By WINA STURGEON

According to the annual statistics, the most common New Year’s Resolution is “to lose weight”.

Unfortunately, nobody ever seems to stop to think about what that actually means.

You may be depending on stretch fabric to allow yourself to get a bit heftier, but even stretch fabric has a limit. Or you may resolve the whole situation by going on a diet, which is basically depriving your body of food, especially the foods you love.

After a while, the number on the scale becomes more satisfying and you can fasten your jeans with little to no effort. But your goal of losing “weight” has not been met. What you have lost is mostly muscle. Meanwhile, you keep believing in that vague word: weight. What do you mean by it?

You probably believe that weight refers to fat. But that’s not the case, because you’re probably not doing anything that will melt off fat.

Unless you get a lot of exercise, you won’t work off the fat either. So it will be stored, only to show up later in your life as love handles that are almost impossible to get rid of.

So let’s start with an accurate definition for “weight”, starting with a comparison between muscle and fat.

Muscle is dense. Fat is not. A square inch of muscle will weigh more than a square inch of fat. The reality is that a pound of fat and a pound of muscle each weigh the same: one pound. But the pound of fat will take up more space than the pound of muscle.

Livestrong.com says: “Muscle takes up approximately four-fifths as much space as fat. Two people may be the same height and weight, but the person with a higher body-fat percentage will wear a larger clothing size.”

When you resolve to lose weight, you probably mean you want to lose fat. That’s where the “never-fail, eat-what-you-want diet” comes in. Actually, the method I’m referring to is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change.

I call it a never-fail system is because a decade ago, I lost 9kg using it. I lost fat, and it took nearly a year to do it, but none of that fat ever came back. An actual diet is a temporary thing. Once it comes to an end, all that fat gradually creeps back.

You’ll adjust to the never-fail diet within a week. It’s basically just portion control. Instead of having three spoons of mashed potatoes, you take only two. You can still have two helpings of pie, but make them smaller slices.

At first, you’ll see your plate as barely full, and your stomach will also feel barely full. But within a week, your stomach will have shrunk and your eyes will have adjusted. You’ll actually get to the point where you couldn’t even consume the amount of food you once did.

The fact is, fat must be specifically targeted to cause it to melt away.

For example, a sprint will get your heart rate up and cause you to breathe hard, but sprints don’t last long enough to start using stored fat for fuel.

But if you walk at a fairly brisk pace for longer than 20 minutes, you run out of available glycogen, which is a type of sugar stored in both muscles and the liver, and used for immediate energy. Once 20 or so minutes of constant motion uses up the glycogen, your body then turns to stored fat for fuel.

This constant motion can be walking, riding a bike or pushing a baby stroller.

It doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, dramatic action. You want to move slowly and steadily, and the body will turn naturally to stored calories – fat – for the nutrition it needs to keep your muscles working. Think about endurance athletes: you never see a marathon runner with a big belly, right?

Change your eating habits to take in fewer calories, change your physical habits to force your body to use stored fat for fuel and you’ll never have to make any “resolution” to lose weight.

You’ll always have your weight under control. – Adventure Sports Weekly/Tribune News Service