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Old 01-24-2013, 12:36 AM   #1
datalink7
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Default How to get the seriously overweight started?

Hi all,

I'm going to school with one woman who I've become friends with (no romantic interest). She's seriously overweight. 5'6" or so and over 200 would be my guess. She isn't too old (25), and has kind of hinted she would like to drop weight, and this is something I would like to help her with. She gets almost no exercise right now.

However, all the exercising I do (I work out 6 days a week) would be way too much for her.

I'm thinking walking at a brisk pace 3 days a week to start out (don't want to get any injuries)? I would do it with her to help push the pace.

I've helped other friends get into shape before, and have a lot of good exercises of varying difficulty depending on their physical fitness, but I've never done it with someone this over weight and out of shape. So, any tips would be helpful.

Also, I know that a huge part of it is also diet, but I feel I know enough in this area to cover that myself.

Thanks.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:38 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by datalink7 View Post
Hi all,

I'm going to school with one woman who I've become friends with (no romantic interest). She's seriously overweight. 5'6" or so and over 200 would be my guess. She isn't too old (25), and has kind of hinted she would like to drop weight, and this is something I would like to help her with. She gets almost no exercise right now.

However, all the exercising I do (I work out 6 days a week) would be way too much for her.

I'm thinking walking at a brisk pace 3 days a week to start out (don't want to get any injuries)? I would do it with her to help push the pace.

I've helped other friends get into shape before, and have a lot of good exercises of varying difficulty depending on their physical fitness, but I've never done it with someone this over weight and out of shape. So, any tips would be helpful.

Also, I know that a huge part of it is also diet, but I feel I know enough in this area to cover that myself.

Thanks.
Numero uno is diet. Just keep her calorie intake on the deficit side and she will shed weight (~3K calories = 1 lb). Make sure she's eating a balanced diet (i.e. it's okay to get some fat in the diet) and keep her on a consistent workout/cardio schedule.

Her workouts do not have to be intense at this point in time Imo. Just get her started with something easy. For example, have her walk on the treadmill while you run on the one next to hers. Hopefully, as she loses weight, she will be able to do more intense routines; once the ball gets rolling, she should feel motivated to continue working out.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:54 AM   #3
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Agreed, you really need to drive that point home with her about diet. Her weight loss will be determined by roughly 80% diet and 20% exercise. That's where her main focus should be as it's where she's doing poorly at now given her stats. Lots of people I know who don't exercise at all but are of normal weight because they don't overeat. Keeping a food diary to track of what she eats everyday will help a lot in making her more conscious of what she eats and will help in determining why she's losing weight (or not).

As for routine, anything to get moving and into a habit of doing something physical everyday will help. I would not worry about the most efficient type of workout with her at this point. Find something she likes to do, maybe your school gym offers group workouts or your school has sport classes she would be interested in? Have her try different things as exercise can be fun, it doesn't have to be torture or a boring session on a machine.
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:00 AM   #4
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Make sure she's eating a balanced diet (i.e. it's okay to get some fat in the diet)
Fat is your friend, especially untrained individuals whose bodies have very little insulin resistance causing blood sugar to spike when they eat carbs. Of course you want to keep is healthy fat and don't want to completely cut carbs but making smarter decisions on what sort of carbs are eaten, and with healthy doses of fiber to slow it's path to the blood stream.

As far as helping getting her in the gym. http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_..._girl_to_train is a pretty good article on what is needed and gives some ideas on how to make a routine for her.
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:45 AM   #5
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Has she actually indicated she wants your help on this?
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:59 AM   #6
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Broken record I guess...but just gotta agree with the other responses. Diet is not just a huge part, it's MOST of the battle. And light exercise/something she'll enjoy doing.
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:34 AM   #7
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Broken record I guess...but just gotta agree with the other responses. Diet is not just a huge part, it's MOST of the battle. And light exercise/something she'll enjoy doing.
Yep, i tell all my friends who's tell me their NY Resolution is drop a few lbs. 80% diet/20% exercise. Cut the portions and the soda.

People need to "rock bottom" before they decide to lose the weight.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:44 PM   #8
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Have 2 friends who lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time (12-16months)
One lost close to 200lbs (he's 5'7 and he lost almost 200lbs...i leave it at that)
He did it using diet change and crossfit (very dedicated...his whole life seems to revolve around crossfit. No excuses, no missed days...no slacking off)
Another one went from high 300's to 175 (he's a 5'10, up to a pack a day smoker)
Weight Watchers + lots of running.
Joined up at WW and started running every other day.
He's training for a half marathon now. Another guy who is very dedicated to his routine.

Summary - Clean up your diet, pick an exercise routine, stick with it and push your self as you body conditioning improves
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:51 PM   #9
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Forget calorie counting, just make sure what she's eating are QUALITY calories. Have her on a somewhat paleo diet. Diet should be roughly 30% vegetables, 20% meat, 20% good fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil), 20% good carbs (sweet potato, rice), 10% misc. healthy sweets (fruit, dark chocolate).

