If You Feel Like Weight Loss Is Hopeless, Read This

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If You Feel Like Weight Loss Is Hopeless, Read This

If you’re one of the millions of people struggling to lose weight, the latest news probably isn’t helping your motivation much. I’m talking about two recently published articles, both backed by rigorous research, that paint a grim picture around weight loss and exercise. But don’t throw in the towel just yet. They don’t tell the full story.

In case you’re not familiar with the articles I’m talking about, here’s a quick recap:

Article 1: The New York Times 

The New York Times article looked at former contestants on “The Biggest Loser” and concluded that almost all of them regained the weight they’d lost on the show. The article reasons that after drastic weight loss, two things happen that make weight gain almost inevitable:

  1. Resting metabolism decreases (so you burn fewer calories).
  2. Hunger and cravings increase, thanks to plummeting levels of leptin, the hormone that controls hunger.

“As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back,” says Dr. Michael Schwartz in the article.

Article 2: Vox 

In the second article, writers at Vox claim that exercise does not work for weight loss. It concludes “exercise is excellent for health, but it’s not important for weight loss” by citing 60+ supporting studies. The article reads much like a compilation of what I’ve been writing about for years. It even includes some identical messages, such as why counting calories from exercise will sabotage your weight-loss goals and why you should focus on diet, not exercise.

Still, I found myself upset after reading both of these articles—not because of what they said, but because of what they didn’t say. They omit half of the story, leaving readers with only one conclusion to infer: We’re screwed! Your exercise has been for naught. And if somehow you actually do lose weight, expect the pounds to creep back on, because you’re fighting a losing battle against biology.

If you’re like most people who read those articles, you’re probably not aware that there are countless people (including yours truly) who have lost weight and kept it off through diet and exercise. Yes, exercise. Some examples include Charles Gross, who once weighed more than 400 pounds, or my client Jeremiah, who has lost more 100 pounds. And there are many more. In fact, the Internet is littered with success stories about permanent weight loss.

So why do experts paint such a dismal picture around weight loss and the role exercise plays? Are people like Charles or Jeremiah simply special snowflakes? Nope. I know this because I’ve interviewed, coached, and examined the data behind thousands of successful dieters, and those who keep the weight off all follow a repeatable pattern (more on this later).

A Little Help From History

To help you understand the difference between these articles and reality, let’s go back 200 years, when famed economist Thomas Malthus’s research on population growth was concerned with the opposite problem: starvation.

Through his research, Malthus came to the conclusion that humankind would ultimately starve. You see, his equations showed that population growth would exceed food supply, thereby creating an incredibly grim future for humankind. Similar to the outlook shared by today’s weight-loss researchers, economists agreed that Malthus’s projections were unfortunately accurate. One economist said the outlook was “dreary, stolid, dismal, without hope for this world or the next.”

Now, Malthus’s research wasn’t necessarily wrong, but it looked at the world the same way he and other economists always had. This way did not account for the exponential improvement in food production, which has led to our McDonald’s-filled, calorie-laden world today. Had Malthus stepped outside the box and accounted for the possible impact of technology, his prediction may have been different.

The dismal views about weight loss presented by Vox and The New York Times are similar to Malthus’s conclusion. Both articles use research that is not incorrect, it’s just shortsighted. More specifically, they’re based on the very common, one-dimensional approach to weight loss: simply eat less and move more, a strategy that rarely works. The countless successful individuals who have used a very different approach are then ignored. According to writer and nutrition expert Alan Aragon, the very nature of most research settings could be part of the problem:

“Most researchers do not ‘live’ in the real world. Meaning many diet researchers have little to zippo client experience. They’ve been completely immersed in the literature and the lab but are oftentimes noobs or complete strangers to the trenches.”

These trenches are where I’ve learned that, for every transformed individual I’ve talked to, exercise has played an important role. But not just not any type of exercise.

The Right Way to Exercise for Weight Loss

Remember those two things that happen in your body after weight loss (slower resting metabolism and increased hunger)? Well, it’s true this is often why people regain weight after a diet, as covered in The New York Times article. But exercise—the right kind of exercise—can be a game changer during this period of predisposed weight gain.

Instead of exercising for the purpose of burning calories (the way the Vox article views it), let’s say you exercise to build muscle in the form of resistance training. You might gain some fat, but you’ll also accumulate muscle mass, thereby raising your metabolism.

