Morbidly Obese: Tips for Losing 100 Pounds or More (cont.)

"Sitting in a chair and lifting some soup cans, putting on ankle weights and just moving your feet back and forth, lifting your arms over your head and reaching towards the ceiling, all can help build and strengthen muscles, and again, get your body moving," says Goetze.

Finestein agrees: "The more weight you have to move with each movement, the less you have to do to see a reaction, so even small actions can make a big difference."

5. Don't Cut Calories Too Far.

That 1,200-calorie-a-day diet may be just what the doctor ordered for those who need to lose 20 or 30 pounds. But if you're trying to lose 100 pounds or more, you need more calories just to survive.

"The more you weigh, the higher your caloric needs," Finestein says, "so you can eat more than a person who weighs less, and still lose an equal amount of weight."

If you cut just 500 calories out of your diet every day, you could see a one-pound weight loss each week, she says.

6. Focus on How Far You've Come.

To stay motivated for the long haul, experts say, pay attention to how much you accomplish each day.

"Forget where you want to get to," says Finestein. "Realize how far you've come. Remember when you couldn't bend over to tie your shoes, or couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without puffing?" And, she says, never forget that for every pound you lose, your health improves.

"You might still be overweight, but you're definitely healthier," says Finestein.

7. Keep Your Goals Realistic.

Experts say it's also vital not to set the bar too high for your weight loss goals.

"You have to cut yourself a little bit of slack by taking into consideration how long you have been overweight," says Goetze.

When you have lots to lose, it takes longer to reach your goals -- but it's also extra rewarding when you do get there.

"It's a lot easier if you concentrate on your health, rather than each and every pound.," says Goetze.

8. Ditch the "Dieting Mindset."

"The very idea that we go 'on' a diet suggests that at some point we will come 'off' the diet -- and that's where those who are morbidly obese make a wrong turn," says Huberman.

To lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off, a permanent lifestyle change is needed.

"When you are obese, weight control must become a lifetime commitment, and it must involve a decision to completely change the role of food in your life," Huberman says. "And you must make exercise a regular part of your daily living.

"When you can accept that you're not on a diet, but that this is how you are going to live your life for the rest of your life, you will stay motivated and succeed."

9. Consider Medication.

If diet and exercise alone don't seem to do the trick, consider asking your doctor whether medication could be an option for you.

"Don't be afraid, or ashamed, to admit you need some extra help, and talk to your doctor about all your weight loss options, including medication," says Finestein.

Remember that weight loss medication is not a magic bullet. These medications can result in small amounts of weight loss -- as long you eat healthfully and engage in physical activity.

10. Don't Rule Out Weight Loss Surgery.

"For me, weight loss surgery turned out to be the right option -- but I did try every other option first," says Goetze.

She suggests you give yourself room to experiment, but keep in the back of your mind that surgery to reduce the size of the stomach is an option for many people.

"It is dramatic, and not easy, but it can be comforting to remember that there is always hope, no matter what," says Goetze, who lost nearly 400 pounds after she opted for stomach-reducing surgery.

Keep in mind that weight loss surgery requires lifestyle changes -- otherwise, you'll regain the weight over time.

Originally published July 15, 2005.
Medically updated July 2006.


SOURCES: Lisa Goetze, ACE-certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management consultant; director, LisaGetsResults.com, Paramus, N.J. Warren Huberman, PhD, behavioral consultant, NYU Surgical Weight Loss Program, NYU Medical Center, New York. Janet Finestein, MS, RD, nutritionist and registered dietitian, Comprehensive Weight Control Center, New York -Presbyterian Hospital, New York.


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