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Helping My Girlfriend Lose Weight

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 2:45 pm
by Mog16
A month ago my girlfriend made a commitment to trying to get into shape and asked me to help with her diet and training. She started at 5'9" 170 lbs and is now 166 lbs but progress is stalling a little bit and I was wondering if people could offer suggestions. Here's what I've got for her right now:

Diet
~1700 calories per day with an aim to achieve thirds splits with macro nutrients (I know it isn't the most effective diet type but it is something she can basically maintain for life). We've cut most of the poorer food choices from her diet and try and eat as healthily as possible.

Exercise
We've mostly been using and upper/lower split (up/low/off) type scheme followed by cardio (I want her to do intense sessions of 30 mins or less but she feels like she needs to go longer). The cardio is largely uphill 10-15% incline and consists of walking/running intervals. Additionally we toss in a bike Tabata from time to time. The exercise selection for the lifting days I feel is fairly solid (front squats, Dumbell deads, leg press, ham curl, bench, row, assisted pull ups and dips).

Please give us some advice because she's getting very upset with her lack of progress. Thanks!

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:42 pm
by Ironman
Well it sounds like she is kind of sabotaging herself. She has to eat a certain way, and do her cardio a certain way. So it's kind of hard to tweak it. A plan like that is going to end up with plateau because the body adjusts to low calories and lots of cardio. I would try to up the protein and lower the carbs if possible. Cut out all sugar and white flour stuff. Cut out the low fat stuff, it is high sugar. Try to go to more of a high intensity cardio routine. Maybe try changing the lifting to all compound with short rest. It's going to ave to start with the mind though.

It's easier said than done. Any woman I have known, insists on doing X Y and Z even if it doesn't work, gets quickly frustrated when results slow. Then asks for help but doesn't want to follow the advice because it doesn't fit with what she likes to do.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:31 pm
by Stephen Johnson
Four pounds lost in a month averages out to a pound a week, which is a good amount of weight to lose on a non-crash diet/exercise program. It took time for your girlfriend to get up to 170, so it will take time for her to get down to 140, or whatever.

But be honest - was it her idea to get into shape, or yours? If it was yours, it could be resistance on her part setting in.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:43 pm
by Mog16
her idea 100% she hates her body and calls/texts me 10 times a day specifically because she's upset about how she feels about her body and how she looks in the mirror.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 10:07 pm
by Stephen Johnson
Mog16 wrote:her idea 100% she hates her body and calls/texts me 10 times a day specifically because she's upset about how she feels about her body and how she looks in the mirror.
FYI - a height/weight table for women is located here.

But the 10 messages a day sounds like she wants assurance from you that you love her. When was the last time you bought her flowers? ;-)

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 1:02 am
by pdellorto
It does sound like she's saying "I didn't do what you said to do and I'm not getting the results you promised!"

Yes, exactly. She's getting good results (4 pounds in 4 weeks on a sustainable diet with a sustainable exercise plan? That's good stuff!) but she wants more results faster? Okay, then she's going to need to change the workout.

- shorter more intense work.
- more Tabatas, less long cardio sessions

I'd suggest you hit her with the quote I opened with, since it sounds like that's what she's saying. Tell her that 4# in 4 weeks is good progress...but if she's not happy you've met her halfway on the workout and she doesn't like it there. Now, how about she tries 4 weeks of your way and see how it goes? Then give her the full short, intense, tabata-cardio HIIT workout and see how it goes. If her diet remains consistent that should have similar results, probably better ones. If she keeps insisting on tweaks back to the old one, make sure she understands that she's responsible for any reduced progress. After 4 weeks, she can see which one she likes better and then keep doing that.

I'm not trying to judge here, or imply anything bad or immature or anything of the like about her...just that the temptation to agree to try something "different" and then tweak it right back to what you liked in the first place is a strong one. Both men and women do that...it's just trickier when you're a couple and not a personal trainer and client or two friends.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:05 pm
by tyler
The best thing to do is try to keep her mind off of the stresses of dieting. When I needed to lose weight, I would try to supress hunger by taking my mind off it by doing other things. I would phone an old friend or play a game that occupys the brain. And of course exercise. A good mixture of weight/cardio training is best. Just remember to change it up here and there, because whoever mentioned a plateau earlier is right. I would emphaize strength training for a couple of weeks with not as much cardio, then switch it up. Keeps the body guessing.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:11 pm
by CJ Waid
Sounds like a pretty tight routine you have there, nothing wrong with it at all... 4 lbs in a month, not bad.