If you keep regularly strength training (while also eating smart), you can actually create a metabolic momentum of sorts in which dieting becomes easier and your body slowly increases the amount of calories it utilizes. For example, in the four years I’ve worked with Jeremiah, he’s gone from needing 2,200 calories per day to about 2,500 calories per day. I know, four years is a long time. But if you want make lasting change, you have to be patient.

This strategy isn’t new. It’s been used in the bodybuilding and evidence-based fitness world for many years, and it’s just one example of how we can actually control our “dismal” outcome.

Working out for the sake of burning calories (i.e., cardio) is like paying off credit card debt. Exercising to build muscle (i.e., strength training) is like paying a mortgage. By building muscle mass, you’re building an asset, not trying to move forward on a metaphorical treadmill.

Vox’s article takes a futile “calories out” view of exercise and concludes that it is not an important factor in weight loss. Like Malthus’s prediction, its grim nature is the result of an incomplete story. There’s more than one way to exercise.

Both articles aim to correct common half-truths about weight loss, The New York Times shedding light on the fleeting nature of weight loss and Vox correcting our assumptions about cardio. But it takes more than reading a few dozen studies to understand the full picture.

The authors weren’t deliberately trying to discourage you, but that doesn’t make these stories any less damaging. They only presented half-truths, and when it comes to fitness, half-truths are the most dangerous.

Why You Need to Know the Whole Truth

You see, Malthus’s predictions would’ve been proven false no matter what people thought. Whether economists believed the world would starve or not, the self-correcting nature of economics would reveal the truth.

Your belief about weight loss, on the other hand, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Believe that you are doomed by your own physiology, and you will simply become a data point that corroborates the half-true message of today’s research. But if you dare to believe that change is possible and seek the insights missed by the aforementioned articles, your personal story will reveal the full truth: Weight loss is possible for anyone.

Richard “Dick” Talens is the co-founder of Minimum Viable Fitness and Fitocracy, one of the most popular fitness tracking sites on the Internet. The views expressed herein are his. For more from Richard, check out his website or follow him on Twitter.

About the Author

Greatist
Greatist

Greatist helps you find what’s good for you. Not like “eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” More like “here are some choices you can realistically make, stick with, and feel really good about.” Because in the end, you don’t have to choose between being happy and being healthy; they’re really the same thing.

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55 responses to “If You Feel Like Weight Loss Is Hopeless, Read This”

  1. JinjoJoey says:

    I think the two original articles also don’t spend any time discussing one of the biggest problems facing The Biggest Loser contestants, emotional and psychological problems. Most people whom weigh 400lbs+ have some kind of emotional attachment to food and many of these contestants talk about having been abused or having damaged childhoods. The show doesn’t treat this. They just beat the hell out of them with exercise and don’t address what’s going on in their minds, so of course they leave the show and balloon right up again.

    Many people fail because they look at a diet as a temporary thing. Oh, I just have to drop 40lbs and my diet can be over. To be successful, it’s not really a diet, it’s a lifestyle change that you have to stick with, which many people don’t realize, hence, they gain back weight.

    • John D. says:

      Just to add some detail (which was left out of this article):

      The researchers doing the study found that the Biggest Loser contestants’ metabolisms slowed after they lost weight (as would be expected) but CONTINUED to slow down even after they had left the show; furthermore, by the time those contestants were finished dropping the weight, their bodies were burning less calories at their new weight than a “normal” person (who had not dieted/exercised down to that weight) would be burning. In other words, their bodies were burning fewer calories at their new weight than they *should* have been burning. Their BMRs had dropped to levels that were below normal for their weight. So even if they were to eat at the expected ‘maintenance’ level calorically, they were bound to gain back weight anyway, because they were not burning calories at the level that should have been normal for their new weight.

      • Kaymyth says:

        The Biggest Loser is really a terrible data point in general. What they do to those poor people is nothing short of grueling; their bodies are essentially in shock after it’s all over. Is it any wonder that their metabolism suffers serious consequences?

        The best plan: lose slowly and make lifestyle changes that you can live with. Don’t stop tracking once you’ve hit goal.

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      • robinbishop34 says:

        With the exception of those who are on certain medications, or suffering from a legitimate health issue, the idea behind metabolism slowing, or speeding up is way overblown.

        It is likely that rather than “their bodies . . . burning less calories at their new weight,” the contestants were simply consuming too many calories at their new weight.

