You don’t have to be in T-Tapp land for too long before you might hear the term: “Fat Shift.”
But, before I dig into what it means, we first need to understand the difference between weighing & measuring, and "fat loss" vs. "weight loss." I always encourage clients to keep their measurements so that they have a point of reference and can track their progress over time. As a trainer, it's helpful for me to look at these measurements to determine where they might be inactivating during their workout. Then, together we can make changes to get them activating the muscles even better!
Yes, muscle weights more than fat--you've heard it all before-- but I'm going to attempt to really make the case for you on why you don't need to fret about a number on the scale. Let me be the first to say, the tape measure will tell you things the scale NEVER will. Just as a personal example, I lost close to 20" in my first 60 Day Challenge in 2014...including 4 inches off my waist- and didn't lose ANY “weight” at all, according to the number on the scale. Yet, my clothes were gaping like crazy and I needed a new jean size! Can you say, muscle density?! I was building deep core muscles at the same time that my body was burning up fat!
That was when I started to change my view of the whole concept of "weight loss." For years, I had this number in my head that I thought I needed to be at. This experience during my first 60 Day Challenge, where the number on the scale had stayed the same, but my body was totally different, didn't square with what I thought was true about weight loss. This led me to the realization that at the end of the day, the number on the scale does NOT tell the whole story, and quite honestly, I don’t care at all about how much I “weigh” anymore. I like Teresa’s illustration best. A model’s calling card is NOT some arbitrary number on the scale- it’s her measurements, and how she looks in the designers’ clothing line!
If you don't believe me, below is an example from yours truly. I almost didn't post these photos, because hey, it's personal! And I'm a human! But this is just how much I really want to drive the point home. The photo on the left was taken just before I found T-Tapp, in my running and weightlifting days. The picture on the right is my trainer photo from last year (2016.) I weighed the same amount in each picture, but yet they look quite different from each other. I'm 25 years old, by the way- you know, while I'm sharing how much I weigh on a public blog post online, might as well divulge my age as well! ;)
Think about it. Most of us that want to "lose weight" and get a lower number on the scale go on a diet, which usually involves some level of caloric restriction. Yes, this does cause "weight loss," but it usually involves losing some precious muscle mass along with the fat tissue, especially if you are dieting without exercising. Muscle is more metabolically active and burns more calories at rest than fat tissue does. This means that over the course of the diet, your metabolism will lower two-fold: from the lack of calories, and having less muscle mass.
So, what happens when you reach your "goal weight," get off your diet, and go on your way? You have trouble keeping your weight loss off, because now your metabolism is slowed and your appetite is through the roof from all that caloric restriction. With T-Tapp, you actually boost your metabolism, keep the lean muscle, and burn off the fat- no calorie restriction needed.
When you measure consistently, you'll also notice more subtle changes, like one side of your body evening out with the other due to the equal muscle activation T-Tapp gives you. This is why we say that T-Tapp “balances imbalance.” I've seen some crazy stuff, y'all! Muscles rebalancing, stomachs shrinking, and nerves waking up after being long dormant.
All About "Fat Shift"
So, when you start doing T-Tapp, your muscles do some MAJOR cinching in, like a corset (get it? Core-set?) and the now-liquefied fat has nowhere to go but "up." To illustrate this: have you ever worn Spanx, or body shape-wear of any kind? After you put them on, the extra fluff squishes in and up, and you have to "smooth it out." Ladies, you know exactly what I'm talking about here, am I right? ;)
This is similar to what happens in the body when you start activating those muscles with T-Tapp. They cinch in, like Spanx, and the fat has nowhere to go but up, on top of that muscle. This is especially true of the tummy muscles. Your core muscles go all the way from your pubic bone to just underneath your sternum! So as an example, if your belly has been hanging low, the muscles underneath are going to do some major reshaping and LIFTING up back into place!
This comes from curling the core properly and lifting those ribs to activate lats and get space between the rib and hip. There is also Fascia all over the frontal abdominal plane, as shown in the photo below (it's the tan colored stuff!) Thankfully, Teresa builds in comprehensive fascia stretches along with her compound muscle activation throughout T-Tapp!
If you are T-Tapping consistently, measuring every few weeks, and find that you are losing fairly evenly until all the sudden, you see a gain in your ribs, waist (or even, your belly has totally shifted, and that is throwing off measurements) do NOT panic! First off, sometimes the measuring tape doesn't even tell the whole story. Truly! Sometimes things can be shifting around so much that you might see a weird gain, and later, when you measure that same spot, you'll suddenly go down several inches. I know for myself that at one point, the tape was showing a gain in my hips, yet I was able to pull on a pair of pants that I previously wasn't able to fit in comfortably. Can't explain it, but it does happen!
Now that I've got that caveat out of the way, let's dive into some tips to help with a "Fat Shift!"
Tip #1: Double Check Your Form
Go back to the Instructional section of your DVD for a week or two to really hone in on your form or schedule a form check with a trainer. We tend to store the most fluff where our muscles are inactivated. So if you activate the muscles, you burn the fat! Consistency + Good Form = Goodbye, fat shift!
Another personal example on why form matters SO much:
I won my Category in the 2015 60 Day Challenge and attended the 2015 T-Tapp Retreat in Safety Harbor, FL. If you've never been to a retreat, they measure you before any workouts happen, usually Thursday night or Friday morning, and then measure you again on Sunday morning before the last workout of the retreat. So all that to say, in 2 days worth of workouts with Teresa and getting additional help from her entourage of fabulous trainers, I lost 11 INCHES over my whole body, including 3 3/8 inches off my abs. (Being a Combo bordering on short torso, you can understand my excitement with this measurement!)
"That's crazy!" you might say, "I bet you gained that back! It's water weight!"
Nope! Matter of fact, I rested from workouts for 2 solid days afterwards and lost even more inches in the days following the retreat. And for the record, it is 2017, 2 years later, and I've maintained ALL those inches I lost 2 years ago. Talk about a cumulative effect!
Tip #2 Update Your Routine
If one of my clients has good form and is being consistent, the next place I’d look at would be their workout frequency. I also tend to look at their nutrition habits, because of my Nutritional Therapist training, but that's another discussion for another day.
I like to say that a step forward for one person might be a step back for another person. For some people, doing a workout every single day might not be conducive to inch loss, especially if there are other stressors going on in their life. Remember, lack of sleep and not enough calories count also count as stressors, unfortunately! This can be especially true if you are doing a full workout every day such as Total, Ladybug, Senior Fit, etc.
If you are feeling puffy, getting extra muscle soreness, or even notice a “fat shift” going on, try going to an every other day schedule, with one day taken completely off. Give that a try for a week or two. It might be the missing piece to making some progress on your goals! It’s all about finding that sweet spot for yourself that doesn’t land you on the couch, but also gets you enough muscle activation to burn the fat and cinch in those muscles. It might take some trial and error, I know it did for me! It might feel very counter-intuitive, but LESS is MORE with T-Tapp!
So, that's probably all you ever wanted to know about Fat Shift, and also why I don't bother with a number on the scale. If you are in the midst of a "fat shift," it may feel discouraging at the time, but at the end of the day, it is a GOOD sign. it means you are creating change down to your very muscle fibers!
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified Fitness Trainer, Certified T-Tapp Trainer