When you have a lot of weight to lose, and specifically a lot of fat to lose, there are some things you should keep in mind. I wanted to quickly go over these things with people and maybe give a heads up on what to expect as you drop weight and return to better health.
First thing to remember, if you have a good deal of fat to lose (fifty pounds or more as a range), it’s all about the diet. Yes, I’m a personal trainer, and yes, I always encourage everyone to exercise as much as possible, but I’m not a dummy, I know what it takes to lose weight, hey, I lost close to 60 pounds myself, so I know where you’re coming from. It’s often stated that losing fat is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Losing the fat means cracking down on the nutrition; this is especially true at the beginning. I’ve seen many folks who lost upwards of half the fat just by learning how to eat healthier. You don’t have to be a clean eating superstar to become healthy, you can be reasonable about your eating habits and still be in very good shape. But it does mean cutting out most of the saturated fats, hydrogenated fats, simple and processed carb treats, and making most of your meat choices as lean as possible. It’s the little things you need to do to become healthy, order that fish baked instead of fried, choose mixed veggies instead of the French fries, eat more vegetables at every meal, ask for dressings on the side, avoid the fat and sodium laden glazes, and watch your condiments. You do all these things and you’re well on your way.
The second thing to remember is that as the weight comes off, you need to adjust what your calorie deficit is. If you’re obese, then you can probably afford a 2 to 3 pound per week deficit. That’s plenty for anyone IMHO, but you may notice yourself losing weight faster than that at the beginning, that’s ok, but recognize that as you lose the fat, your weight loss will slow down. This is expected and natural, don’t worry about it, and just keep going.
Third thing to remember is that plateaus happen. Your body isn’t mechanical, it won’t follow your well laid plan exactly all the time. Sometimes your body will stop and adjust, this can take a few weeks, even up to a few months in extreme cases, don’t let that stop you, just take it as part of the plan. Don’t even worry about this until you’re up over a month, and at that point, if you’re still not losing, examine what you’re doing and decide whether you’re making the right choices.
Lastly, exercise may not be the main ingredient in losing weight at the beginning, but it’s what will help you stay healthy at the end. Exercise is vital to staying healthy. Exercise promotes muscle strength, bone health, immune system function, cardiovascular health, correct sleep patterns, and removal of excess fat. Exercise is a great stress reliever and releases endorphins in the body making you feel better the rest of the day. Exercise shapes your body, making you look better and have higher self-esteem, which can manifest itself in many aspects of life including relationships, work, social gatherings, public speaking … etc. For all these reasons, it’s vital that you include exercise in your journey. And I don’t just mean walking or using the elliptical. Don’t get me wrong, cardio is fine, but it’s only part of the process, exercise should include resistance, stretching, AND cardiovascular activity. Include at least one day of each every week, with multiple days of at least one for at least 30 minutes and at least a moderate level of activity for optimal health, more if you can fit it in.