        It is essential to understand that as a person drops weight, their caloric intake to maintain the new weight continues to fall. In other words, the amount of calories needed to lose at 250lbs, is maintenance amount at 200lbs. If a person doesn’t continually re-adjust their deficit as they lose, their rate of loss will decline and eventually stop. This is why people “plateau.”

        There is a lot of bro science and conjecture about increasing calories when plateauing, or restricting food at certain times, etc. It’s all nonsense. Just continually re-calculate your TDEE and adjust the deficit accordingly, and a person will continue to lose.

        • chexwarrior says:

          The NY Times article doesn’t give information on methodology, but the researchers actually measured the contestants’ resting metabolisms (CO2 measurement maybe?) and concluded that they were lower than what would be expected given the resting metabolism measured for others at that weight. So it was more than just the fact that it takes more calories to haul around 250lbs than to haul 200.
          My personal hypothesis (I am not a doctor) is the rapid weight loss coupled with a sudden decline in the effort taken to lose that weight, was what led to the hormone imbalance etc… that led to the re-gain. However a slow and steady weight loss program, which follows through even after you reach your goal should have more success.

          • robinbishop34 says:

            There is no voodoo to weight loss. Stay in a deficit and you will lose. This applies to people that need to lose 300 pounds as it does those who need to lose 5 pounds.

          • chexwarrior says:

            True, but losing at the rate they do on the show appears to make it harder to stay in a deficit, since your energy expenditure will go down significantly, for reasons beyond the expected drop from lack of weight to carry.

          • robinbishop34 says:

            All they have to do is restrict calorie intake.

          • J.R. White says:

            your responses are repetitious and provide literally no value to those consuming them. hopefully you have found joy in this.

          • robinbishop34 says:

            They are repetitious because weight loss is just that simple. Go to hell.

      • Jeremy Blake says:

        That may be true but that is no excuse for regaining all the weight. Perhaps their bodies do burn a bit slower. So, for example, if they’re eating maintenance calories for a 150 lb. person they may maintain at 170 lbs. They will not balloon all the way back up because the more you weigh, the more eating you have to do to keep your weight up and or gain more. We can only blame our genetics and metabolisms to a point. Nobody is going to maintain a 300+ lb. body weight eating 2000 calories a day unless there is a real underlying medical condition.

    • mrspinky85 says:

      This is a great point. As someone who has experienced this, if the underlining psychological issues are not fixed and food is being used as a means to hurt oneself or fill avoid, no amount of outside work will help. THe individual will just go back and forth through highs and lows. Food addiction is also a real thing and businesses do use certain ingredients in their food to get us hooked and coming back for more. We must become mindful of what we eat and why.

    • Thomas Cunningham says:

      And of course you’re not going to be pushing yourself as hard or working out as efficiently when you don’t have a professional trainer and/or nutritionist paid to get you the results.

  2. Lexi Natassia says:

    4 years? No thanks. This was depressing to read, and it doesn’t motivate me at all. Fuck that.

  3. itsameeracle says:

    This is such a great article. Despite having known and accepted the info those articles presented before they came out (and cruising towards 2/3 of the way to my goal at the time), they were still very demoralizing. It’s tempting and easy to throw away all your hard work when demoralized, but we shouldn’t. If we have come this far and have made such drastic changes to get ourselves here, we can surely make more lifestyle changes to ensure our success in maintenance.

    Plus, if one goal is appeasing vanity, building muscle should be done from the beginning.

  4. lifeseyephoto is me says:

    What’s the repeatable pattern?

  5. Msa roc says:

    My experience is that food has the biggest effect on weight….you can excercise your Brains out but food will do you in if you overeat, every time. What I will add is that excercise can aid weight loss significantly if you eat the correct amount of calories/food types at the right time of day. Don’t eat after 6/7pm and excercise about 1-2 hours before bedtime. Can almost guarantee steady loss via this method. Food and the type of food is the biggest factor!

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    • robinbishop34 says:

      I agree with most of what you say with the exception of not eating after a certain time, or exercising at a specific time. As you correctly stated, weight loss is controlled by diet.

      If a person has to exercise to lose weight, they are essentially burning off an over consumption of calories. If calories consumed each day are less than an individual’s TDEE, they will lose weight even if they never get out of bed.

      A person that intermittent fasts, either by not eating their first meal until later in the day, or someone who restricts food several hours before bed are simply controlling calorie intake… there is no unique impact or benefit metabolically from doing either one. In other words, as long as a person stays in a deficit, it makes no difference whatsoever when or how they consume those calories in a given day.

