Top pic: 2009-- 128-130ish lbs (LOTS of cardio)
Bottom pic: 2016-- 137-140ish lbs (heavy lifting, very little cardio, eating MORE!)
If weighing less is the ONLY goal and you keep reducing food intake and increasing cardio to get there, you'll likely find the outcome to be a smaller and weaker version of the body you started with. You'll realize that weighing less does not equal LOOKING leaner or tighter. And that probably wasn't the final product you were hoping for when you started the weight loss journey.
How many times have you heard someone say that they finally got down to where they wanted to be on the scale-- but it doesn't look the same as it did before? Or worse--now they feel more "flabby?"
How does that happen? Well, you've now ended up with less muscle --which looks a lot different than being tighter + more muscle at a higher weight.
Simply focusing on weight loss and excessive cardio ALL the time makes it nearly impossible to put on enough muscle mass that will give you the lean "look" you are aiming for. Yes, that "toned look" you hear people talking about? What they don't realize is that being "tone" means having a body fat percentage low enough to see muscle show through. But first, you need to HAVE muscle in order to see it.
If you're always dieting and doing more of everything to lose weight, it's not necessarily that you lack self discipline. You're just doing something that IS NOT WORKING. You need to put your effort into a sustainable process that is compatible with your goal. Simply put, you're gonna need some extra calories (or at least more than you think!!) along with strength training to put on that muscle for that desired outcome.
And yes. Trying to put on muscle can feel slow as molasses in comparison to weight loss. It IS much easier and faster to simply lose weight. But you'll end up smaller and weaker if you aren't losing it in a way that allows you to hold onto
-or gain muscle- while getting there. Staying at a new and lower weight will become more challenging when you bring your metabolism down with muscle loss.
And what about those 21 day diets, cleanses or fixes you got? Believe me. You aren't losing NEARLY as much fat as you think you are. Weight on the scale? Perhaps temporarily. But you are indeed saying good-bye to that metabolic furnace of muscle. Yo-yo dieting and excessive cardio make weight loss even harder in the long run.
Make strength training a priority. You'll get leaner while getting smaller... a great mix of both goals! None of this is a knock on cardio. Cardio is great! You should do it! Just make sure the amount you are doing isn't hindering YOUR body composition goals. And have a real check in with your nutrition. It'll always be the #1 factor that either works for you or against you.
Work that muscle ON and you will find that staying on the LEAN-ISH side is so much easier when you have more of it--- even if it is at a higher weight.
Your body composition will start to improve. Muscle comes on slow but it stays a long time. Stay consistent with full body strength training. The goal is the process. And the process is the goal.