T Nation

Helping My Girlfriend Lose Weight

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!

Losing 4 pounds a month is really pretty good. For anybody not very overweight, I think 1 pound per week is a pretty decent rate to shoot for, especially if she is resistance training where she’s adding some muscle as well. So props on that. Also, remember that muscle weighs more than fat… she could lose 5 pounds of fat and gain 5 pounds of muscle and thus not have lost any weight, but she will smaller and better proportioned since muscle is more dense and thus takes up more space.

As far as cardio goes, don’t be afraid of steady-state cardio. Dunno why it’s gotten such a terrible rap but many people have used it to get lean. One method that CT mentions in his physique transformation article is a lactate-producing workout (something like Tabata) followed up by 30 minutes or so of steady state cardio. I would check that article out.

[quote]mog16 wrote:
A month ago my girlfriend made a commitment to trying to get into shape. . . I was wondering if people could offer suggestions.
[/quote]

Don’t get married or the remote will be the only thing she will want to pick up. . .

Weight loss is harder for the chicks and if she wants to get down to a low low body fat % you are fighting mother nature so Patience is called for

good start!

Alright, more requests for help :frowning: my girlfriend was making superb progress (she was down to 160/161 and she was starting to get happier about her body) but as of about a week ago she’s started to climb again and is now around 163/164 and feels like her clothes are fitting less well. Her diet it about the same as it was before, we’re not ‘counting’ as much as we were but we’re mostly working by ‘feel’.

She is busting ass in the gym doing both low rep/high weight days (total volume per muscle group <15) to maintain muscle mass and low rest circuit days to promote fat loss (in addition to 1-2 cycle tabatas every other workout or so). Any ideas? Please ask for more information if you need it.

Without knowing specifics of the diet, the first thing that comes to my mind is that perhaps you have calories or one of the macronutrients cut too far for all of the exercise she is doing.

It is also possible, as has been stated before, that a couple pound flux could be increased muscle which is heavier than fat. Even taking into account clothes not fitting quite right, it is possible that a change in body proportions is throwing some things off.

Water can sometimes flux too in strange ways.

Hell, the hormonal shift during a woman’s period might throw things briefly off, only to bounce back later.

I would say relax, make sure diet is what it should be (not too much but not too little either) and measure a bit less often. Be ready for some ups and downs on the way, but the progress should be generally down.

EDIT:

I forgot to mention, you may want to reconsider the ammount of tabata drills you have in there, especially given the workload of the rest of the routine. Her work capacity may not be very high and you do not want to fry her nervous system. Even a well conditioned person can handle only a limited ammount of tabata training, and other super-exhaustion techniques.

Eat less, it is that simple.
Calories in vs. calories out, that is what determines weight loss or gain.
No need for supplements.

I know harder drills seem as though they will get things done faster, your girlfriend might benefit with 20-minutes of steady state cardio on the treadmill at an incline at the end of her lifting session.

Say she does that 3 times a week and then 2 times a week have her go for 15-minutes of HIIT on the bike on the days she isn’t hitting her legs too hard.

With her diet have her up her good fats and increase her fiber with lots of fibrous green vegetables. She will find she is eating a lot less of the bad food by being full from the fiber and satisfied with the fat.

[quote]TP-Bubbles wrote:
Eat less, it is that simple.
Calories in vs. calories out, that is what determines weight loss or gain.
No need for supplements.[/quote]

She’s trying do body recomposition (lose fat, not muscle), not trying to do Weight Watchers/Richard Simmons “weight loss”, and as stated it’s tougher for women…Your simplistic, archaic “formula” only works if you want to lose scale weight (and still look like crap skinny-fat afterward with a wrecked metabolism), and often doesnt even work at all after the first plateau, setup to gain it all back and more…Chezus’!!!

I would suggest keeping a closer eye on calories/macronutrients and timing. Eating by feel is a lot easier to do once you’ve kept track for a while, and the intake may surprise you.

Also, it’s definitely a good idea to keep track of more than 1 variable, ie more than just scale weight. I’ve found that scale weight can stall while inches just melt off various areas. Get a measuring tape and keep track of a few obvious areas; it might help a lot with motivation.