5ebastian saidDoes it make sense to get skinny and then try to put on muscle ... ?
Okay, either will ultimately work, but that's much less effective imo (unless rapidly losing weight is a primary goal and needed on some psychological level).
Fat people have more muscle than skinny people, all else being equal.
They're essentially carrying heavy weights around with them everywhere.
Losing weight as is normal will usually result in some reduction of muscle mass as well (this is also because there's less nutrition available to feed the muscles to some extent; depending on your specific case).
That's okay, however, given that muscle burns calories (it's very metabolically active) and repairing/growing muscle burns even more calories (it's even more metabolically demanding). I personally would focus on maintaining muscle mass and working hard while getting my eating right (in fact, that's what I did when I got into shape; I eschewed cardio until I was at a place where I was, to first pass, pretty happy with my body).
I would try calculating your lean mass and the caloric intake appropriate for maintainign it + however much exercise you're doing. (there are lots of online calculators that will do this -- just be sure to use one that takes into account bodyfat percentage - if it doesn't it's useless for this purpose).
I would then focus on lifting weights. (8-12 is a nice general, bodybuilding rep range, what I used when I started). Find a good workout (if you don't know of any I'm happy to recommend some; I really liked a 2on-1off schedule with x-reps). For each exercsie do the weight that allows you to do your xnumber of sets to fatigue while staying in that range (i.e. if you can do at least 8 for each set, use less wieght, if you can do 12 or more for each set, increase the weight).
As for diet, I'd recommend looking into a bodybuilder's cutting diet -- the main point being to focus on high protein intake so that your body doesn't canabalize your muscles for protein.
Again, personally, I went hard with weights for a while until I felt like I had a good underlying musculature and body composition, then added cardio (in the form of sports in my case).
Lots of ways to win, but I think that's generally a more efficient one, and more rewarding for most people.
[Edit: Note: My non-professional opinion is that a lot of trainers and nutritionists are interested in very general kinds of health and as such they tend to be more interested in making people "normal" than "exceptional". Personally, I think more people are motivated by shooting high than shooting for the norm.]