How to work out how long your fat/weight loss will take

Thanks to The Biggest Loser, and other pie in the sky recommendations, you've become brainwashed into thinking you can lose 5kg (11lbs) in the space of a week.  Every week.  Then when you don't, you get all pissed off or upset.  You start calling yourself a failure, and you start telling people the plan you're on is crap and doesn't work.

Stop it.  This is a goddam TV show ok, and no, you are NOT going to lose that amount of weight.  Hell, you're probably not even going to lose this magical 2.2lb (1kg) per week that someone else has brainwashed you into thinking.

Some people will, some won't.

WHY DOES "SO AND SO" LOSE MORE THAN ME, WE'RE DOING THE SAME STUFF?

You know, this stuff irks me big time.  I hear stories constantly about people pulling smaller numbers than their peers, and the peers are trying to tell them how to speed it up (eat less of this.....do more of this) I'm sorry, but does this now give ME the right to be your accountant or your lawyer?  I mean, I keep the books for my business don't I, I did one paper in law so surely I'm qualified to tell you how to do these things.  Because this is the attitude that our peers have when they lose weight better/faster/easier than us, all of a sudden everyone things they're a weight loss expert.

Real weight loss coaching is done by professionals

  • Now, are you guys really doing the same stuff?  Are you seriously telling me that you are twins when it comes to turning down temptation, and are you really eating EXACTLY the same food, weighed EXACTLY the same?  Are you telling me your menstrual cycles (fluid retention, cravings etc are the same?) No, I already know you're not the same.  So for starters if someone else is losing more weight, perhaps you aren't actually doing the same stuff.
  • Unless you are an identical twin, with identical DNA top to toe, and have been raised in an clinically controlled identical environment and the same level of stress (physical, mental, emotional, chemical) chances are, you share ZERO similarities with the other person's metabolism.  So yes, they may have a faster metabolic rate.  Suck it up, it is what it is and you starving yourself or smashing out 5 hours of exercise a day is NOT going to make your metabolism match your friends.  In fact, it is likely to make it slower.
  • Your metabolic rate is controlled by your thyroid, and your thyroid is in a hot relationship with your adrenal glands.  The health of your body, mind and the environment you live in will determine how these glands respond to the world.  so think of the parameters here - you and your friend have different glands, you were raised historically in different environments with different beliefs, stressors etc.  Therefore, you will have a different metabolic rate.

So let's get off this comparison train right now.  It's going straight to hell.  Stay on it and experience the frustration that comes with comparing ourselves to others.  Jump off and have a read of the next section where I tell you how to work out what YOUR body is going to do.

WORKING OUT YOUR RATE OF LOSS, BY USING WHAT YOU KNOW

  • You don't know your BMR, thyroid performance etc.  So we're not going to use these.
  • You DO KNOW what diets you've been on in the past
  • You DO KNOW how long you stuck to those plans
  • and you DO KNOW how much weight you lost
  • If you have never tried to lose weight before....it's all good, we're getting to you!
  • You also know your habits, your excuses and your mind
  • You also know how to read a calendar

So lets put these to work, we'll do it with a case study.

Jenny wants to lose 20kg.  She's tried things in the past but has only ever lost around 5kg before she quits.  She believes nothing works.  Typically it takes her around 12 weeks to lose this 5kg.  Jenny binges once a month before her period usually, and it takes her 2 weeks to get back to her pre-binge weight.  She's so frustrated, and her birthday is coming up in 6 weeks time.

What is Jenny's rate of loss?

Well, remember, Jenny binges once a month and it sticks her weight for 2 weeks, so we can see why her rate of loss was 5kg over the 12 weeks right?  Her average rate of loss BASED ON HER INDIVIDUAL HABITS is 416g per week.  Some weeks she lost 1kg....some weeks she lost nothing, but overall, she lost 416g per week.  Chances are her rate of loss will be fairly similar on the next thing she tries.  Not because of the calories, but because of her habits that have not yet been broken.

This is Jenny's rate of loss based on her current habits.  So to lose 20kg it will take her 48 weeks.  But wait, we also have a birthday, and christmas, and easter and all these other things that Jenny may or may not be able to deal with sensibly yet/

So now, if we add these weeks, it will take her 52 weeks to lose 20kg.  One ENTIRE YEAR.

Not 12 weeks....not 20 weeks.  ONE YEAR.

But Jenny keeps expecting her 20kg to disappear in 12 weeks, and she keeps quitting because her unrealistic expectations aren't being met.  Jenny needs to get her head around working on this for at least 12 months.  She can fight it and try and find the latest fad, but she will end up in the same place until she gets real with herself.

Can Jenny increase her rate of loss?

She sure can, she would benefit from coaching (not another diet) so we can deal with this monthly binging, keep her focused on her REALISTIC path and help her with the challenges not yet faced (Christmas etc).  A coach may even find that Jenny is under-eating, so an increase in food could just be that metabolic increase Jenny is looking for.  A good holistic coach should be able to spot key patterns in Jenny's food diary that might be slowing her rate of loss down (for example, is she eating bread for 3 out of 5 meals every single day)

So can you see how we have to be brutally honest and REAL with ourselves when plotting our course.

It took me 7 months to lose 10kg, because I hadn't cured my B.E.D while I was losing weight.  I got there in the end and have kept it off 9 years.  So, does it REALLY MATTER in the grand scheme of things how long it takes?  Doesn't it matter more that we actually ARRIVE at the goal in one piece?

The main thing is that you don't quit.

And you keep it real.

BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY PAST DATA, WHAT DO I DO?

  1. Basically you just make a start on something.  It's in your best interests to NOT follow a diet, but hook yourself up with a good weight loss coach.
  2. Then you track your results for a period of 6-8 weeks
  3. Add up your losses
  4. Subtract the first weeks loss
  5. Divide by the number of weeks (eg, I weighed in 6 times, but one of those was the first week, so I have to divide by 5)  Hope this is making sense.

Now you can work out how long it will take you to lose the rest.

But don't forget to add, your birthday, the holidays and anything else you know about yourself.  Let's say you eat well 5 days of the week, but you blow out on Saturday/Sunday.  Basically you get to add a million weeks to your journey.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT "AVERAGE" ACTUALLY MEANS

Are you familar with The Bell Curve.  Here it is ►

At the peak of the curve is your average rate of loss, eg 400g.

So that means you can expect, at any given weigh in to be to the left of the peak or the right of the peak on that curve.  So yes, some weeks you're only going to lose 200g....other weeks you might crack that magic 1kg....or 800g etc.

Can you see now what to realistically expect from your weight loss?

AND FINALLY, THE SCALE WILL NOT ALWAYS TELL YOU THE RIGHT THING

Here's a client of mine who is a current work in progress.  He's gained weight since October 2013...and his cm don't seem to be dropping....overall since we met, he'd only lost 3.5kg at this photo.  But I'm sure you can see that it looks like WAY MORE than 3.5kg.  Which reminds me, I need to ignore his "average rate of loss" calculation and keep tracking his changes visually.

The scale lies.  This man has gained weight since October 2013 (photo taken May 2014)

The scale lies.  This man has gained weight since October 2013 (photo taken May 2014)

So please don't freak out about your rate of weight loss.

Just keep doing what you're supposed to be doing and get real about how long it will take.

And if you hit those magic big numbers, great, keep going but for goodness sake don't wave it under the nose of those who are pulling numbers RELATIVE to their journey.