Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Fast Can I Lose Weight?

How do they lose over ten pounds in one week on these extreme weight loss shows? The answer is, extreme measures. Not only is it easier to lose weight quickly when you weigh over 250 pounds, as most of these participants do, but it's easier to cut calories when you usually eat over 3000 calories a day, which most of them do as well. If you are not 100 pounds overweight, you should expect to lose quite a bit more slowly.

The other end of the equation that helps these people lose so quickly is the amount of activity in which they are participating each day. You see them working with their personal trainers, but did you know they are exercising for up to six hours each day? All they do on this "campus" is eat a light breakfast, then go out and exercise for three hours; eat a light lunch and go to the gym for another three hours. They get a light dinner before having to video tape their thoughts for the day and then collapse into bed! So unless you are planning on an exercise program that includes several hours of activity each day, along with a lower calorie meal plan, you should not expect to lose weight in the double digits.

So what is reasonable? If you can eat 500 fewer calories each day than you normall eat (or exercise to burn 500 more calories than you normally burn each day) you can expect to lose one pound a week. It may be easier to eliminate 500 calories a day from your intake than it will be to work this much off at the gym: It takes about an hour of intense activity for most people to burn this number of calories. It's more likely you can take a look at the labels on a few of the snacks or desserts you eat and find 500 calories to take away from your diet fairly easily.

Here are some typical examples of food portions that provide 500 calories: A slice of pecan pie; a cup of haagen daz ice cream; a 'big grab' bag of doritos chips; a large (or in some cases 'medium') order of fries; four reese's peanut butter cups. A Hardee's thickburger, among many other fast food restaurant sandwiches, provides over 800 calories! So there are plenty of ways to either eliminate these extremely high calorie snacks and desserts, or find much lower calorie selections to replace them.

If your goal is to lose a pound each week you should take note of foods like these in your diet and plan for ways to substitute them with items that are lower in calories. Perhaps while you're at it you will even find some foods that will provide you with more vitamins, minerals, and fiber as well (such as choosing fruits, vegetables, string cheese, yogurt, or a bowl of cereal when the afternoon or evening hungries hit).

If you have a relatively small amount of weight to lose (say, less than 35 pounds) and do not find that you are including very high calorie foods in your diet each day, you may find that you need to watch what you are eating more closely and plan to lose weight more slowly. The current recommendation for healthy weight loss is 10% of your body weight over the next six months. This means if you weigh 180 pounds, for example, you should aim to lose 18 pounds in six months, or approximately three pounds a month. I know this sounds terribly slow, but the plan is you will not be dieting and restricting and suffering to get there. And from there you will continue to lose weight because you have developed healthy new eating habits. Take a look at this equation:

Fast and Temporary = Deprived and Miserable

Now, think about how many times have you gone on a diet, deprived yourself, lost a few pounds, and then gained it back. You know now that way doesn't work! This time do it differently. Make small changes, include more nutritious foods in your diet, pare down the high calorie 'junk' foods (like cakes, candy and cookies, for starters), and learn some new habits! Six months from now you can be thankful and keep heading on your way down to your ideal weight!

1 comment:

Sayre said...

I love those shows like "The Biggest Loser", but have stopped watching them. I realize that they are unrealistic for "normal" people because we just don't have that time to devote to exercising. It's one reason I turned to blogs for my inspiration - real people doing it in a realistic manner, and struggling with it daily, just like me.