How to lose the most weight in 2 months for a contest?
November 29, 2010 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: I'm participating in a workplace version of "The Biggest Loser." What are some good ways for me to jump start my weight loss for the first check-in AND also see the greatest results in the 2-month contest period?

My friend has the following questions regarding a workplace contest of "The Biggest Loser" that she is participating in:


I am a 33-year old woman who is without question over-weight. I have been successful with weight-loss in the past (several years ago, when I was in my early 20's, I lost over 100lbs - unfortunately most of it has been gained back) and know my fair share about nutrition and exercise. I am truly interested in making a long-term lifestyle change, and I hope this contest will lead to that. I am capable of just about any type of physical activity, and, aside from the weight, am in generally good health.

That being said, the "Biggest Loser Contest" I am participating in lasts for only 2 months and the winner is determined by greatest percentage of weight lost. Given this short time frame, I want to have a good showing in this contest (and win the cash prize!), so I want to learn some tips/tricks/best practices for jump-starting my weight loss and maintaining/increasing it through the course of the contest (and, obviously, beyond).

I have some advantages and disadvantages in this situation. I am heavier than all of my co-workers, so with better diet and increased activity, I am likely to lose weight more easily. However, I am older than most of them, which might prove to be a hindrance. I do not have the financial ability at this time to join a gym (but do have access to a treadmill), so suggestions for most effective physical activity that can help with weight loss would be greatly appreciated. As a side note, all of the people in the contest are women, and we all work in a coffee shop around the same temptations, especially given this holiday season.

Here's what I'm looking to know: What specific dietary, supplemental, and physical activity suggestions do you have to help me jump-start my weight loss as well as keep it going through the 2-month contest period and beyond?

Thank you!
posted by karizma to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Lose the salt, and keep it off until the weigh-in. My weight differs from ~2 pounds depending on salt intake.
posted by Melismata at 12:48 PM on November 29, 2010

This is sneaky and underhanded and probably unethical, but waterload (eg drink heaps of water) before the initial weigh-in to set your starting weight.
posted by b33j at 12:54 PM on November 29, 2010

Definitely unethical.
posted by b33j at 12:54 PM on November 29, 2010

Track every single thing you eat, and all exercise you do. I use this site (free) and associated iPhone/iPad apps. Using this I've lost 10 lbs in two months; it's not easy but for me, it has definitely worked. You tell it how much you want to lose (max is 2 lbs/week) and it shows you how many calories are allowed each day, and uses a pretty complete food database to let you enter all your food. It's been amazing to me how the calories add up.

There are lists online of low-cal foods that will fill you up, which you can easily find; for me, when I want to snack I now reach for an apple or a hard-boiled egg instead of a cookie, because I know how much that cookie will take out of my chunk of remaining calories for the day.
If you can't go to the gym do try to walk as much as possible. An hour of walking can burn around 300 calories (and for me, that's about 1/3 my daily total).

That's it - I can tell you that it works but it can be awfully hard to discipline yourself to track every single thing that you eat. You can do it! Good luck! MeMail me if you want a buddy to trade encouragement.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 1:10 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Whole 30 program is NOT oriented to weight loss and in fact, version 3 prohibits you from using the scale in their rules for one month. Nevertheless, this could be the program to use but it would not be strict 'whole 30' because of the scale use requirements. Anectdata: I lost approx. 10 lbs per month for a number of consecutive months with limited exercise on this program.
posted by kch at 1:11 PM on November 29, 2010

I just finished a community "Biggest Loser" contest. My employer was a huge sponsor and their were over 500 contestants. Our contest was 12 weeks long. I lost 16 pounds. I cheated a lot and played catch up often. I would not advise doing this. I could have lost a lot more if I took it more seriously. For the last week or so, I really buckled down and followed Jackie Warner's diet plan. She has a book, This Is Why You Are Fat. I highly recommend it. There is nothing new in her book. There is no quick fix or magic bullet. She advocates "eating clean" and her plan allows two cheat meals on the weekend. The best thing about the book is that her meal plans are very realistic and very doable. The foods are normal, everyday foods that you can find in a grocery store. She has a ton of sample menus. I appreciate this because it allows you to see what a day of eating right should look like and it gives you lots of ideas.