If you want to increase it, go to the math.

Eating 1700 kcals a day is fine, but how is she eating them? is she eating them in 6 meals, 3 meals, 1 big meal?

Is she actually counting all these calories correctly?

Is she binging?

Lot's of stuff could be going on there.

I would focus MORE on the weight loss right now, and back off on the weights, 2 cardio sessions a day, first one 30 minutes more intense, second one a longer duration, and cut the weights out for now. Once she is down to her desired body weight, then add the weights back in, and rather than trying to build muscle with weights, maybe she would be better off focusing on correcting any postural issues she might have...

The bottom line is she need to be moving as much as possible throughout the day, lifting weights usually taxes the untrained female body so much that they can not maintain a high level of activity (like 2 a day cardios, getting outside jogging (SCREW the treadmill, it takes away from the work load), long walks, swimming, biking, whatever... Roller bladding, you name it. Just get her PLAYING more...

Weight loss comes down to how much energy you are taking in VERSUS how much you are burning off... Lifting weights doesn't burn off anywhere near the amount of energy that playing (aerobic type stuff) does.

Another thing is TIMING the meals, I eat 6 meals a day, the first one almost immediately after I get up, then every 3 huors after that, almost on the clock.

This is so you can keep your blood sugar levels fairly constant throughout the day, You will burn more fat, faster.

I lost 26 lbs in 2 months (only did 15 cardio work outs and 18 weight lifting work outs during that 2 months), it was a long time ago, but I did it pretty much JUST by eating that way.

Is she drinking a lot of water? she should be, and keep the sodium intake down near 2,400 mg's a day, the female body can look fatter than it is just from water retention, hormones are nuts.

I believe in eating just like the food pyramid says, works well...

I would try to have her playing either outside, or doing aerobics for a total of 3 hours a day... (don't stick her on the ellipticle for 3 hours), have her do 30 minutes of intense work on cardio equipment at the gym, take her swimming at a local lake or something, go rollerbladding at night or for a long walk, maybe an evening jog or something.

Sorry this is so long.

Good luck bro.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:16 pm
by Ironman
Lifting weights doesn't burn off anywhere near the amount of energy that playing (aerobic type stuff) does.
I have to disagree with that. The raw calorie output may be a bit lower. However the benefits to metabolism make weight training exponentially better.

http://www.exrx.net/FatLoss/Misconceptions.html

See the last couple points regarding the first misconception.

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:05 am
by tyler
Ironman wrote:
Lifting weights doesn't burn off anywhere near the amount of energy that playing (aerobic type stuff) does.
I have to disagree with that. The raw calorie output may be a bit lower. However the benefits to metabolism make weight training exponentially better.

http://www.exrx.net/FatLoss/Misconceptions.html

See the last couple points regarding the first misconception.
As someone who used to be overweight, and tried doing it with cardio alone, and then tried cardio and weights, I can attest to this. Also, and untrained female body would probably gain more of an advantage than a male, because she would be building muscle, and most women have less muscle than men.

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 8:54 am
by stuward
CJ,

The metabolic boost that anerobic training gives far outweighs aerobic training and not everyone has 3 hours to train daily.

Alwyn Cosgrove said it best here:
http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1526539

It's not the energy burned during the exercise that is important. It's what happens to your body after.

The other aspect of the long slow training is it makes you hungry and you eat more.

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 9:05 am
by stuward
CJ Waid wrote: I believe in eating just like the food pyramid says, works well...
There is all kind of evidence that the food pyrimid is wrong.

There is way too much reliance on grains. Vegetables are much more important.

The fats that are recommended are wrong. The recommendations do not differentiate between Omega 6 and Omega 3 and that is a major oversight.

Many people will lose weight simply by eliminating grains and sugars and supplementing with Omega 3. The Paleo diet is a good example of this type of diet. http://www.paleodiet.com/ This is the diet the cast of 300 used.

I initially lost weight on Dr. Mercola's No Grain Diet but that was written before Omega 3 was understood.

Stu

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:06 pm
by tyler
stuward wrote:
CJ Waid wrote: I believe in eating just like the food pyramid says, works well...
There is all kind of evidence that the food pyrimid is wrong.

