Weight Loss and Maintenance by Al Coon

"With the slow loss, at the end of 2 years you would be 100 pounds lighter and very happy to be there, instead of being 5 pounds heavier than you were 2 years ago, with a sad tale to tell."


"Lose 15 pounds in 21 days," proclaims the ad. "Lose 10 pounds in 10 days," cries another. I think the most egregious insult to rational thought came on a web site that claimed to guarantee that you can lose "…up to 12 pounds in 2 days!" (When I stumbled across this one, I thought it was a parody at first, of all of the silly weight loss claims out there, but it actually offered a product for sale.)

How can we be suckered into these claims? We are adults, with working brains, but over and over again we want to believe. "Please Santa, send me a thinner body, and right now, because I don't want to wait for Christmas."

The only way to really lose 12 pounds of fat in 2 days is to amputate. Here is why:

One pound of fat contains 3,500 calories worth of energy. The only way to get rid of those 3,500 calories is to burn them up through activity. So, to lose 12 pounds of fat, you would have to burn up 3,500 x 12, or 42,000 calories. If you weighed 200 pounds, and you ran for 48 hours straight at a pace of 6 mph, you would consume 43,317 calories, or just over 12 pounds of fat. That is running with no breaks, no rest, and no meals. I seriously doubt that even an Olympic athlete could perform such a feat, but I guarantee that anyone with a weight problem is not going to be able to do that—or anything close to it. If you could do that, you wouldn't need to worry about weight loss.

If all of your water reserves in your body were severely depleted, you would of course drop several pounds of water, but what on earth good is that? You need water in your body. We don't want to lose weight per se, we want to lose fat weight. You don't do that by counting the numbers on the scale in a mad dash to make them smaller.

When I started my weight loss journey, I dropped 7.5 pounds the first week. I smiled, because I knew I had not eaten 26,250 fewer calories than I had burned for that week. I had changed my eating, and I had dropped the amount of sodium in my body. When your sodium level drops, your body releases water. It was a mirage, and it could have been confusing, when the next week I only dropped 2.0 pounds. Soon I was down to a normal 1 to 2 pounds per week loss, which is a good healthy amount of fat to lose.

It took me 4 weeks to lose 14.5 pounds, and that was including the 7.5 pounds in week one, which was probably at least 5.5 pounds of water. I would have been happy with 8 weeks. It is not a race.

I think what is most dangerous about these crazy claims is that they draw people into doing something to lose weight that will fail, even if they lose the weight! If you drop 50 pounds taking some pill which distorts your metabolism unnaturally, it is a certainty that you will have to stop taking the pill, or suffer some grave medical consequences. As soon as you stop taking the pill, your metabolism will snap back to normal, like an overstretched rubber band, your weight will shoot up past where it was before.

Far more important than losing X number of pounds in X number of days or weeks, is finding a weight loss program that you can comfortably snuggle into, and remain safe and secure, while doing it for the rest of your life. Once you find an eating program that makes you feel as relaxed as a warm feather bed on a cold winter's night, then you know you are home. You can eat on program, remain on program, and the scale will move down to goal, and stay there.

Anyone who will guarantee that by using his program your weight will drop, like a rubber ball released from the top of the Empire State Building, will also have an unstated guarantee that your weight will then bounce right back up to where it was in the first place.

A much better picture of what we should be doing is instead rolling that ball down a gentle slope, and having it glide along a flat plane, once it hits bottom. A slow and steady descent means that we hit bottom with less momentum, and so we are not in an uncontrolled crash. Instead we are in a gentle glide into a safe landing.

It is better to lose 100 pounds in 2 years and then keep it off for life, than to lose 100 pounds in 6 months and then gain back 105 pounds over the next 18 months. With the slow loss, at the end of 2 years you would be 100 pounds lighter and very happy to be there, instead of being 5 pounds heavier than you were 2 years ago, with a sad tale to tell.

The moral of this tale is: "Speed Kills!" Being in a hurry will trip you up and pull you into the pit of depression, where it is far easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. However, when you take the "Slow But Sure," motto to heart, you will not only make your journey a safe and successful trip to goal, you make it a permanent move to that wonderful destination!

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