What does fitness mean? That’s a big question. And sometimes a forgotten question. Folks realize they’re out of shape and/or overweight, decide they need to do something about it, and rattle off a random goal.
“I’m going to drop 50 pounds.”
“I’m going to run a half-marathon.”
YOU’RE NOT GONNA GET ANYWHERE IF YOU’RE NOT LIFTING SOMETHING. YOU NEED TO DO IT. IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR BODY, PICK UP SOMETHING HEAVY.
“I’m going to get my high school body back.”
These are common goals – common enough that reading them here surprises no one – but what do they really represent? Change? Yes. But random change.
Maybe you could even call it shotgun change, in that your goal is scattered and unfocused. Maybe you hit it, and even if you do, what does it mean?
Think of it this way: losing 50 pounds is a nice accomplishment. Few people do it. But why not 54 pounds? 48? And that half-marathon. Hey, not many people can run 13 miles. It’s awesome if you can do it … but then what? Are you now considered “fit?” By whose standard?
You start to see the problem. When we toss around fitness goals, they – like muscles hidden by flab — lack true definition. That’s what Kristen Buter found out the hard way. Great intentions don’t mean great results.
Buter found herself in the same situation millions of new moms find themselves – saddled with bundles of joy and a body that’s beaten up from carrying those bundles around and finally pushing them out. Buter has two children. They bring her incredible joy, but also posed new challenges.
“I used to be very physically active before them,” she says. “And I had two very rough pregnancies. When they’re little, life is just crazy. You take a back seat and that first year it’s so hard to get back to a normal life.”
How to Lose Baby Weight (Or
Achieve Any Weight Loss Goals)
A few years ago, Buter and her husband found themselves talking just after Christmas. They realized on that holiday break that the kids had been well-behaved and more self-sufficient. And the proverbial lightbulb went off.
“I don’t do the New Year’s resolution thing,” she says. “But we were talking about things we wanted to do in the coming year. I thought,
I thought, You know what, you’ve had such a great week with the kids and they’re so much older now. There’s no point going another year where you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. So I decided this would be ‘the year of Kristen’ where I’d get back to the old me.”
She didn’t know it, but Buter had just stepped in a fitness trap. “Get back to the old me” sounds so tempting, so empowering, so promising. But without a defined plan – a clear definition of what “fitness” meant to her – she had no clear path. And she soon realized it.
“I started doing what I used to do and wasn’t getting the results I got before,” she says. That’s when she sought out help. She found trainer Adam Bornstein from his online writing and then his Twitter account. Even though he was based in L.A., thousands of miles from her native Ontario, she signed on. Bornstein’s first question: What do you want to accomplish?
It’s not an easy question when you are forced to really think about it. Buter had to admit that she really wasn’t interested in dropping a brag-worthy amount of weight or run a half-marathon.
Once she thought about it, she realized she didn’t really know what “fitness” meant to her. Here’s what she discovered: “It’s not so much about weight. It’s about how I look and feel.” That meant focusing on how to lose baby weight, but not hitting a random number goal or athletic accomplishment. It meant total body transformation.
Weight Loss is
Bornstein adjusted her exercise and eating plan. The biggest shock – and something she still can’t believe – is the counterintuitive act of eating morefood to get leaner.
“When I compared what I had been eating to what I should be eating, the difference was huge. Even now, I’m eating more than I ever have before, and I’m smaller, leaner, and tighter than I’ve ever been.”
The glitch? People sometimes forget – or never know – that when you work out, you have to eat to see results. You also have to eat the right things – a balance of protein, carbs, and fats – so a bag of chips doesn’t qualify as “more.” “It changes your mindset,” she says.
“For the last 10 years, I’ve been eating pretty healthy. But I never ate based on whether I’m training or not training. I never thought about the food and how it might affect my workout later. You’re eating to enjoy it, but also for a reason. What is your fuel for?”
This: She works out 4 times a week for about 45-60 minutes because that’s what works for her schedule. But when her schedule changed, it was a shift to 30-minute sessions. The length isn’t what’s important, but the flexibility.
It’s a foundational principle of her Born Fitness coaching program: build a program that meets a client where they are, not sets the bar to something impossible. After all, consistency is one of the highest predictors of body transformation success, so it makes no sense to create workouts that are too long for your schedule or require you to go to the gym more often than you can handle.
Her workouts are split into roughly half resistance training and half metabolic training. This was also new to Buter and helped crystallize what fitness meant to her. Within two weeks she saw and felt results.
She hadn’t lost any weight – which would be a sign of failure to some – but her body was transforming almost before her eyes. “During that first two weeks, I saw a couple inches go and I was amazed,” she said. “I had been working out before and hadn’t seen anything change. To see something fall off that quickly was huge.”
Beyond The Scale: Understanding
Weight Loss and Transformation
Buter was experiencing something that few women do because few women engage in heavy resistance and metabolic training. Her body was burning fat like crazy, but it was also adding muscle. Her weight didn’t fluctuate very much, but her body fat percentage was dropping and she began to see muscle definition.
After a little over three months, “bingo-bango, mom’s got a six pack.”
Buter has dropped only nine pounds since starting her new plan, but she’s lost 15 inches of fat and dropped her body fat percentage from 25 to 19 percent. Next stop: 16 percent.
“Right now I’m in my best shape ever,” she says. “More energy, way more self-confidence, better sleep. And when you sleep better you’re in a better mood.”
Buter recommends this style of training for women who want to transform their bodies. But she’s also heard the myth that women are afraid to lift weights because they’ll bulk up. Ladies: it simply won’t happen (for the record, you would have to consume a lot of food – like a bodybuilder or football player – to bulk up from resistance training).
Buter puts it simply: “You’re not gonna get anywhere if you’re not lifting something. You need to do it. If you want to change your body, pick up something heavy.”
Because of all this, Buter is now a rare species: A woman who loves to do the dead lift. That’s not to say she doesn’t have a least-favorite exercise, as well. “Bulgarian split squats,” she says with a laugh. “Though my ass doesn’t hate them as much as I do.”