There is way too much reliance on grains. Vegetables are much more important.

The fats that are recommended are wrong. The recommendations do not differentiate between Omega 6 and Omega 3 and that is a major oversight.

Many people will lose weight simply by eliminating grains and sugars and supplementing with Omega 3. The Paleo diet is a good example of this type of diet. http://www.paleodiet.com/ This is the diet the cast of 300 used.

I initially lost weight on Dr. Mercola's No Grain Diet but that was written before Omega 3 was understood.

Stu

I think people need to just cut down on calories to lose weight. While I agree that refined sugars are probably not good in any case, the anti-grain movement is getting on my nerves. Whole grains are not bad for you. Sure, eating only grains is probably not very healthy, but grains certainly aren't unhealthy. Especially for those of us with "weak" stomachs, bread never upsets my stomach or digestive system. I've never gotten food poisioning from it (which I have from meat), and I happen to like it.

I was reading one of the articles on that website, the naive vegetarian...and one of the claims was just so laughable that I had to make a comment. It claims that almost all violent protestors are vegetarians and being a vegetarian makes u more agressive. He claims that there is something inside of us that when we are hungry, our bodies are telling us to go kill an animal for food. If that were the case, us meat eaters would still be violent by that logic- almost none in any industrialized world hunt ALL of their meat. My sister is a vegan and she wouldn't hurt a fly.

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:13 pm
by CJ Waid
OK, OK, Just posting what I know, don't want to argue with anyone.

I feel differently than some of you, that's fine.

My opinion is that the extra metabolic cost of added muscle is great, but, at 170 lbs, the main concern should be weight loss.

The law of thermodynamics always wins on that one, use more energy than you take in.

The amount of oxygen that your body takes in is far higher during aerobic activity than it is during anerobic activity. (the post work out AFTER BURN is not as high as a lot of magazines say it is, not according the the acsm's guidelines at least).

The rule of thumb is that a litre of O2 is going to liberate approx 5kcals of energy, right?

So, the more O2 you actually use, the more energy you probably burned.

Take Scuba Diving for example, scuba diving burns fat like mad, but you never would believe it, I teach scuba diving on the side, and I lose more weight scuba diving than I do running, if I run hard for a week, I eat more, if I dive, I eat less, and do a steady pace of low-intenisity activity.

It's energy balance, not how much muscle you are carrying.

Again, I don't want to argue, I was just trying to help out, I respect everyones opinion.

I use to be a fairly strong powerlifter by any standards, now I am a little skinny weak running guy, I've been through the whole spectrum, and I stick by the ACSMs suggestions/recommendations, and info.

I don't take creatine either, so... again, I am from a different school of thought on training.

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:22 pm
by CJ Waid
stuward wrote:
CJ Waid wrote: I believe in eating just like the food pyramid says, works well...
There is all kind of evidence that the food pyrimid is wrong.

There is way too much reliance on grains. Vegetables are much more important.

The fats that are recommended are wrong. The recommendations do not differentiate between Omega 6 and Omega 3 and that is a major oversight.

Many people will lose weight simply by eliminating grains and sugars and supplementing with Omega 3. The Paleo diet is a good example of this type of diet. http://www.paleodiet.com/ This is the diet the cast of 300 used.

I initially lost weight on Dr. Mercola's No Grain Diet but that was written before Omega 3 was understood.

Stu
Stu,

Again, not arguing with anyone, but just like I stick by the ACSM when it comes to training, I stick by Dr. Victor Herberts research when it comes to nutrition.

I've heard all sides of the story, looking at Dr. Herberts research, he is the guy I trust.

The food pyramid wrong??? well... to each his own.

As far as differentiating between Omega 6 and Omega 3, I think it's more important to worry about what type of Omega 3's you are getting, after all, if you are getting enough EPA/DHA you don't really have to worry too much about the Omega 6's anyway (unless your worried about them because they are polyunsaturated, and might be subject to peroxidation), don't know if they are or not, I'm not that smart myself, but Omega 6 is what stops ALA from converting over to DHA & EPA anyway... so if you just skip that step and take fish oil, you don't really have that problem, all you have to worry about is the peroxidation issue.

My point... I did my homework too, and I eat just like the food pyramid, Again, I am not trying to say anyone is wrong, just voicing what I know, trying to help.