"Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!" "Lose 10 pounds this weekend!" You see ads like these plastered on billboards all the time, and they sure are enticing. But is it really possible? Can you really lose weight that quickly? The answer is yes. It's quite possible to lose 30 pounds in 30 days or 10 pounds over the weekend. However, if you do, you're making a big mistake by confusing fat loss with weight loss.
Your body is 70% water, so it's easy to lose weight quickly. Any diet that dehydrates you will create quick, dramatic weight loss. If you want to lose ten pounds over the weekend, just stop drinking water! Of course that would be pretty dumb and pretty dangerous too, but that's precisely what you're doing when you lose weight rapidly - you're simply dehydrating yourself (or even worse - you're losing muscle too!) Your goal should be to lose body fat, not body weight.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the largest and most respected health, medical and exercise organization in the world, has established guidelines for healthy weight loss. In their position statement on "Proper and improper weight loss programs," they recommend a weight loss goal of one to two pounds per week. In terms of body fat, that translates to about a half a percent per week. For the impatient, this may seem like an excruciatingly slow process, but the safest and most intelligent approach to fat loss is a gradual one.
It's possible to lose more than two pounds per week, but if you do, most of the additional weight will usually be water and muscle. When you lose water weight, you will gain it back immediately as soon as you re-hydrate yourself. When you lose lean body mass, your metabolic rate slows down and your body goes into "survival mode." As you'll learn in the next chapter, if you let your body slip into "starvation mode," you will almost always gain back the weight you lost and sometimes more. You end up with less muscle and the same amount of fat (or more) than when you started.
Don't be afraid to set big goals, but always set realistic time frames for achieving them. There are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic deadlines. Be patient: There are definite limitations to how quickly the human body can safely lose fat.
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Studies show obesity may soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death in America. Are you ready to drop those extra pounds you've been carrying around? Awesome. Let's start off with a couple positive don't. You don't need to jump on a diet craze and you don't need to start exercising for hours each day.