Fundamentals of weight loss

Posted on in response to another member’s request for advice on how to get started losing weight.  Member is 4’11”, a vegetarian who eats only carbs, and wants to lose 20 lbs in the next 3-4 months.

@savethewhales32 I think that the key will be to track your calorie intake and burn – over everything else, this has been the key to my successes, and seems to be the fundamental for most others. This site gives you lots of great tools with which to do that tracking, both for what you eat and what you burn, so take advantage of that.

You’ll probably also want to start some type of exercise regime, ensuring that you start at a rate/pace that is appropriate to your current level of fitness – if you’re not sure what that is, talk to your doctor to identify what a safe level of exertion will be. The key with exercise is not that you do it so very intensely, but that you do it – it’s better to go for a 30 minute walk 4 times a week, EVERY SINGLE WEEK, than it is to do the “Burn your Butt” workout with (insert your favourite fitness celeb here) 3 times, injure yourself (or depress yourself because you can’t keep up), and then give up on the exercise. As you get more fit, you’re likely going to look at increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts – I started with walking 3-4 times per week, to running a couple of times per week while still walking, to training for a 10K race, then a marathon, and now I’m up to 6 days/week of running, 85-95 km/week. I would never have thought it, but I miss not running (got very depressed when I took a week off after my last marathon!). But I didn’t start at this level, and it isn’t even necessary to be at this level – just exercise.

As you exercise, you’re going to want to add protein to your diet. I’m not a nutrition expert, so I can’t advise you on how to get sufficient protein as a vegetarian, but there are ways to do it. This is mandatory, because if you don’t have enough dietary protein, your exercise won’t benefit you nearly as much, because you won’t be able to build muscles, and you both won’t get as fit as you could be, and you’ll find yourself fatigued unnecessarily.

The last point is motivation – you have to want this, enough to persist through all the nonsense that you’ll face. 20 lbs doesn’t seem like that much to lose, but relative to your height, it’s proportionate to me (6’1″) having to lose almost 50 lbs – that’s quite the challenge! My motivation was breaking 250 lbs – I’d never been that heavy before, but when I saw that on the scale, I decided that I had to do something about it. I completely modified my diet, and when I plateaued with diet only, I searched hard for a solution, because I wasn’t yet where I felt I needed to be. Set intermediate goals to give yourself a reachable target, and modify those as necessary. And make yourself accountable to others – I told my wife, kids, parents and friends that I was determined to lose the weight, and the embarrassment of failing kept me going when other things wouldn’t have.

Long speech, possibly more than you wanted, but that’s my recipe for weight loss success :-). Best of luck!

About Tamara Wiens

Optimistic realist, quester, parent to 4 amazing children, casual on-line gamer, reader, runner, wannabe polymath, frustrated philosopher, successful sophist!
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