Trying to get in shape is a noble goal, but the process is fraught with challenges and temptation. You may lose weight, but you may also gain muscle, which can be just as bad. Taken together, it can be difficult to work out how much your body weighs, and how much you weigh, if what habits you are engaging in are truly helping you cut down on weight.

Not everyone is able to get lean and stay lean. A slim, athletic body requires a certain degree of fat loss to be maintained, and occasionally goes through a period of regaining lost weight. This may be due to a lack of discipline, or a decreased desire to exercise, or perhaps some combination of factors. Losing fat and keeping it off can be incredibly hard, but it has to be done if you want to be fit. So, is it really worth it to try and lose weight? We think so, but we also believe that a lot of people are missing the point. The real question is how much weight do you need to lose.

The abdominal muscles with six fingers. Tight asses. Slim, energetic, healthy. This is the kind of image the fitness industry sells. But have you ever wondered how much it costs to get that look? What else do you need to do? What will you really have to give up?

Make no mistake, there are real trade-offs if you want to lose fat and improve your health. We describe them in this infographic. So you can think about how to get the body you want, while living the life you love.

1. Click here for the full [printable] version of this infographic.

2. For a full explanation of this infographic, including an overview of the latest research, see our accompanying article: The cost of austerity: Is such a compromise worth it?

If you are, or want to become, a trainer

Learning how to teach clients, patients, friends or family members to eat healthy and adapt their lifestyle to their bodies, preferences and circumstances is both an art and a science.

If you want to learn more about both, consider Level 1 certification.

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