Get Me Thin or Kill Me Trying
June 12, 2006 11:13 PM   Subscribe

I don't need to be thin, or skinny, or even svelte. I'm just sick of being fat. I exercise all the time and my diet is improving every year; it's not good but it's getting better. Here's the thing: I don't care if your advice is bad for my liver or my heart, or anything else, but I need something to kickstart weightloss.

I've tried various amphetamines and speed substitutes, but they never did anything to speed up my metabolism or quell my appetite. If you know of a pill that works, though, I'll try it.

I've tried bulimia, but I was inconsistent because I didn't want anyone to know.

I can't wrap my head around not craving junk food, aside from gradually including more and more vegetables and eating less and less meat.

A few years ago, I got really sick and lost thirty pounds. Working out everyday, I lost ten more pounds in 6 months, and I was the happiest I've ever been. A year and a half later, it was nearly all back. It took my mother thirty years to lose her weight and get happy. I can't stand the cultish groups. I don't have time to hit a gym until after they're all closed. I'm not big enough to be eligible for surgery (215 lbs. at 5'8" as of tonight's weigh in). I don't know what's left.

Again, I really don't care how bad anything is for me. I'm just sick of looking at the mirror.
posted by elr to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (91 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried smoking?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:20 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

have you seen a doctor? get your thyroid levels checked. if they're even a bit off, it can be hard to shed weight through diet and exercise.
posted by judith at 11:23 PM on June 12, 2006

Y'know, it might be worthwhile to try Seth Roberts' new Internet diet craze, the so-called "Shangri-La Diet." Basically you take in a certain quantity of flavorless calories each day (between 200-400 calories), being careful not to have anything with flavor within an hour before or after the flavorless food (you shouldn't even brush your teeth during this window). Roberts suggests sugar water consumed slowly (which apparently doesn't count as a flavor) or a couple tablespoons of extra-light (not extra-virgin) olive oil, but other low-flavor oils also work; people are using canola, grapeseed, and rice bran oil. If you are craving junk food I'd suggest the oil rather than the sugar water, as you may be hypoglycemic.

The theory is that your body learns to stop associating flavor with calories, begins to think you are in a time of scarcity, and lowers your set point so you are not distracted by hunger all the time. High-calorie foods that taste consistently the same, conversely, supposedly signal the body that it's in a time of plenty and should be storing it up for lean times -- which would explain why junk food is so addicting. It's not quite as wacky as it sounds (there is some science behind it) and it does seem to be working for a number of people. Google it and read up on it a bit. There's a book that explains more about it and gives some other tips, but the main thing is what I already told you. It is cheap to try; you can get a bottle of canola oil for a few bucks, and for many people it starts working noticeably in a day or two and really kicks in in about a week. There are forums where people doing the diet post questions and advice.

It took a bit longer than a week to kick in for me, but it really does seem to be working. At least, my appetite is quite under control and I no longer feel the urge to binge on junk that I used to feel if I succumbed to temptation even once. My favorite junk foods don't even taste good to me anymore. I am not sure whether I'm losing that much weight (don't have a scale at the moment) but I do notice that my clothes are fitting differently. I'm down a pants size but I lost most of that over the first part of the year, before I tried this Shangri-La thing. Still, the new pants are starting to get loose as well...

There's little risk to giving it a try and who knows, it might work for you.
posted by kindall at 11:33 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

Intestinal worms.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:38 PM on June 12, 2006

Intestinal worms.

No way. My friend got a parasite in Kyrgyzstan. While she was able to eat an entire jar of Nutella one weekend and still lost weight, it still gives her problems and isn't solved — years later.

Yeah, I realize that was probably a joke.

Second on the Shangri-La Diet.

My only other piece of advice, and this sounds dumb and obvious, but makes a huge difference: Don't buy junk food. Don't have it in your house. It's really helped me.
posted by bisesi at 11:45 PM on June 12, 2006

mr_roboto suggested smoking. It would likely help but if you were to quit your metabolism would be unpredictable and you could end up gaining more weight. If you want to read more about it, here is a good research paper about smoking and weight.

A tapeworm, a topic touched on by UbuRoivas is another possibility. There is an opinion piece in The New Republic about it and I found a blog that discusses the article that has some interesting comments. I'm not sure where you would order tapeworm eggs.

Why not surgical alternatives? Liposuction isn't as expensive anymore and it would probably be cheaper, in the long run, than smoking.
posted by lockle at 11:48 PM on June 12, 2006

What kind of exercise do you do? and how much?

how many calories do you eat per day?

According to my mom, about 20 years ago she discussed with her doctor the possibility that she might be borderline hypothyroid. He said she was welcome to try the hormone treatment for it, and if it made a difference it would be pretty obvious to her and she could stay on it. Unfortunately, it did not. I don't know how much medical thinking has changed in the meantime, but it sounds like discussing this with a doctor is worth a shot.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 11:59 PM on June 12, 2006

Best answer: Getting a full workup sounds like a good idea. Maybe you can get a referral to a bariatrician, too, though you'll probably have to pay for that yourself (most insurance doesn't cover weight loss.) I don't know if anybody still prescribes pills but if your doc understands how important instant gratification is to you and doesn't think they pose a risk to you they might (ask.) Sounds dangerous to me, but you said you don't care -- and under an MD's supervision maybe it's not as big a deal -- I don't know.

As for kicking the junk food -- low-carbing works for me. After a while (maybe a couple of weeks) I don't even crave the stuff. Look into Atkins, Sugar Busters, South Beach etc. The first few days will be tough. I dropped a ton of weight really fast on Atkins. I can't say how healthy it is but like you said you don't care. I also don't know if your body chemistry is different enough to mine that this'll work for you.

Google the Hacker's Diet to get a basic discussion of the energy equation central to dieting. This will give you an idea of how quickly you can lose weight as a function of how much of a calorie deficit you're willing to take on. From that point the decision of how aggressive you want to be is a pure hacker's gamble. Also, the HD covers how to track your weight via a moving average, which allows you to weigh yourself daily but filters out motivation-killing weight blips. If you're as impatient as I am this is a good way to keep you from losing your focus.

Even if you starve yourself and work out constantly the weight will not come off instantly. You need to accept that. I constantly self-sabotaged my dieting by expecting immediate results. Accept it'll take at least 3 months to lose 30 pounds (half that if you literally don't eat anything -- very bad BTW). It might also take a few months after you lose the weight for your body to "rebalance" itself so don't expect to look good right away.

You have a bug about losing weight NOW and that's good -- the trick is to funnel that energy and make it last until you drop the pounds. Declaring war on the junk food (I mean, really, really HATE it for what it's done to you and USE that hate -- be an unbearable prick about it if that's what it takes) is another idea to keep this energy going. Once you are into the loss the time should go quicker than you'd think.

The gym issue: consider jogging, walking or cycling every day at least a half hour. You don't need a gym for that. The aerobic exercise will help moderate the mood crash you get from dropping the sugars and starches. This will help keep you motivated. Also I believe (I think, IANAD) it'll increase your resting metabolic rate which will help burn more calories even when you're not exercising, but I might be totally full of crap on that. Also there are plenty of simple exercise plans you can follow at home that'll help build calorie-burning muscle. Google "5BX" for one -- it consists of a few simple calisthenics and can be done anywhere in 11 minutes per day. Stick to whatever you choose every day -- days off are as big an enemy as junk food.

Looking beyond the immediate: you need to plan to transition into some kind of weight maintenance once you reach your goal weight. Failing to accept that made me yo-yo -- learn from my mistakes. Other people might suggest you seek counseling to determine what historically has been keeping you heavy and that might be a good idea but I'd be a hypocrite to do that. Anyway that won't get you thin right now, so maybe consider it after a few months if it's hard to keep the weight off.
posted by Opposite George at 12:10 AM on June 13, 2006

Oh, and I forgot to mention -- when I was heavy I thought I had a moderate diet and plenty of exercise too but after looking at it carefully it turned out I was wrong. That might not be your situation but consider tracking everything that passes into your body (including drinks) and how much you exercise (if you aren't already doing that) and confirming it.
posted by Opposite George at 12:16 AM on June 13, 2006

Yeh, sorry...the intestinal worm suggestion was a joke. Nevertheless, I have heard a story of a guy in Italy (?) who had made a bucket selling diet capsules which were actually filled with worm eggs, so it has been done, unless it is an urban myth. In the story he was also arrested for the act, I ought to mention.

I hopped onto the worms as a tangent from the idea that a good dose of giardia or dysentery would shed some weight pretty quickly, but the worms seemed a more palatable option, so to speak.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:23 AM on June 13, 2006

Are you *sure* you can't stand the groups? You sound exactly like I did two years ago. I had some mild success on Atkins but I put it all back on. I hated the gym. I was so sick of being fat and craving junk food that I actually went to my doctor and asked about the weight loss pills they advertise on TV here (but can't tell you the name). I half-jokingly wished I could develop an eating disorder. I'd drive myself to tears with frustration.

