Posted by: Anon | 2009-07-14

Another weight loss/fitness question. Sigh.

Hi there Doc! I’ m feeling a little flat…  I’ ve read all the mails from people trying to lose weight, and I can certainly understand the way many of these ladies feel, because I too am more unfit and heavier than I have ever been in my life. I’ ve been trying to lose it, but it’ s just been so darn stubborn. I eventually gave up.

But now I feel excited again at the prospect of trying. So, here’ s my question.

Why does exercise and diet sometimes NOT work immediately. I have had my thyroid tested, and all that jazz. There’ s nothing wrong with me – except that I expect to see some kind of difference after a week or two and I don’ t. Then I get negative and stop.

What is realistic? I know cardio is the way to go. I currently walk 5 km’ s every day. If I keep it up every week day, how long before I will begin to feel a bit fitter (i.e. have more breath!) and see weight loss? How long before I should push it higher? Can walking 5 km’ s even make a difference?

I am on an energy restricted eating plan. Do I need all the protein>  can I not lose weight with less protein, more cardio, and later, when I want to build muscle (Because the fat is gone) up protein and go for weights? I really enjoy vegetarianism and the protein makes me feel lethargic and even fatter...

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Anon

The reasons it doesn't work right away are numerous. First, when you start training, you actually gain mass in the form of muscle and then blood. Literally, your body makes more blood, so you can expect to gain weight. Also, as you put on muscle, it is obvious that your weight should go up. The fact that it doesn't means you are losing elsewhere, which is a good sign.

Then, the next problem is that people starting out often train at quite a low intensity. That's natural of course, you shouldn't force it higher, but the problem is that you don't burn as many calories when you train at a low intensity. For example, if you walk for 30 minutes, you burn only half the calories you would if you ran for 30 minutes. That means that as you get fitter, you'll lose more weight (in theory, anyway). So that's why I always suggest that people should focus on fitness - if you can get fitter, the training is working and you'll see results in due course.

Third reason - often people start eating more when they start training. Not on purpose, but just small changes because suddenly you're a little hungrier than before. So it's really important that you eat well. I don't think that an energy restricted plan is the way to go either - the body is too clever for that and if you are not careful then you will actuall prevent weight loss by eating too little. You will also struggle to get fitter, because you need energy. I think this is very important, and you should see a dietician about if it possible.

I think you're on the right track. I know it's tough at first, but it will come in time. We can't predict how fast people respond to training, it differs for everyone. But just keep it going, and you'll get fitter, and then you will start to see progress.

Good luck!

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Our users say:
Posted by: Red Cube | 2009-07-16

Hi Anon
I have to share a recent discovery about weight loss. At 1,70m and weighing 72kg, I' ve never been heavier in my life. I exercise 4-5 times a week and eat healthy foods but just wouldn' t lose weight. I was getting despondent and was about to give up when my boyfriend chirped up: you' re eating too much!

Now, this seems like a simple concept, but how many of us really know how much we' re supposed to eat? While I was eating the right foods, my portions were simply too big. You think that eathing a healthy chicken stir fry was good for you, but I was eating about 1,5 - 2 times too much per sitting.

I' ve now been cutting down on my portions, eating 5 times a day including loads of fruit and vegetables and voila! I' ve lost 3kg in 2 weeks! Just make a conscious effort to put less on your plate at meal times. It' s incredible seeing the transformation in my body after trying to hard for so long. Best of all is that my boyfriend' s been overseas for the last 2 weeks - I can' t wait to see the look on his face when he gets back!
Good luck!
Red Cube

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