Losing a large amount of weight, such as 50 pounds, requires dedication and a restructuring of your lifestyle. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that the best way to lose weight, even for overweight and obese people, is to burn more calories than you consume. In addition to exercising and following a reduced-calorie diet, employ specific strategies to ensure greater success in reaching your 50-pound weight-loss goal.
Break Up Your Goal
Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the prospect of losing 50 pounds, break your goal into smaller segments. Aim for 10 pounds as your initial goal, and, when you lose it, celebrate your achievement with a new outfit, gadget or spa visit. Continue to set incremental goals so you feel as if you are making progress. Even though a small amount of weight might not be the culmination of your 50-pound goal, the Centers for Disease Control point out that modest weight loss contributes to decreased risk factors for chronic diseases related to obesity.
A healthy rate of weight loss is only one or two pounds per week, so it could take as long as a year to lose 50 pounds. Fad diets that promise rapid results usually result in dieting frustration and the “yo-yo” effect: You might succeed in losing the weight, only to regain it (and more) when you return to more normal eating styles. The American Heart Association notes that these types of diets can create frustration and a belief that weight loss is not possible. With a slow rate of weight loss, you are less likely to feel deprived and burdened by your efforts, which means you are more likely to adhere to your plan and achieve your goals. Although many dieters seek quick solutions, the Food and Drug Administration has approved only two medications for the treatment of obesity: Sibutramine and Orlistat. They are available with a doctor’s prescription and still require you to follow a healthy, reduced-calorie diet and participate in exercise. They also come with significant, adverse side effects, such as increased blood pressure, dry mouth and digestive distress.
Experts at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, maintain that the “best long-term results may be achieved when physical activity produces an energy expenditure of at least 2,500 [calories a week].” Make movement habitual for you and your family so you can begin to lose the 50 pounds and keep it off for life. Structured exercise helps you burn calories, but it is not the only way to achieve your goals. Find ways to burn calories every day through extra movement. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for an extra walk with the dogs, clean your own house, or join a dance class. Author Denise Grady reported in the May 2005 issue of “The New York Times” that lean people tend to burn about 350 calories more a day than overweight people through non-exercise movement. If you move often in small ways, you could lose 30 of your 50 pounds in one year.
When trying to lose 50 pounds, consult a nutritionist or registered dietitian, your doctor or a weight-management group. These advisers help you learn about healthy food choices, portion sizes and appropriate calorie intake. The American Heart Association recommends seeking a weight-management program that provides an initial screening, is staffed by qualified health practitioners, helps you identify reasonable goals, individualizes your nutrition and exercise plan and provides maintenance strategies.
Make Smart Choices
Smart dieting advice generally applies whether your goal is a 10-pound loss or a 50-pound loss. Review restaurant menus online, and plan healthy choices before arriving so you do not become distracted or tempted to order a calorie-loaded meal. Avoid foods low in nutrition but high in calories, such as soda, refined carbohydrates and excessive sugar. Choose appropriate portion sizes–fill half your plate with green vegetables (not french fries), a serving of protein and a serving of whole grains or other carbohydrates.
About this Author
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.