Then last April I joined Weight Watchers. I was on total cult watch, expecting to be offered the magic Kool-Aid at any minute. I was happily surprised. Yeah, they sell a lot of crap, but the good leaders never try to make you think you have to buy into it all. I got scales and started weighing out my portions. (It's really easy for stuff like breakfast cereal to creep up on you.) I tried to work in incidental exercise throughout my day, like walking to work and on the weekends. I tracked my food religiously in a notebook and tried to make sure I ate more vegetables than meat and carbs. A year later, I've lost nearly fifty pounds. It wasn't always easy - I actually tried a hypnotherapist at the six month point when I was getting desperate about a plateau - but it's off and it's staying off. IT CAN HAPPEN. I'm in my healthy BMI range for the first time in probably a decade. DON'T THINK IT'S IMPOSSIBLE.
posted by web-goddess at 12:36 AM on June 13, 2006

elr, you should never want to endanger your health just to, "look better."

I really don't care how bad anything is for me. I'm just sick of looking at the mirror.

Maybe you should start caring about the things that are good for you and stop worrying about the mirror.

I've tried bulimia, but I was inconsistent

Seriously, it sounds like you have a history of eating disorders and related self image problems. You're not going to find a satisfactory answer here - you should seek professional help.
posted by wfrgms at 12:41 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised that amphetamines didn't help. Did you take them regularly?

There are doctors who specialize in this sort of thing. They use tools such as drugs: sibutramine, phentermine, topiramate, nicotine, levothyroxine, and the amphetamines; and surgical procedures such as liposuction/ tummy tucks, and gastric bypass.

If you really don't care about the effects on your health, get to your local major metropolitan center and check out the classified ads in the back of the major newspaper. These guys advertise just above the guys who will inject fat into your penis to swell its girth.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:02 AM on June 13, 2006

Best answer: In high school, I ate one cup (measured uncooked) of rice a day and ran a mile a day. I lost a lot of weight. Fat, muscle, you name it. I probably lost a kidney.

I started drinking, stopped exercising, ate too much and I gained it all back. To lose it, I tried weight lifting, walking, stairclimbing, etc. Nothing seemed to work, because however small my meals were, I was eating too much.

I recently went back to my high school regiment, in spirit. I can eat anything I want, at all, during one meal a day. Pizza, ice cream, bread, burgers. I run everynight. In the past however many weeks, I've lost around 15 pounds and maybe 4-6" on my waist. It really does just boil down to the amount of calories you eat. Exercise just helps you along. Maybe with your metabolism. Who cares. Whatever you do, starve yourself. You get used to it.

Just in case it's a magical weight loss cure: I'm also taking cinnamon tea and fish oil capsules.

wfrgms: elr, you should never want to endanger your health just to, "look better."

Being fat sucks. Either you've never had to deal with it or you have some magical reality-shield that prevents you from feeling self-conscious about the way you look. Either way, your comment is not a 'satisfactory answer' for this thread.
posted by stavrogin at 1:10 AM on June 13, 2006 [6 favorites]

It really does just boil down to the amount of calories you eat. Exercise just helps you along.

That is exactly correct. Exercising even two or three hours a day won't result in fat loss if the calories keep up. The key to weight loss is to eat less. Exercise is important for health but only secondary for losing fat.

Try a three day fast. Lots of water. Third day, two glasses of pulpy juice. It may kick-start you.
posted by mono blanco at 1:25 AM on June 13, 2006

your comment is not a 'satisfactory answer' for this thread.

Yeah, but "seek professional help" is.

I find it hard to believe that when someone says they've already tried bulimia but are looking for something more effective, regardless of the health consequences, other people think nothing of it and start suggesting things like tapeworms!

Bulimia's an eating disorder, ffs, not a diet plan! When eating disorders and tapeworms become "rational" options that you consider alongside diet and exercise, then the only appropriate answer to your question is: talk to a doctor and/or counsellor.

(Even the fact that this question is filed under "clothing, beauty, & fashion" rather than "health" is concerning.)
posted by robcorr at 1:32 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I am willing to bet that your weight is highly correlated to your consumption of high fructose corn syrup. My suggestion is allow yourself to eat sugar and honey, but cut the HFCS out. That proabably means absolutely no soda for you and check everything else for it - bread, cake, all your favorite junk foods.
posted by zia at 2:13 AM on June 13, 2006

The single best way to lose weight and keep it off is to make permanent lifestyle changes - eating less, eating healthier, cutting out junk food, exercising more. That said, I understand how you feel about wanting to see immediate results.

The South Beach Diet is a sort of "healthy Atikins" (i.e. focused on "good carbs" vs. "low carbs"). It begins with a two week induction period that is pretty painful, but hey, it's only two weeks. You can do it. And you will see immediate results, typically losing 8-12 pounds. Yes, a lot of this is water weight, but it's definitely a kickstart and that's what you're looking for.

The Shangri-La Diet is remarkable. You may not see immediate weight loss but you should feel an immediate decrease in appetite (the same day, for me). The trick is to you actually have to eat less. That should be easier since your appetite is depressed but people eat for all sorts of reasons other than hunger. If you can't control those, you won't succeed with this. I find that will eat whatever's in front of me, regardless of how "hungry" I am, so I have to be careful with portion control. Get the book since it includes a great many tips on alternative strategies to the SLD proper.

Start with South Beach to get the immediate kickstart than add on Shangri La after the induction period (oil, if you can hack it, otherwise sugar water) to help you stay on South Beach. And add some exercise to your daily routine, even if it's just a 20 minute walk around the block or situps and pushups in your apartment. That's what I've been doing and it's working well for me. Down 20 pounds since mid-April.
posted by zanni at 2:22 AM on June 13, 2006

I concur with wfrgms and robcorr: see a doctor. This seems to be a bigger issue than "I don't like being fat" - for all we know, you may be really stick-thin. The way the question is phrased is alarming. Don't kill yourself over this, please.
posted by divabat at 2:31 AM on June 13, 2006

In case anyone might miss it: MeTa.
posted by sveskemus at 3:09 AM on June 13, 2006

Another hint is to eat nothing that's white- no breads, cereals, potatoes, milk etc. THe more brown/colorful/green your diet is, the better.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:23 AM on June 13, 2006

My suggestion for kick-starting a diet is to just eat a ton of fresh fruit and veg and don't worry about what else you might be eating as well. You'll feel better almost immediately and your palate will quickly be reprogrammed to expect fruit and veg instead of sugary/fatty things - I find that apples are particularly good for this. Be careful not to overcook your vegetables so that they lose their colour, crunch and taste, and don't be afraid to add a little salt to bring out the flavor.
posted by teleskiving at 3:42 AM on June 13, 2006

Read this, then read this and the short follow-up directly following.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:13 AM on June 13, 2006

i think the one-meal-a-day suggestion is on the right track, but extreme. i lost 18 pounds and have kept them off for 5 years by giving up breakfast. i just eat nothing between 12 midnight and 12 noon. most of the time, you're asleep, so it's not a big deal. i don't actively restrict myself between noon and midnight, but the total food consumed is less than if i ate 3 meals a day. i do try to avoid the obvious sugary suspects: sweets, cakes, fruit juices, but even so sometimes partake. have a bag of nuts and fresh fruit for snack cravings. but eat what you like for lunch/supper. lunch and supper are anyway the 'social' meals which you'll often want to share with people. if you miss breakfast-style foods, just order bacon and eggs or whatever at lunchtime.
posted by londongeezer at 4:14 AM on June 13, 2006

Here are some strategies that are hardcore, quickly effective if you stick to them, and will maintain or improve your health rather than harming it (IANAD etc.):

Brainwash yourself into believing you're allergic to wheat and sugar (except for fructose - that is, anything that is sweet but isn't fruit will kill you). These things are poison. Do not eat them, and be extremely rigorous about this - read every label and if you didn't cook it yourself, interrogate whomever did. (Don't binge on rice and potato products to make up for it, either.) If that doesn't work, you're lactose intolerant as well.

Only eat during daylight hours, preferably in the presence of other people. Drink water constantly. All the time, until your stomach is completely full of it. Cook only with olive oil. Season your food heavily (think Indian spices like ginger, nutmeg and cayenne that raise your metabolism, control your blood sugar and make you feel satisfied without loading up on carbs) - satiate yourself with flavour, and not with calories. Do not drink anything with calories in it, ever. (If you drink alcohol, don't drink anything with sugar, and definitely not beer; vodka + soda + lemon or lime is acceptable.)

