Most people want to lose weight fast. Maybe there is a wedding in a few weeks or a party or a holiday and they want to lose 20 pounds or more quickly. There are diets available that promise just that. You might succeed. It will be bad for your health and your skin will shrink more slowly than your body so you will look like a prune, but you may achieve your aim. Then you will stop the diet and the weight will come straight back on again. Which might be bad news for the person you just married as well as for yourself.
So let us be realistic about this. A two year old child weighs 20 pounds. So you have asked your body to burn the weight of a two year old child in just a few weeks. Put like that it may sound more of a challenge. It may help to know what your crash diet is doing to your body. At first there will be a loss of weight continuing for a few days and you will be celebrating. You are using up your body's limited supply of glycogen. As you lose glycogen you lose water and that explains the rapid weight loss. You are also risking dehydration, possible gallstone problems will come later. The body then goes into starvation mode and you start losing muscle as well as fat. Now the more muscle you have the higher your metabolism. So by losing muscle your body slows down its metabolism in order to survive with less food. Which means that your weight loss slows down. You may also find that you are suffering from headaches, irritability, fatigue, insomnia and diarrhoea. Not necessarily all at once, but even one or two is not very pleasant. At this point you could well give up and you will put put back whatever weight you lost. 'Only about one in every six Americans who have been overweight or obese loses weight and keeps that loss' (Penn State College of Medicine). Now we know why.
What should you be doing? You should set goals, but here we are back to reality again. It may be a good idea to lose weight for a summer holiday. But if you book your holiday in February and eat junk food until June you will not look like Victoria Beckham in August. If you start a healthy diet and regular exercise in February you just might. That should be your long term goal to keep in the back of your mind, while you achieve your short term goal of losing 1-2 pounds each week.
In order to lose 1 pound a week you must consume 500 calories less each day than you need to maintain your present weight. That is the equivalent of two bars of chocolate or an almond croissant at your favorite coffee shop. But you have to do a little more than just giving up chocolate and almond croissants. Give up junk food., You know what it is – everyone else is eating it. Cut down on sugars, animal fats, crisps and fizzy drinks. Clear your fridge of junk food, you will eat it if it is there. You are going to need a lifestyle change, so you must start eating healthy food. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, wholemeal grains, lean meat and fish such as mackerel. If that sounds terrible just Google 'Mediterranean recipes' and you will find numerous French and Italian meals which use these ingredients and taste really good. Drink plenty of water, avoid skipping breakfast and eat smaller portions. But do not become a martyr to what you eat. The occasional glass of wine or celebratory meal is fine. Just keep to your new diet most of the time.
You will also need exercise to burn off the calories you eat. Do not bother with a gym if you dislike that sort of thing. Half an hour's brisk walking, swimming or cycling every day is fine. An hour is better if you have the time.
That is all there is to it. Just eat good food, exercise every day and you will lose weight slowly and safely. No fast weight loss and sagging skin, no yo-yo diets and health problems, no giving up. Then it will not take too long to become the one person out of six who has lost weight and stayed that way.