Alternative Diets (Master Cleanse, etc.) that Work?
February 25, 2009 8:01 PM   Subscribe

40lbs must go...what alternative "diet plan" (like Master Cleanse, etc.) worked for you? (Looking for personal experiences of people who lost weight quickly doing something more/other than exercise and eating right, please.)

I recognize that you are not a doctor and that healthy diet and exercise is the usual answer to questions like this here on mefi. But I'm curious to hear from people who have gone alternative routes.

I'm 29, married to a great man, no kids, living in Los Angeles.

Because of undiagnosed but pretty clear to me food addiction, mild depression (mostly from being stuck in the house so much), and laziness, I have gained about 40 lbs in the past year, which I've been able to hide because I've been working on my craft in my house and not going out hardly at all (lending to the depression).

Sold the craft, now am being hired for lots of $$$ to promote craft across country. Know that 40lbs lighter I'd be making way more money and feel better about myself. I'm passing up/missing out on many opportunities because of my weight gain and that just makes me want to eat more from sadness.

I'm trying to figure out a game plan, and want to explore some of the crazy weird stuff that my tabloids suggest celebs stay skinny by.

Except for plastic surgery or anything that might affect my fertility, like the HGC shots, I'll pay anything and do anything to get to a healthy weight (I'm 5'5, should be around 135 to be healthy, am 175, all weight gained in the past year). I've vowed to take the next three months to get some poundage off and look great. I really don't want to be stick thin, just healthy.

So...are there any alternative diet suggestions, mefites? LA Trainer suggestions? LA Doctor suggestions? Program suggestions? Therapist suggestions? Other concepts?

posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (60 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
What you want doesn't exist. Exercising and counting calories isn't just the right answer, it's the only answer.

There are no end of snake oil salesmen (and tabloid reporters) who will claim they have a miracle solution, but they're all lying.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:07 PM on February 25, 2009 [29 favorites]

Well, anorexia worked pretty well in helping me drop 40kg in 4 months but I honestly wouldn't recommend it.

Honestly though, before that, the best thing to ever happen to me diet-wise was going vegan: I lost weight gradually, and stayed perfectly healthy. Couple that with a good long walk every day and you're well on your way. Maybe try that for a while?
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:09 PM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

You're not going to be able to get around exercising and counting calories.
posted by kldickson at 8:11 PM on February 25, 2009

if you want to do this quickly, you need to cut out carbs. aim for 25 gms of carbs per day and it'll melt right off. this is a very extreme approach, and you can't keep it off forever this way, but it'll get you down to a place where your weight seems more manageable, and you will be more motivated to eat right/exercise.
posted by generalissimo at 8:16 PM on February 25, 2009

Raw food diet. I hear people that adhere to this lose a lot of weight because there just isn't that much you can eat or may want to eat.
posted by abdulf at 8:18 PM on February 25, 2009

Another point: people who lose a lot of weight fast, no matter how they do it, almost never keep it off. Slow-and-steady is the way to go. 40 pounds is about a year and a half if you want it to be permanent.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:18 PM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I really love But the basics of Spark are calorie reduction and exercise. It just makes it a lot easier and more fun to do.
posted by katillathehun at 8:21 PM on February 25, 2009

So...are there any alternative diet suggestions, mefites?

My alternative diet suggestion is to eat about 1800 calories a day and then to do cardiovascular exercise for at least 45 minutes, every day. That should drop the weight off at a modest but steady pace.
posted by Justinian at 8:22 PM on February 25, 2009 [5 favorites]

Low carb. Less that 25 grams or carbs per day.
posted by tristeza at 8:22 PM on February 25, 2009

Sell your car. I dropped ~40lbs in a very short amount of time without trying when i did that, and I was not a big guy to begin with (5'9" and 165 now down to 130ish). I walk so much I now have the problem of being too thin and am constantly trying to eat more calories. As someone who always weighed slightly more than my ideal, I have to say this is a pretty awesome problem to have because I love food.
posted by bradbane at 8:27 PM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

It isn't possible to "to get to a healthy weight" without emphasizing the healthy part. Eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest, and you'll do so. Going on a fad diet seems to be strongly correlated to (a) gaining the weight back, and (b) throwing your body out of whack and preventing yourself from becoming healthy. Weight-loss-technique aside, I'd advise against pinning your mental happiness on doing unhealthy and unusual things to yourself.
posted by ellF at 8:27 PM on February 25, 2009

Eat fewer calories, mainly fruits and vegetables and lean protein, begin and maintain a moderate exercise plan suited to your present physical condition and bearing in mind any preexisting health problems, drink enough fluids, sleep enough. Seek behavioral and/or psychological therapy if you think you have a problem, seek nutritional advice if you're having a difficult time eating healthy, seek medical advice if you encounter problems that freak you out or make you feel sick.