Fasting is also good for a kick-start, if you can avoid overcompensating afterwards - you need to fast long enough that you forget your feelings of hunger and deprivation. (For me, this is 3 days.) Drink tons of water, lemon juice with cayenne pepper to clean yourself out, and lots of herbal teas as well (no caffeine) - enough of these things will actually make you feel full. After you clean out your stomach and your body like this, it's much more difficult to even consider wasting all the hard work and filling it with trash again; you'll also feel recalibrated and have more energy, and therefore be more likely to start taking better care of yourself immediately. Imagine that your stomach has shrunk during the fast and will explode if you fill it beyond its new, smaller capacity. Lather, rinse, repeat monthly if needed.
posted by xanthippe at 4:28 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I don't get all of the advice so far- it's the same old healthy stuff!

If you truly don't care for your health and simply want to lose fat, you really can't do any better than the Ephedrine/Caffeine/Aspirin stack. Google or wikipedia it... there's plenty of info out there, and it's cheap.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:29 AM on June 13, 2006

(oh, and to add a little detail, if you haven't tried stacking the ephedrine with caffeine, it's worth trying- the idea is that the C blocks your body from adjusting to the E).
posted by rxrfrx at 4:30 AM on June 13, 2006

I don't get all of the advice so far- it's the same old healthy stuff!

Yeah, but if you re-read the OP's litany of "things I've tried" you'll notice one glaring commonality: Lack of consistancy.

Exercise for a bit, "Hey, this isn't working," try some speed, try bulemia (inconsistantly--in her own words) That's the problem right there. The only quick way to lose quickly weight involves scalpels or hacksaws. The alternative is to pick a diet+exercise plan (any plan) and do it for a year.

I don't recommend the "one big meal" recommendadtion: your body will eventually recognize the pattern (starve, starve, binge!) and store all the "big meal" calories instead of burning them off normally. Eating too few calories isn't a good solution, either, as you will put your body into starvation mode.

Pick a daily caloric intake that you can actually live on (say, ~1200 calories if you're serious about losing weight), spread it out over 4 meals of 300 calories each throughout the day, and make sure it's comprised of foods high in fiber-rich carbs to prevent blood-sugar spikes. (READ my first link if you're at all interested in what your body does with different types of foods.)

This way, you'll actually have some energy in your day that you can direct towards exercise (yes, ugly, bloody, nasty, terrible, I HATE IT exercise). As opposed to the true-starvation suggestions, where you'd be too tired to exercise, and the drug-cocktails-suggestions-- you'll actually be getting healthier rather than sicker (who cares about having a nice-looking corpse?).

If you don't think you have time for exercise, you're full of shit. You just don't want to exercise, because it's a pain in the ass. You don't need a gym, a cult, or thousands of dollars in equipment to exercise. If you're like most Americans, you spend at least an hour watching TV every day... So compromise: get a stationary bike, and only watch TV while riding the bike. Two birds, one stone.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:47 AM on June 13, 2006

The latest Hollywood diet craze.

Seriously, it is easier to burn off a few calories than avoid eating them. Join a gym, pay for a trainer and get in shape. The trainer is more for motivation than technique. As for diets, the low glycemic index works for me. Fill up on bulky low glycemic index foods and it satisfies for hours. As for Shangri La, I was running late last weekend on my way to a matinee play and did not have time to eat lunch. Instead I had one tablespoon of light oil. I noticed that my stomach was empty, but I strangely was not really hungry. There may be something to this.
posted by caddis at 5:12 AM on June 13, 2006

I'm going to agree with some of the posts above - you need psychiatric help. Everyone has a desire to be thin, it's an image issue and it's the worst here in the States where we are constantly being bombarded with advertisements, celebrities, fast food, etc.

The only way you are going to lose weight is if you want to lose it for all the right reasons. Do you want to be thin? Great! That's awesome, but be thin because you want to be healthy.

Regardless of what you do, it will take a long time to lose weight. Forget what you see on TV or what you've read in the Supermarket checkout aisles, the only way to healthily lose weight is with consistency . It took you months and months to put that weight on, and it will take you months and months to take that weight off.

When it comes down to it, stop whining, stop looking for the magical pill, eat healthy and eat well, and get off that fat butt and just MOVE.
posted by CXImran at 5:25 AM on June 13, 2006

I can't help with speed diets. I tried Atkins once. It worked, but I gained it all back. So now I just count calories. It works, and I haven't gained it all back, but I've made calorie counting part of my lifestyle.

But I'd like to make a couple of suggestions re: Civil_Disobedient's comment: If you don't think you have time for exercise, you're full of shit. ... get a stationary bike, and only watch TV while riding the bike. While I'd say it more gently, I agree. This has worked for me.

And I really don't have any time. I have to leave at 8 every morning for work. I work from 10 until 6 and then I work another job from 7 until 10. I don't get home until 11:30. So when can I exercise? I ride my bike from 6 to 7am, every morning.

Which means I have to wake up at 5:45. Which, before I started, I though was insane. I thought I'd be even more tired than I already am. But it actually gives me more energy and -- though I might be getting less sleep -- I sleep better at night.

There's no TV I'm interested in watching at 6am (there's very little I'm into at any time). So I use Netflix. I rent some movies, but what really gets me going are hourlong tv series. A one-hour show gets me through the bike hour. And I try to find episodic, cliff-hangerish stuff: "24" and the like. My rule is I only get to watch the shows while I'm biking. Sometimes I actually wake up and want to ride the bike, just to see what happens next in whatever show I'm currently hooked on. (A Tivo helps with this, too.)

Oh, and I cover the clock on the cable box. Otherwise I'm too aware of how much time I have left. I'm done when the show is over.
posted by grumblebee at 5:35 AM on June 13, 2006

Let's recap what you stated in your questions:
  • You have a history of eating disorders.
  • You are unable to lose weight because of a less than perfect diet and inexistant exercise routine.
  • You want to lose weight and your ideal method is a quick fix.
Unless you change the way you think you are never going to lose weight and keep it off. Pills do not work. Every weight loss pill comes with a clause that says "... accompanied by proper diet and exercise". Fast weight loss is a myth; if you lose weight fast, you will probably gain it back faster.

Weight loss is simple math and science that requires discipline and education for success. If you don't agree with me then stop reading and forget about losing weight unless you become eligible for surgery (which will work because it will force you to abide by the mathematical rules of weight loss). Weight loss is acheived through proper diet and exercise.

The math: consuming less calories than you expend will cause you to lose weight.

The science: exercise supplements weight loss by expending energy and encouraging your body to consume fat while preserving lean muscle mass. The proper combination of diet and exercise will train your metabolism to work in an efficient manner.

My recommendation for further education is that you read The Abs Diet published by Men's Health magazine.

If you persist in seeking a quick fix for weight loss through artificial means you will never lose weight and keep it off, in addition to the fact that you will probably hurt yourself.
posted by tomorama at 5:44 AM on June 13, 2006

I'm not convinced that you "need psychiatric help," and I say that as a mental health professional. It sounds like you need to be thinner, not like you're crazy. Your desperation does come through loud and clear, though.

I don't have any magic, but there are a couple of comments I'd make.

1) Starting off: I'd start by going on Atkins for a month or two. You'll lose a bunch of weight, (a chunk will come back when you go off it), and it will kick start you in a way. Drink a bunch of water (at least a gallon a day) to help your body flush the nitrogen that is a byproduct of digesting protein. During the same time period, start consistently exercising. Don't stay on Atkins, it's untenable.

2) Ongoing: Don't skip breakfast, all the stidues suggest that people who keep weight off eat breakfast. Do start exercising like crazy. Fast exercise (Google: HIIT) seems pretty key. You do need to control calories, but exercise is really the key as far as I'm concerned. However, it might take more than you think. At least an hour a day of walking, at least half hour of running seems to be a minimum. One long day a week of two-three hours of continuous aerobic exercise seems to help a lot. Track your calories. Determine if you can have any junk food at all, I'm much better at sticking to no sweets than I am to sticking to a reasonable amount of sweets (although I'm best at unbridled ice cream eating).

3) Maintenance: Weigh yourself every day. Again, research shows that people who weigh themselves consistently are more likely to keep weight off. Especially weigh yourself if you don't want to do so. As you look at controlling your weight set an emergency action point for going into full fledged diet mode again-3 pounds up, 5 pounds up. Consider fasting one day a week, but be careful to control intake the day after. Continue to exercise a lot.

On preview: Weight loss has nothing to do with "proper diet and exercise" as your question is clear enough to realize. If you stop eating you will lose a lot of weight, even if it isn't proper. However keeping the wieght off is very dependent on developing new habits. If you use crazy methods to lose weight it may well be much harder for you to keep it off, but if you use crazy methods to lose while also working on a plan to keep it off in a "proper" fashion, you can probably do it.

Also, attempting to be bulimic and failing to maintain it is not an eating disorder, it's an indication of the lack of an eating disorder. Sure, it's a concerning episode, but it isn't an eating disorder.
posted by OmieWise at 5:57 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

A general suggestion layered over some of the above suggestions: learn to read food labels. I started doing this when fighting cholesterol, and losing weight became a beneficial side effect. Ignore the "30% LESS FAT!!" sticker on the front of the bag, look at the back of the bag and see what that actually means. If added sugar/fructose is a concern, this can help you get a handle on it.

