Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.
January 28, 2008 11:08 AM   Subscribe

I want to lose 5 pounds in two weeks. What do I have to do? Is it possible?

I would absolutely love to lose 5 pounds in two weeks. What do I need to do to accomplish this? I have a treadmill. It's a little dusty since I got it in NOVEMBER. I am all for eating healthy (although I love baked goods and candy - do I need to cut these out completely?). What should my diet consist of? As for exercise - how much? I'd mainly use my treadmill, although I could probably do two sit ups as well. I'm a lousy runner, but enjoy walking - would that be enough? And if you can't answer these questions how would I find out what I need to do to accomplish this extraordinary feat?

A little about me: Female, 32 (::sob::), 5'4", 125 lbs (ideally I'd like to be 115 lbs but I'm willing to settle on just losing 5 pounds for now - but if losing 10 lbs in 2 weeks is possible, I'd love to hear about it).
posted by Sassyfras to Health & Fitness (44 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you're just worried about the number for a specific event, you'd probably lose about that much by following the Atkin's induction phase for your 2 weeks. But it'd most likely come back after you added carbs back in.
posted by ferociouskitty at 11:10 AM on January 28, 2008

Would be 4 lbs enough? That tends to be the limit for healthy weight lose.

You need to do cardio and if possible weight training, you need to start counting calories and create a slight deficit, you need to start eating 5 to 6 times a day (of course, taking care of not overeating) to accelerate your metabolism.
It's not necessary to stop eating baked goods but try to limit them as much as possible.

It's not easy, it's not fast, but you'll make it if you adhere to it.

posted by Memo at 11:24 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

The best exercise for the specific goal of weight-loss is interval training. This is doing something aerobic for a short interval (5-10 minutes) followed by a shorter (2-5 minutes) rest period of lower intensity. For instance, run 10 minutes, walk 5. Repeat for 30-60 minutes.

In addition, muscle is more dense than fat, so even a small amount of weight training (be careful, and don't over-exert yourself!) will build some muscle and burn some fat, leading to a leaner look even if you don't lose weight.

Lastly, concentrate on core strength (abdominal, oblique, and back muscles) to improve posture, and pay attention to the way you hold yourself. A good posture makes your torso look longer, inherently making you look thinner. Notice that models never hunch over in pictures, and they're very often raising their arms over their head to lengthen the torso. Obviously you won't walk around with your hands in the air, but proper posture will help this effect.

Oh, and don't worry about your exercising prowess. So long as you're careful to not hurt yourself or overexert, you'll do fine. In fact, beginning exercisers burn more calories sometimes because they haven't yet learned the most efficient way to complete a motion. Beginning runners don't have as efficient a stride as advanced runners, etc.
posted by explosion at 11:25 AM on January 28, 2008

You are height/weight appropriate right now - so loosing weight isn't going to be easy. Much easier if you were significantly over weight. You will definitely loose at least 5 pounds on the 2 week Atkins induction but it def. requires no candy and no baked goods... And if this is just for an event - that's a great idea - but if long term you want to be 115 pounds - you're going to have to work pretty hard at exercise and calorie restriction to stay there.
posted by Wolfie at 11:25 AM on January 28, 2008

You are already quite small! Because you are well within the healthy range, and of small build, it's going to be difficult for you to cut the weight off than if you were morbidly obese.

If I were at a healthy weight and wanted to lose pounds, I would focus on changing my diet and exercise habits to cut the weight slowly, healthfully, and permanently rather than a two-week crash diet. But I'm not you.

Anyway, the fastest way to do that is to start exercising 4-5 times a week, using an HIIT (high-intensity interval training) protocol. You can warm-up and warm-down however you like, but no more than 15 minutes of the total cardio program should be HIIT or you're just going to burn out your nervous system.

Go on a low-carb, Atkins-type diet. Yes, no baked goods or sweets. Yes, you'll be hungry.