My advice would be to pick something (like Jackie Warner's plan) and do it. Don't think too much about it and don't make excuses. Don't bargain with yourself. Two months isn't a long time. You can't cheat and say, "I'll eat less tomorrow." I have done this and it doesn't work like that.

I would say to exercise daily. Walk on the treadmill while watching TV or listening to your favorite tunes or podcasts. Jackie Warner has a treadmill regimen in her book. It entails switching up the incline and speed for maximum calorie burn. Even if you do not follow her instructions I would highly suggest to crank up the incline. Never walk on 0.0 incline (except to warm up for five minutes) -- you are doing yourself a big favor by adjusting the incline to even 2.0. Let it be your goal to get the incline up over the next two months. It it increases your workload and burns more calories, not to mention tones the butt.

You might want to:

-get your head in the game and make a commitment to be strict with yourself. You'll find that some of your co-workers are going to justify eating things they shouldn't and making a lot of excuses. The people that lost the most in our contest were gym rats and were very strict with their eating plans. You don't have to be a gym rat but you do have to sweat and you have to keep challenging your body to do more and go farther. The winners were very large and their commitment was remarkable. They got off half of their medications and lost more than 65 pounds each. (first place categories for pounds lost and percentage of weight lost).

-keep a daily journal of food intake (I was way more successful when I recorded everything I put into my mouth)

-stop eating at 6 or 7 in the evening, or 3 or 4 hours before bedtime.

-don't drink diet cokes. I love Diet Coke but was more successful when I drank unsweetened tea or water instead. I don't think Diet Coke is "poison" but there was a difference when I cut it out.

- buy a can of whey protein powder. Walmart and just about every grocery store carries it. When you are hungry whip up a shake. It takes the edge off. I did this in the afternoons and it worked well.

-don't ever throw in the towel. Slip-ups are inevitable. Get right back on the plan and learn from it.

-make life easy by pre-planning. Jackie Warner suggest boiling a half-dozen or dozen eggs at a time, peel them, and put them in individual baggies with salt and pepper so you can grab and go. Doing stuff like this is going to save you from resorting to fast food because you don't have your meals planned.

-even if you don't follow a specific plan, eat more salad and clear soups. So say you have oatmeal for breakfast, low-fat soup and salad with lots of veggies with low-cal dressing for lunch, repeat soup and salad at dinner with some lean protein on your salad and a couple pieces of fruit between meals. Wow, good diet plan. Doable. You will shed weight like crazy.

-don't eat processed anything. Don't justify and say this Little Debbie or chocolatey granola bar only has 200 calories. It's 200 empty calories. You cannot afford empty calories when you're trying to drop pounds like crazy. Every food that you put in your mouth must have nutritional quality.

-watch this video. Follow his advice.

Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 1:33 PM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm interested in the other answers, as I hope to do something similar soon. Things that have worked for me in the past:
- Make weight loss your new second job. Any time you're bored/anxious/angry, channel that energy into thinking about what more you could be doing to lose weight.
- Walk any time you can. Fifteen minute break? Go for a walk around the block. Hour after dinner? Go for a walk. I like to do them outside when I can, but with the treadmill you can use that as an option. Music/ipods can help keep up the pace.
- Drink tea or water or something non-caloric All. The. Time. It helps keep full and occupy the mouth.
- Snack every hour to hour and a half to keep up the metabolism, but make most snacks veggies or low-fat protein. Unsalted unroasted almonds in Small servings have helped, too.
- Have a splurge day each week. Try to only have alcohol and other treats on that day.
- Don't beat yourself up with you also sneak in a holiday treat here and there, but keep your eyes on the (monetary! health! etc!) prize.
- Remind yourself often of why this is what you Want. This is not something that someone else is making you do. The you that wants that treat and the you that wants to lose weight are on the same team.
- I have sometimes had luck with only having holiday goodies if they're home made.

Good luck! May you be an inspiration to me, who needs to do that same again, too.
posted by ldthomps at 1:40 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

1) Atkins induction. Follow it to the letter, for the entire competition. It really works.