Anything more specific than this is not possible in an anonymous form over the internet: any attempts at specifics will be guesswork and may be detrimental to your health. Very few people online are doctors, non-quack nutritionists, or non-scam artist personal trainers.

Maintain a healthy skepticism of grandiose claims.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:29 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Get a trainer and get out of the house.
Go to gym 4 times a week, 2 of those times being with trainer.
Consider aerobic/total body workout type classes at the gym to keep you motivated and going.
Having a regular class and training sessions makes the gym feel more like a scheduled appointment you are obligated to attend. If its a smaller local gym you might also meet some interesting people from the area outside your normal social circle.

Eat whole foods that come from plants, not in boxes or plastic bags.
Make lunch or breakfast your largest meal of the day, and eat as little food at dinner as possible.
Don't keep junk food in the house, period.

It's easy enough if you want, and you can easily lose 1 pound per week comfortably, and still be able to eat desserts, sweets and everything else you like, in moderation. 2 pounds a week even, is a possible target as well, towards the beginning when its easiest to lose the first few pounds. It sounds like you have the time (at home all the time) and money (looking for snake oil salesmen) to train frequently and I would suggest that you do so. Make sure you see the trainers at your gym and decide which is best for you.

Training and toning your body is important in weight loss, as you burn off fat and build up muscle.
posted by gomess at 8:29 PM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Deadlift and PowerClean.
posted by tiburon at 8:29 PM on February 25, 2009

Sorry to be the one to psychologize this, but you're blaming your weight for something that isn't there. You're pretty vague on details, but from what I've learned in life, 40lbs doesn't make that much difference in a person's ability to make money. "Passing up" is not the same as "missing" opportunities, yet you smoosh those two together, so I'm thinking you're sitting around eating and afraid to put yourself out there. This isn't your body's fault, it's your brain's, and it's lying to you.
posted by rhizome at 8:37 PM on February 25, 2009 [12 favorites]

"Other concepts?"

Have you thought about taking up smoking? You'll have to punt some life expectancy, but it will help you drop those 3 stones.
posted by tiburon at 8:44 PM on February 25, 2009

Gym/weights -you may not drop all the weight from diet, but toning up the underlying muscle will make you look oh-so-much better. With a sensible diet, and as much cardio as you can bear.

There is no magic thin pill. I hate to hear it as much as you.
posted by kellyblah at 8:46 PM on February 25, 2009

At 5'5" and 175lbs you are pretty much in the obese category. You could definitely ask your doctor to prescribe phentermine or another appetite suppressant, or otherwise obtain it through an online pharmacy; then you ought to have a pretty easy time dropping the weight a sensible diet (getting some exercise wouldn't hurt either, but diet is what counts). Source: The Healthy Guide to Unhealthy Living. IANAD. You asked for "alternatives," and your weight isn't quite high enough for bariatric surgery. Don't be surprised if the weight comes back with a vengeance, though.
posted by halogen at 9:05 PM on February 25, 2009

Congratulations on your success with your craft!

It sounds like you know what caused you to gain the weight in the first place, and therefore what will help you to lose it, and it's possible that your craft success will lighten your emotional load, making it easier for you to incorporate the healthy behaviors that you need in order to have a healthy body, in a way you can sustain.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a magic bullet though?

For what it's worth, I put on about twenty pounds myself over the past year or so, and I did dabble with a few things (hoodia pills, the Master Cleanse). I couldn't stick with any of them, and I attribute that to the fact that I couldn't convince myself it was the right, healthy way to approach the problem. I just could not make myself believe it. And nothing works if you aren't really on board with it.

What I could make myself believe was that cutting my alcohol consumption in half would cut out a whole lot of empty calories, and that exercise sucks only when you're about to do it, not so much during or after. I could remind myself that I'm a good cook and that I genuinely like good food. These are things I can't argue with: that making the most of my calorie consumption by eating good, nutrient dense food is a good idea, and that moving around is a good idea. I have no choice but to believe that they're true.

I've only lost about five pounds so far (since the first of the year), but I don't worry about gaining them back, and I feel fucking great, so that's a bonus.

One magic-bullet thing I did try, that I have stuck with, is taking Omega-3 supplements every day. They do wonders for my attitude (numerous studies support this, some might even be legit!), and making a solid attempt to add more fish to my family's diet has only increased that. Going out for sushi, I literally get high. Plus, I get smug satisfaction out of taking the supplement every day, and I do love to feel smug. Your mileage may vary on that last point.
posted by padraigin at 9:07 PM on February 25, 2009 [5 favorites]

At 5'5" and 175lbs you are pretty much in the obese category.