If you stick to this very strictly, you can make your goals. As for maintaining, well, like ferociouskitty said, the minute you slip back to your old habits you're going to gain the weight again. But you will lose the five pounds.
posted by schroedinger at 11:27 AM on January 28, 2008

You could possible lose five pounds of water weight, or five pounds of water and muscle, but five pounds of fat?

Do you want to keep this weight off, or do you just want to look thinner for a day? Why would you want to lose this weight? That is a pretty healthy weight for your height. In fact, wanting to lose ten pounds would be an unhealthy weight.

But if you want to go for it take a look at the Master Clense Lemonade Diet.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:28 AM on January 28, 2008

Simply: eat less, move (workout) more. Often people immediately lose weight once they become more aware of what they are putting into their bodies.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:28 AM on January 28, 2008

If you follow the Atkins Induction, you'll lose 5lbs easily in two weeks. Hard to imagine why you'd want to though as you are petite to begin with.
posted by sanka at 11:29 AM on January 28, 2008

I have a few suggestions for you:

- stop drinking soda, and replace it with water (if you drink a lot of soda, this will be a huge help)
- include fruits and vegetables in your diet (5 servings a day)
- drink plenty of water (6 - 8 glasses a day)
- stop eating junk/fast food
- make changes you are likely to stay with: otherwise, you'll gain the weight right back, as son as you go back to your old ways.

If you have any health issues, of course, check wiht your doctor before you get started on any weight loss program.

If you need even more ideas, here is a step by step plan to lose weight naturlaly
posted by adriana at 11:33 AM on January 28, 2008

As Memo said, losing 4 pounds in two weeks is the limit for healthy weight loss. Here's a blog entry I wrote about losing 29 pounds in 15 weeks.

Unfortunately, the baked goods and candy will have to be greatly curtailed. For example, a blueberry muffin from Starbucks contains 430 calories. In order to burn that, you will have to spend two hours and twenty five minutes walking at 3 MPH to burn that off. If you increase your pace to 4 MPH (which is really fast for walking), you still need to walk for an hour and thirty minutes to burn it off.

The easiest way to diet without feeling hungry is to find foods that are filling but not dense with calories. The easiest way to do this is to choose foods that are minimally processed. Whole grain vs white bread, raw fruits vs juice, etc. Download the trial of CalorieKing, or any similar software. It'll help you understand how many calories you need to consume and burn in order to meet your weight loss goals.
posted by AaRdVarK at 11:35 AM on January 28, 2008

Er, just to point out that losing five pounds in two weeks is not exactly the healthiest thing, but I'm suspicious that you already know that.

Fundamentally, you need to be expending less calories than you are taking in, such that your body will be forced to consume five pounds of stored energy.

There are 3500 calories to the pound. You have 14 days in which to lose five pounds. By my calculations, you need to be burning 1250 more calories a day than you are taking in, in order to achieve this goal.

At 5'6" and 125 lbs, you need to consume 1600 calories to maintain your present weight. Cutting back solely on what you eat would mean that you would only be permitted to consume 350 calories a day. Clearly not happening.

Otherwise, you would have to get 1600 calories a day by consuming healthy stuff, like lots of fruit, veg, whole grains and lean proteins. Then, you would have to burn that 1,250 calories per day to lose your five pounds. Given that you have a treadmill, that you have expressed a preference for walking, I calculate that you would have to powerwalk for 2.5 hours a day to burn this much (walking at 5mph burns 560 calories an hour).

As others have said, it's do-able, but you're going to put your body through quite the unpleasant experience if you do this. I strongly suggest you slow your weight loss to 1-2 pounds a week, instead of 2.5.

On preview, all the same questions munchingzombie is asking.
posted by LN at 11:40 AM on January 28, 2008

By the way, height/weight (BMI) is not an appropiate measure to determine how healthy you are. It's very generalistic and doesn't take into account your muscle mass %.

You can be 'healthy' according to your BMI score even if your body fat % is very high and your muscle mass is very low. It works backwards too, those guys/gals with a lot of muscle? They tend to weight a lot more than what's average making them obese according to their BMI score.

