Health and fitness: Be inspired, not fooled by weight-loss shows on TV

-A A +A
By Kent Pegg

Another season of the television show “The Biggest Loser” has begun and once again we’re seeing people lose vast amounts of weight week after week. Like that, it seems, 15, 20, 25 or more pounds seem to come flying off people.

While these shows can be entertaining and — hopefully — inspiring to those looking to lose weight, don’t be fooled by the big weight loss numbers these people are achieving. Losing weight isn’t always that easy or that fast.

Remember that the people you are seeing are devoting all of their time to losing weight, something most people can’t do. They are also heavily monitored 24 hours a day, watching their vital signs to make sure they aren’t in any danger.

Additionally, the people you see are obese and have a tremendous amount of weight they need to lose. It’s much easier to lose 20 pounds quickly if you are 200 pounds overweight and impossible to lose that amount if you are, like most, only 30-40 pounds overweight.

Realistic weight loss goals for most people should be about one to two pounds per week. To do this you should use a three-step approach: cardiovascular exercise, weight training and diet modification.

Generally, three or four 30-minute cardiovascular workouts of moderate intensity should be performed weekly. This will burn about 1,000 to 1,200 calories each week.

Use an elliptical trainer, stepper, treadmill, rowing machine or bike and burn calories while you strengthen your heart and lungs.

Weight training should be done at least three days a week, more if possible. Make sure to include exercises for every major body part, focusing on different areas of your body on different days.

Weight train for 30 to 45 minutes, performing sets of 12 repetitions and two to four sets of each exercise.

Each pound of muscle you add to your body will burn about 50 extra calories per day.

As for your food intake, shoot for reducing the amount of calories you take in every day by about 15 to 20 percent. This will probably reduce your calorie intake by about 400 calories per day or 2800 calories over the course of the week.

To do this, watch the amount of sugar and fat you take in and eliminate any large number of unnecessary calories. Also, reduce your portion size slightly and eat a little slower to give your body time to recognize that it’s full.

If you use this three-step approach, you should be able to lose about 1-½ pounds every week. That’s close to 40 pounds in six months. This is a safe and achievable level of weight loss for most people and will produce results consistently.

If you can increase your strength even more, do extra cardio and watch your diet a little closer. You may be able to increase that weight loss to two pounds or more per week.

Realizing your weight loss goal doesn’t have to be dramatic or distressing. In fact, if you strive for a steady, gradual weight loss, you’re far more likely to accomplish your task and keep that weight off long term.

So use the weight loss shows as motivation to reach your weight loss goals but be patient and be safe. You’ll achieve your desired weight if you don’t give up and stick with your exercise and nutrition plan.

Kent Pegg is a certified personal trainer and the owner of the Los Alamos Fitness Center.  If you have any questions about the information or exercises in this story, you can call him at 662-5232.