2) High-intensity interval training. For some reason it works better for fat burning than steady-state cardio (and will increase your fitness level also). Do intervals of bodyweight exercises like burpees, squats or jumping jacks.

3) Go off the birth control pill, if you're on it.

4) Intermittent fasting.

5) While, as b33j pointed out, artificially inflating your start-weight by drinking water is deceptive, the converse is common practice. The contestants on The Biggest Loser go through intense dehydration before they are weighed (for the "after" numbers, of course). An ex-contestant dishes about the various unhealthy and dangerous things they were pressured to do.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:42 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Fact is, you've got to starve yourself a little bit if you want to lose any weight, and you need to really starve yourself if you want to lose a lot of weight fast. There's just no way around it unless you're crazy lucky. It's going to SUCK. Getting over that hurdle and embracing the awfulness is huge.

From a weight loss perspective, all that matters is the calorie count and exercise. The other stuff (when you eat, how fast you eat, how much water you drink, what you eat, etc) only matters insofar as it can make the diet more or less unpleasant. If you track exactly what you eat, you'll soon find that twinkies don't fill you up like the caloric equivalent number of carrots. You'll find that some eating patterns work for you better than others (ie, many small meals vs. two larger ones). You'll need to actively adjust what you're doing mid-diet in order to make it as easy on yourself as possible. It's an experiment, but the laws of thermodynamics are immutable. Energy in, energy out.

Personally, I lost about 30lbs (and have kept it off for about a year) by strictly limiting my calorie intake to about half my normal amount and eating only one meal a day, just before bed. Otherwise, my diet was unchanged. I still drank beer and wine, ate insanely rich food, etc. That wouldn't be fun for most people, I'm sure, but it worked for me.

Start tracking your calories and weight well before the diet starts so you get a baseline for how much you need to eat to maintain your weight. Use excel or google docs to graph daily calorie deficit (factoring in exercise) vs. body weight for a while. The math ain't hard (3500 kcal = 1lb). That way you'll be able to hit the ground running. Bear in mind that as you lose weight you need fewer calories to maintain your weight. ie, a 200lb person might need 3000 cal/day to maintain weight, but a 150lb person might only need 2500.

It's hard on your body, but if you're in good health, I'd start with a BRUTAL few days to kick things off. Once you start to lose weight and see that graph trending downward, the whole experience can become very empowering. You realize you're in charge and that you can lose weight as fast (or as slow) as you want. It makes the misery a little more tolerable knowing that you're in control and winning.

As far as exercise goes, I'm a fan of walking to work and to somewhere for a cup of black coffee a couple times a day. YMMV.

Oh, and keep tracking weight and food once you're done losing. Only way to keep it off, I think.
posted by pjaust at 1:53 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

You really truly don't need to starve yourself. Follow over_educated alligator's advice above. Low carb really is the way to go because once you get your insulin under control you won't feel the need to eat all that much -- appetite suppression for the win. Give it a shot! You'll be surprised.
posted by peacheater at 2:13 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm hearing great things about Dukan; the books were just translated to English.
posted by cyndigo at 4:26 PM on November 29, 2010

I've been losing weight recently, mostly through diet with only my baseline level of exercise (walking about 3 miles a day, to and from work). For me it's all about quantity of food - not starving myself, but also not fearing hunger. My baseline now is "a bit hungry" and I will periodically eat just enough to no longer be hungry, but no more. Over time I've adjusted to eating less, and I feel fine. I have always had a fairly good diet and avoided processed food, but I used to just eat too much of the good stuff.

I should add a medical caveat, that I'm generally healthy, moderately fit and not diabetic or insulin-resistant so while the above works for me, it might be intolerable for someone else.

The key thing for me was not to beat myself up if I don't find time to go to the gym - what helped with this was the observation I read somewhere that it's a hell of a lot easier to avoid consuming the calories in the first place than to burn them off. Obvious but still helpful.
posted by altolinguistic at 4:20 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older How to get technology to work in a sewing class?   |   Hispanic Parade Ankle Bells !?!? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.