Cooking for yourself is a good habit too. Tends to cut out junk food. Also helps prevent lard or corn syrup from sneaking into your diet when you're not looking.

And just before you head off to talk to a professional, one quick question to consider: do you have friends who are 'enablers'? Can you talk them into going somewhere for lunch that offers a decent salad?

grumblebee's thing about covering the clock while exercising is good. The problem with exercise machines isn't that you get tired, it's that you get bored. Machines and situations that work well with your reading/TV habits are gold.
posted by gimonca at 6:11 AM on June 13, 2006

I'm in the midst of the first phase of the South Beach diet right now. The first couple days sucked, irritable, hungry feeling and all I could think about was food. After that, the cravings went away and I started to drop weight. I'm down about 10 lbs after a week and a half.
posted by electroboy at 6:14 AM on June 13, 2006

There are no quick fixes. Bulimia will make you look like shit. Not eating will make you look like shit. You think you're unhappy looking in the mirror now? Just wait until your complexion is gray and bloodless and you're still not in shape. Whoop-de-fucking-do, eating disorders don't make you look good.

You need to see a psychiatrist. Then you need to need a real nutritionist and a personal trainer. Unless you are a mutant freak who defies physical laws (note: you are not), resistance training and cardio combined with a clean diet always work. They just take time and dedication. Quick fixes are for lazy fatasses.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:16 AM on June 13, 2006

This diet programme is working pretty well for me. My psychiatrist recommended it because I was having problems with binge eating and was gaining too much weight. I'm on day 8 so far and have lost 3.6kg. I don't get hungry because I'm eating every three hours so it's almost always nearly time for the next meal.
posted by talitha_kumi at 6:24 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Your body has something called a "set point", which is the amount that it wants to weigh. IIRC, it takes about six months of being overweight to reset your set point upwards - it takes three years of being healthy to reset your set point downwards. This is why 98% of dieters gain all of their lost weight back plus some more within two years. The bottom line is: you must take that energy and motivation and focus it into the sort of long-term determination that will allow you to stick with a moderate diet for at least five years. Any plan that you cannot maintain for five years will result in weight gain over the long-term. You'll be worse off than you would have been if you'd just accepted yourself as you are now. So that's my suggestion: either accept yourself as you are now, without reservation, or else pick a diet (most of them will work, but I suggest Weight Watchers, because it's the only diet with scientific support for its effectiveness) and stick with it for five years, every single day. (Sure, you will make mistakes every once in a while, but you need to have the attitude that this is something you must do without break every day for the rest of your life). That's the key to long-term success.

You probably didn't get to your current weight overnight, and you won't change that overnight either. It took years to get where you are, and it'll take years to get where you want to go. But it will work, inexorably.

Google the hacker's diet.
posted by gd779 at 6:28 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm down about 10 lbs after a week and a half.

I am very very scared!
posted by grumblebee at 6:32 AM on June 13, 2006

The only way to lose weight, short of surgery, is to burn more calories than you eat. Exercise will give you a moderate boost to how much you burn, but really it comes down to how much you eat.

For every one pound you want to lose, you need to cut 3,500 calories out of your diet. To lose one pound a week, you need to cut 500 calories per day. If you're averaging 2,000 calories per day now, you'd want to go down to 1,500 calories per day. Just don't go below 1,100. There seems to be a medical consensus that doing so -- and thus starving yourself -- is really bad. It may also push your metabolism into revolt, so that you wind up burning things more slowly. This is counter productive. Don't do it.

In order to know how many calories you're taking in, you need to keep track. You can write it all down on paper and then look up calorie counts later. There are also nifty programs that help you track this stuff -- like and, which are both free, I think.

Even if you're not into the groups, has a nice online program -- paid -- that will design a healthy eating program for you, too. If you're honest with the computer about how much you exercise and how much you eat, you will almost certainly lose weight on Weight Watchers.

It sounds like some of your problem is self control, if you're eating junk food. With that 3,500 calories=1 pound formula, little junk snacks can make a big difference. If you eat a Snicker's bar at work every day, and don't cut 300 calories out of your diet somewhere else, you will gain a pound every 2 weeks or prevent yourself from losing a pound during that period.

How can you learn better self control? That's what most of these weight loss gimmicks -- Atkins, Shangri La, etc. -- are all about. You're adopting a weird version of self control by jumping through someone else's hoops and tricking yourself into not eating too much. But you don't have to give up bread or eat spoonfuls of oil every day to lose weight. You just need to eat less, and try to eat filling low-calorie foods so you're not hungry for high-calorie foods later.

Some things to try:

* Never, under any circumstances, bring junk food into your home.

* Eat whole grains, instead of white bread and white rice, as they will fill you up more and take longer for your body to digest.

* Chew gum. If you want to eat but you're not completely sure you're hungry, pop a stick of sugar free gum into your mouth and wait at least half an hour to see if you were really hungry, of if you just wanted flavor and chewing.

* Pay attention to what sorts of healthy, low cal foods leave you feeling full. A slice of whole wheat bread? A glass of skim milk? A small chunk of hard cheese? An egg? An apple? When you're hungry, have a tall glass of water followed by one of these lower-calorie, filling foods.

* Count on getting the munchies, and pack low calorie foods to carry with you when you leave the house. Bring a bag of baby carrots, a thing of low-fat yogurt, a small chunk of cheese, a zip lock of salted unbuttered air popped popcorn, whatever floats your boat. This way you won't be tempted to buy a 300 calorie candy bar.

* Cut out drinks with calories. Substitute diet for regular soft drinks. Stop drinking beer and wine. Don't drink juice. A small glass of skim milk is OK if it fills you up, but otherwise skip that, too. Water is best. Drink lots of water.

* Keep track of every single food item you consume. If you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, write that down. If you have seven baby carrots, don't cheat and write down six. If you reach over and snag one of your friend's fries, make sure to log that too.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:42 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Stop eating out. Just stop. If you have to eat out, have a salad with no dressing or, at most, an oil-and-vinegar-type dressing.

This is why.

A calorie is not just a calorie; some calories are a lot worse for you than others. Transfats are bad bad bad, and they *will* make you put weight on around your abdomen. No fast food. No fried foods. Read every label on every package--even if it says "trans fat free", it can still have less than a gram (I believe) per serving of t-fats. Look at the ingredients. If you see the words "partially hydrogenated" anywhere, put the package down and back away slowly.

Restaurant foods are frequently just doused in transfats, which is both why they taste good and why they're so bad for you. (Not to mention that it's wicked hard to guess how many calories are in them.) Don't eat at them.

But heed the advice given above. Consistent exercise and maintainable changes in diet are the only way to lose weight and keep it off. Everything else is just hacking the system. I would try low-carb/Atkins/South Beach, personally; they have worked for me, with the added bonus of stabilizing my mood (via stabilizing my blood sugar).
posted by fuzzbean at 6:48 AM on June 13, 2006

I lost 110lbs in SIX months using a modified form of the Atkins diet. It's amazing how well it works (for guys at least). I ate between 40-60 carbs/meal and kept snacks under 20-25 carbs (1-2/day). My major food groups consisted of Meat/Poultry and greens -- lettuce, broccoli, and string beans. I also made two lifestyle changes – 1) DON’T EVER drink your sugar (coffee, tea, juice, soda – doesn’t matter), go diet if you must; 2) You don’t need to eat everything on your plate – i.e: If you have a burrito, rip off the excess tortilla surrounding the burrito itself (the part that isn’t holding anything together), also – ONLY eat the best part of the food you’re looking to consume – i.e.: if you want a piece of cake because you love the icing, eat the icing and a ¼” of the cake beneath it, throw out the rest (ignore those traditionals who call you a ‘waster’).

I lost the weight when I was 17 years old. I’m now 20 and have successfully kept 100 of those pounds off thanks to the change in my lifestyle. Three years out and I think I’ve finally realized what led me to such success.

Shit. That’s what did it. I know you want the dirty truth – that’s it. I have found a strong correlation between how many times I have bowel movements during the day and how much weight I’ve lost and have been keeping off. Since I began losing the weight I would go to the bathroom 3-6 times/day. After I lost the weight – I pretty much ate whatever I wanted (with the exception to the lifestyle changes above) and as long as I shat at least 3 times/day I have been fine. During the main weight loss period – if your food intake is the same as two days before and you have only went to the bathroom once in 48 hours, then take a mild laxative (“Freelax” worked great for me – it didn’t over do it). Unlike bulimia you’re not taking laxative after laxative – you’re just keeping yourself well regulated. If you’re losing weight it has to go somewhere, right?

