Don’t Be Disappointed If You Can’t Live Your Daily Life at a Low Body Fat Level.

When you reach your fitness goals you still go through a maturing process

It sounds odd but once you hit your fitness goals, especially if you’ve exceeded your expectations, you will still go through a maturing process.  You learn to adjust to a shape and size that you have to be happy with.  Usually most of us want to be back to our leanest.  That is the benchmark we all compare ourselves to.

I don’t use a scale anymore, or even a tape measure.  I might get on a scale a couple times a year, and an occasional DXA scan (which is the only method I trust for true body fat %).  After a couple of years now I base my “range” on three sets of clothes – mainly determined by pants/waist sizes as that is mainly where the fat fluctuates.

I exceeded my own goal when I got down to 10% body fat. Once we do this this is our benchmark, but we can't live our day to day life there.

I exceeded my own goal when I got down to 10% body fat. Once we do this it is our benchmark, but we can’t live our day to day life there. The Venus Factor system IS what got me to exceed my wildest expectations for myself.

Why we need periodic refeeds

Leigh Peele’s Starve Mode book and recent podcast are helping me learn to mature in my journey. Leigh’s explanations and research are helping me to learn why we can’t live our day to day lives at a super lean body fat level.  It’s helping me understand why we need breaks from the deficit (sometimes called a refeed).

I will admit, all along I’ve always hated the term refeed and I didn’t believe that we needed them.  I saw too many people using a refeed as an excuse to eat too much. I just wasn’t willing to go there.  I was afraid of getting fat again.  To be perfectly honest that seemed like my worst nightmare after how hard I worked to achieve my goal.

Now I know that a refeed is not meant to be a free for all – eating as much as you want – for as long as you want – binge.  It just means eat at maintenance.  Yes, it’s that simple.  Eat at maintenance, and if you’ve been doing the reverse taper (it’s built into our nutrition calculator) then that is probably not much higher than your slight deficit anyway.

We have some refeed days built into our Venus Factor 12 week Fat Loss manual, but based on how you feel you might need extended periods of eating at maintenance.

Relax, the slight calorie deficit still works

The first time I hit this higher range over a year ago I almost had a meltdown.  It’s hard when you have worked so hard to lose body fat; you still have a fear of gaining it all back.  For the most part, if you are paying attention that is just not going to happen. 

Give yourself a month or two of doing exactly what you already know how to do and you will be back to being comfortable again. 

It probably won’t be the last time.

Relax. Take a deep breath.  Work on the deficit when you can, then take a break from the deficit and be patient.  It does still take a calorie deficit to lose fat.  But take it slow.  Easy does it.  Trust the process.  Trust your body.  It will be a delayed reaction. 

What you do now can take up to three weeks to show results.  The first week is the hardest, the next week gets better, then you find your groove, and each week gets better.  You keep plugging along and it’s not very exciting, but you know what to do.

After a while your clothes change how they fit and you start seeing more muscle definition again.  Once you start seeing small changes like this it keeps you motivated to keep going. 

Women are meant to have a higher body fat compared to men

Women are meant to have a certain level of healthy body fat, more than men.  It is nature’s way of survival for us.  We are not really meant to manipulate our bodies to be super lean, but some of us do it anyway and we have to learn how to manage this in a healthy manner.

If we are not careful we can actually develop eating disorders, so we must learn to stay healthy and take care of ourselves.  I have never had an eating disorder and I don’t intend to start down that path, ever.

I'm learning to accept that this level is very healthy and livable, and I'm fine right as long as I want or need to stay here.

I’m still convincing myself that the higher end is okay.  I can shoot for slightly lower if I want, or I can stay where I am as long as I want to or need to.  It’s okay either way.  Whatever is livable, sustainable, or fits with my life and stress level at the moment in time, or the season in my life.


So probably the biggest struggle for me is accepting that I’m okay even at my highest end of the range, shown in the collage, all very recent pictures from the last several months up to a few days ago.  Learning to accept this is a normal part of the maturing process.

First of all body fat level does not matter.  Finding the shape and look you like matters more.  Once you find that it might be good to know what the level is, but it’s not entirely necessary.

My body fat percentage tends to be on the very low side mainly because my lean body mass (LBM) is on the very high side.  At 5’1 my LBM (per DXA) is 105 lbs., for most women my height this is 98 lbs. or under.  Comparison is not a good idea, for me or for anyone else.

We are all different.  I have to accept that this is me; this is how I’m designed.  I love lifting heavy and I love feeling strong.  I love my gym time.  I wouldn’t be happy without it.  So yeah I’m big for my height and that’s just how it is. In general I’m still a tiny person, I am only 5’1″ after all.

It doesn’t help me to know my scale weight or my body fat percentage anymore

Recently someone asked me what my weight and body fat percentage is right now.  I had to answer that I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.  I don’t think it does me any good to know.  I’d rather just learn to be happy with my shape and whatever clothes I decide to wear. I know how to eat at a slight deficit and that’s all I need to know.  I either decide to do it or not.  If I have too much stress or I am not getting enough sleep then a deficit for me is not sustainable.

I know which clothes fit and I know this is my high end.  All I know is I want to learn to accept and love where I’m at right now, while at the same time trying to get just slightly slimmer when I can.  I’ll know once I’m there by which clothes fit. 

I know how to get there; just a slight calorie deficit, taking breaks as needed, constantly listening to my body at various cycles of hunger and stress, sleep and energy level, and strength at the gym.  It’s all about energy balance and being tuned into your own body.

Learning to love your body right where you are at; It takes constant work.  It’s hard.

I’m still convincing myself that the higher end is okay.  I can shoot for slightly lower if I want, or I can stay where I am as long as I want to or need to.  It’s okay either way.  Whatever is livable, sustainable, or fits with my life and stress level at the moment in time, or the season in my life.

Just as Nicola explains in the podcast with John, learning to love your body takes constant effort and it’s not easy.  It does not matter where you are in your weight loss journey.  It takes work even after you achieve your goal.  It’s constant work.

The best time to start on that mental work is now, right where you are at.  Whatever level you are at, it is training for maintaining.


About Roberta Saum

Roberta is a 56 year young Elite Trainer at 1st Phorm. She achieved her fitness dream at age 50 here at The Venus Factor. She is a Fitness Consultant/Motivator for Hopelessly Romantic Media Productions, Venus Factor Coach, Product Developer, Brand Ambassador, Contest Administrator, Author, Editor in Chief for the Venus Factor, and 1st Phorm Ambassador.

More about Coach Roberta

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