Cut dairy and keep grains to a minimum. Drink only water.

Probably won't happen because people think such a diet is a big commitment, but it's really not. Biggest thing is you're not eating cereal or sandwiches and you're making all your own meals.
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:25 PM   #10
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I think it's a mix of things. The number one first struggle is sleep. I remember reading an article awhile back about a study done that had shown a 100% correlation between staying up late and obesity. In America, at least, the usual thing to do is get home from work, chill, and stay up late to eat and watch TV. So by going to bed at an early (or reasonable) hour, you cut out that food intake window, as well as not having to fight fatigue all day long from staying up late. And when are you are tired, you want to eat to get energy. It gets to be an endless cycle. So go to bed before 10 (9 or so preferably) and she'll have more energy to exercise and cook and skip eating all those late-night snacks and meals.

Second is definitely diet. No magic here. Best thing I can recommend is 5 or 6 small meals & drink plenty of water. That starts your metabolism burning faster and keeps you full all day so you don't eat junk food. When you're always full, it's a lot easier to fight cravings! One of the key things to teach people who want to lose weight is that healthy food can taste GOOD. That was always one of my biggest turn-offs to getting healthy - I had a perception that "eating healthy" meant bland or nasty food, when really you can make some rockin' dishes and still be eating great! So now I eat tasty food all the time and feel good all day. You don't have to just eat broccoli and chicken to get in shape.

Third is a low-impact cardio exercise. If you're seriously overweight and you start running and doing pushups and stuff, you're going to put too much stress on your body. Plus you're already going to be tired from carrying around all that extra weight. Best thing is either just walking or an elliptical machine. A 10 or 15 minute brisk walk a day plus a clean diet will melt the pounds away. And also don't go to fast, I think the recommend weight loss average is 2 pounds per week. I had a buddy who lost about 100 pounds in 6 months or so and had tons of loose skin (google that, ew!) because he went too fast.

Also a tip - be careful about how you approach this. Most girls are extremely insecure about their weight, and if she hasn't specifically come out and asked you to help her lose weight, I'd be very wary about mentioning anything about it to her. But if she IS interested and isn't sure if it's possible, have her check out Bodybuilding.com and look at the Transformations section. One of the most inspiring transformations is Tiffany Forni - she went from 235 pounds to 142 pounds in a year from diet & exercise:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/tiffany_forni.htm

And that's pretty much it. Go to bed before 10pm, eat 5-6 healthy meals, and do 15 minutes of brisk low-impact cardio. Not much to it in theory, but in practice it's really really hard. Really the key is diet. Look at anorexic people - they don't exercise, it's just a food thing to get skinny. So by controlling the diet, you can control the fat level. Exercise definitely helps, but I'm sure you've seen the guys at the gym who have been there for years on the treadmill and are still hugely overweight, all because they haven't changed their diet.

A few years ago I lost about 50 pounds this way. I'm 6'1" and was 220 - I didn't look big or even husky because I'm tall, but I definitely wasn't what I would call "healthy". Dropped to 170 primarily through eating right. And again, you can eat right AND have tasty meals, but then you get back to the fatigue thing - you need to go to bed early so you have the energy to make the meals and think about what you want to cook and stuff. I was just too tired to do all that stuff before. But that's what worked for me - primarily just cleaning up my diet.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:40 AM   #11
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Regarding exercise, I've heard a lot of people have success with the couch to 5k routine. It starts off really easy.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:49 AM   #12
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Third is a low-impact cardio exercise. If you're seriously overweight and you start running and doing pushups and stuff, you're going to put too much stress on your body. Plus you're already going to be tired from carrying around all that extra weight. Best thing is either just walking or an elliptical machine. A 10 or 15 minute brisk walk a day plus a clean diet will melt the pounds away.
Fat people are not, as a rule, "already tired from carrying extra weight". A fat person has more muscle than a thin person who moves the same amount; the body adapts.

10-15 minutes is only advisable if the person is unable to do more. Obviously, the longer you go at the same power, the more calories you burn. But that's not all; as carbohydrates deplete during the exercise, the ratio of fat to carbohydrates consumed goes up. It is more effective to walk 70 mins twice a week than to walk 20 mins every day even though the calorie total is the same. See:
http://www.exrx.net/Nutrition/Substrates.html
Also, exercising for longer durations is better for improving your oxygen intake and heartrate, which is a significant component of being and feeling fit. For both of these reasons, when I do aerobic exercise, I shoot for 45 min minimum.