Make those changes and the pounds should melt away within two weeks of starting the diet. (Note: be patient for a few weeks – I was ready to give up and all the sudden in my third week I lost about 15 lbs)

--As for those wondering about my exercise routine – I only ran for the first three months, 1-3 miles/day (5 days out of the week) and it really kick started my metabolism.
posted by drkrdglo at 6:50 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Severly restrict your calorie intake. Focus on getting protein and fiber. Drink lots of water.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:54 AM on June 13, 2006

And don't worry about carbs, focus on your calorie limit.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:54 AM on June 13, 2006

Two more tips on making exercise tolerable:

--Get in the habit of substituting non-exercising-time with exercising time whenever possible. That is, walk up the steps instead of taking an elevator. If you take a bus or subway to work, get off one stop earlier and walk.

--Find an exercise routine that feels more like fun than working out. Depending on your interests, this might include something like a hiphop dance class or a martial arts class, or buying a PS2 and a dancepad and playing "Dance Dance Revolution" for an hour every day.

I have also found that incremental goals are easier to stick with. In a sense, that's contrary to the spirit of your question, but in the long run, I've found that it works better than trying to get fit NOW. It's pretty intimidating to decide you're going to work out for an hour every day. But surely you can work out for 15 minutes every day this week. And once you've done that, you can add another (say) 3 minutes to your daily workout next week. And again the week after that. Etc.

Similarly, I've found it very hard to give up sweets entirely. But I can decide that I will only eat sweets between 4PM and 10PM, and then gradually narrow that window.

To me, the plan you describe in your question--gradually increasing the fruits and vegetables you eat--actually sounds pretty reasonable.
posted by yankeefog at 6:55 AM on June 13, 2006

Oh, sorry, reading your question, I see you mention you're already exercising all the time--I was confused by your mention that the gyms close before you can get them.
posted by yankeefog at 6:56 AM on June 13, 2006

Stop bullshitting yourself about not having time to work out. Make time. Go early in the morning. Get a bench and dumbells for wherever you live and do circuit training for half an hour (of course start with small weights). You can make time for something so important. Best to work out in the morning.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:58 AM on June 13, 2006

One more thing... If you want to make yourself a sandwich I've found a great solution if you're trying to go low carb.

Try "Mission: Tortilla's" Low Carb Tortilla shells. You'd never know they are low carb. You can find them in the refrigerator section of your big box grocery story.

I've tried every low carb bread substitute under the sun and the Mission Low Carb Tortilla's are by far the best. My girlfriend hates anything that's low carb and she is now hooked on these tortillas as well.

As an added bonus they have 11 grams of fiber in them -- you know what that means! ;]
posted by drkrdglo at 6:59 AM on June 13, 2006

i am a devoted fan of bacon and other meat products, but while staying with a vegan friend, he made me a veggie sandwich that was fucking.delicious.

it is entirely possible to eat tastey things that are also healthy. look into vegetarian recipes. my mom used to make this cabbage soup that actually costs more calories to digest than it contains. It doesn't taste bad either if you mix it with home made salsa.

if you REALLY don't care about your health, pick up some street grade meth.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 7:06 AM on June 13, 2006

I don't have time to hit a gym until after they're all closed.

Are you sure about this? There are lots of 24-hour gyms these days. What region of the country do you live in?

I can't wrap my head around not craving junk food

It's OK to crave it. Just don't give in to those cravings. It gets easier.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:09 AM on June 13, 2006

One of my co-workers is on Meridia, and she was shocked on how effective it was as an appetite suppressant. I have no idea what kind of side effects it has, but she did mention to me that she has to regularly monitor her blood pressure.

She was already exercising and eating a mostly healthy diet, but she said that the Meridia eliminated any urge whatsoever to snack between meals/eat from boredom.
posted by amarynth at 7:17 AM on June 13, 2006

Would you just eat properly already?
posted by jon_kill at 7:28 AM on June 13, 2006

There's an inconsistency here: you say you exercise all the time but you cannot get to a gym "until after they're all closed."

I say find a way to rearrange your schedule so that you can get to a gym. Then book 2 or 3 sessions a week with a trainer with the specific goal of losing X pounds in Y weeks. Book your training sessions and other workout sessions into your schedule with the same priority you would give your most important work meetings.

But before all this I agree with the others that you need to take a closer look at the psychological issues here. Anyone willing to suffer liver damage for weight loss is not going to solve her problems by weight loss.
posted by La Cieca at 7:31 AM on June 13, 2006

You definitely don't sound like you need to see a shrink on this one. My suggestion would be finding some way to exercise on your way to and from work. Whether you bike, rollerblade, skate, walk or run and whether you do it all the way to and from or just to mass transit and back, it gets you that exercise for a reason that's immediately apparent: you need to get somewhere.

It will take a couple of months to start noticing physical changes, but you'll sure feel the physiological changes and likely feel better and happier whilst losing weight and exercising. You can search around Ask MetaFilter for several great threads on how to be presentable at work after commuting this way.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:33 AM on June 13, 2006

Have you tried phentermine? It is really great.
posted by necessitas at 7:39 AM on June 13, 2006

There are lots of different types of professionals who could get involved.

I have a good trainer who is helping me be healthy, but would notice if I got crazy about it. She's advising me on food choices & options (portion size is the killer! seriously!), and showing me some good ways to do quick, efficient total body workouts, and kicking my ass if I don't come in regularly enough. But I feel confident that she would also kick my ass if I stopped eating, or if I was in for five hours every day, or if I told her I wanted to weigh 100 pounds. She's smart.

Before I started with her, I went to my doctor and asked about my weight, and she gave me a target number to get to and said I should then reschedule and she would do another assessment.

I am going to contact a cognitive behavior therapist about getting my brain around some of the stuff, like the part where I try to use food as a reward and withhold it if I've been bad, and the parts where sometimes I hate the mirror, like you say.

All of these things count as professional help -- yes, even the trainer -- and while I haven't lost noticeable weight yet, since I just started a couple of weeks ago, I am happier and sleeping better and I feel for the first time like this can actually get me somewhere.

Good luck. It'll be OK.
posted by librarina at 7:40 AM on June 13, 2006

I lost 30 pounds last year (and could have lost more, probably, if I had wanted to) with a combination of Tae-Bo and using the FitDay website, found at FitDay allowed me to keep track of everything I ate and showed the calorie, fat, carb, and protien content of my diet. It was great!

I also tie up food and my weight very closely with my emotions, and it sounds like you do too. If you don't get some kind of help with that, if you don't accept your body so you can stop getting frustrated and switching diets when one doesn't work immediately, it'll be very tough to lose the weight. Please see someone, just so you don't hate yourself enough to want to risk your health!
posted by christinetheslp at 7:47 AM on June 13, 2006

I'll echo the hacker's diet and also the need to change habits.

I wrote up a little bog entry about making and breaking habits.

Other things: weight loss is not all or nothing - it's a process. My weight blips a little up, but the trend is downward because I track every calorie that goes in and every expenditure. That's tedious, sure, but with decent enough tools, it not bad. I use Calorie King for Palm, but it also runs on Pocket PC and desktop platforms. For me, the Palm interface works well enough. My target is a budget of 1850 calories per day, which is a drop of between 1 and 2 pounds a week. If I go over on one day, no biggie, as I know how often I tend to go under. Do I feel deprived? Honestly, sometimes, but I don't give myself grief over it. Instead, I remind myself that I'm going to meet my overall goal.
posted by plinth at 7:56 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm down about 10 lbs after a week and a half.

I am very very scared!

No need; that's almost all water weight. It'll come back as your body adjusts to the diet. I had similar results the first time I did Atkins.
posted by kindall at 8:07 AM on June 13, 2006

Being fat sucks. Either you've never had to deal with it or you have some magical reality-shield that prevents you from feeling self-conscious about the way you look.

Nevertheless, it remains foolish to ruin your health to lose weight. There is always a grey area here when someone is asking for bad advice. The scientific evidence on this topic is absolutely clear: gradual weight loss based on a comprehensive lifestyle change is ELR's best chance at sustaining a healthy weight in the long term. The sooner he accepts this the sooner he can be on his way if he so chooses, with the rational help of a group, or a doctor, or a well-thought-out self-made program using the huge array of resources out there. This may not be the advice he wants or asks for: if his goal is sustained weight loss it is the advice he needs.
posted by nanojath at 8:09 AM on June 13, 2006

On preview: Weight loss has nothing to do with "proper diet and exercise" as your question is clear enough to realize.

Perhaps I should have called it successful weight loss. Successful weight loss has everything to do with proper diet and exercise. To become healthier, lose weight and keep it off one must change their eating habits and exercise. You need to eat wholesome, healthy food, expend more energy than you take in and exercise so that your body burns fat instead of muscle.
posted by tomorama at 8:31 AM on June 13, 2006

No, still, it seems that what you mean is successful weight loss maintenance, which is a different beast. I agree that there's no real argument about how to keep weight off, all of the studies are quite clear about it. But you can successfully lose much more weight when not worried about your health than when you're worried about it. There are reasons why the adjustments that then need to be made in order to keep the weight off might be more difficult, but that doesn't change the fact of the initial weight loss.
posted by OmieWise at 8:46 AM on June 13, 2006

I don't have time to hit a gym until after they're all closed.

