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How to Lose Fat & Gain Muscle (while still being kind to yourself)

If you have put on extra pounds, you may have said, “I need to lose some weight.” Or, perhaps, your MD suggested you shed some weight for your health. Either way, you likely found yourself on a journey that includes moving more and eating less. Utilizing this tactic makes sense because “moving more and eating less” is a common yet oversimplified adage in American society.

This weight loss theory isn’t wrong. You CAN effectively lose weight by getting more steps in and eating fewer calories. However, when you restrict your food intake, your metabolism adjusts, and you will likely feel tired and hangry. It isn’t comfortable or sustainable, so you quit. The weight you lose returns, and you feel even more frustrated.

The other major flaw with this approach is it doesn’t focus on the TYPE of weight you will lose. When you envision your body with less weight, do you simply see a smaller version of yourself? Or, do you see less fat and more muscle or “tone”?

“It is more than likely that the image in your mind weighs more
than the target number you picture on your scale.”
- Kellie Largay from ACE Nutrition.

The desire to be trim and toned is a social ideal. After all, we see this time and again as the epitome of youth, strength, and vitality. Losing fat and gaining muscle are much different than simply losing weight.

To explain how to achieve this fat loss and muscle gain goal, I need to share a short version of my personal story. For most of my life, I’ve successfully hit my target number on the scale and have been able to wear the same size. To do this, I hopped from one nutrition and exercise plan to another. I restricted various food groups, ate out of different-sized colored containers, occasionally fasted, and ran more miles to maintain my smaller body size.

However, as I’ve gotten older, these tactics no longer worked. Besides, this lifestyle was exhausting, and darn it; I like my chocolate, carbs, and wine. I essentially started to throw in the towel. The number on the scale crept up, my clothes got tighter, and I grew increasingly frustrated. I felt myself heading down the path of giving in to “old age.”

Then, I met Kellie from ACE Nutrition.

Kellie invited me to talk to her Facebook Community about running & strength training. While doing so, I immediately knew I liked her personality, and I always love meeting other women who believe in both running and strength training. I began to follow her on social media and quickly learned that her nutrition coaching approach to “weight loss” was unique.

She spoke of body recomposition vs. weight loss. She believes no food is off limits, all macros are essential, and most people sabotage their metabolism by hopping on and off restrictive diet trends. She gave me hope that I could gain muscle while losing fat, and most importantly, I could eat, have energy, sleep well and recover well from my workouts.

I decided to hire her as my nutrition coach five months ago. Honestly, at first, it was challenging for me. Due to my history of chronic restrictive dieting and excessive cardio, she suggested I undergo “reverse dieting.” This eating style meant I needed to slowly increase my calorie intake, increase my protein consumption, commit to consistent weight training, drink loads of water, and weigh and track my food. None of which were easy tasks.

I bucked the system. I fought back and got frustrated because I was accustomed to quick fixes and desperately wanted the extra 10 pounds I gained on the scale to disappear. I blamed my age, busy life, and hormones on this added weight. I did not understand how eating more would help me attain my goals.

When I started with Kellie, I told her I preferred direct feedback. She reminded me to trust the process and be consistent, or this will not work. She also reminded me to watch her weekly Facebook Live Q&A and attend monthly Facebook group coaching sessions.

Once I listened to her, and her co-coach Ashley Holly talk about metabolic adaptation, I began to understand. I’m a science girl and need proof. I learned the reason behind their methodology and trusted the process.

A big moment for me was in the dressing room of a TJ MAXX. I was trying on dresses and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I saw muscle instead of fat. I saw a body I was proud of instead of disgusted by. I saw curves and definition without a feeling of disappointment. AND I hadn’t yet seen a single pound drop off the scale.

Kellie and Ashley discuss more than fat loss, muscle gain, or weight loss. They speak of acceptance, strength, health, vitality, and longevity. They are not fans of being skinny, and you may hear them talk about avoiding the “bag of bones” look. They equip you with confidence and teach you to love your body despite its current shape or size.

I am the first to admit I have body dysmorphia. I have been hard on myself my entire life. I’ve striven to look and feel athletic and capable, no matter my age or current phase of life. I’ve restricted, pushed myself to utter fatigue, and said many mean things to my reflection in the mirror.

I’m only five months in, and I’m not finished. I’ve made substantial mental and physical gains, but I have more work ahead. I know I’m not alone in this journey toward optimal health. So, I’d like to share six significant lessons I’ve learned thus far in the hope of helping others break free from the chains of our disappointing diet culture.

I will preface this by saying that I am not a nutrition expert. I’ll leave that up to the intelligent women at ACE Nutrition. I have dropped a few of their links below if you want to learn more details on the topic.

Six Lessons I’ve learned from my nutrition coach about how to lose fat and gain muscle:

  1. Your muscles need protein to grow

  2. You need to lift heavy weights consistently to make muscle gains

  3. Hydration is critical for both fat loss and muscle gain

  4. Your metabolism adapts and efficiently burns muscle (while keeping fat) when you eat too little or do too much cardio

  5. You sleep better, feel better, have more energy, recover faster and feel stronger when you eat more

  6. Your body composition can change drastically even if the scale doesn’t change

Here are a few helpful expert resources on this topic from ACE Nutrition:


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