I strongly disagree that "pushups and stuff" are too stressful. Strength training (whether with bodyweight, or by lifting weights) is at least as important as aerobic exercise, and it takes much less time to do. Even an hour a week is more than enough to build extraordinary strength over time, if you spend it on serious full-body exercises, as opposed to isolating and "toning" muscle endurance bullshit. Difficulty of bodyweight movements can be adjusted if the basic form is too much at first.
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Old 01-25-2013, 06:13 PM   #13
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10-15 minutes is only advisable if the person is unable to do more. Obviously, the longer you go at the same power, the more calories you burn. But that's not all; as carbohydrates deplete during the exercise, the ratio of fat to carbohydrates consumed goes up. It is more effective to walk 70 mins twice a week than to walk 20 mins every day even though the calorie total is the same.
I'd take daily shorter activity over less frequent but longer duration activities from a health perspective. For example, sitting all day has been found to be worse than smoking, even daily exercise can't undo the damage from being sedentary all day. So the more you move, the better.

For someone whose really overweight, I'd get them to do whatever they can. Walking 15 minutes at lunch time beats sitting around doing nothing. I've also seen studies which have shown short bouts of exercise have health benefits as well. So for example if she's not up for a 30 minute workout, three 10 minute workouts spread throughout would be a valid option as well for her.
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Old 01-25-2013, 06:17 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the tips everyone.

I do know a huge part of it is diet.

All I have to do is figure out my approach. The problem is that she hinted to another friend that she was experiencing health problems from being overweight and would like help, but didn't quite come out and say it. She didn't broach the subject directly to me (this other friend brought it up to me), so I have to plan on how to bring it up (obviously, not "hey, you're fat. want some help losing weight?").
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:15 PM   #15
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I would focus on how much better she would look if she lost weight... after you initially break the ice.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:30 AM   #16
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Fat people are not, as a rule, "already tired from carrying extra weight". A fat person has more muscle than a thin person who moves the same amount; the body adapts.

10-15 minutes is only advisable if the person is unable to do more. Obviously, the longer you go at the same power, the more calories you burn. But that's not all; as carbohydrates deplete during the exercise, the ratio of fat to carbohydrates consumed goes up. It is more effective to walk 70 mins twice a week than to walk 20 mins every day even though the calorie total is the same. See:
http://www.exrx.net/Nutrition/Substrates.html
Also, exercising for longer durations is better for improving your oxygen intake and heartrate, which is a significant component of being and feeling fit. For both of these reasons, when I do aerobic exercise, I shoot for 45 min minimum.

I strongly disagree that "pushups and stuff" are too stressful. Strength training (whether with bodyweight, or by lifting weights) is at least as important as aerobic exercise, and it takes much less time to do. Even an hour a week is more than enough to build extraordinary strength over time, if you spend it on serious full-body exercises, as opposed to isolating and "toning" muscle endurance bullshit. Difficulty of bodyweight movements can be adjusted if the basic form is too much at first.
That's a great approach if the person is disciplined and motivated, but chances are if they are already overweight, they are not very disciplined and not very motivated. I lost 50 pounds mainly by changing my diet, plus a little bit of cardio every day. After that, it was much easier to do 30-mile bike rides, hundreds of pushups, etc. because I had the energy to pursue those things and had slowly built up the habits of eating right and exercising on a regular basis.

For me, the baby steps approach worked really well. I'd agree that starting out with strength training and longer cardio sessions would be great, but that's the approach most people take, and most people quit because it's too hard to keep up that big of a change in their life. It becomes something they dread because they haven't worked up to doing that much training, both in terms of habits and in terms of physical preparation.

One of the most important things for me to learn was that healthy food can taste good. I had an extremely limited understanding of nutrition when I started out and thought that I had to live on a plain chicken & broccoli diet, when really you can eat gourmet food if you choose to. Ultimately it does require a change in your diet, but it doesn't have to be a change to cardboard-tasting food, which was a concept I didn't understand at the time. And it was always pretty easy to talk myself into 10 minutes on the elliptical or 15 minutes on the bike, but it was a lot more daunting to think about an hour workout at that time.

It usually only takes a few months for people to get in shape by taking the easy approach (food + cardio), and by then it's fun to do the other stuff because you've already got the habits in place and you feel good all the time. I don't know if you've had a lot of success with helping overweight people get in shape by doing a heavier cardio & strength training routine, but I sure haven't! Haha. I think if the person is motivated and is serious about their commitment, then that's a great approach (and from what I've seen, usually requires a paid trainer to babysit them and keep their motivation up over time), but it's just so much easier to ease into it and grow from there, in my experience.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:02 PM   #17
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Thanks for all the tips everyone.

I do know a huge part of it is diet.