      There is some debate about consuming a slow digesting, high protein meal (low fat cottage cheese, greek yogurt, etc) before bed for those who engage in rigorous exercise like bodybuilding. Because the body repairs and restores itself during deep sleep, some believe the protein aids in recovery.

    • La Bandita says:

      It depends on the person. As long as I exercise 3 to 4 times a week – I can eat & drink what I want and be between a 0 & 2.
      If I want to be a double zero I have to exercise 3 to 4 times AND diet.

  6. Jenny LM says:

    Unfortunately, when people look at a “diet” as a temporary thing, the weight loss that results from it is temporary as well. You can diet and exercise to lose weight, but if you return to your previous eating habits and sedentary lifestyle, you’ll gain the weight that these issues caused you to gain the first time.

    Implement regular exercise and healthful eating habits as lifelong modifications, and your healthy weight will be permanent as well. And I’m speaking from experience.

  7. mandy says:

    Well I’m so glad you wrote and I read this article. I have read other articles like the ones you were talking about, and was becoming very discouraged. Since the first of the year I have been trying to loose weight through dieting…but then I just started trying to eat heathier and to start moving..and it was working…I want to be healthier and lose weight..so anyway thanks for the article. It was encouraging.

  8. Amy Jimenez says:

    I loved this article. Very inspirational for me. Thank you for taking the time to break down other recent literature and end with a positive message of hope for us that are looking to make a permanent lifestyle change.

  9. Daniel B. says:

    Speaking of the whole truth… Since the author claims to have only looked at the success stories, that means his pattern is meaningless, because the failed ones may or may not also exhibit the same pattern. But we don’t know because he didn’t actually perform a valid scientific study, he only shared anecdote.

    • lwright311 says:

      He didn’t have to because the other studies showed the failed attempts. The author was simply inserting a dose of reality into these articles that presented such a bleak outlook.

  10. Ian Goodyer says:

    There was another piece of research out recently performed by Danish academic Signe Torekov which is much more positive. She found that after losing weight the hunger hormones (mainly ghrelin) increase as the body tries to get back to its previous pre diet weight but crucially if you can keep the weight off for about a year the hunger hormones decrease and the body resets itself. The body essentially gets used to the new weight and stops trying to force you to go back to the old one. It backs up what you say, that is if you can keep strong and motivated for some time after losing weight you can beat it and keep the weight off

  11. Rick says:

    I’m glad I read this. When I first started with my fitness app, I was 410 pounds. It’s been 4 months since then I’ve lost 57 pounds. I fear that I will gain it all back like in previous attempts. But I am taking a different approach with my exercise habits but wasn’t sure if it was the right one. After reading this my confidence level rises a bit. Thanks for posting. -Rick

  12. FrisbeeFlinger says:

    I became frustrated with working out (weight training, machines, elliptical, bicycle) and know it was solely my fault. I was not seeing results. I gave up and gained 10 pounds, so while I wasn’t seeing results it was because it was only keeping me from gaining weight. Obviously, I was taking in too many calories. Now I’m jump starting my weight loss with meal replacement protein shakes for two meals and eating a light lunch and two light snacks. I’ve lost 9 pounds in less than a week, which is keeping me motivated and committed. After another week, I will start weight training again and increase my caloric intake until I find the right balance to promote healthy weight loss.

    • mrspinky85 says:

      Are you going to keep eating like this until you reach your goals? I was wondering what will happen if you go back to just using 1 shake.

    • robinbishop34 says:

      I sound like a broken record, but what you should do is google “TDEE calculator” and figure your total daily energy expenditure. Be sure and figure in regular weight training for your “activity level.” This will spit out an estimated number of calories needed to maintain your current weight. From there, lower your maximum intake to 80% of that number for maximum calories per day and you will steadily drop.

      You will have to gauge your loss the first few weeks and perhaps adjust accordingly, but the number calculated (provided you are honest) is usually pretty accurate. If you’re losing more than 2lbs a week, you would increase intake slightly, if you’re losing less than a 1lb a week, you would increase the deficit a bit.

      Go for about 40% protein, and 30/30% on healthy fats and low glycemic carbs (veggies, legumes, etc). It will drop like a stone.