So be careful about that, don't think, because you're in your healthy weight, that you are perfectly fine and without problems.
posted by Memo at 11:45 AM on January 28, 2008

If you consumer fewer calories than you burn, in general you will lose weight. (Forgetting about water weight, muscle mass and so on for the moment).

A deficit of 3,500 calories (kcal) equates to a pound of fat. Two weeks might be pushing it, but if you aim to lose 5 x 3500 = 17,500 kcal over a few weeks, in theory you should be able to lose that much.

However, according to this calculator you have a healthy BMI of 21.5, and your weight is at the 20th percentile for someone of your age, height and sex. In other words, you're already slimmer than 4 out of 5 women your age. Your "ideal" 115 pounds would take you into the underweight category.

I suspect you're already about about as slim as you can healthily be. That means it's going to be difficult to lose even more weight, and possibly unhealthy as well.

If I were you I'd forget about losing more weight. There are other things you can do: like increasing your fitness, improving your muscle tone with some weight training. The number on the scales really isn't that important.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:48 AM on January 28, 2008

YO G - i been eating healthy for one month and have lost 18.5 lbs and then hit a wall. To lose more I actually need to eat more, oddly. I started getting a messed up metabolism, and am raising my calories/day to 1960 from 1500 (i'm 5'11", started out at 210 lbs.). What I have found out is you can eat a TON of veggies, fruits etc. But damn, breads and sugars are absolute killers. Two slices of bread are like 160 calories, sugar is FULL of calories.

as has been mentioned, 3500 cal equals one pound. So determine your basic metabolic rate using this calculator:

Then, figure out how many you need to lose (5 x 3500), which is 17,500 calories. In 14 days that's 1,250 less per day. This is a little faster than is healthy. 1k/day is about the limit. Anyway, once you determine your base calorie intake, which, will keep you at the same weight, shave off 1,250/day and you'll be there in two weeks - almost guaranteed. You don't need to eat that much less, you could eat 1k less per day and do 250 cal worth of exercise.

Anyway, that's how it's done. Then just track calories for EVERYTHING you eat. Frankly, everyone should do this, I had no idea how bad candy + sweets + baked good were until I started this!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2008

oops, i meant this calculator

also, the moral of the first part of my post was, don't try to shave more than 1k off per day, or you'll put your body into conservation mode and it'll be very hard to cut down on fat
posted by Salvatorparadise at 12:18 PM on January 28, 2008

By the way, height/weight (BMI) is not an appropiate measure to determine how healthy you are. It's very generalistic and doesn't take into account your muscle mass %.

While the second part of this statement is true, a lot of people hide behind it, claiming that they are more muscular than the general population. I'm sorry, but if you were a wrestler in high school but haven't been maintaining since then, you're now fat. Admit it. Admit that your BMI says you are. (In my case anyway, I think the BMI is accurate, even when it says I'm fat.)

If you look into the South Beach Diet, following the first phase of the diet can result in loss of 8-13 pounds in the first two weeks. I personally lost 15 pounds in the first two weeks. So, yeah, it's possible. Think of those two weeks as lo-carb boot camp. Once you get through it, your cravings for all sugary, carby things will be *much* weaker.
posted by Doohickie at 12:20 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Is anyone really going to notice if you lose five pounds?

You could do the suggestions above, but if you're already at a healthy weight (and it sounds like you are), it's going to be much more difficult than if you were overweight. If this is for the purpose of a bet or to make weight for a fight, you can lose the weight by dropping water weight. You can sit in a sauna and/or run on a treadmill while wearing garbage bags and sweats the day before the weigh-in.