All I have to do is figure out my approach. The problem is that she hinted to another friend that she was experiencing health problems from being overweight and would like help, but didn't quite come out and say it. She didn't broach the subject directly to me (this other friend brought it up to me), so I have to plan on how to bring it up (obviously, not "hey, you're fat. want some help losing weight?").
I think a really good approach would be a baited invitation - basically say something like, "I'm thinking about getting into personal training and I'm currently looking for a couple clients to start out with, do you have any friends or know anyone who might be interested in trying out a training program? I don't want to charge them, but I do want to use people I know or friends of friends so I can get a feel for it first." Then the lightbulb clicks on in her head and she'll think, "well I am!" and won't think you're calling her fat. So basically hang a carrot out there and see if she bites. Dunno if it will work, but it's better than, "hey, you are seriously overweight, do you want me to help you lose fat?"

And if she is interested, then yeah - make sure you clearly explain how food can taste good while still being healthy. If you're overweight, you probably like to eat, and if you like to eat, you probably like to eat good food. And most people associate eating healthy with boring brown rice and stuff like that. Honestly, I eat better now that I did in my entire life, and I eat waaaaay healthier foods now and have much better health because of it. And I still have "cheat" meals once a week, but for the most part I'm able to stick with my diet because it's likable.

One of the best diet approaches I've seen (and wish I had done) is the additive meal method - basically just ease into the diet by adding one meal in at a time. Start out with breakfast - switch to egg whites and oatmeal or whatever. Do that for a week, then add in a better morning snack, then a healthy lunch, etc. That way she's not stuck doing a complete diet overhaul all at once, which can be really really difficult. So over the course of a few weeks or months, she gets used to eating a healthy, tasty diet and eventually understands everything she needs to shop for and how to cook every meal.

The other difficulty is the huge amount of advertising and "bro science" that people get slammed with. I thought getting in shape and being a bodybuilder meant spending hours every day at the gym and drinking protein shakes. That's definitely one approach, but there are easier ways to get the job done, as I'm sure you know. Probably your best approach with your friend is to get her interested and then ease her into it - a little cardio, start replacing different meals with healthier ones, and over the course of a few months she'll start seeing results and get more and more excited about it, then go from there!
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:43 PM   #18
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Watch the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. it has some good information in it.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:44 PM   #19
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She should walk everyday and eat about 1500cal a day cut carbs. The usual stuff people should do. The real problem is having people start it and stick with it. I wouldn't bother trying to motivate a fat person to loose weigh unless they have started themselves and just wanted tips etc.
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:45 AM   #20
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I don't think there's much limit, except body weight exercises will have to wait, this includes running, jumping and such, or you risk joint injuries/wear.

Bicycle is a good way to get going, especially with spring coming around now.
Reducing calorie intake is good, switching some carbs over to fiber is probably a good idea.

It also often takes some help, to face the pain and hunger that ensues. She has to make the decision to start losing weight herself, and consciously. You will have to make sure she doesn't get a chance to back out. This will probably stress your friendship.
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Old 02-12-2013, 06:18 AM   #21
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teach her to cook. I don't think you can get that fat unless you have a problem or you drink soda and eat fast food all the time.
Eating tasty food takes no motivation, she just has to lose the taste bud addiction to sugar, salt and fried stuff.

This would help already and she doesn't have to go hungry either to make it useful, lowering salt and bad stuff is a good thing anyway. There are unmotivated fatties who eat less but then can't resist and begin eating crap during the day and that's worse.

avoid all exercises that stress the knees or she'll destroy them in no time.

Aquafit would be good because the weight doesn't make the exercises more difficult, and the joints aren't stressed at all, and it can get the hearth going. Plus using a bicycle whenever possible.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:58 AM   #22
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200 is not SERIOUSLY overweight.

Go look on youtube and find some of those vids of the special fat clinic in Indiana. Those folks would die without advanced care from fat experts. (Not saying its good or bad, just telling it like it is.)
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:11 AM   #23
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200 is not SERIOUSLY overweight.
At 5'6" it is.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:42 AM   #24
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200 is not SERIOUSLY overweight.

Go look on youtube and find some of those vids of the special fat clinic in Indiana. Those folks would die without advanced care from fat experts. (Not saying its good or bad, just telling it like it is.)
Actually, if you utilize the body mass index (BMI), which is appropriate for sedentary individuals, that person is considered obese. Obese = seriously overweight. You health risks for most everything are at least 5x greater. It's a huge deal.
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:36 AM   #25
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Well, you can make easy changes by her diet alone. Tell her to log her food intake (normal without changing what she eats) for 2 weeks and sit down to review it with her. There should be plenty of red flags there along you can pinpoint.

If she doesn't keep track of it, or can't follow a simple task/instruction to log her food, she really doesn't want to lose weight. I've found through training various friends/runners - if someone really wants it, they'll do whatever it takes to get there. If they don't, they come up with excuses, don't train, don't eat properly, etc. A 2 week food log is a simple litmus test to see if it's even worth it to spend your time helping her or not.
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