Not to derail, but that is not in the obese category. It's in the overweight category. Perhaps you're rounding up -- quite a bit, if you are -- but considering the OP is already depressed about her weight, I don't think it's helpful to tell her she's obese when she isn't.
posted by Nattie at 9:19 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, the Hacker's Diet may meet your criteria, as it does not make "eating right" its core tenet. The somewhat tongue-in-cheek (or realist, if you prefer) subtitle for the diet is "how to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition."

I suggest a shotgun approach -- try diet plus exercise (for self-image, not weight loss) plus therapy. Of these three routes, you may find that one or more help you to feel healthier and happier. Good luck!
posted by zippy at 9:30 PM on February 25, 2009

Nattie, I only said that to emphasize that she qualifies for prescription aid when it comes to weight loss and not to make her feel bad. I apologize if it came across as hurtful, but the OP is probably very much aware of her 29.1 BMI already. I brought it up only because I am under the impression that many people don't ask their doctor for help because they don't realize how serious their problem is--why is she asking internet strangers rather than her GP?

Anecdote: my doctor said that he would be able to prescribe appetite suppressants to me if I were over 20lbs overweight (I wanted to lose 5lbs when I brought this up a couple of years ago), with some reluctance, but certainly if it would keep me from attempting radical and potentially harmful crash diets--which appears to be exactly what the OP is fishing after--and under his supervision. This might be something that she could benefit from.

posted by halogen at 9:33 PM on February 25, 2009

If you eat 100-200 calories every few hours you can keep from starving without eating very much. Move as much as possible; pace. Drink a glass of water every 30 minutes or so. Towards the end of the day, when you get hungry but it's near bedtime, take two Benadryl and go to bed early. Take fiber supplements to stay feeling full and first thing in the morning so you don't end up constipated; also flax seed oil or omega 3's and a multivitamin so you don't get malnourished.

You can try diet pills and laxatives and diuretics all you want, if you feel like having headaches, your lips cracking, painful stomach cramps, sweating, turning into a total bitch, having the shakes, crying, possibly destroying your sex life, and making sleep a total nightmare. I speak from experience on this, but some people just don't learn any other way than by doing it themselves, so good luck and be safe with whatever you try. If you faint or any other extreme symptoms crop up, stop immediately, especially with anything unhealthy in the current paragraph I've typed. Some people will try anything; remember, Margaret Cho lost 40 lbs. in a few weeks or a little more at the request of her producers and experienced renal failure. I hardly think it's worth that, now is it?
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:56 PM on February 25, 2009

Find things that you like that aren't exercise but burn calories (or build muscle which in turn burns more calories). It might be going out dancing every weekend night, or selling your car as already mentioned (get a bike), or walking/running the dog, or being on top during sex, or vacuuming when alone with your favourite rock-out music blasting and dancing through chores where no-one can see, or hiking, or rock climbing, or raising your desk so you stand at it instead of sitting at it, or replacing your chair with a inflatable exercise ball, anything you can find. Instead of exercise, which sucks, a more active lifestyle can be almost effortless in comparison.

Same goes for dieting - if you haven't already, start with the painless - eg. a Coke Zero instead of a regular Coke. You can't taste the difference, but you just took 150 calories out of your day.
Buy organic milk - it costs twice as much, but the same fat-grade of milk tastes so much better when organic that you can drop to a lower fat content without it tasting disgusting. (eg if you drink 4%, drop to 2% organic. If you drink 2%, drop to fat free organic)
Same with other foods, especially guilty pleasures - shift your tastes to the lower calorie versions.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:07 PM on February 25, 2009

For me, the amphetamines prescribed for ADD like Adderall and Vyvanse both function as appetite suppressants and seem to cause weight reduction by increasing my metabolism or something like that. But going along with all your caveats I'm sure that's wouldn't be a very healthy way to lose weight; it seem like it would probably have potential cardiac risks like Fen-phen had, which I believe also contained an amphetamine.
posted by XMLicious at 10:13 PM on February 25, 2009

Generally, I'd say you should talk to a nutritionist and doctor and see what they recommend. It sounds as if you might choose something expedient regardless of that advice, though, so here's a thought I've been having lately...

People who have weight loss surgery actually lose weight by following the post-surgery diet - the adjustment itself doesn't take the weight off:

Days 1 & 2: six liquid meals consisting of one oz. each, consumed over the course of 30min.
Days 3-19/26:six pureed meals consisting of one oz. each, consumed over the course of 30min.
Days 19/26-75/82: soft meals gradually adjusting from six one oz. meals to four one cup meals, each consumed over the course of 30min.
Onward: three regular texture meals consisting of no more than 1.5 cups of food each, consumed over the course of 30min-1hr.

All days include 6-8 8oz glasses water, each consumed over the course of 30min-1hr.

