Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss. What's the difference?

It’s relatively important that you understand the difference between weight loss and fat loss. In certain cases these terms are used interchangeably and it’s most likely because individuals don’t fully understand the difference.

I don’t know if it’s just me or if other trainers experience the same issue but I wanted to share this with you today because of its importance.

I’ve consulted with women who really don’t care much about losing weight. They are more interested in looking better in their clothes. 

And I’ve had clients who weigh themselves daily and live in a constant state of frustration because they don’t see the scale budge and appear to get the results they’re hoping for.

This could be because…

1. The scale fluctuates by the minute based on of a variety of factors.

2. Changes happen slowly – It’s a process. The sooner this “clicks” the more relaxed, focused, and happier you’ll be. 

Losing bodyfat is hard work – Not only does the scale fluctuate daily and the process takes time, it’s also difficult. There can be A LOT of factors that go into losing body fat

...and, if your lifestyle isn’t necessarily set up to achieve this, it makes it darn near impossible.

So, I’ll fill you in.

There is a major difference between weight loss and fat loss. They are not the same thing.

Weight Loss – A reduction or lowering of bodyweight, the sum of your bones, muscles, organs and body fat.

Fat Loss – A reduction or lowering of the amount of fat your body carries.

Take a look at the image above.

You notice on the weight loss side of the scale, you see fat, water and muscle. The last part is the key part.

There can be a significant amount of muscle mass that is lost if you are not strength training. That’s not ideal and that’s not good “weight loss.”

If you desire to lose weight it’s most likely because you really want to lose excess bodyfat.

“The goal then, should be lose fat, rather than lose weight.” 

By saying this, I’m not implying that it’s a bad thing to lose weight. If you’re losing weight properly, you most likely are losing bodyfat so it’s a win either way.

However, not all weight loss is good weight loss and not all weight gain is bad weight gain.

The problem is losing “weight” can be a very unreliable predictor of what is actually happening. It’s one of the many metrics that is used to track progress but it’s also one of the most skewed.

Weight loss isn’t linear and it shouldn’t be totally neglected when it comes to monitoring and tracking your goals. There are just better metrics that will provide you clearer data on your progress.

Many women who start a diet and can lose up to 7-10 lbs in the first seven days. This isn’t actually FAT but rather a combination of things. This is also the reason that you might go out for a night of indulging and gain 3-5 lbs over night. You didn’t all of a sudden gain 5 pounds of fat.

Here's the real difference between the two:

Weight Loss:
Crash Dieting with Fad Diets and Poor Training

- Decrease strength
- Poor performance
- Reduced Immunity
- Early Aging
- Reduced Immunity

Fat Loss:
Proper Nutrition and a Balanced Training Program

- Improved Fitness
- Increased Strength

- Increased Performance
- Delayed Aging
- Reduced Risk of Diseases

Here's another thing that must be understood. The picture below represents 5 lbs. of fat and 5 lbs. of muscle. As you can see, the 5 lbs of muscle is far more dense and takes up less space than the 5 lbs. of fat. 

When you start to tone (increase) muscle and lose fat you actually begin to lose inches. I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve had clients tell me their clothes fit better yet the weight on the scale hasn’t changed much.

That alone further reiterates the lack of importance of scale weight.

So What Should You Do?

First, adjust your nutrition so that you begin to eat healthier, more supportive meals. Second, find a strength training program that you will stick with for at least 60 days.

The key though, is to get your body fat tested at the beginning of your program, and every 30 days. This is important because you want to know how much lean body mass (lbm) you have in addition to your total fat mass. Your goal should be to maintain or increase lean body mass as you strive to lose excess fat from your frame. If you do that, along with a proper nutrition program, you will not only lose fat but you will also lose weight and inches.

That is exactly why I stress the importance and encourage full body measurement and body fat testing every 30 days...to monitor exactly what is going on with the changes that are occurring in your body.

How to stay motivated and win the war against the scale.

What I’ve discovered in my 22 years as a master fitness trainer and body transformation coach, is that sometimes motivation - by itself - simply isn’t enough.

Let me explain...

Some days, you may feel motivated to go after your fitness and weight loss goals and some days the motivation just....isn't there.