  13. susan says:

    when I found out I was diabetic 4 years ago I totally change what I ate. No white bread, rice, bagels for breakfast, less meat, more chicken and fish and pork. I lost 50 lbs WITHOUT doing any exercise. Then took a nutrition class with exercise class and in 10 weeks lost another 20 lbs and 1 1/2″ – 2 1/2″ over my body. Did not take measurements before losing the first 50 lbs. Then my knee started hurting me more than before and I stopped exercising and gained back 30 lb. Now going to see doctor about my knee and hopefully it won’t be painful anymore and I can exercise again. I really would like to lose that 30 lbs and even more.

  14. Bianca lynn says:

    Great post! I’ve been on my journey since last March. By December I had lost 70 lbs. I started off at 233 and now I am 163. It’s been a rough ride but it is doable. I was really strict on myself when I first started and now I’ve just learned to maintain. I still try to keep my eating in check unless it’s a special occasion. and I still try to exercise 4-5 times a week and hit the gym about 2 times a week. Because if you build muscle it will help you burn more calories in the long run. Anybody just starting off or getting back on track, you can do it! Just keep going never stop. You’ll get there… maybe slowly… but surely!

  15. mrspinky85 says:

    You cited Vox? Really?

    Weight loss really has to do with what you do, what you eat and that ratio. Its is that simple. The combination of what exercises, what food and how much or what of each depends on what your personal goals are. I have found that if I am not losing usually something is wrong in what I am doing or what I am eating. There is no magical formula, there is no short cuts or easy means. You have to eat in a way that you will enjoy it and stick with it and you have to get moving in a way that you will want to do it again.

  16. Sarah Tissot says:

    I really liked the article, and it starts to make sense to
    me that exercise is a great complement but it is not the main factor. I
    recently started realizing that it is more of a 90% – 10% formula, than a 50-50
    diet and exercise ratio that is often portrayed in many articles. It also makes
    sense why it helps more with weight/metabolism maintenance than with
    weight loss per se. However, one
    component that was not mentioned in the article is the psychological effect of
    exercise, the energy and the positive feeling that it clearly creates. As you
    lose weight and feel more fit, it becomes more pleasurable to move, and that
    becomes a great motivator to keep eating right, because you FEEL good. Once you realize that you can tie your shoes
    or go up a flight of stairs without wheezing, it is a great positive
    reinforcement to discover or re-discover what your body can do and the pleasure
    of moving and of being physically active. I see exercise more as a payback for
    losing weight than a requirement. It
    also helps, as you age, to FEEL more youthful, and it feels like a great
    reward, as you lose weight, not only to see your silhouette and your weight
    change as you progress, but to see your mobility progress as well and to get to enjoy what your body is fully capable
    of.

    By being overweight, in many ways, I feel that I ‘crippled’
    myself and kept my body from living up to its full capability, and I really missed the workouts and the
    outdoor activities that I used to love when I was thinner. Being able to enjoy
    being more active and feeling fit is a great psychological incentive that
    complements your change in body image as you progress. That positive reinforcement contributes a lot
    to trying to stick to a better lifestyle for the long term in general , and
    even more now that I see how important it will be in my weight and metabolism
    maintenance once I reach my goal.

  17. Joe H says:

    When I was 35 years old I weighed 183 pounds. I started doing swimming, cycling and running, and I have continued running throughout the last 15 years. I now weigh 148 and I am healthier than any other 50 year old I know, and yet I haven’t lifted a single weight. So, say what you want about cardio not working for *sustained* weight loss, I will say otherwise. Diet is also important, but in my experience not nearly as important as consistent running, i.e., “cardio” exercise.

    • La Bandita says:

      You dont want to be skinny and weak looking w/no muscle tone. I see lots of thin frail old people.

    • robinbishop34 says:

      The exercise is undoubtedly beneficial for both physical and mental health, however it allows you to maintain your weight because you are consuming a surplus of calories.

  18. Captain J says:

    Lost 30# in 60 days….heres how:
    1. Eat right….not just what, but when you eat
    2. Exercise….muscle burns fat (thats why i disagree wth the NY TImes article)
    3. Determination…without it, you wont eat right or exercise

    Determination is the utmost importance here. I think everyBODY is different. What works for one, might not work for the next person, so find what works for you.
    Im vegetarian on a very high protein diet, i dont cont calories, & i hate fad diets. The #1 thing i cut out of my daily diet is added sugars, not natural sugars that occur naturally in foods.
    Find the #1 thing in your diet that is putting the wieght on/preventing you from losing weight & omit it from your diet altogether. For me it was sugar.
    Im vegetarian, but love Captain & Coke, proving that its not just what you eat, but also what you drink.
    I Have a holistic nutritionist friend that developed a balanced diet for me with none of those weird foods.

