Staying Toned After Weight Loss
Following significant weight loss, it is vital to have an exercise routine to keep your muscles firm and help to tighten the skin. One of the biggest drawbacks to significant weight loss is the flabby skin that is visable that often can take months to disappear.
First of all, we recommend performing any exercise that works the pectoral muscles will help tone the chest, but be careful not to do exercises that work the breasts directly. Breasts are not muscle tissue, they are fatty tissue, and therefore do not respond to weightlifting or resistance exercise of any type. In cases where the breasts are small, toning the pectoral muscles will lift the chest and possibly the breasts along with it, but if there is a lot of breast tissue, the exercises will not lift it. This tissue may disappear over time, or it may not. Your only option would be surgery.
How much your skin will tighten depends on your age, length of time the skin was stretched and how much it was stretched, how much weight you lost (and to some degree how fast you lost it), the amount of elastin in your skin, and genetics. Exercise can help as it will tighten the skin, plus it will tighten and tone muscles under the skin, which can have an affect on your appearance. We generally ask people to wait 8-12 months to see how much the skin tightens. If after this time the skin is unacceptably loose, then surgery may need to be considered to correct it. In some of these cases, when it is deemed a health risk, insurance may cover the surgery.
For the stomach, the bottom line to weight loss is to burn more calories than you consume. If you eat 2,000 calories in a day and only burn 1,500, you're going to gain weight. On the other hand, if you eat 1,500 and burn 2,000, you'll be in caloric deficit by 500 calories. Given that scenario, at the end of the week, that would be 3,500 calories, and 3,500 calories equals one pound.
The combination of modifying your diet and exercise is a good plan. Aerobic exercise will burn lots of calories and help you stay healthy and fit (independent of body weight), and resistance exercise will tone, strengthen, and increase your muscle mass. More muscle mass is important for weight control because it is the engine on your body that burns calories. Not only that, but when you lose weight, you can lose up to 25% of your weight from muscle, so you want to keep as much of it as you can.
It is important to note that you can lose weight without exercise by modifying your diet. People lose weight all the time without exercise by reducing caloric intake. In fact, in virtually all studies of weight loss, people who diet ALWAYS lose more weight than people who exercise. If you ask those same people to diet AND exercise, they lose a little more weight than the dieters alone, but not that much. Why is this? This is due to muscle weights more than fat. With more muscle mass, your body will turn to fat as its engery source and burn the fat for energy. As a pound of fat can be five times the size of a pound of muscle, you can keep the same weight, yet look trimmer and healthier, as lean muscle gives you a sleek, toned physique.
In virtually every study of weight maintenance, the people who are most active are most successful in maintaining weight loss. Most scientists agree that exercise is the single best predictor of weight maintenance success.
So the bottom line is to burn more calories than you consume, by either reducing your caloric intake, and then increasing your activity as you lose weight so by the time you get to your goal weight you can keep it off because you are active.
One final point: Aerobic and resistance exercise are also both very important for health. In fact, you can be healthy and fit if you exercise independent of body weight. In one very important study, overweight, fit people were healthier and lived longer than lean, unfit people. That's a very important point because weight loss can be slow, frustrating, and not everyone gets to an "ideal" weight. So keep up the exercise, watch your caloric intake, and results will follow.