Is there a university near you with a recreation center? Those are often open 24 hours (or at least at odd college-student hours) and they'll often let members of the community buy memberships.
posted by srah at 9:54 AM on June 13, 2006

To be honest, it seems like your desperation is going to do you more harm than good. If you can take the determination and direct it towards eating healthy and exercising more, rather than starving or eating parasites, you'll probably have better results and feel better emotionally.

Check out the Health at any/every size movement.
this article here is a good start:

Basically, by trying to be more accepting of yourself, and allowing yourself to work with your body rather than against it, you can have great results. The focus is on normalizing your eating rather than weight loss, but most people find they lose wieght without trying, and 100% feel less upset about their apperances.

Normal eating focuses on eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are not. Thats it. If you want a piece of pie, have it. If you want another, have it. By allowing your body to have what it craves, you'll teach it that you're not starving it. When we go on diets, our body only knows that we aren't giving it what it needs, so it stores everything it can and slows the metabolism. Once it learns you'll give it what you need, your metabolism gets better and your cravings stop too!

I used to spend a lot of time thinking about food. When I'd eat, what I'd eat, how many calories... Now, I eat what sounds good, until I feel full. And I actually eat less, and better than before without even trying! (I cant tell you how long its been since I ate fruit because I wanted to) Best of all, I stopped obsessing about food. And that is worth more than all the pounds I dropped.

Initially, I thought all it sounded like non science, but there iis lots of research backing it up, often more credible than the research backing up diets and weight loss studies. Look into it and decide for yourself.
posted by gilsonal at 9:59 AM on June 13, 2006

Summertime is a good time of year to do a cleanse of some sort, like a juice fast.

I know some people who have had good luck with it.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:04 AM on June 13, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help and the bad jokes. Keep em coming.

A lot of (angry internet) people seem to think that I don't understand the equation of

eat less + exercise more = weight loss

I do. I'm trying to eat less/better and exercise every day (just not at a gym). I would like to SUPPLEMENT that though with something else just to get the ball rolling. I don't care if that something is Atkins, which is supposed to be terrible for you, diet pills, hypnosis or whatever.

I'm fairly emotionally stable, which is hard to take at face value given the question but take my word on, but as someone above stated, being fat sucks.
posted by elr at 10:15 AM on June 13, 2006

I know a guy who was kind of hulking all his life—just a big guy, about 6'5", with a bit of a gut even before he came to college. Then he ate a burrito in the airport in Prague a year ago and got dysentery. He shed pounds like crazy and is now one of those super-tall guys who wave around their stick-thin arms all the time and look good without a shirt on.

So there's one data point.

Here's another data point: my answer to a previous thread just like this one.
posted by limeonaire at 10:27 AM on June 13, 2006

Scientists recommend that you get health benefits by eating as much as 9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. What I do every morning is fill a rubbermaid container with 9 servings of raw fruit and veggies. That's a lot, and can handle your snacking all day. If you're getting too many calories, put in more veggies and less fruit.

The point is to get it all prepared in the morning so you've got easy snacking for the rest of the day.
posted by fcain at 10:34 AM on June 13, 2006

Well if you want to lose weight quickly nothing works better than starvation. You don't even need to actually starve yourself: just consume less than 1000 calories a day. You can even consume junk food though I'd recommend something else like popcorn. The key is always eating your "meals" at the same time. Take breakfast at 10am and dinner at 6pm. Also, you should take a multivitamin. You don't even need to exercise--in fact I'd recommend against it. Just do the occasional walking thing. If you follow this "diet" the weight will come off in spades quickly but, as I'm sure you know, it can come back in 6 months if you don't watch yourself. Being conscious of your weight, weighing yourself everyday and tracking the progress, is essential.

Also 'Atkins' isn't really bad for you. It's the same as all the other diets out there. It's basically a marketing framework that gets you to eat less calories. Calories is all that matters.

Also, this bit of advice:

When we go on diets, our body only knows that we aren't giving it what it needs, so it stores everything it can and slows the metabolism

while basically true is a big simplification. Your body will down its metabolism but it's not like you go into hibernation. You'll still be burning plenty of calories. (I've seen people on "cheerleader diets" lose 5lbs/week or about 2100 calories a day). Also if you always eat at the same time (and sleep at the same time and get plenty of sleep) your body will quickly fall into a rhthym so you won't be totally exhausted all the time.
posted by nixerman at 10:36 AM on June 13, 2006

Straight up amphetamines didn't work? You mean going to the doctor and getting a script for generic amphetamines? Amphetamines both supress appetite and make you want to work out. I can't believe you didn't drop pounds like crazy.
posted by geoff. at 10:43 AM on June 13, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry. They weren't legitimate amphetamines.

There were years that I was on things like Adderall and Ritalin by prescription, and there were years where I would take caffeine-based and ???-based over-the-counter diet speed.
posted by elr at 10:53 AM on June 13, 2006

Assuming you are truly overweight, part of the problem is that you may be programmed to be a bit fat. Not obese, mind you, and it shouldn't be an excuse to enter muu-muu land, but if you're entire family is of stocky build, it is unlikely to impossible that you'll have a sculpted body with a six-pack without surgery and workig out six hours a day. Ain't gonna happen. That is a product of liucky genes as much as diet and exercise. I'm in the same boat, Dad was a big fat man, and I look like his clone, and have always had a weight problem. Here are some things that worked for me to get me into the high-normal range, which is what I will probably have to be content with.

1) Some sort of aerobics as much as you can, every day if possible, but weight train no more than thrice weekly. Get those books on tape from the library so it is interesting. I am refreshing my Spanish while on the treadmill.

2) If you cook, put about five times the amount of spices as called for. Seriously. Spice as if you are going to screw the whole thing up. The flavors will definitely be satisfying and may lessen cravings for fat.

3) In order to lessen the nefarious effects of junk food, if you are not of iron willpower (99.999999% of us) is to get the most expensive, luxurious, yuppiesh brand of "junk" food. I go to La maison du chocolat where a box of the cheapest ganaches go for $40.00, but two of those satisfies my cravings where a huge Hershey bar wouldn't. If you like pies, ditch the Pop-Tarts and go to Mrs. Stuck-up's Foodie bakery. You will require less to satisfy the craving. Perhaps that is part of the French paradox, once I re-trained myself to want quality over quantity - and I was a skeptic - I required less junk.
posted by xetere at 10:56 AM on June 13, 2006

but two of those satisfies my cravings where a huge Hershey bar wouldn't.

- I meant two pieces from the box, not two boxes, of course.
posted by xetere at 10:58 AM on June 13, 2006

In order to lessen the nefarious effects of junk food, if you are not of iron willpower (99.999999% of us) is to get the most expensive, luxurious, yuppiesh brand of "junk" food. I go to La maison du chocolat where a box of the cheapest ganaches go for $40.00, but two of those satisfies my cravings where a huge Hershey bar wouldn't.

Good point.

There are many paths to nirvana. You have to find the one that works for you. Posting the question here is a good first step and shows a certain level of determination to achieve this goal. Good luck. I am sure you will make it.
posted by caddis at 11:40 AM on June 13, 2006

Well if you want to lose weight quickly nothing works better than starvation.
posted by nixerman at 10:36 AM PST on June 13

Also please note that this is horrible advice; you will be weak as a kitten, you will have no muscle left, and you will look like shit.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:39 PM on June 13, 2006

all you need to do is eat less. you dont need to write calories in a little notebook or inject amphetamines or obsessively block out your day into little excercise segments. that sounds horrible. just eat a moderate portion of meat or rice or vegetables or whatever you like, as much as your body needs, and no more. if you feel a little hungry for snack food just deal with it. try eating slower, taking breaths before chewing. it doesnt take an act of god to resist binging on potato chips it just takes a little self control
posted by petsounds at 2:34 PM on June 13, 2006

Ever since childhood until about 19 I was overweight. Not obese, but nowhere near healthy. I had been a fairly unathletic person. I rode my bike and skiied a little, but other than that I got no real exercise and ate tons of sugar. By the time I got to 2nd year of uni, I weighed 170lbs and was not going to get any taller than 5'7". I know this doesn't sound like I was very fat, and truth be told, I wasnt; however, I had virtually no muscle mass and I was profoundly dissatisfied with the way I looked and felt. Around that time I decided I was sick of being in terrible shape. Because of where I grew up, on Vancouver's North Shore, I was surrounded by people, friends and family, who were in excellent shape and spent most of their free time playing outdoors while I sat on my lazy ass in front of the computer or television. I made a committment to become an athletic person. I made a few permanent changes to the way I lived. It worked, and I would recommend it to anyone who is sick of being out of breath running to catch a bus or climbing a flight of stairs, or tired of the what they see in the mirror. The advice that follows is what I did.

