Not Losing Weight

Aug. 6, 2007
I know muscle weighs more than fat, but I am looking to lose more than that more quickly. I have cut out the junk food, and alcohol. Help!?!

I know muscle weighs more than fat, but I am looking to lose more than that more quickly. I have cut out the junk food, and alcohol. Help!?!

Question: Can you suggest a plan to lose weight? My department is really putting the pressure on us to get back in shape. I am about 30 pounds overweight and need to lose about six percent body fat to get down to 20%. I have been using a weight loss book for the last three months and have only lost five pounds. I know muscle weighs more than fat, but I am looking to lose more than that more quickly. I have cut out the junk food, and alcohol. Any suggestions?

Answer: The reason you have not lost much weight is partially because the book's suggested workout should be putting on muscle mass. You are leaner, and stronger - not to mention less likely to be hurt on the job at this point. Another part of it is that your metabolism has slowed. Fat is metabolically inactive tissue - it burns next to no calories to maintain. Don't give up on weight training - adding lean muscle mass is exactly what you need! This damage to your metabolism and excess stored fat could take you years to repair! How many years did it take you to get there?

I try to have a certain amount of empathy for people who are overweight. I just imagine how emotionally distraught I would be if I put on 50 or 60 pounds. I would have to completely change my lifestyle and everything I ate and everything I did for my metabolism change that drastically. Then I try to think of the reverse that, and think of the momentum it would take, and the time it would take to make a change that big in the reverse. The changes are huge: lifestyle, exercise and diet change. People don't change unless they feel enough painful stimuli to force their change. It may be gradual. Keep at it.

Start by eating whole foods. Stop eating at restaurants. Eat two-thirds as much as you really want to eat in your first portion. Don't take a second. Eat protein with every meal. Eat six meals per day - loaded with nutrients so you won't crave extra calories in search of nutrients. Here is an article that I wrote about firefighter nutrition.

There is a great book called The Glycemic Revolution. It talks all about the insulin reaction and fat storage. It has recipes in it too. It would be a great coffee table book for the firehouse. Oh and stay off sugar and corn syrup - it's everywhere! Read the book!

Start training with weights three times per week. Mike Stefano's workout is great. Warm up for five minutes. Spend 45 minutes training with weights and stretch for 15 minutes at the end. If you are new back to it, start slow: Do whole body workouts at first - two sets of each body part. Go light for the first two weeks. You can start to go heavier later, but don't progress too fast. Bill Phillips book, Body for Life, is great. It's a step-by-step guide to weight training and easy eating programs.

Do cardio two to three times per week. You'll need to work hard. Bill Phillips book describes cardio interval training that I think works really well. It's based on perceived exertion. You can progress at your own pace. If 12 minutes is all you can do at first, don't worry that is ok. You need to start somewhere. Work up by three to five minutes each week until you reach 35 minutes.

Here's a great circuit training workout on one of my other sites. Read it, print it, and use it if you like. Remember, it is intended for teenagers, so the weights may be very different. Please don't hurt yourself. I wrote another one called Firehouse Butt Kickin' Circuit Training that is similar.

Don't weigh yourself. If I train with weights I get heavier. I have to keep reminding myself that muscle weighs more than fat. A softball size piece of muscle weighs the same as a loaf of bread size of fat. If you do as I say for a year, you will lose that weight healthily and happily.

Dr. Jen Milus, DC, Speaker/Author of "Fire It Up Agility" has been in sports performance enhancement and injury rehab since 1985 and private practice for over 12 years. Dr. Milus is dedicated to helping athletes and firefighter candidates perform at peak levels, as well as prevent and treat sports related injuries. Dr. Milus has been a team doctor to several sports teams, attending to a wide range of sports injuries. She now turns her attention for helping firefighters and firefighter candidate maximize their performance while preventing injury! Visit her website.

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Firehouse, create an account today!