You know the feeling - the passion you initially felt about taking action to reach your goal just isn't there anymore. You try to hype yourself back up but it isn't working and everything you do seems to be counterproductive.

Without the motivation you need, you feel a little hopeless, lost and...


The truth is, we all get stuck in a rut from time to time.

That's the way life is wired.

But what separates those who fail at reaching their goal to those who seem to "get it done"?

How do you bounce back and get motivated again to reach your fitness and weight loss goals?

I'm going to give you 5 strategies you need to stay motivated and focused to conquer any fitness and weight loss goal that will help keep you accountable and keep that promise to yourself to finally reach your fitness and weight loss goals.

Are you ready?

1. Have a compelling reason

You need to have a strong 'reason why' and enough emotion behind your fitness and weight loss goals to really make them work. It's simply a matter of having enough conviction to move in the direction you want and continue to take daily action towards your goals for them to manifest into reality.

In the classic book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill wrote that “desire is the starting point of all achievement…the first step toward all riches.”  He uses the following adjectives to describe the kind of desire he found after interviewing 500 of the most successful people of all time: consuming, obsessive, pulsating and burning.

Can you describe you current desire for your fitness goals with the same words?

A compelling reason fuels the intense desire to ensure the achievement of your goal. You need a compelling desire – something that really gets you to leap out of bed in the morning and one that carries you through the day when you feel like giving up or had a "bad day" of unsupportive food choices, skipped meals or missed workouts.

Goals give you direction, but a strong emotional reason for wanting to change and reach your goal is the propulsion system that drives you in the direction you desire.

There is a big difference between simply wanting something and actually needing to have it! 

Build up a burning desire by focusing in on the emotional reason or reasons why you want to achieve your goal. Without this step, you may lose the drive you need and will have more stress which will cause you to give up when challenges arise.

This is what will keep you motivated and provides you with the drive to do whatever it takes to succeed.

What’s most important to you about reaching your goal?

Why do you want this?

Most importantly, how will this impact or change your life?  You must feel the emotion behind this. It must be yours and it must excite you!

2. Choose a goal that is specific and measurable (and put it in writing)

Choose a goal that's specific and really excites you! If your goal is to get in shape and be healthy, then instead of just stating that you want to lose weight and get in shape, choose a more specific and measurable objective.

This could be any number of things such as:

  • Lose ___  lbs. (insert your exact number). Don't be afraid. 
  • Fit back into your favorite pair of size ___ "skinny jeans" collecting dust in your closet.

The more specific your goal is, the more vivid it will become in your subconscious mind. Be sure to write your goal down. 

"Goals not written down are merely dreams."

So write down your goal(s) to take them from dreams to reality. It solidifies them in your mind on what you're trying to achieve.

But here's the key - be sure to write them down as affirmations as though they already happened. This has very strong subconscious power.

For example, something like:

"I am fit, healthy and love the way I feel".

As you noticed, it's written as though it's already happened and also includes:

Specifics things that you'll do to achieve the goal. You must see yourself taking the actions necessary to accomplish your goal.

When reading and repeating your goal affirmation, you need to imagine and visualize the way you will be 90-Days from when you started. 

Really see yourself living the way you wrote out your goal affirmation.

Committing to your goals in writing means that you own it. You are responsible for your goals that are on paper and turning them into a desired outcome. Owning it means taking responsibility for changes, risks, the obstacles and more importantly, your success. We share this strategy in more detail and hold you accountable to it in my 90 Day Challenge.

3. Believe in Yourself

You may have heard the saying “If you conceive it, believe it, you can achieve it."

Did you know that the negative thoughts and disbelief you shelter in your subconscious mind may be the only factor preventing you from reaching your fitness and weight loss goals?

It's true.

You can never outperform your self-image. "It's not what you are that holds you back. It's what you think you're not."

Those wise words from Denis Waitley probably explain more people's failure to achieve the life they seek than any other quote that I'm aware of.

What keeps most people from achieving is that they spend too much time dwelling on their weaknesses and shortcomings instead of believing they can succeed.

There is no doubt the power of belief is the number one secret of top goal achievers. When all other things are equal, it is the main reason why one person succeeds while others struggle. 