Firstly, and most importantly, exercise constantly. This may not be true for everyone, but for me it was the key to controlling my appetite and keeping my energy levels up. I seem to have trouble gaining and keeping muscle mass, so for me, this was, and still is, the hard part. You have to combine strength, flexiblity and endurance into any exercise regime and the exact ratio will be unique to you. If you put on weight easily, you probably don't need to strength train constantly like me, and you will need to do more cardio/endurance type exercise.

When I started out, my goal was just to lose weight. I ran, hiked, rode my bike, and most importantly, developed a simple routine I could do most days simply in my bedroom. I did a few sets each of push ups, lunges, wall sits, dips and crunches, afterwards, I would stretch. I think this did more than anything to condition my body. As I got stronger, I had to change my routine. I started going to the gym as I got stronger and lost weight. If you don't want to do this, just get some dumbells and a bench. The most important thing is to just exercise all the time, whenever you have time, even if it is just 10 min in the morning after your coffee and before you take a shower. Another thing I find important is to not hold back. If you are only going to exercise 10 minutes, make it worth it. Do pushups to failure, then do a wall sit until you literally cannot stand.

Try to find some sport or activity you enjoy to keep you in shape. I'm not much for team sports, so I ski, bike and hike. I happen to live in perhaps the best place in the world to do this, and I grew up doing it, just not very often, so it kinda comes naturally for me. Still, if you can find something that keeps you in shape that you enjoy, it will really keep you motivated. Not only am I much better at what I enjoy, but I have a lot more fun now whenever I am on the slopes or riding trails.

I'm going to have to second the recommendation for the ECA stack. Cycle it two weeks on one off. Take three daily doses of 30mg ephedrine, 200mg caffeine and 200mg ASA. This should help keep your appetite low and your energy levels high. I did this for about a year, in addition to a mostly meat and veggie diet, and 6 hours of intense exercise per week. I went from around 170 to 130lbs. I don't think the stack will work on its own however; it is something that can help you keep your appetite down and energy levels up, but without changing the way you eat, and regular exercise, I don't think it will do anything beyond making you a little more wired than normal.

Diet of course, is very important. Try supplementing your protein intake. I find that when I am taking supplemental protein, on the order of 40g/day or more of unflavored whey isolate, my appetite is seriously reduced, even when I am trying to gain weight. Try to eat high protien, high vitamin/mineral meals. I will often cook some lean meat and then have some salad or other veggies on the side, with little starch or sugar. Here's another tip: eat canned tuna and salmon as a snack. I mix it with a little mayo and fresh black pepper, or maybe some chilli paste. It tastes good, and one can will keep me full for hours.

A good piece of advice for watching your energy intake is to watch what you drink as closely or even more closely than what you eat. It is easy to consume 2000 calories a day in drinks if you aren't mindful of what you are drinking. When I am trying to lose weight, I like to stick to water, tea, coffee and grapefruit juice. If you drink alcohol, watch your intake. Ethanol is very energy dense, around 7cal/g, compared to 4cal/g for protien/carbs and 10cal/g for fat. Alcohol is an easy way to sabotage any effort to restrict calories. This isn't to say that you have to give it up, but just to be aware of this when you drink. If you want to cut loose every now and then, don't eat. You'll get drunk on less and you'll save some calories.

Finally, don't try to be constantly losing weight. Give your muscles some time to grow. After 6 months of losing weight, start gaining it back. Spend three months or so eating more calories than you burn, strength train, and cut back on the cardio. Don't start eating crap though. Eat lots of protein. Fat and carbs are important too. Keep up vitamin and mineral intake. After that, you can resume your weight loss plan with more muscle to help you burn energy when resting.

I know this post is long, and that this probably isn't the answer you were looking for, but I can tell you it will work. The answer to your question is necessarily complex because it entails changing the entire way you live. Nothing short of this will bring any long term success. You have to think in the long term and be satisfied with modest gains at first. Once you've seen the gains after a year, it will be hard to backslide, because you will like the way you look, you will feel better, and you will get more fun out of life. Once your changes become habits, it won't be hard at all to keep it up.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:13 PM on June 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine lost and kept off a whole lot of weight over the last few years. Her favorite resource is 3 Fat Chicks. It's a web site with tips, reviews, and forums for people trying to lose weight. Check it out if you're looking for support and advice beyond what you can get at AskMe.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:37 PM on June 13, 2006

Assuming you are truly overweight, part of the problem is that you may be programmed to be a bit fat. Not obese, mind you, and it shouldn't be an excuse to enter muu-muu land, but if you're entire family is of stocky build, it is unlikely to impossible that you'll have a sculpted body with a six-pack without surgery and workig out six hours a day...

I could not disagree more with this statement. It totally smacks of defeatism. I'm the only one in my family who is over 30 and ISN'T over 200 pounds. we ain't all that tall either. I'm currently 5'4" and 130#, and my 38th birthday is coming up this August.

I have the same build as all the rest of my family (think stumpy and square... er, 'muscular, yea whatever...). I got fat as a teenager just like they did. I cultivated an eating disorder as a young adult just like many of my female cousins did. I got the 'creeping 5...10...15...20...holyshitI'm170poundswhatdoIdoNOW?!?!' bloat as a late twentysomething just like they all did too.

what worked for me: my ultimate refusal to accept it and just give up.

I moved to a place where I could effectively change my lifestyle and mental state to something that was healthy for me. I ditched a sad codependent partner who was enabling and encouraging my mental disorder and poor lifestyle habits, sought professional help with my state of mind and last but not least, PARKED MY CAR and FIRED MY TELEVISION. seriously.

I start the car maybe once a month, if that. I think the last time I drove it in fact was to a ski trip in early April.

the last time I turned on my TV was when I watched the winter olympics because I had the flu and curling was about all I could reliably handle brains-wise.

human beings were never biologically designed to sit in a cubicle / behind the wheel / in front of a TV all day. once you've accepted this and moved on, the rest is really quite simple.

elr, I realise this is not practical advise for many who live in car-enabling suburbs without reliable alternate transportation methods. but there are ways around this.

I also submit that many/most of us are hog freaking lazy. This absolutely includes me, only now I accept that and don't let the inertia take hold.

Take the stairs, not the elevator. Quit buying junk food (seriously, just stop. I said STOP!) Shop around the perimeters of the supermarket, don't go down the aisles. Stop drinking soda (meaning: stop drinking ANYTHING carbonated, the sugar and carbonic acid is hell on your teeth not to mention useless calories). Put down the frappucino and drink iced green tea if you really MUST have caffeine. Stop buying fast food (I lost ten pounds just by eliminating the drive-thru from my diet, period). Park your car on the FURTHEST side of the lot... or several blocks away. you'll be astonished how you often beat those 'circling vultures' to the door. Take the dog out for an hour long urban hike, rather than just however long it takes him to take a whiz. Do you REALLY need to keep up on Survivor/Friends/CSI/whateverthelatestrealityshowis?

Eating less is a start. However, doing FUN and INTERESTING active things to stop you from constantly obsessing about food is the real key. You're not going to be thinking about where your next Frosty / Big Mac is coming from if you're in the middle of an Ultimate Frisbee game or trying to keep from getting your butt shot off playing Lazer Tag.

I submit that most of us sedentary suburbanites overeat out of sheer boredom / lack of anything else to do. Compound that with the typical American gotta-start-the-car-to-make-it-2-blocks-to-the-convenience-store attitude so many of us tend to cultivate, and it's a recipe for disaster.

fill up all your 'bored' time with stuff that's meaningful to you. Got a boring job? Go ask your boss if it's ok to get the IS guy to teach you Java, or if you can do some distance learning, do software training, get CPR certified so you can join the safety committee... whatever.

There are a million ways to engage your brain so that its not constantly worried about where the next Twinkie is coming from.

really, just go out and do it. Now. Right now. Back away from the computer, go get your camera and take a walk around the block. How about that bike thats buried under six years worth of 'projects' in the garage? Thought so. Haul it out, tune it up and just go.

Good luck.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:43 PM on June 13, 2006 [5 favorites]

lonefrontranger brings up a good point. Kill your car and your TV. These are probably the two biggest factors that are keeping you fat. If possible, bike to work. I have a family friend in his 50s who bikes an hour to and from work every day. He mountain bikes and skis in his spare time and he is in better shape at his age than I am at mine. There is a small mountain called Flute behind Whistler that is very popular to hike up, ski down, and hike out. I can make a round trip in under 40 mins if I hurry. He can make it in under 30.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:53 PM on June 13, 2006

A lot of (angry internet) people seem to think that I don't understand the equation of: eat less + exercise more = weight loss

OK, so what's your daily caloric intake? An exact figure isn't necessary. Within, say, 100 +/- calories will suffice.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:00 PM on June 13, 2006

Every overweight person understands that equation. The problem is actually eating less. Hunger is a pretty powerful drive. Telling an overweight person to simply eat less is pretty condescending.
posted by caddis at 4:04 PM on June 13, 2006

Others have recommended ECA stacking and it worked for me, too. Just be aware of the full picture so you can make an informed decision:

1) Be prepared to feel hot and be sweaty. You might wake up in a clammy bed. This improved for me after a week or so. I needed to drink water all the time to make up for what I was sweating/peeing out. I normally drink water all the time but on the stack I felt like I was going to drown myself.*

2) I got very moody -- angry/aggressive. Again, this subsided after a few days. If you're a naturally edgy person you this might make you unbearable.