Without the surgery, you wouldn't have to worry about the texture thing, but chewing thoroughly would still be important. As is the advice about types of food to choose (heavy on protein, low in fat).

The thing is, this makes weight drop off precipitously, and you would have to worry about hanging skin, possible heart effects, and all kinds of odd complications. Running this by someone with any kind of health knowledge whatsoever would definitely be a good idea.

Whatever you end up doing, I wish you good health as an end result.
posted by batmonkey at 10:23 PM on February 25, 2009

Well, I lost a lot of weight doing diet and exercise. It's really the only way.
posted by delmoi at 10:39 PM on February 25, 2009

I'll nth the Hacker's Diet.

Personally I like it because it doesn't gloss over how hard weight loss is, or tell you it's just terrifically easy, or involve a lot of questionable psuedo-science, or really any other B.S.

It basically just treats weight loss the way most of us would treat any other serious problem: carefully, objectively, and methodologically, with repeated measurements and analysis so you can tell exactly how well whatever you're doing is working.

Not to sound like an ad (not that there's anything to sell, it's all online for free), but I gained a lot of weight after getting a desk job and went though the same process — looking for any sort of shortcut or easy way out, any alternative to just "dieting." The Hacker's Diet doesn't really tell you anything that you probably haven't heard and understand already, on some level, but it finally got me to stop screwing around and address the problem in a direct way, rather than avoiding it by searching for solutions that weren't there.

Also, the sense of control it gives you over your weight makes it easy to do on a semi-permanent basis, which is really the killer problem with all other diet plans that I've ever seen. You can lose weight through lots of 'purges' and other rigid systems, but it's sort of irrelevant if you can't maintain that loss indefinitely.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:43 PM on February 25, 2009

I'm not sure if you'll find this helpful, but a study on most effective diets just came out - CNN's take; Scientific American's; Reuters has the most detail.
posted by batmonkey at 10:58 PM on February 25, 2009

I also lost weight by learning what healthy eating was (especially calorie control) and by doing a lot of exercise. You might lose some weight by doing whatever faddy diet some Hollywood star is doing at the moment, but you won't keep it off without having a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. The reason why everything boils down to "eat less, move more" is that's the way it actually works.
posted by ob at 11:49 PM on February 25, 2009

Correct me if I'm wrong, because I might be projecting here, but I'm getting the sense that you are feeling a little out-of-control of your life, and it is important to you to lose the weight quickly so that you can start feeling in control again. The problem with losing the weight quickly is that the weight usually doesn't stay lost. It comes back. I don't know about you, but if I lost a lot of weight quickly, and after a while, it just started packing back on for no apparent reason, it would only make me feel even more powerless. So a quick fix is not the right answer in this situation, because it's not really a fix. And more importantly, the quick fixes are rarely ever healthy. I would say most of them are probably bad for your body.

Even though it may feel like the slow solution, I really do think the "old school" method of simple exercise and eating right is the only real solution here. If there were other easier/quicker methods that actually worked, the entire world would already know about it. Realistic goal-setting is very important for staying motivated for a "getting healthy" plan. You said you have 3 months to lose the weight. Going old school you probably won't lose 40 lbs in 3 months, but you can certainly lose a significant amount.

You mention problems with depression. And here, exercise has a huge advantage over a fad diet. Exercise gives you more energy and helps make you feel happier... so it's good for your body AND your mental/emotional health.

That said, if your exercise of choice is all cardio only, I would encourage you to add strength training to your routine to gain muscle as well. More muscle = faster metabolism = faster fat burning. I am assuming you are female here, and will tell you also not to worry about bulking up from strength training, it's very hard for women to bulk up. If we're talking about lifting weights, do your strength training with the heaviest weights that you can SAFELY do 10-12 reps with. If you can do more than 12 reps, the exercise is too easy for you, either add weight or otherwise modify it to a harder version of that exercise.

Good luck!
posted by cheemee at 1:24 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

I am currently losing weight by:

* Avoiding sugar
* Eating smaller portions
* Not snacking
* Avoiding fatty foods
* Getting out and walking quite a lot (not a 5 minute amble, but a fast walk)
* Eating a lot less meat - not vegetarian but certainly not eating meat every day.

I now crave sugar much less, I crave fatty food less and I don't feel the need to snack. I recommend trying to avoid sugar at first, strapping on an mp3 player with some good podcasts and going out for a walk.

My body doesn't handle large fatty meals so well (fats in large quantities now give me the runs), so I tend to avoid them. It's sort of self reinforcing - if I go out, I eat sensibly because not doing so causes me grief!

I have found that after a few weeks, I am 'in the zone' and no longer feel the need to snack.