  19. Daniel Carey says:

    Diet only, or diet + cardiovascular = weight loss, but you are burning whatever is available, fat and muscle pretty much equally. If you drop 50#, but it is 25# of fat and 25# of muscle, you’re weaker and have a lower BMR. Then if you put that 50# back on, it goes on as ALL fat. That the traditional peril of yo-yo dieting. Resistance training breaks that cycle. I cut 50# over 6 months, but a body scan showed an increase of 10# of lean muscle, so I actually shed 60# of fat. That’s a completely different situation.

  20. Steve says:

    I’ve found both exercise and diet to be important, but the real key is consistency. By continuing to burn more than I eat, I lose – although I DO combine cardio and strength training. Consistency is important to help change your body’s set point (or the point (weight wise) your body thinks it should be. If you diet and or exercise in spurts, your body fights you thinking you are starving and it is trying to save your life. But after 3-4 weeks of consistent low caloric intake and high burn, I lose. The plus side is when I reach my desired (plateau) weight, my set point has also changed and now my body thinks I should weigh less and I can get away with the occasional splurges in diet or lapses in exercise. FYI, I am +50 and 6 foot tall and I have used this to lose 50 lbs (from 235 – 185) in about a year, and have kept all by 5 (currently 190) off for 2 years, and have restarted to try to drop another 15 lbs. (to 170).

  21. Sarge says:

    In my experience weight loss is a life style change. 20 years ago I lost 50 lbs in about 3 -4 months and managed to keep it off for over a year by basically taking fat of all types out of my diet, eating lots of complex carbs and reducing sugar to near nothing. At the same time I was doing a lot of cardio but eventually the cardio reduced and then stopped and the sugars and fats started calling my name. There were 2 reasons it failed. First is that I didn’t commit to the new life style (not to mention this probably wasn’t the best diet for permanent weight loss) and secondly I did this to please someone else and not myself.
    This year, after the birth of my first granddaughter I realized that I wanted to be fit so that I could enjoy her, my life and feel better. I started by starting to track my food intake with MyFitnessPal. I realized the amount of junk I was eating and the lack of protein, fruit and vegetables. I set a goal of 1 lbs. a week of weight loss and started walking to gains some endurance. After a month or so I had last about 7 lbs. and had better stamina. I then added weight lifting to the regiment. Nat a daily routine but tried to lift at least 2-3 times per week and walk 2-3 times a week. I’m now down 46 lbs. I’ve adjusted to no soda, un-sweet tea, lots of water and a treat when I really feel like I need it but not daily, in fact rarely weekly. Tracking my food and calories has increased my protein, vegetable and fruit intake. I feel better, look better and have a confidence I’d lost after separating from the USMC. I can honestly say I now look forward to gym time and improvements. I still hit plateaus and have to work through them. I don’t judge myself by my weight but by my body content and how it is changing. I’ve started measuring the areas that I’m working on so that I can see small improvements in muscle mass. This is a life style that I want to maintain.
    My biggest advice is find self confidence in the small achievements. Don’t set ridiculous goals, Understand that you will have setbacks and that they are normal but not catastrophic and fight through the changes. If you have a buddy ready to make the same commitments to themselves (NOT TO YOU) then take the journey together and use each other for motivation. But above all no that you can do anything you set your mind to and just start moving.

  22. La Bandita says:

    Exercise works to not gain weight and to maintain muscle tone. At 137 between 0 & 2 I don’t loose or gain – I maintain. Diet is for weight loss, exercise is to maintain. I haven’t gained a pound in 10yrs.

    Pick a weight you’re comfortable with and maintain until you die. Dont go up & down – unless its a 2 pound poopy.

  23. bill says:

    If you’re serious about losing weight and keeping it off, check out Dr. Jason Fung’s 6 part series of lectures on YouTube. They are about an hour apiece. Best 6 hours you will ever spend.

  24. Helen Hines says:

    Exercise is important but the right foods is the key to weight loss. I have notiiced in the past when I use to exercise the wrong way it just made me more hungry afterwards, therefore; ate more then I was suppose to, it became a vicious cycle with no progress. You have to eat right and know how to exercise correctly to benefit from it.

