10 Tips for Losing 100 Pounds or More
Experts offer advice for those with lots to lose
By Colette Bouchez
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
When Lisa Goetze tipped the scales at 550 pounds, she wanted to put her fingers in her ears and scream "Stop!" every time a well-meaning friend advised her to start exercising.
"It wasn't that I didn't want to exercise,'" says Goetze, now a svelte size 14 and an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and weight management consultant.
"No one understood that when you are very large, even holding up your body for a three-minute shower is a painful, and sometimes nearly impossible, feat. Walking around the block, it's just impossible."
For the group of people doctors call "morbidly obese" -- those struggling to lose 100 pounds or more -- losing weight is fraught with challenges others may never imagine.
"When you're large, the same weight loss and exercise rules don't apply. They can't apply, but nobody really gets that, not even many doctors," says Goetze, whose company aims to address the needs of what she says is this forgotten group.
From bathroom scales that can't measure your weight, to exercise equipment built for someone half your size, to the health problems associated with being extremely overweight, frustrations abound.
What's more, experts say, the nuts and bolts of dieting -- including caloric intake -- is different for those who need to lose a lot.
"You can't just toss a very overweight person the latest diet book or piece of exercise equipment and expect it to work. There is a whole different mindset to large-scale weight loss, and a whole different approach becomes necessary," says Warren Huberman, PhD, a behavioral consultant for the surgical weight loss program at New York University Medical Center.
That can make finding the right diet plan a challenge. But fortunately for WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members, the WLC eating plan takes current weight and calorie intake into consideration, rather than setting a "one-size-fits-all" calorie limit.
So where do you begin, and how do you stay motivated, when your goal is to lose 100 pounds or more? Three weight loss experts -- including one who shed nearly 400 pounds herself -- offer these 10 strategies to set you on the right path.
1. Seek Supervision.
"The more overweight you are, the more likely you need to be monitored -- and the more you need some type of medical supervision, at least at the start," says Janet Finestein, MS, RD, a nutritionist and dietitian at the Comprehensive Weight Loss Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Because obesity contributes to other health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance, Finestein says medical care is a must.
"Sometimes uncovering these health risks and getting treatment can also help you lose weight," says Finestein. "For example, learning how to control your insulin levels may also help you control your hunger, and that can make your weight loss much easier."
2. Join a Support Group.
While it may seem as if no one understands your needs, you are not alone. Experts say one of the best places to find those kindred spirits is in a support group -- like those found on the Weight Loss Clinic message boards.
"If you feel self-conscious about meeting with strangers, the Internet has opened up a whole new world of peer support, with groups and chats and online gatherings of those who share similar goals and similar problems, and I do encourage patients to get involved," Huberman tells WebMD.
By sharing your experiences, or just listening to others share theirs, you may also discover ways to better cope with the challenges you face, Huberman says.
3. Incorporate Movement Into Your Life.
While joining a gym, or even going for an evening walk, may be out of the question at first, Goetze says that getting used to moving your body in small ways is something you can -- and should -- do.
"When you are very large, moving your body is not only physically challenging, it's also emotionally challenging, because with every difficult move comes a reminder of your size," says Goetze.
To counter the problem, she says, make a commitment to doing small movements every chance you get. Walk across the room to change the TV channel instead of using the remote, for example, or bend down to pick up that pencil you dropped.
"Small moves do burn calories, plus they subtly change your mindset about the role of movement in your life," Goetze says.
4. Discover Weight Training.
Experts say one of the most important exercises for very overweight folks is weight training. It builds muscle that can help burn more calories. The best part: Many weight-training exercises can be done sitting down, making them ideal for those with a lot to lose.
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