Stop and think for a second about the true meaning of what you are saying when you talk about weight loss. Weight can come from a vast array of things. It can come from fat, muscle, bone, water, ligaments, clothing and the list goes on. What most people are in search of is FAT LOSS! There is a big difference between weight loss and fat loss. You could lose a leg and you will lose weight. Is that a desirable way to lose weight? No, of course not. You can deplete your body of carbs, drink a whole bunch of water and then excrete lots of water out of your body and your weight will go down. Is that true weight loss? No. (Although its a great way to lighten up for a weigh in)
One of the worst ways to lose weight is by losing muscle. You can lose muscle and your weight will go down; however, with less muscle, your fat will go up since you now have less muscle to keep the fat off. Have you ever known someone who constantly brags about all of the miles and hours they run and bike and do the elliptical and blah blah blah and they lost this much weight but now theyre up this much and so on and so forth? I know I have and let me tell ya; it drives me NUTS! Now don't get me wrong, I give all the props in the world to these people for trying to be healthy and active, etc. Nevertheless, there is one HUGE problem with all of this aerobic endurance activity (and lack of any muscle and bone building activity). It wastes away important muscle tissue!! Chronic endurance people usually do no strength training or other forms of cardiovascular activity. They lose weight and might even appear to be "skinny" and healthy; however, the weight that they are losing is muscle and it does nobody any good to be what I call "skinny fat" with weak, fragile, non functional bodily structures.
This goes for those just starting out on their weight loss journeys as well. We've all seen it. Suzy decides that she is finally going to get up off the couch, stop watching All My Children reruns and lose some darn weight!! What does she do? She goes and hops on the elliptical or treadmill (or God forbid tries to jog when she is one hundred pounds more than her joints can handle) and goes at it for 30 to 40 minutes, maybe even an hour, for four or five days a week. This continues for a couple of weeks and she loses about 5 lbs. She then stalls and probably gains some more weight and then she gives up.
So what happened with Suzy? She more than likely lost some water weight and maybe even a small amount of fat (if you go from doing nothing to doing something, you're going to lose something). After a couple of weeks, her body adapted so the "weight loss" stopped. She did absolutely nothing to build any muscle (which is absolutely essential to lose fat) and actually succeeded in wasting away muscle (aside from some slow twitch fibers being stimulated, see past articles), which in turn sets the stage for more fat GAIN. So yea, she lost a little weight; but not much FAT and actually set the path to gain more fat than she started with. This, obviously, is a problem and is not the goal that Suzy had in mind. What she needs to do is strength train, do intense intervals and circuits and set the stage for optimal FAT LOSS as she builds muscle, gets stronger and releases lots of fat burning hormones. And yes, aerobic endurance does have its place and is also important. There are just a lot of people who do way too much of it and not enough of the other very important things to keep a healthy balance.
Stop talking about weight loss. Start talking about fat loss. There is a difference and it should be treated as such. And can somebody please tell me why in the world the Body Mass Index (BMI) is still used in some places?! What a great way to measure someone's well being!!! Lets look at someone's weight level and completely disregard muscle mass. Its not like muscle is important or anything. (sarcasm :)) According to the lovely BMI (which you should basically throw in the trash can of your brain), I am obese. The funny thing is, I am usually around 7-8 % body fat; thus, I am very far from being obese. BMI only takes the height and weight of an individual into account and is very misleading since it does not consider muscle weight. Body fat is what needs to be focused on. Don't let things like this fool you.
So, in conclusion. Start thinking more specifically and clearly when you are making your goals. What weight do you want to lose? I am pretty sure you wouldn't want it to be a body part or muscle. Most likely, you are looking for fat loss. Understand the difference and your training will take you a lot farther.