An insanely chipper YouTuber beams at you through your smartphone.
“Just 1 more minute of leg raises!” she says with a voice two octaves too high.
She’s not even breaking a sweat, effortlessly completing moves like some goddess from Mount Olympus. You try to keep up but collapse in despair, alone with your gut and bag of comfort Cheetos.
Back to funny cat videos.
The Unique Challenges For People Trying to Lose 30-50 Pounds
For people trying to lose 5-15 pounds, going to a gym or starting a home workout program is a practical, simple thing to do. But for those deeper in the obesity spiral, climbing out has a bevy of challenges that many don’t consider.
1. Gyms can be toxic.
Stepping into the gym as a size XL can be terrifying and humiliating. Sideways glances from Mr. Biceps and sharing a machine with Miss Perfect Abs can weaken the mental resolve needed to stay on the fitness path.
2. Many workout plans aren’t built for those needing to lose serious poundage.
The majority of workout plans, gyms, fitness centers, YouTube videos, etc. are perfect for helping normal-weight people stay in shape or progress. But many strategies found in these plans simply don’t apply to more overweight individuals. For example, high-impact exercises like running and jump roping may not be healthy for someone with 40+ extra pounds. Another example: 5 minutes of burpees might be good for the semi-fit, but it could kill the under-fit, or at least kill their desire to workout ever again.
3. It’s a different language and a different process.
Fitness for the highly overweight individual means something completely different than fitness for a normal weight person. Losing 50 pounds requires drastic lifestyle changes, while 5-10 pounds often only requires some time and commitment. For this reason, the heavier individual’s search for the right plan is often confusing and fruitless, and attempts to lose weight turn into negative experiences, which inhibit future attempts.
The Biggest Loser: TV Half Truths
Those with 30-50 pounds to lose may look at contestants on The Biggest Loser and think their techniques are the recipe for success. But just like any other reality show, the portrayed environment is far from real.
Think of the added motivation provided by cameras, money, attention, etc. There are also doctors, tests and trainers there to support and educate the contestants at all times. With all of this attention and help, these contestants jump into hours of physical activity every day, right from the start. This is not a realistic or even healthy option for many who need to lose dozens of pounds.
In fact, it hasn’t proven a healthy path for the contestants either, in many cases. When the show ends and all of the attention and professional help goes away, these same people often end up losing the battle against their weight. One study of The Biggest Loser contestants found that most regain the weight they lost on the show; some regained more than 100 pounds.
Published in the journal Obesity, this study also found that The Biggest Loser participants struggled to overcome a real metabolic disadvantage. During and after the show, contestants’ metabolism slowed and didn’t go back up. For example, researchers found that one man who regained 100 pounds had to eat 800 fewer calories a day than a typical man his size, just to maintain his weight. Essentially, their bodies are trying to get them back to their initial unhealthy weight. Metabolism damage, as well as lower levels of hunger-controlling hormones, are consequences of excessive weight.
Well That Sucks.
But let’s hit the breaks on the doom and gloom. It’s more than possible to lose 30-50 pounds and keep it off, but it is going to be harder than losing 5 pounds, which shouldn’t be a surprise. It is going to take a long time, maybe years, and once the weight is gone, your body may want to make you fat again. You’ll be battling against your body in a way that slimmer people don’t have to. An unfair disadvantage? Yep.
So the first key is to accept your disadvantage and the fact that your fitness journey will be different than other’s. Your body literally responds differently to food and activity, so you don’t need to bury yourself in shame for feeling cravings and for not having a perfect figure within a month.
Related to that, be wary of relying on numbers to track fitness success. Losing 10 pounds, running 5 miles, wearing size 36; all these numbers may help some people, but numbers aren’t the real value of weight loss. The real trophy is feeling better and waking up each day with more capacity to live life fuller. Measure your journey this way.
Exercise Plan: Principles to Follow
• Instead of focusing solely on how many miles or reps you do, focus also on keeping your heart rate high for an extended amount of time. When you’re working out, interval training is a good option (where you alternate between high and low intensity). This type of exercise keeps the heart pumping and burns more calories.
• Understand your body. If you’re carrying 50 extra pounds, remember that that means you’re doing extra work when walking, moving, lifting, etc. Trying to copy someone else’s fitness plan may leave you burned out and less likely to workout in the future.
Exercise Plan for People 20-50 pounds overweight
3 days a week, do two of the following workouts.
Walking is great, but marching in place can put some added vigor in your fitness routine. March properly by raising one knee up at a time until the thigh is horizontal, or as close to horizontal as you can.
Alternate legs for 90 seconds, and then do 30 seconds at an increased speed. Take a minute break, and begin marching again. Repeat for 20 minutes.
With your back straight, chest out and stomach flexed, slowly bend into a sitting position. Keep a chair behind you to make sure you’re completing the motion. When your behind touches the chair, stand up. Repeat this movement for 60 seconds. Take a two minute break and repeat. Do three sets.
Sock your extra weight with a punching bag. You’ll find that this activity, if you do it right, uses everything from your leg muscles to your torso to your arms. Go for five minutes, and then take a two minute break. Do three sets.
Swimming is an excellent workout for the whole body that doesn’t put strain on the joints. Swim laps for three minutes, then swim one lap as fast as you can. Take a two minute break. Repeat three times.
Body Weight Bridge
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground, knees bent and pointing at the ceiling. Lift your waist off the ground and come back down. Repeat this movement for 60 seconds. Rest for one minute. Do three sets.
Walk about 40 yards and back, extending each stride into a lunge. Extended strides should leave the knee directly over the foot. Take a two minute break and repeat three times.
Stand a little more than arm’s length away from a wall, facing the wall with feet shoulder-width apart. Complete a pushup motion against the wall. Try to do 20 of these in a row. Complete three sets.
End Big Sidebar
The Downsize Diet
For those more than 30 pounds overweight, a good dieting principle is to not inundate yourself with dieting principles; this can kill motivation. In fact, many find success by simply following one rule for an extended amount of time. Here are some rules to try:
• No soda
• No dessert every other day
• A vegetable serving with every dinner
• Eat a whole food every day
Sources: www.nytimes.com, Obesity
Check these places out for videos, advice, etc.:
My Name Is Jessamyn
Jessamyn Stanley YouTube
Glitter + Lazers
Plus Size Princess
Plus Size Fitness Melbourne