"I Have So Far Lost 15 Pounds"

What Do I Need To Do Next?

By Jackie Wicks and Joshua Wayne
The following email was sent to us. This is a very common scenario and we wanted to both respond to her question:

Hi Jackie!

First of all, I must say thank you so much for your program. I receive your daily PEERtrainer emails and the way you write them, it makes me feel as though you are speaking directly to me. It is so motivating, and I find myself growing stronger every day.

My question is this. I began my journey Dec. 14 of last year, and have for the first time in my life I am successfully losing weight. I have a BMI of 34.2 currently, and started at 208 lbs. I have so far lost 15 pounds, and am eating 1150 calories per day.

I am 5'5, and want to go down to 130 pounds. I am eating 5 - 6 meals a day, and am not feeling hungry, tired, sluggish, or getting cravings throughout the day. I know it is safest to lose 1-2 pounds a week, and I wanted to ask if you think it is healthy to, in the first month, drop 15 pounds.

I am exercising between 2 and 5 times a week (strength training, weights, and cardio on an elliptical machine for 20-30 mins). I don't feel unhealthy, on the contrary, I feel amazing! I haven't felt so good in years. But I don't want to set myself up for disaster. Do you think I am on the right track? Thank you so much for your help and support.

Regards, Shay

Dear Shay,

Thank you so much for your generous words. I am very excited for you and can almost feel the energy jumping off the words on the page!

Conventional diet advice has been that it is "safest" to lose 1 - 2 pounds a week. Throughout the years in PEERtrainer, I've observed this to be an average. Some weeks you lose 1 pound, some weeks 2 or even 3 and some weeks you stay the same or even worse, you gain a pound.

You didn't gain the weight in a methodical way of 1 - 2 pounds every week, you won't lose it in the same way either. However, this advice tends to be based on conventional diet wisdom which is often characterized as calories in vs. calories out.

This is an approach which does not really take into account how people respond to different foods, and ignores the nutrient levels in the calories.

I highlight this because 95% of people come to PEERtrainer with the idea that they just need to eat less and exercise more to lose weight. Part of our mission here is to guide people to do some things differently and think about things differently. Rather than just do less or more of what you are currently doing.

We do observe that if you consume fewer calories than you burn and strictly sustain this, you can lose 1 - 2 pounds a week.

When you ramp up the high nutrient foods (and greens in particular), weight loss can be accelerated and that can also increase your energy levels. We often refer to the work of Dr. Joel Fuhrman as a guide to the specific amounts of high nutrient foods you need to accelerate your weight loss as well as make it permanent.

So the short answer to your question is yes, when you increase high nutrient foods, 15 pounds in the first month of weight loss efforts can be very much on the right track.

As your body begins to progress towards equilibrium, meaning, your body starts to function at a more optimum level based on your higher nutrient intake, the weight might not come off as fast. It might follow the 1 - 2 pound per week "average" or you might even gain a pound.

Three things I'd like you to keep in mind:

1. Follow the trend. Make it a point to not become frustrated if you gain a pound a week, and even the following week or even hit a plateau. This is normal and it happens several times during the weight loss process when you are in it for the duration. Don't use it as an excuse to quit and say it's just not working. The only way you fail is if you quit. Pay attention to the trend and keep an open mind to seek out information to get closer to your goal. Don't beat yourself up. Focus on the positive accomplishments you've achieved. Stack them up, one by one and use that positive energy to help you find the next tool you need in the process.

2. Keep the focus on your energy levels. When you have energy, you can do anything. As you eat and log your food, ask yourself how you felt after a meal. Did it make you feel great or did you want to crash into a sofa? Many people get caught up in the number on the scale and when their energy levels go down, they set themselves up for going off track and sometimes they have a really hard time getting back.

If you're tired one day, it's ok to take a rest. Listen to your intuition. This is not a quick fix. This is for the duration. I know how it feels to feel better than you have in years. You feel unstoppable and your mind opens up to ideas and goals that you never thought you would do. Make sure you keep a log and write down your thoughts in your personal notes. When you go back year after year, you'll be so proud of who you are and who you've become.


Here Is Joshua's Response To The Question:

1150 calories sounds a bit low, but it also depends on how you're getting your calories - so it would be useful to know more. (This is why logging on PEERtrainer is so important, because it allows us to quickly see what you are eating)

How many of those calories are coming from plant based foods (veggies, beans, etc)?  Those foods are very high in nutrients while being relatively low in calories.  So without knowing the specifics, it's hard to comment on your total calorie intake.

That said, it sounds like you're eating frequently and in a way that is satisfying to you.  You say your energy levels are good, and I think that's a really important gauge.  It's actually not surprising that you'd lose 15 pounds in a month.  It may just be the excess weight your body was ready to drop quickly.  

Here's my big caution though.  Don't be disappointed if that rapid weight loss doesn't continue.  It might for awhile, but chances are it will slow down and level off a bit at times on your way to 130.  If and when this happens, you don't want to react to an extreme.  For instance, you might feel inclined to cut your calories even more and push yourself to the point where you don't feel so good, but you're willing to endure it to keep the weight coming off.  That could be where you put yourself in danger in a couple ways.

First, you could really compromise your health.  You might deprive yourself of essential nutrients and that would not be a good idea.

Second, if you get to a point where you're really forcing it and "white-knuckling" it because you're determined to keep the weight coming off at all costs (something a lot of people do at times), you'll ultimately be setting yourself up for failure.  At some point it will be too difficult to sustain, you'll feel increasingly dissatisfied with your food choices, and sooner or later you'll be likely to fall off the wagon and relapse - so to speak, of course.

That would be a really unfortunate outcome after all the hard work that you've put in.

So in summary, I'd say a few things:

1.  Really do some research and make sure you getting the maximum plant-based nutrients you can not your diet.  Read Dr. Fuhrman's books if you haven't already as a good resource on this. (Click here for a quick introduction to his food scoring system.)

2.  Make sure you stay in that healthy balanced place with your total calories and overall energy level.  If you dip into a "deprivation" state you'll be courting trouble, so if that happens, make sure you "go back to the drawing board" and get more information about how to get the nutrients you need in a way that is satisfying and keeps you in that balanced place.

3.  Enjoy the rapid weight loss when it happens naturally, but still be patient with the overall process because it will likely have it's own ebbs and flows.

In conclusion, one thing we see at PEERtrainer is that people who are successful use a lot of different tools and become open to as many ideas as possible.

Jackie and I have talked a lot about the nutrition part of the equation here, but it is also important to develop the mental strength to continue. We see people constantly struggle to identify the reason they stop working towards their health and fitness goals. Often, these reasons are buried deep within the mind.

In our Point Of No Return program we take you through a process that helps you really master the thought processes that are necessary to succeed. It is one thing to learn about the right approaches to eating, but another to absolutely master the implementation.


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