15 months ago, I was pretty certain that by now I’d have been languishing at goal for several months. I was like most of you are now. Where you really only want to look 3-6 months ahead and *know* you can be at goal. In fact, I still have around 30 lbs to lose, If I stay the course, I now know from massive amounts of empirical evidence that I can reach my goal in about 6-7 more months.
This is the stuff no one really wants to hear. There are no miracles. You can’t actually lose 30-40 lbs of fat in a month. Maybe if you weighed 400 lbs and were in Navy Seal training…
I read recently that 13 out of 14 contestants on the biggest loser regained a significant amount of their weight back. A few even weighed more than when the show was over. These are the people I looked at week after week, proud, inspired and determined to do that they had done. When I read the article, I felt so sad. I know how those people feel. I know what it’s like to say “Hey world, I conquered obesity!” and then spend years hiding because you regained every bit and more.
On the show, the participants were aiming for around 100 lb loss in 5 months. Man, I’ve done that a few times, or tried real hard. The first few days of whatever extreme plan I was on were typically a “success” 5,7,9 lbs would “disappear” within a few days. Then it would slow down. Sometimes I’d be happy with my results for a few weeks or even a couple months. Eventually though, my actual weight for the day would cross back up over what my spreadsheet said I needed to be at to make goal. Sometimes, I would stop. Even worse, sometimes I would blame myself. I wasn’t trying “hard enough”. That usually translated into deeper calorie cuts or more extreme food plans.
I’m not a dumb girl, but you wouldn’t know it by the way I abused my body with binge diets. How did I think that cutting my calories from 800 to 500 a day would make me lose 3 lbs overnight? How in the world could I have felt like a failure when that didn’t happen? I don’t know, but I did.
Although I know that weight loss is far from linear, I know that facts are facts. I know that if I want to lose 8 lbs in a month, I need to create an average deficit of just over 900 calories a day. So let’s say I burn 2000 calories as a base, just by sleeping, walking, breathing, working…all of this without doing any focused working out. I’d have to cut my calories to 1100 per day in order to lose 8 lbs in a month. However, if I can burn an extra 400 calories a day working out, I can eat 1500 calories and still lose that same pesky 8 lbs.
The extreme, binge-dieting side of me used to think that if I could somehow tweak the math to consistently lose 20+ lbs a month for several months. Every time I did that, I was forcing my body to consume muscle. This was destroying my health. When Dr. Oz invited me on his show in 2013 he explained that I was damaging my heart with my terrible diet habits. Whether it was juicing, HCG, shakes…whatever the plan-of-the-moment was…I wasn’t getting healthier, I was getting sicker every time I did it.
Talk about a hard pill to swallow. I didn’t want to spend two years getting to goal! When I finally decided to try a moderate diet for a while, I think I still hoped to find the magic beans that would speed things up.
There are no short cuts. Period. There is only reality. You may be blessed with a faster metabolism than mine, or stuck with the slower one. Neither option is going to win or lose this race for you. You can throw every supplement and extra workout at yourself, and it might make a tiny bit of difference.
But what’s going to change your body and your life is putting in the work. Educating yourself on what you put in your body, tracking that carefully and doing the same thing, every day, every month, over and over and over. Easy Peasy.