After years of struggling with my weight (highly disordered eating patterns, comfort eating, substance abuse and sporadic exercise patterns) and having studied nutrition at University for 3 years, I have come to realise that most weight loss goals are pretty unrealistic. TV shows like The Biggest Loser, which I am totally addicted to so try not to watch, promote unrealistic goals even more.
When someone is looking to lose a few pounds or kilograms, a steady weight loss is around a pound or two (or half a kilo to a kilo) a week, less if your starting weight is lower and more if it’s higher. So you’re looking at a shift of 3500-4000 calories a week. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? For a deficit of 500 calories a day, you’d need to be consuming the amount of calories that your body burns just by being alive (BMR – basal metabolic rate) and then doing about an hour of high intensity exercise a day. My favourite is the BodyAttack class at my gym, which burns 700 calories and is heaps of fun! So one of them each day plus a rest day and you get a couple of pounds off a week. Steady, sustainable weight loss. It comes off and it stays off, that’s what you want, right?
But then how do the contestants on The Biggest Loser manage to get such high weight loss figures come weigh in day? These can be pretty disheartening for the average person trying to lose a few, but the contestants are living in the house, not working, have strict diets and exercise for hours a day, surrounded by a team of professionals and are being filmed constantly for national TV. Yeah, I’d be dropping kilos a week too! But they have a lot more to lose than me.
People looking to lose weight will see these massive weight loss figures by these contestants, some of who have lost 50-80kg (a whole me and more some in some cases!), and find that the “measly” kilo they’ve lost from all that hard work doesn’t really cut it. I know a great many people, myself included, who would look for comfort at the bottom of the icecream tub. But no more!
If you’re looking to lose a few kilos, think about how long it took you to put it on, then give yourself that much time to lose it. Or think about losing a pound/half a kilo a week and rejoice when you’ve lost a little bit more. Remember though, fluctuations in body fluids and muscle can mean that sometimes you appear to put on weight, so make yourself a cute graph in excel or on a website (I’ve listed a few fun tools below) and track your slow but steady weight loss as it goes down overall. My favourite over-used gross cliche comes in handy here:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step!
I decided to lose my winter/comfort padding and started on a healthy diet and a mix-up of regular exercise including group fitness classes, extra cardio, pilates, walking to work and my favourite, poledancing! Then I got the flu really badly so my weight loss for the last week was only 0.5kg. And yeah, some of my friends poo-pooed it (and yes, one was the same friend from my last post!) for not being any substantial amount. BUT who cares if you need to lose 5 kilos or 50, half a kilo is still a fantastic start, because after that first half, there’ll be a second, then a third, and before you know it, 5 kilos is gone! And if you do it slowly and safely, it ain’t never coming back! So I say good riddance to those friends, I’m not going to share any more with them until they ask me in a few weeks what my secret was and I’m going to respond “NOT LISTENING TO YOU!”. Haha.
Check out these sites:
http://www.calorieking.com.au – Allan Borushek created the Calorie Counter pocket book and now this online weight loss tool, which has everything and it’s FREE! You can track calories, weight loss and pick up some handy tips too.
http://www.caloriesperhour.com – This page has a handy calculator for figuring out how long it will take you to lose those kilos safely, or how many calories you will need to burn per day to reach your goal in a timeframe. It also has an extensive list of exercises and how many calories are burned per hour.
http://www.genesisfitness.com – I go to a Genesis, but you could also try a Fitness First, Fernwood, YMCA or your local club. The point is to get moving, sometimes we need a kick in the bum from a trainer or a fun group class to help us forget that exercising is a chore, when it should be fun!
http://www.weightwatchers.com.au – Need a little extra help? That’s okay, support is a key element to successful weight loss. No one likes to hear a “ho hum, that’s nothing”, and at WW, they’ll celebrate all the victories with you (including the small, steady ones!)
http://www.liteneasy.com.au – Really busy or no good at sticking to a meal plan? NO excuses! Lite and Easy really worked for me and even though I’m a total foodie, I found the food totally palatable. And I lost 5 kg!