However, dehydrating yourself can get you sick, so make sure someone's around while do these things in case you faint. And do not do this if you're just trying to look better because it's not going to help with that.
posted by ignignokt at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2008

While the second part of this statement is true, a lot of people hide behind it, claiming that they are more muscular than the general population. I'm sorry, but if you were a wrestler in high school but haven't been maintaining since then, you're now fat. Admit it. Admit that your BMI says you are. (In my case anyway, I think the BMI is accurate, even when it says I'm fat.)
I wholeheartedly agree with you. My post was for people who tend to say 'Hey, your BMI says that you're healthy! Don't worry!' Of course, weight losing shouldn't be a priority as you tend to gain weight when you gain muscle mass but it tends to be the main reason why people start doing exercise even if the whole idea should be getting fit instead of losing pounds. Telling them that their BMI says everything is fine kills that reason from the root.
posted by Memo at 12:39 PM on January 28, 2008

My wife is about your height, around your weight, and a few years older than you. She has been running regularly for several years (we try to do at least 6-7 miles a week, even when it's cold and snowy out). She eats well (no high fructose corn syrup, lots of complex carbs, very little meat, mostly vegetarian items, only sugar-free candies, etc.). She has not been able to drop her weight any lower for any significant amount of time. She gets pissed because I seem to drop weight more easily than she does (I have stabilized at a healthy weight, but she obsesses over day-to-day fluctuations).

So what's my point? It's pretty basic. Even with all she does, my wife doesn't get smaller. Like her, you are probably not so much concerned with your weight as you are concerned with specific amounts of weight in specific places. The truth is, no matter what you do short of unhealthy measures, you're not likely to lose much weight. You are extremely unlikely to lose weight where you want to lose it. Women accumulate fat in the hips and buttocks. That's where it goes. If you were a guy, you'd accumulate it in the stomach. The good news is that fat in the hips and buttocks is subcutaneous fat, which is much, much healthier than abdominal fat in terms of your risk for heart disease. (After menopause, the drop in female hormones causes accumulation of abdominal fat rather than subcutaneous, and the risk of heart disease goes up if you're not careful.)

Now, I know that you have a few things working against you - you aren't male, so you don't have the muscle-building abilities that extra testosterone can confer (the reason men lose weight more quickly than women). You're also not 18 any more, so your metabolism will be slower than it used to be. The good news is that you are very likely to improve your general shape, and make yourself feel much better physically if you start an exercise regime and stick to it, but you will probably not end up smaller. You'll be trading fat for muscle, which is spectacular for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that muscle mass is more energetically demanding than fat, so you will be giving your metabolism a boost: you will burn off more calories even when you are sitting still. The other reasons are that a greater amount of lean mass and less fat is going to be easier on your heart, reduce your risk of several types of weight-related diseases (your risk goes up if you're out of shape, even if you aren't obese), and exercise even boosts your immune system and mood, which is a great thing. Last but not least, regular weight-bearing exercise is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health if you want to avoid osteoporosis as you age.

So, to heck with dieting to drop 5 pounds. Start an exercise regime to make the rest of your life better, not just a single event 2 weeks away. Use that as the starting point.

There are additional side benefits too - if you strive to be healthier, you can even encourage your friends and family to do the same, by example. My wife running was the thing that finally prompted me (shamed me?) into doing the same. Both of us are really, really glad that we aren't the couch potatoes we used to be.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:47 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Atkins. No carbs. 2 weeks, 8 pounds.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:47 PM on January 28, 2008

Why do you want your weight to equal that specific number? Is it because you want to look a certain way? Is it because you dislike a certain part of your body and believe that hitting that number would change that part of your body? Or is it because you've read or heard somewhere (or likely, living in our society, everywhere) that there's a number that is acceptable for you to weigh, and you've internalized that number, and that's the number you want to be because any number higher than that feels bad to you?

Your body will not look different 5 pounds lighter. If you lose the weight over the course of two weeks rather than over a longer period of time by increasing your muscle strength and changing what your body can do, your body will not feel different 5 pounds lighter. The only thing that will be different is the number on the scale. There are several ways you can change the scale if that's your only goal; for example, if you don't eat or drink anything for 24 hours before your final weigh in, you can probably lose 5 pounds right there. But if you want to feel stronger or have muscles that can lift more or enjoy your body's accomplishments, that's going to take longer than two weeks.