Your limiting beliefs are created and sustained by our limiting thoughts (some of which we inherited from others) your environment and the people in your life.

Changing our limiting beliefs is such an important part of success that I put a lot of emphasis on it when working with my clients to change their fitness level.

There is an extremely effective strategy that I must share with you called the “Success Mindset”. A key part of reaching your weight loss and fitness goals is the consistent practice of visualization and the power of belief.

For some reason though, too many people dismiss the mental aspects of achievement as nothing but a bunch of “rah-rah”, pep talk.

But make no mistake about it...

this powerful strategy is what separates those who are truly successful with their weight loss goals from those who continue to struggle time and time again.

You see, all things are created twice, first in the mental realm and then the physical. You cannot achieve your ideal body if you don't have an idea of what the ideal body means to you and what it looks like.

Your subconscious mind is extraordinarily powerful, but it is a servant, not a master.

It coordinates every aspect of your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, words, actions, and emotions and guides you to engage in the behaviors that move you ever closer to achieving the goals you visualize.

Your subconscious mind does not differentiate between that which is imagined and that which is real. It accepts everything that enters its realm as truth.

Therefore, by visualizing yourself looking and feeling, not as you are now, but as you will be - you’re in effect - telling your subconscious mind into believing that your desired result has already been attained. 

World-Class athletes and champions know this strategy and have conditioned themselves to “vision their dream”. They see on the inside long before the worlds sees it on the outside.

Make sure you have a vivid, tangible picture of what you want to look and feel like. Visualize what it would be like to already have achieved your goal. Take a moment to let yourself feel the excitement. Put this picture where you can see it several times a day. This image will imprint on your subconscious mind and your conscious mind will make it a reality.

Take a moment and imagine how you will look and feel 90 days from today.

As you look in the mirror, you see how amazing your body looks. You can fit into your favorite pair of jeans again. Your waist is tighter, thighs are slimmer, and your hips are more firm. Your arms look more toned and defined. You feel more confident and you can see the reactions of those you love as they see the new you.

Imagine the way you look and feel with your new toned body. While simple, this process allows you to physically see the body you want – pointing your subconscious toward the realization of your future, ideal body. This constant source of inspiration is a reminder of who you want to become and where you are headed!

This experience will help keep you motivated and will help pull you through the inevitable difficulties of making the positive changes.

You don't change your body by trying to change your body...

You change your body by creating new habitual patterns of thinking and visualizing, programming your mind for success. Your body will follow.

Changes don't occur overnight, but in as little as 90 days, you could make some very significant changes.

Realize this, 90-days are going to come around regardless if you do this strategy, so by taking action now, you can start changing your body and your life today.

4. Have a support network

Far too many people needlessly struggle with weight loss and fitness because they try to go at it alone. There is no substitute for the support of others. Sometimes you need just a little – or a lot of emotional support to help you stay motivated. 

Support is the emotional encouragement and advocacy we tap into during times of challenge and growth. Support comes from the care, guidance, and insights of the people we know who understand our goals and who have "been there and done that."

Support can come from a family member, friend, mentor or coach. This is not a dependency, but a respect built around mutual good intentions regarding a transition or goal.

One of most powerful assets to have is a solid support network. Taking up a new goal to transform your body will require many changes and challenges in your daily schedule.

Imagine having the encouragement and support you need to reach levels of fitness you have only dreamed about. A social support group will always be there to pick you up when you are down. They will push you further on days where you think you can start coasting. 

With a powerful supportive network of family and friends, this process of reaching your goals will be much less stressful and easier to complete when you have someone in your corner and will ensure that you will maintain your focus and minimize excuses when it comes time to show up for your workout. 

5. Be Accountable

The number one reason people fail in their quest for a permanent change is because they fail to make it a lifestyle. This is where accountability comes in. Recording what you eat, when you eat it, how much exercise you do, when you do it, and most importantly, how it makes you feel, can really help you stay on track and achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.

Anything that is measured and watched consistently improves. Inevitably, the feelings recorded are positive, as it’s virtually impossible to eat right and exercise and not feel good about yourself.  Nothing reinforces life-changing behavior more than recollecting the strong emotions associated with taking positive action towards your goal.


Make it a great day!