    • robinbishop34 says:

      “I have notiiced in the past when I use to exercise the wrong way it just made me more hungry…”

      This is a good point. Strenuous aerobic activity can drop blood sugar levels making a person ravenously hungry. If an individual is in a cutting/weight loss phase and not trying to build muscle, a moderate, slow and steady walking routine to accompany a reasonable calorie deficit is more than sufficient.

      • Helen Hines says:

        Yes, that is exactly what I use to do I was the queen of aerobicsize. At the beginning I did lose some weight but quickly started noticing more hunger cravings and would eat what I had just worked off and eat even more than I usually would. It became a vicious cycle. So many mistakes in the past but with experience finally on the right track….;)))

  25. Dee Severe says:

    My #1 most effective way to maintain a healthy weight was to go vegan (which I did for ethical, animal rights reasons, not diet reasons). Lost 20 lbs. without trying (really without trying, my husband will attest to my love of dairy-free ice cream, fried tofu, etc.) and have found it much easier to stay at a proper weight. Also agree about strength training, even if you don’t lose a lot of weight you look better, and you have the added benefit of preventing osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass as you get older. Finally, low impact, low intensity cardio like walking — which you can easily fit into your schedule just by driving less, walking more when doing errands — also works well for me.

  26. Geoff Niehaus says:

    I eat very little, but could not get the 15 lbs of extra weight off I have carried around for years. Finally started crossfit training and gained more weight for about 2 months. Then my body shifted into weight loss, and really kicked into high gear when I started eating more by including breakfast. I am at my goal after about 5 months. I am a lot stronger than I have been in over 10 years. My theory is you have to build up enough muscle mass to have your body kick in enough fat burning to make a difference that will last. Also eating regular keeps the engine running instead of going on idle. Reverse from other failed diets I have tried with no lasting results.

  27. lwright311 says:

    I am glad to see this article because I was very upset by the article about the Biggest Loser contestants. Basically the message was Just give up now and don’t bother. As someone who has lost 65 lbs (from 185 lbs) and KEPT IT OFF for 3 years, I knew this wasn’t the whole story. I will also say that maintenance is much harder than losing and I am constantly tweaking my calorie consumption and workouts (always includes weight training). I am also constantly trying to increase muscle mass (about 40% usually) and decrease body fat (around 19% usually). One thing that I found helpful for maintenance is having a “weight window” for my healthy weight and only weighing myself weekly. My window is 120-127. This is the weight I feel best at and I am only 5 feet 4 inches tall. When I get neat the high end I reduced calories. At the low end I increase calories. I think one problem that I have found in my experience is that there is no end to information on losing weight but not a lot on maintenance once you reach a healthy weight.

  28. TomD says:

    If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. Period! The problem is most people don’t exercise ENOUGH. And they don’t do the right exercises. Weight lifting is great for some things, BUT NOT FOR WEIGHT LOSS! You need aerobic exercise for extended periods to lose weight. For example, if you run 3-6 miles, 5-7 days per week, you will lose lots of weight. And you will start losing it quickly. You will see results within a couple of weeks.

    Or, if you run 5 miles, twice per week, you will lose weight but at a much lower rate. BUT, you can NEVER miss. You have to keep doing these runs for 3+ months before you’ll see weight loss. And then your weight loss will be slower than the daily regimen given above.

    So, yes you can lose weight through exercise. BUT, it MUST be enough exercise, the right kind of exercise and over a long enough period.

    Note also that if you lose weight and then quit exercising, you will regain the weight. Unless you cut calories. Period.

  29. Jeremy Blake says:

    Exercise absolutely has a direct impact on losing weight. I can tell you this from my own experience. The Vox article mentioned that if a 200 lb. man didn’t decrease his calories and starting exercising every day he would (only) lose 5 lbs. in a month. 5 lbs. in a month is substantial considering that would come to 1.25 lbs. per week and the recommended rate of weight loss is 1-2 lbs. per week. Of course that same man could do better by reducing calories but to suggest that exercise doesn’t have a major effect on weight loss is short sighted. If you create a 250 calorie a day deficit through diet and burn another 250 calories a day through exercise you’ll do very well. That is the approach I took and I’ve lost 130 lbs.

  30. Matthew Bauer says:

    Reading this filled me with hope and strength, I’m glad that I’ve been doing strength training and sticking to a program. Let’s get fucking built!

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