You could ditch the idea that your feelings about your body should be tied to a specific, low number on the scale and set different goals for yourself. Decide that you're going to train to run a marathon (that is, if you enjoy running -- from your description of your treadmill, it sounds like you may just not like running), or that you want to be able to lift 100 pounds, or that you want to learn a new style of dance. Exercise sucks when it's tied to a regimen of denying your body things that are fun. When it's about enjoying what your body can accomplish and finding things that are interesting and amusing to do (and letting yourself stop doing things that aren't fun anymore), it doesn't have to be a dirty word. Plus, the upside of the "exercise for fun" plan is that if your goals are about increasing what your body can do instead of adhering to a weight chart, you can have both exercise and chocolate and still achieve your goals.
posted by decathecting at 12:58 PM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

If you want to look skinnier, just throw the scale out and start exercising. Cut back on processed foods, watch the simple carbs-eat skinless chicken, fish, and fill up on veggies. Do eat some dairy, even a bit of cheese-fat is not the enemy and will help you resist food cravings.

Watch your salt intake and start drinking a lot of water-this will help you NOT retain water.

Back to the exercising-walk an hour a day.

IF you do all this, you will more than likely either have the five pound weight loss-or what is more important-look like you have. In the long term, if you simply ate more nutritiously and continued to work out, you'd be in fine shape.
posted by konolia at 1:04 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

(Oh, and if you have access to spin classes, go sign up. Saddle soreness only lasts for a week or so, and once you are over that, it burns mad calories! And is fun!)
posted by konolia at 1:05 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

i am always surprised that people still think it is either healthy, smart, or advisable to try to lose weight in such a short time period. at 5'4" and 125lbs, you are at a normal weight—one in which no one would look at you and think you were overweight or fat by any means.

at your height/weight, while you can lose 5lbs in two weeks, the likelihood that you will be able to keep it off will be slim to none. you need to implement a long-term diet and exercise program, one whose endgoal would be for you to achieve health, along with any weight-loss. i am 35, female, 5'2" and 115lbs. a few years ago due to health problems, i gained weight and found my self at my heaviest at 138lbs. it took me a year to lose those 23lbs, and let me tell you the last 5-10 were an absolute bitch. at this height and weight, to try to lose even one pound a week at the very end was too much in terms of trying to take in the optimal amount of calories to do that—it's a very narrow window. i was losing more like .75lbs a week at the end. my net caloric intake hovers around 1000-1100 calories a day (the minimum and still be healthy)—not a lot considering that something like say, an apple is about 80 calories alone.

for successful weight loss, you need time and discipline. there is no quick fix.
posted by violetk at 1:20 PM on January 28, 2008

In the last week and a half, my fiancee and I have been on a regime of healthy eating and increased exercise. For me, that's meant no alcohol and no delicious pastries from the bakery, and some modest portion control, combined with at least half and hour of something that makes me sweat every day. For K it's been no chocolate or sweets, modest portion control, and a bodyweight workout every other day.

I have lost 1.7kg, which is almost 4 lb. K has lost 1.4 kg.

HOWEVER: we are both somewhat more tubby than you, judging by the measurements you have provided. If you are already a more or less normal weight you will have a real fight to drop even a little bit.

Whatever you do, unless you decide to lose the weight by amputation, you will need to give up baked goods and candy. There is no healthy eating or weight loss plan that includes these except as occasional treats.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:28 PM on January 28, 2008

There's only one way I've personally experienced to get significant, noticeable weight loss in a matter of weeks... and that's having an eating disorder.

I don't recommend it, for obvious reasons. You might as well lose weight by amputating a limb.

If you want to be healthier, make sure most of what you eat is whole, unprocessed, nutrient-packed foods, and exercise hard enough so that you're tired at the end of a workout, but not hard enough so that you injure yourself or get burned out, and do it often enough so that you can feel yourself improving. That's really all you need to do. But this takes time and commitment.

