Liv

    What an awesome reminder of how you and your book have changed my life, Tom! It’s incredible that only 3 and a half years ago I didn’t know what strength training was. And now I just can’t imagine my life without it! Thank you again!

  • Pat

    Everything you said in this article is true. What we see from the outside can’t be a complete basis of a person’s overall health. Being thin doesn’t mean that you are completely healthy. It is important to have a complete assessment of your body, attitude and lifestyle. Daily exercise or training programs and a healthy diet will make your physique really good. There are other important things that you need in order to maintain a great looking body and perfect health like your determination, confidence, discipline and belief that you can achieve all these things.

  • Hey Tom

    Yet another great post. Great to see the success stories rolling in.

    For me – I had a medical problem which is a bit personal to mention online. However this drove me to do something about it – as your post says that most people take for granted their health and dont do anything until its too late. Yes that was me

    Luckily I did something about it and lost 5-6 inches off my waistline and feel fantastic with that health problem kicked into touch! Notice I measure myself with a belt size (inches) and not the scales. When you lose fat and gain muscle the scales tend to give you the impression you have achieved nothing – as muscle weight more than fat.

    You also need something personal to drive you forward. For me it was being kicked off a white knuckle ride because my stomach was too fat with 100+ people watching. I am just off to Disney Florida next week and have reached the goal to get back on with my kids. The thought drove me forward

    Many thanks


    • Tom Venuto

      Jim – congrats on the slim new waistline! great work. youre so so right about the lean muscle offsetting the weight loss sometimes – have to focus on body composition not just the scale alone.


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