I'm convinced "toning" is the most used, and most misunderstood, word in the women's health and fitness industry.
When we say we want to "tone up" or look more "toned," the look we are going for is defined, right? You want to have shape to your muscle, and nothing giggly on top of it.
Here are some of the ways many people assume we "get toned"...
- Eat lower calorie, maybe 1200 calories or less.
- Eat less carbs, maybe no carbs at all.
- Lift weights, but not too heavy.
- Run until you can't run anymore.
- Aim to reach your "goal weight" as fast as possible.
- Replace food with liquids and shakes only.
Now for the GOOD NEWS; none of the above ways are how to "tone up." Hallelujah!
Let's break this goal of toning into its two components. Showing shape to your muscle. Losing the giggle.
Shaping/sculpting muscle is done by building muscle. Yes ladies, that means resistance training. That doesn't have to mean lifting weights, but that is the most effective means to the end. How do you build muscle? Lift heavy! Lift weight that is challenging, and do it until fatigue. If you become sore in the muscles you were intentionally targeting, good job, success! Now let those same muscles recover and rebuild before you target them again.
Losing the giggle, losing fat, is done with nutrition. You shouldn't have to count/track your food forever, but if you are serious about fat-loss, you need to know how much you are eating. You can start with just calorie counting and using something like Weight Watchers. But then, it's a good idea to take a step up to macro-tracking for a bit to learn what's really in the food you're eating, how much protein/carbs/fat you are consuming. Controlling macros will help ensure that the weight you lose is fat, not lean mass, and not water weight. Notice I used the term "control," not "cut," or "lower." You do not have to eliminate a food group, you do not have to eat 1200 calories or less; in fact, for all intensive purposes, you should not do those things. If you have no idea where to start with this, consider doing some macro coaching with me to get you going on the right path.
Splitting the idea of "toning" into two categories, building muscle and losing fat, is important. If you focus only on fat loss, you may not end up with the shape to your muscle you were hoping for, resulting in the look known as "skinny fat." Thinner is not always fitter.
If you focus only on building muscle and don't pay proper attention to your diet, toning will surely be delayed, if it happens at all. Lifting heavy is not manly, ladies. You'd have to be over-eating for a long period of time, at specific macros, to leave you feeling "bulky."
But, under-eating and lifting heavy will leave you feeling tired and not building the muscle you are working so hard in the gym to see. Again, that's why both categories matter.
Lastly, extremes should always be the absolute last resort. If you go extreme with your diet and/or routine, the only way to move after that is more extreme, and then to the point where it's truly impossible to maintain, followed by relapsing and going back to exactly where you started, or further from your goals.
I hope this helps give you a bigger, clearer picture of getting "toned!"
If you still don't know where to start, please reach out to me for some help!
Helping is my favorite!