There is nothing that you can do for just two weeks that will take the pounds off forever. Whatever you do, you have to keep doing it to keep the weight off. And since it requires a commitment, might as well make it something reasonable and healthy that will pay off in the long run.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:51 PM on January 28, 2008

want to add that after no sugar to speak of for 1 month (after eating tons every day) i never tasted chocolate so sweet and wonderful as when I indulged a few days ago!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 1:59 PM on January 28, 2008

"That's not a good idea" is not an answer to the question. Depending on her build, losing 5 pounds isn't necessarily unhealthy (it isn't necessarily healthy either - we just don't know). And given the short time frame, I think it's pretty obvious this is probably for a specific event (wedding?). Just answer the question, folks.
posted by chundo at 3:24 PM on January 28, 2008

To answer a few questions: There is no specific event, although it is around the time I will be visiting my sister - and there is no need for me to lose the weight for that. I'm just the type of person that needs a specific short term goal to get things done otherwise I'll do as I have for the past 32 years and keep putting it off. I guess I'm just challenging myself.

Also, I really could eat healthier and I could start exercising like I mean it, but for me, with no real tangible goal in site, why bother? As I am now, I don't exercise and I snack too much. I'd like to know what it's like to work my butt off for once and get some sort of result. Yeah, I'm not overweight, but I seriously think I should be given my snacking and couch-potato-ness.

Someone mentioned if anyone would even notice if I lost 5 pounds - perhaps not, but I sure would!
posted by Sassyfras at 3:56 PM on January 28, 2008

Going raw would probably do it, but the dead of winter is not really the best time for that.

I think setting smaller short term goals, leading up to the longer term goal of health and fitness, might work for you. I'm about your age and size, and as lazy as hell. After two kids, it's starting to creep up on me. My action has started slowly, by making some dietary changes, and now I've moved on to small doses of exercise. I feel terrific, but I had to give up the idea that I needed immediate gratification.

By the way, it's taken me my whole life to find an exercise program that I really thrive on. I finally hit up the local library and just started checking out DVD's until one of them resonated with me, then I went and bought my own set. Your treadmill might not be the right exercise for you.
posted by padraigin at 4:16 PM on January 28, 2008

Why not make your goal about fitness goals rather than weight loss? Plan to be able to walk/run a mile in, say, fifteen minutes (or something reasonable and possible) in two weeks. Then lower it. Or have a goal of a certain number of miles (or minutes) of walking/running or some other exercise a week.
posted by R343L at 4:56 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I've been fairly serious about weight loss, I can lose and continue to lose about 1.5kg (3lb or so) per week. Mind you, this involves about 1-2 hours of walking a night, no sugar, no snacks, lower portions, fruit for breakfast etc. I also have a pretty physical job and am fairly muscular, so just my baseline for calorie burning without the extra walking is pretty high.

The thing is, I started with a much higher body fat percentage than you are, so I had more to spare. The bigger and heavier you are, the more calories you consume just moving, breathing, running a metabolism. Give it your best shot and if you don't reach the goal in the time you hope for, don't get discouraged!

Good luck!
posted by tomble at 5:18 PM on January 28, 2008

Yeah, but there's a difference between a challenging goal, and a dangerously unhealthy goal that will be impossible to maintain. Seriously--I lost maybe 8lbs in a week-and-a-half of a no-carb/lo-carb diet, and after one day of carbs--one day--I gained it all back. I wasn't even gorging myself. We're talking eating vanilla yogurt instead of plain, a sandwich for lunch, and a spelt-and-whole-wheat vegan raisin bun for breakfast. You can make this short-term goal, but do you care about the short-term, or the long-term?

I agree with R343L, why not set fitness goals instead of weight goals? They will not only be better for you, but they will tone up your body more than simply starving yourself. It's not as exciting as losing 5lbs in two weeks, but it's longer-lasting.
posted by schroedinger at 5:40 PM on January 28, 2008

Thirding Atkins induction and cardio, and drink a lot of water. Pick up his book, it really is sound advice. You'll lose your first 5 pounds quick, and then by following the other steps, you'll end up eating normally and sort of glide into that next five and you'll be where you want.