Good luck with it!
posted by tomble at 3:33 AM on February 26, 2009

Exercising and eating well is actually easier and infinitely more enjoyable than any quick fix. Oh, and it actually works, which helps. Couting calories and taking up a sport is actually the easiest, cheapest, most miraculous and simple weight loss plan ever. It takes commitment and will power, but you can learn (or re-learn) those skills as you go along.

To nth everyone else, you will not keep weight off with fad diets (if you lose it at all,) you will feel like shit and it will likely negatively impact your health.
posted by fire&wings at 3:34 AM on February 26, 2009

The likelihood that you will regain the weight if you use it quickly is great. It has been shown time and time again that rapid weight loss results in a regain, plus some. You're going to save yourself a lot of heartache and self-loathing if you lose the weight slowly.

I'll ninth eating whole foods, no packages, no white sugar or corn syrup, no junk. If you really want to give weight loss a boost - avoid restaurants 99 percent of the time and cook at home. Eat healthy foods you enjoy. Don't eat egg white omelets if you don't like them. Don't go vegan if it's not your thing. You want something you can live with for the long term. We're so desperate for a quick fix. Time washes by looking for a miracle when we could be a healthy weight by doing the most natural thing of all -- paying attention to our hunger. Eat when you're hungry. Notice and wait for those hunger pangs. They're a good thing. If you have problems with compulsive overeating or bingeing, money spent on a qualified therapist might be a better idea than a personal trainer.

You'll start feeling a lot better in about a week or two. After you cut out the junk and eat three reasonable meals a day, you'll start feeling more energy and feel better about your body. Get plenty of sleep and aim for 10,000 steps a day. I think 10,000 steps is roughly five miles. Break these miles up. Take the stairs. Exercise doesn't have to be brutal. You just have to move.

I think you'll feel a lot better about yourself if you follow healthy habits and pay attention to your appearance and grooming. You're desperate and panicking that you will have to be "seen in public". People don't care about your weight like you do. They're not dwelling on it. Take steps to feel good about your body and increase your confidence. This includes clothing, grooming, eating right, exercise, getting proper sleep, seeing friends, and respecting yourself and your appetite. Recording your food intake helps tremendously. Eating three meals and two small heart-healthy snacks prevents bingeing.

Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 4:28 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

I am also 5 foot 5 and 175 pounds, trying to lose weight. Gained 20 pounds in the last year.

I will have to second the person up about that it sounds like you're blaming the weight for problems that have nothing to do with the weight. I know different people carry weight differently, but there is no way being 175 should cause you to be missing out on things or not making the money you want. 175 is certainly more than someone of our height should weigh, but it's not even really FAT territory. Chubby, certainly. Chubby on the way to being fat if nothing changes. It sounds to me that the depression is something that would be having a larger factor in why you've withdrawn from doing things.

Anyway, I'm losing the weight through better diet and exercise. Nothing insane: I walk for an hour everyday during my lunch and then ride my stationary bike for 30 minutes to an hour in the evenings.

It's not flashy, and it won't lead to a Cinderella transformation. But it'll work, and is much better for me in the long run. And never underestimate the emotional benefits of exercise.
posted by Windigo at 4:30 AM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

As someone who went from 205 to 165, I have a bit of experience in this arena.

Unfortunately, I've got some bad news for you: there is no easy way to do this. The only way (yes, the _only_ way) to do this is the following:

1) Eat less. I shot for 1000-1500 calories, but you should probably shoot for a couple hundred calories less than your baseline metabolic rate. What you eat doesn't matter nearly as much as how much you eat.

2) Exercise more. What exactly that entails depends on your vital stats, metabolic rate, etc, but the goal is to make sure that every day you burn a couple hundred more calories than you take in.

3) Avoid sugary foods. Eating them won't physically impair your weight loss efforts, but once you start losing weight you're going to hate yourself if you give in to the temptation of an ice cream, candy bar, or other sugar-laden treat. I know this from experience. :)

4) Take a multi-vitamin. It's not necessary for weight loss, nor will it improve the speed of weight loss, but if you're on a restricted-calorie diet, you should make sure that you're getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients.

That's pretty much all there is to it. Figure out your baseline metabolic rate, take in fewer calories than that, and make sure that you get some cardiovascular exercise in. The speed with which you lose the weight will vary depending on the size of the imbalance, but provided that $calories_you_eat < $calories_you_burn, you _will_ lose weight.

Best of luck in your weight loss efforts!

Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a physician or medical professional. Check with your doctor before undertaking any major changes to your diet or daily routine, etc., etc.
posted by -1 at 4:45 AM on February 26, 2009

Know that 40lbs lighter I'd be making way more money

I think a good start for you would be not to blame anything on your weight other than the problems it poses. This is more likely to make you want to resort to something that might work, but be very unhealthy in the long run. It sounds like you've made a lot of positive changes in your life - getting out more and making a career out of something you really enjoy - trying to get into good eating habits may well help continue that path.

supermarkets in the UK sell 'healthy', calorie-controlled microwave meals with lean meats and fresh veg in them. They aren't the cheapest way to eat, but if you can't or don't have time to cook something like this wouldn't be a bad start.
posted by mippy at 4:50 AM on February 26, 2009

Peer-reviewed biomedical research: the Spanish ketogenic Mediterranean diet resulted in weight loss, and fat loss, that the authors described as looking like liposuction -- fat was lost while sparing lean tissue, which is typical of ketogenic diets. As others above have said, go under 25 g of carbs per day and you WILL drop pounds, and quickly. I think the Spanish ketogenic Mediterranean diet also appears quite healthy and delicious.
posted by Punctual at 5:32 AM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

More peer-reviewed research: it's counting calories that works, no matter which diet you try.

As for diet plans, take a look at The Instinct Diet. It's written by a nutrition researcher at Tufts University. It comes with a 10-week eating plan complete with recipes, so it fits within your three-month time frame.
posted by needled at 5:49 AM on February 26, 2009

I'm 5'5" and 180 pounds, but then again, I've also got more lean body weight than most women due to good genetics. 'Overweight' for many women is healthy for me because I've got a higher muscle-to-fat ratio. I'm losing weight pretty steadily just by calorie-counting, making sure my food is nutrient-rich, and getting some exercise.

Count calories, but don't cut out carbohydrates. Your body needs them as fuel. Instead, keep your calorie intake at about a 65% carbohydrate, 25% fat, and 15% protein ratio, and figure out how many calories you need per day to maintain your weight then reduce that by 500. Or 300 and 200 calories of exercise, or 400 and 100 calories of exercise. You'll lose approximately a pound a week, which is healthy.

Focus on building muscle, which is denser than fat; many athletes are obese by conventional standards but are REALLY FUCKING HEALTHY because a lot of weight is muscle, not fat. Better you be 175 pounds and mostly muscle than 155 pounds and mostly fat. Get some exercise. Buy a pair of two-pound barbells or strap some weights to your ankles. Creativity is good. Also, find creative ways to exercise - it makes it seem less like exercise and more like fun.
posted by kldickson at 5:58 AM on February 26, 2009

Also, focus less on 'losing weight so I look better' and more on 'losing weight so I don't have a heart attack when I'm 50'.
posted by kldickson at 5:59 AM on February 26, 2009

Sorry for the triple post, but I've got a lot more to add. Also, all these specialized diets? NO NO NO NO NO NO. I knows my human physiology, and it's pretty simple: 3500 calories = one pound. Give yourself a calorie deficit, and you will lose one pound of fat. Your body uses fat for fuel and insulation.

Also, you don't want to be developing a weird relationship with food. That might lead you down the slope of anorexia, and that's just unpleasant. Once a week, it's nice to have a piece or two of chocolate (particularly because chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains some chemicals that are excellent for your heart and brain - it has mild antidepressant effects on the nervous system).
posted by kldickson at 6:08 AM on February 26, 2009

Get a prescription for Topamax.
posted by amro at 6:43 AM on February 26, 2009

I've lost just over 40 pounds in just under 5 months doing Weight Watchers. I realize that's longer than your time frame of 3 months, but you can have a noticeable weight drop even in 3 months. Depending on what kinds of audiences you'll be promoting your craft to (I'm guessing mostly women?) being in the process of losing weight may make you more attractive and approachable to audiences than being skinny already. There's very few women that haven't struggled with their weight at some point. It's a connection between you and the women you'll be presenting to.

My other advice would be to get a full physical, and specifically get your thyroid checked. An underactive thyroid can lead to, among other symptoms, moodiness, depression, and weight gain.
posted by booksherpa at 7:43 AM on February 26, 2009

I did the Master Cleanse in the Summer of 2007. I lost 18 pounds in 11 days. While it was a great experience, I gained the weight back quickly. Unless you follow it immediately with fundamental changes in lifestyle, it will not lead to sustainable weight loss.
posted by leading question at 7:47 AM on February 26, 2009

I did the Master Cleanse for 7 days and lost 4 pounds that all came back. IMHO, useless for weightloss--interesting for colon cleanse (which is its intended use.)
The calorie count of the lemonade drink is actually quite high and I am 5'4" with a pretty low calorie need, so there you are.
posted by Toto_tot at 8:10 AM on February 26, 2009

If calorie restriction skeeves you out, or if you're one of those people who doesn't do well on hunger (even the mild sort), then just cut out sugar and ALL starches. You'll lose weight.

