Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Exercise and Fitness

Losing 115 lbs in 12 Weeks?

08/30/2011

Question:

A local fitness club and a TV station sponsor a local "Biggest Loser" contest. They are running an ad for it featuring the last winner who lost 115 lbs in 12 weeks.

I need to lose 115 lbs and I could probably take off 12 weeks of FMLA from work if I got my dr to say it was necessary. Could I really lose 115 lbs in 12 weeks? My dr has been harping on me to get weight loss surgery and I don`t want surgery. The local Biggest Loser says in the commercial that he "just gave it his all" and lost 115 lbs in 12 weeks. What does it mean to "give it my all?"

On the TV show the trainers scream at and humiliate the contestants. Could I lose that much weight without being screamed at and called lazy by a trainer? What would I need to do in order to do this?

Answer:

Congratulations for making the decision to take steps to lose weight! Many people who participate in Biggest Loser programs DO lose weight quickly, but health professionals like me are not so sure this is the best long-term solution.

It didn't take 12 weeks to gain 115 pounds, and reducing your weight that quickly will mean you lose not just fat, but also water and muscle. Extremely fast weight loss puts a strain on your system and should be monitored by your doctor.

Biggest Loser approaches put you in an unnatural situation for 3-months surrounded by trainers, well-equipped gyms, medical professionals, and the necessary diet to take off the weight.

But causes of our behavior and weight are complicated-- genetics, environment, motivation, confidence, and skills influence each other-- so we can't predict if you would lose 115 pounds in 12 weeks. People have had dramatic health benefits from losing as little as 10% of their body weight, so that would be an excellent first goal.

Sure, the Biggest Loser can jump start a weight loss program, but afterwards you must  have the skills and positive support to change your diet and exercise habits in ways you can live with, and most of us can't exercise 5-6 hours a day and have someone prepare our food! We know that taking the weight off and keeping it off must be done in a way you can live with your whole life.

I don't believe screaming at someone and calling him or her lazy is the best long-term approach for weight loss-- where you exercise and eat right to avoid being yelled at. You are more likely to stick with a new behavior if you do it because you get good things from doing it, like a sense of accomplishment and more energy.

For more information:

Go to the Exercise and Fitness health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Janet  Buckworth, PhD, FACSM Janet Buckworth, PhD, FACSM
Associate Professor of Sports & Exercise Education
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University