That's what people forget about Atkins, is that it ends up with you eating a fairly normal, healthy diet. Small steak or chicken breast, big salad, green beans and a glass of wine is pretty much the best meal ever, and is right in line with his recommendations.

Also, it IS more complicated that "eat fewer calories than you burn." It's all about keeping the blood sugar on an even keel.

Finally, don't rebound. I have no idea if the following is actually correct, but it is a good explanation that works- "First, your body does not convert every calorie you eat into fat/energy. It takes what it can, but if you eat 10,000 calories in one day, you are going to poop some of those out unchanged. That's why going from 10,000 calories to 3000 calories probably makes no difference in weight at all. Secondly, think of fat cells as little balloons. There is a process that, when we eat an excess of food, our body converts the food into fat that fills the balloons. When those cells are full, you are at full capacity. Now a different mechanism starts that builds new fat cells, and fills them up. It takes way more energy to build a fat cell than it does to fill one. So now you are dieting and lose 10 pounds. You now have a bunch of empty fat cells, screaming (via hormones) to be filled up, making you hungry. Since it's easier to fill than to build, you can gain that 10 pounds back much more quickly that it took to gain it in the first place. And if you keep the weight down, it will take anywhere from 6 months to two years of empty fat cells for them to actually die and go away."

That seems to account for most dieting myths and truisms. Good luck!

(Oh, and as we age we lose muscle unless we exercise/work fairly hard. That's why we can weigh the same in pounds, but our clothes won't fit the way they did 10 years ago.)
posted by gjc at 5:42 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Even if you decide not to go with South Beach Diet, I would recommend at least getting the book out of the library and reading through the first part where it discusses how the diet works. I found it very helpful.
posted by Doohickie at 5:53 PM on January 28, 2008

having a goal is definitely helpful but having an unrealistic goal is not; in fact, it's more likely that it will be the reverse. again, you might be able to get that 5lbs off in two weeks but when you regain it, you'll be discouraged and give up.

if you need goals, i second R343L's suggestion to set fitness goals if what you want to do is get your bum off the couch.
posted by violetk at 7:00 PM on January 28, 2008

Your BMR (Base Metabolic Rate, the number of calories someone of your age, weight, height, and sex needs to maintain that weight) is 1349.15 calories. You can calculate that here.

A pound of fat has 3,500 calories in it. To lose five pounds in two weeks that means you need to run a calorie deficit of 1250 calories a day. Let's see, that leave you with a whole 99.15 calories a day you can have and still reach your goal!

good luck with that.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:42 PM on January 28, 2008

Really, with a bit of self discipline, five pounds in two weeks is nothing.

I'm not even talking about adopting any kind of radical diet. You could make small changes in your diet and adopt a little workout and you should lose five pounds in two weeks no problem.

Get started now, seriously, just do it.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:20 PM on January 28, 2008

Oh yeah, I don't believe that someone could offhand say four pounds is the max for healthy weight loss.

Everybodys metabolism is different.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:21 PM on January 28, 2008

Data from people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off suggest that sustainable weight loss maxes out at about a pound per week. See studies by Rena Wing.
posted by tiburon at 4:49 AM on January 29, 2008

P.o.B, what's your basis for your statements? Five pounds in two weeks is nothing for someone seriously overweight, sick, or a large, young male, but for someone at the low end of the healthy weight range? Especially a small female in her 30s? That is a big deal. That is basically a perfect confluence of factors to resist weight loss. It's going to take a lot more than a little exercise and small changes to her diet!
posted by schroedinger at 6:27 AM on January 29, 2008

5 pounds in two weeks, especially on someone who is not very overweight to begin with, is going to be almost all water weight, no matter what diet you try. (Assuming the diet is not starvation.) So most of it'll come back immediately after you stop dieting.
posted by kindall at 9:02 AM on January 29, 2008

Don't listen to these tall people. Do South Beach and use the treadmill 45 minutes every day. After the two weeks, if you DO want to maintain, keep up Phase 2/3 of South Beach, and start doing weight training.
posted by herbaliser at 11:40 AM on January 29, 2008

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