If you want a really dramatic drop, you'll also have to reduce carbs by cutting out fruit and starchy vegetables (temporarily). Do Atkins induction. Buy the book so you know how to do it right; even in the induction phase, it's not as simple as meat + cheese. Greens *are* required.

(And contrary to popular belief, Atkins requires you to add back in fruits, starchy vegetables, nuts, all that other good stuff as you lose.)

Low carb really does work to drop weight quickly, without hunger. Some people call it "extreme," but from my experience, I would disagree. I was like you, overweight and basically nutritionally unsound, and low carb basically forced me to start getting most of my calories from whole foods. Do your own research, though, because you shouldn't do LC unless you believe that it's healthy for you. Otherwise you'll use LC to drop a whole lot of weight and then return to a grain-based diet, and you *will* gain all your weight back.
posted by artemisia at 8:31 AM on February 26, 2009

Look, you cant beat the laws of physics. Peroid. Youre putting too much energy into a system that turns energy into mass. Stop putting so much energy into your body. Restrict calories or start burning more calories. Everything else is water weight bullshit.

It took you a year to gain that weight and it'll probably take you a year to lose it. There are no shortcuts.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:47 AM on February 26, 2009

Whenever I want to kick-start some weight loss, I'll do Scarsdale or the General Motors diet for a week or two. Never more than two weeks.

Both diets are low-carb, and I can drop 7-10lbs in a week on them, and about 12-14 over two weeks.
posted by essexjan at 9:45 AM on February 26, 2009

You know, you really do, that you have to exercise more and cut calories. You also know that it's tough. We all understand you want something quick and easy, but that's not the way weight loss really works.

That being said, the life changes (yep, that's what it takes) I found easiest to implement after gaining weight (due mostly to a messed-up thyroid but some to complacency, too) were:

Walking more--walking more (which began as just walking at all) made me have more energy, which made me more likely to get up and do stuff, a total win-win.

Cutting out soda--If you drink non-diet sodas, you can really lose weight by switching to diet drinks or (even better) water. Water is naturally better for you, you need the hydration anyway, and it cuts down on the bloating (ugh) that sodas can do that makes you look even heavier than you are.

Cutting down on sodium and high fructose corn syru
p--I have a sweet tooth, but the biggest cravings I had initially were for salt, probably because there's sodium in everything these days. Now I have very little salt in my diet and that helps my blood pressure. And just about any sweetener is easier on your body than hfcs. Finding foods that are low in hfcs, or don't contain it at all, really helps to keep your weight under control.

The big one: You're going to mess up sometimes. Everyone does. DON'T QUIT when you fall off of your healthy regime! Just get right back on the horse.

Good luck!
posted by misha at 10:15 AM on February 26, 2009

There are three diets that I've seen work for other people, only one of which is "Alternative".

* I've seen someone lose weight from Atkins before, but it has problems. You *must* see your doctor before doing it, because some people may have conditions that would cause them to get hurt by going low-carb. The other issue is that if you so much as eat half a saltine, your weight loss comes to a screeching halt. It's actually really hard to avoid all carbs.

* I've seen the "6 week body makeover" work, but it's overall a *very* strict diet. Plus, it expects that you'll do regular gym-type exercises.

* A couple of people I know are currently doing the Weight Watchers "points" diet (which I think they term "flex"). They're having a lot of fun, and it seems to be working. In my MIL's case, she's down about 30 pounds. Another friend is down 20 in about a month. (He's a fairly large guy). I know I sound like a commercial on this one - no conflict-of-interest, I swear! But, I've been pleasantly surprised by their success.

I'll pile on the recommendation that you not do any kind of liquid diet, all-the-same-food diet, etc. Gimmicks won't get you what patience and willpower can.
posted by Citrus at 10:18 AM on February 26, 2009

I did the master cleanse for 3 days only. The jury is still out on if I think it is good or not.

BUT, I got two things out of it. One, I did loose a few quick pounds, and even if it was water weight, it was a 'reward' that motivated me.

Two, even just three days on it, adjusted me with my eating for pleasure, boredom, anger, joy, breaktime, etc. It really got me to really spend 3 days looking at ALL the reasons I eat, while not eating, and getting that I don't need to eat to fill my needs.

I think I want to do a fast (maybe not master cleanse) once a month, even if a veggie juice fast for a day, just to relook at WHY I eat and get a quick grip on it.

3 weeks later, my eating habits are about sustenance, not boredom, etc. And that is worth it. And now I am losing weight in a healthy manner (exercise, reducing calories, putting good calories into my body).
posted by Vaike at 10:47 AM on February 26, 2009

If I had only 40 lbs to lose I would just join Weight Watchers if I felt I could not just lower my calories and increase my physical fitness. Desperate measures are needed when your life is threatened by your excess weight, but you do not appear to be in danger of losing your life. Why invite health problems through schemes that aren't based on taking in healthy foods and increasing your fitness level?