3) VERY IMPORTANT: Ephedrine can totally screw with your insulin sensitivity so if you're pre-diabetic or worse be VERY VERY careful.**

4) ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: If you're hypertensive taking Ephedrine can raise your bp to dangerous levels. I know you said you don't care about health effects but I really don't think you want to be thin and stroked out. Paralysis and aphasia don't tie in with my concept of "fit."

Obviously the best thing to do is consider this AFTER you get that workup (including fasting glucose levels and glucose tolerance tests,) and talk to your doctor about it first. If you don't feel comfortable talking to the doc about it, consider finding one you can talk to about stuff like this, or at least make sure your glucose tolerance and blood pressure are reasonably good before biting the bullet.

*Some of this may have had to do with the fact that I relied on Bronk-Aid for my Ephedrine, which contains Guaifenisen -- can't say if it's as bad with pure Eph.

**I have seen a claim on the net that in a clinical study insulin sensitivity of eph-takers got worse but then actually improved after several weeks, but lacking access to that study it's hard to say if the epehedrine has some weird negative/positive effect that only kicks in after several weeks. My feeling is it's more likely that the subjects showed increased insulin sensitivity after several weeks because they had lost a bunch of fat. It's pretty well accepted that losing fat improves insulin sensitivity for many many people (which is why the first thing they tell pre-diabetics to do is lose weight.) My opinion of the claim wasn't improved by the fact that the only place I've seen it is on a site selling eph. Maybe somebody who actually knows what they're talking about can weigh in on this.

posted by Opposite George at 5:24 PM on June 13, 2006

3500 calories burned = 1 pound lost.

You probably burn 2000 calories a day, doing nothing.

To lose 1 pound a week, eat 1500 calories a day (2000-1500=500, 500*7=3500).

If you eat less, you will lose faster.

If you work out, you will lose faster.

It's that simple. And dieting like this keeps the weight off, since you're not doing anything crazy like not eating carbs or not consuming sugar. You eat whatever you want, just don't bust 1500 calories a day.

For me, I only eat one meal a day, which allows me to eat more or less anything. 1500 calories for one meal is a huge freaking meal (10 crunchy Taco Bell tacos!).

Also, any drink that has calories is just a waste. Drink diet, and love it (Coke Zero is amazingly similar to Coke, I think).

Good luck!
posted by JPowers at 6:01 PM on June 13, 2006

You need to write down everything you put in your mouth. Those people that say "just stop eating when you're full" probably don't know what it's like to be fat. Write it all down. Then cut 500-1000 calories a day from that amount. Losing weight is not easy, but it is not rocket science. You don't need a juice fast or atkins or an ECA stack (seriously guys? an ECA stack? for this situation?) to get it kick started. You need to learn how to eat the amount your body needs to not be fat, and a quick-start solution is not going to teach you that.
Yes, it's hard, yes, you will be hungry sometimes. There are ways to try to get around that, you'll learn them faster if you don't spend a month or two doing something stupid like fasting and then regaining all that lost weight.
posted by ch1x0r at 6:36 PM on June 13, 2006

I lost a ton of weight counting calories and limiting myself to about 1000 a day, while at the same time going to the gym like every day and burning about 5000 calories per week, according to the eliptical. Once you know how much work it takes to burn 200 calories, you'll find that candy bar a lot less appealing.

I went from 270-190. Now I'm at about 205 and trying to start back up again.
posted by delmoi at 7:44 PM on June 13, 2006

I lost about eighty pounds with a few simple tricks.

1. I switched everything I usually ate with a lower-calorie version. Soda -> diet soda. Whole fat milk -> skim milk. Butter popcorn -> plain. I kept eating the same way, but I was taking in less calories. This took me down about twenty pounds all by itself before I plateaued.

2. I was not afraid to throw away food. Sometimes I just had to have a candy bar. So I had one bite, or two bites, and really enjoyed them - and then I tossed the rest. This was a huge help to me, particularly as I was raised in a "Eat everything on your plate!" kind of environment.

3. I rode my bike to work, read while at the gym, and went on walks with my boyfriend every day. Basically, I turned all my fun into active fun. I never did anything for fun unless I could at least do it standing up.

However, that said ... none of this was fast. It took me about a year to lose the first forty pounds, and the rest was even slower.

The one fast thing I've tried is actually the LA Weight Loss diet, where I lost about five pounds the first two weeks. More importantly, my body changed radically for the better in just a month or so - I lost five inches off my waist and went from a square figure to heavy-but-curvy. It's not just the number on the scale, it's how you carry them, and LA Weight loss is the one place that's really helped with both.

Of course, I still have about 50 pounds to lose ... slow and steady does the trick!
posted by bibliomancer at 8:23 PM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Assuming you are truly overweight, part of the problem is that you may be programmed to be a bit fat. Not obese, mind you, and it shouldn't be an excuse to enter muu-muu land, but if you're entire family is of stocky build, it is unlikely to impossible that you'll have a sculpted body with a six-pack without surgery and workig out six hours a day...

I could not disagree more with this statement. It totally smacks of defeatism.

To be fair, there are different body types -- google mesomorph, ectomorph, endomorph. Your mesomorph is your classic bodybuilder physique. Unless you have a mesomorph body you will never look like a bodybuilder. The endomorph is the soft and squishy body type, and endomorphs do find it difficult to lose body fat. However, the good news is that it appears to be fairly easy for them to gain muscle. Last but not least, if you know someone who can eat all they want and never get fat, probably with a nickname of "stringbean," they're an ectomorph.

Of course this is a continuum and it's possible to have aspects of two or all three body types, and all body types tend to put on fat as they get older due to slower metabolism, but it's not an ass-pull (nor defeatist) to suggest that your genetics impose certain limits. Set realistic goals, like a target weight, bodyfat percentage, a certain level of fitness, rather than "I will have a six-pack," and you are much more likely to be successful.
posted by kindall at 10:20 PM on June 13, 2006

I spent six weeks in a intensive care hospital for anorexia. Yeah, starvation worked great. Then I got an eating disorder. It's a risk. The side effects aren't pretty. You might feel like anything is worth not being fat, but losing clumps of hair in the shower, developing bad acne after your period stops, and generally looking anemic might change your mind. That's anorexia. The side effects from bulimia are even more disgusting (rotted teeth, destroyed esophagus). Besides which, half the bulimics I've known weren't even thin.

You might not care about being unhealthy in the present, but maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle can have long-reaching consequences that no one would want. I fasted for 24 days at one point and lost most of the muscle mass I had gained from sports. The ultimate treatment for my disorder cost more than some people's college education and the insurance barely pays a dime. Like any other addiction, you will never be completely free from an eating disorder. Only 20% of people coming out of care will never relapse.

Diets are, by definition, for quitters. Sure, they help people lose weight, but how many of those people will gain it back when they stop? If you exercise regularly and eat appropriately, everything else will fall into place. If it doesn't, you might need to see a doctor about whether there's something in your chemistry working against you. No doctor worth the paper their degree is printed on will prescribe medication to you unless you are already doing everything you can on your own to lose weight.

When you fast, your body kicks in to starvation mode. In the interim, yes, it will burn both fat and muscle, but when you start eating again, your body will retain that food even more so than it did before. The more you fast, the harder it will be to lose weight in the long run. You might not care about being unhealthy, but there's no reason to make things harder on yourself.

See a nutritionist. Not only can they set up a workable daily menu for you to trust in and count on, they also serve as your accountability. Having trouble putting down those cookies? They'll have suggestions for you that are less fattening, but still enjoyable. Feeling like there's someone there with you on this path can actually help a lot.

No one needs to buy a book to lose weight. In the time it takes to read one, you could have been jogging. Don't eat crap, get off the couch, keep a doctor abridged of your progress. People in the weight loss industry would have you believing this is rocket science, but it's not. You can be fit AND healthy. You shouldn't have to choose.
posted by ryokoblue at 2:35 AM on June 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Weightwatchers. You'll likely lose at least a pound a week, with moderate exercise (even walking will do) and you won't feel like you're going without. You don't even need to join the club or shell out for all the unnecssary crap. And remember, slow and steady wins the race.
posted by macdara at 5:56 AM on June 14, 2006

Almost forgot to add the No S diet to the list of things for you to consider.

- No snacks
- No sweets
- No seconds
posted by caddis at 8:23 AM on June 14, 2006

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