Are you trying to lose weight fast? Here's a much better strategy

What do fat-burning miracle juices, 8-minute workouts, and the Law of Attraction have in common? They are all lose weight fast methods don't work

fitness, James Fell, exercise


Anyone who is overweight wants to be in shape yesterday. They’ve got a high school reunion coming up; Their friend lost weight; They’re taking a cruise to Romance Novel Model island…

If you’re overweight, you didn’t get that way in just a few weeks, and you won’t undo it quickly. There is no miracle berry juice that will help burn off a pound a day every day, smearing on some cream won’t melt fat, and Oprah can’t help you “Law of Attraction” the flab away.

I hate to break it to you, but when it comes to weight loss, there is no “quick,” and their certainly is no “easy.”

Do you know what happens when I Google “lose weight fast”? I get 2.26 million pages and a ton of advertisements. Now let’s see the what the results are for “lose weight slow”. There are only 6,100 pages and no ads at all.

Now think about which approach actually works. This is a race that the tortoise wins and the hare doesn’t even finish.

Regardless, the media inundates us with false promises. Jillian Michaels kettlebell DVD promises we can lose five pounds a week, and the sculpted models in the Bowflex commercials make equally ludicrous promises.

I’ve seen 12-week plans, 8-week plans, 30-day plans, and even two-week plans for dropping ridiculously, unrealistic amounts of fat. Some say it requires little to no effort, or it only takes eight minutes in the morning. Others report that you can eat whatever you want.

These are all examples of telling you what you want to hear, because that’s what sells. You don’t want to hear that sustained weight loss equals tremendous effort, restraint, hunger and pain, and weight loss marketers know this.

Forget those guys. If you’re an overweight couch potato then it’s time for the cold, hard reality: Losing weight, and keeping it off, may be one of the most difficult things you ever do.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In fact, accepting this reality is an important first step in ensuring you are actually successful.

You’re welcome.

So forget about losing weight, for now. When you focus solely on the numbers on the scale then you’re setting yourself up for failure because it removes your concentration from what is most important to success: permanent lifestyle change.

Permanent lifestyle change is your number one goal. Achieve that, and the fat will come off. Eventually.

When you hope for quick weight loss and it doesn’t actually happen quickly, you get frustrated and quit. However, when you focus on readily achievable goals that you have control over then you can get the positive reinforcement necessary to succeed long term. Losing 20, 30 or 50 pounds is a fine goal, but it shouldn’t be forefront in your mind – it should be a longer term objective.

Here are some examples of what you should really be thinking about:
•    I will put together a plan for how to become a regular exerciser
•    I will find exercises that I enjoy doing and learn how to do them well
•    I will find a family member or friend to exercise with and we will have fun together
•    I will start exercising slow and gradually increase the amount of time and effort
•    I will learn about how to focus on healthy, calorie-restricted eating

The fact is that people hate change. Let’s take the example of a three month “get in shape fast” approach. If you work really hard because of some high school reunion coming up, then you can accomplish some pretty amazing things with your body composition in that time, but understand what it actually takes to do that. For a completely out of shape person it means instantly transforming from an inactive junk food eater to a person that eats almost nothing but healthy food (less of it too), and works out intensely for at least an hour a day, six days a week. That isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, you’d probably hurt yourself if you don’t currently exercise.

The instant lifestyle transformation is so soul-crushingly difficult that the vast majority of people simply can’t do it unless they believe a higher power is standing over them with a lightening bolt poised to strike if they don’t get in shape fast.

I know that New Year’s is coming soon, but don’t just jump into it with both feet. Start planning now  how this year is going to be different. Take it slow and by the time the calendar ticks over in 2012 you’ll be a completely changed person.

A fit and healthy lifestyle gets easier and easier if you focus on baby steps. Do a little. Do a little and get used to it. Then do a little more and get used to that. Repeat until you achieve your ultimate goals. Then keep it up for the fest of your life.

And most importantly, enjoy yourself!

James S. Fell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Calgary, AB. Visit or email him at