I have mentioned my own experience with healthy weight loss methods: I removed all processed foods from my diet and lived on whole, fresh foods. My diet was mostly raw, but you can cook your veggies if you prefer. I lost something like 75 lbs in less than 4 months, and was the healthiest I had ever been. Check out We Like It Raw for information on eating more raw foods for health.

But whatever you do, I don't see the need for radical methods at all in your case. Exercise and lower calories will help you to lose weight and get fit, and taking care to eat foods that are healthy will improve your overall well-being. I like Sparkpeople for tracking nutrients and weight loss progress.
posted by Piscean at 11:35 AM on February 26, 2009

Get your wisdom teeth out. Live on Odwallas and soup for a month.

Another one, which I have discussed in an economics class but never actually tried, was an alternative diet proposed by an economist which failed horribly despite its alleged massive success. Take one spoonful of canola oil an hour. Or maybe it was just one with every meal, I'm not certain. You'd have to google it. Anyway, apparently it worked but everyone hated having to sip vegetable oil all the time and it never went anywhere. This is not really a serious suggestion, but if you try it and it works, let me know!

Don't do Atkins. It makes your sweat smell aawwffuull.
posted by shadowfelldown at 12:38 PM on February 26, 2009

shadowfelldown is talking about the "Shangri-La Diet," which has been discussed extensively all over the Internet (including here on AskMeFi). You do NOT take the oil with meals. And it wasn't proposed by an economist; it was merely mentioned on the Freakonomics blog a few times (which is when it really started getting media attention). Just Google it. There are a ton of resources for learning how to do it. I've not seen any evidence that it "failed horribly;" in fact, it seems to be going quite strong.

I bought the book a few years ago when it got all the media attention but never really tried it out properly. Well, I am now. I'm just about a week into it, and I'm down 2.2 pounds. I lost nearly 50 pounds on Weight Watchers a few years back, but I was starving constantly and I ended up gaining most of it back. My biggest problem is appetite suppression. I'm still skeptical of the Shangri-La Diet's claims to solve the AS hurdle. It's easy to write off my success so far as the placebo effect. I'm going to give it a few weeks to see what happens.
posted by web-goddess at 6:48 PM on February 26, 2009

Diet and exercise. But just going to the gym can be so boring. Find a sport, something active that involves other people helps to keep you motivated. Having someone else waiting on me makes me show up, the gym makes me sleep in. Join a co-ed soccer league, an indoor climbing gym or train for a triathlon.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:11 PM on February 26, 2009

Switch to non-fat milk. You can go in steps: Whole, 2%, 1%, down to non-fat. Once you get there, you wont know the difference, and when you by chance do have any dairy above non-fat, you may find it too creamy and gross. And you will lose weight.
posted by captainsohler at 10:30 PM on February 26, 2009

For a long time no matter how hard I worked I couldn't stop gaining weight. It kept going up even though my calorie intake went down and my activity went up. I saw an obesity specialist who put me on Phentermine for a month (carefully monitored - this stuff isn't to be taken lightly). The medication kick-started my metabolism. Two years later I'm down almost 50 pounds. And I've kept it all off.
posted by geekchic at 10:00 AM on February 27, 2009

I was a member of WW a couple years ago. Through their point system I lost 13 pounds in four months. I was never able to lessen the amount of points you're supposed to use at the beginning. I was hungry all the time, thought about food all the time and it made my already bad relationship with food worse.

The best (?) way I lost weight was about ten years ago. I lost 50/60 lbs in six months. I ate whatever I wanted for breakfast (usually Burger King picked up on the way to work) and lunch (usually a sandwich from the lunch room). Dinner was either nothing or one bowl of cereal (Cheerios) or a bag of microwave popcorn. Weekend meals were Cinnabons and Taco Cabana (I was in Texas). You can, of course, eat more healthy than I did and probably lose weight even faster. I was single at the time which made eating this way easy. I'm married now (and nowhere near a Taco Cabana - dagnabbit!) so losing weight this way again is not going to happen for me.

The odd thing is that, although I needed to lose this weight and about 25 lbs more, I wasn't eating this way to lose weight. It was just a happy byproduct of me getting my first computer and not wanting to waste time eating at night when I could be chatting.
posted by deborah at 5:21 PM on March 4, 2009

The wild rose cleanse helped me redefine my relationship to foods - especially sweets and the quantity of food I need to keep my energetic. I actually prefer to eat according to the meal plan even when I'm not doing the cleanse, although it can be difficult if you're not able to cook for yourself all the time.
posted by bellbellbell at 11:53 PM on March 24, 2009

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