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An_248922 posted:
I am having a really hard time getting started on the path to weight loss. I am 5'6" and 152lbs. I would really like to get down to 140 but I have such a hard time with food. I am athletic and enjoy running and many other activities but I feel like now that I don't play sports anymore my body has changed from mostly muscle to more fat than muscle. I have been eating 1200 calories for about 3 weeks and I find my self starving after 3 days and I end up eating a late night snack of eggs or a ton of fruit. I wonder if other people have this problem and I am really unsure of how to pull through to get to the weight I want. I don't want to starve myself but I don't want to over eat either.
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:
The most likely problem as to why you can't lose more weight is that you don't need to lose weight for health or fitness, and when you try, your body resists by slowing your metabolism and/or making you hungry. Your BMI right now is 24.5. Anything below 25 is considered a healthy weight (in fact you can be healthy with a BMI higher than that, especially if you're fit, but that's another story). At 140 pounds your BMI would be 22.6. There's no reason to try for that, and in fact, if you do, you may lose muscle, and even if you got there, it probably would be hard to maintain it. You can read about BMI here http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

I suggest that you shift your focus from your body weight to your body composition, that is, how much muscle and fat you have, and also focus on shaping your physique. To change your body composition to a greater percent of muscle I have a feeling you know what to do since you used to play sports. I suggest aerobic exercise 4-5 times per week for 30-40 minutes, and resistance exercise 3 times a week, using all major muscle groups, and including large muscle group exercises like squats and deadlifts. Of course, there are so many other exercises, and you can go here www.EXRX.net for exercises for every muscle group. You could add interval training 1-2 days a week as a substitute for traditional aerobic training; it will get you very fit and also help you burn calories and fat.

For objective measures to assess your progress, I suggest that you have your body fat measured; you can have them do it at your gym, and/or get a BIA scale (bioelectric impedance) for home. You can buy a BIA scale for around $45. Check www.omron.com and www.tanita.com/ for more information. I also suggest that you measure circumferences. The standard circumference measurements are arms (flexed and relaxed), chest (after a normal exhale), shoulders (the widest part), waist (the narrowest part below the ribs and above the belly button), abdomen (across the belly button), buttocks (at the maximum extension of the buttocks), gluteal/thigh (high on the thigh at the groove where the buttocks end), mid-thigh (halfway between the crease in the groin and the top of the knee cap), and calf (at the maximum circumference, either with leg hanging freely off a table or with legs 8 inches apart and weight distributed evenly). Keep the tape horizontal during measurements and pull the tape lightly so it indents the skin only slightly.

You're going to feel better with this approach because your body will change for the positive, you'll get more fit, you won't have to deal with the difficulty and discomfort of always "dieting"and watching your calories, and you will avoid the frustration of not losing weight. It will be much better.

Feel free to post back if you have more questions.

Take care, Rich


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Rich is an exercise physiologist and certified diabetes educator. He is director of the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program at St. Lu...More

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