Monday, January 05, 2009

I'm Dieting but I Can't Lose Weight Fast

Carey is a classic example of a life long dieter and cardio junky who despite a great work ethic, needed a new plan! 

Carey told me before she started ChaLEAN Extreme that her whole life had been spent dieting and a slave to her cardio. She said people always looked surprised when she told them how much she was working out. 

Millions of people, and especially women suffer from the consequences of years of trying to restrict calories. 

It's perhaps the reason I'm most excited to have people follow this plan (Oprah... are you listening???) 

Perhaps the most common complaint I hear from women is "I'm cutting my calories, but I can't live like this and I'm not losing weight like I used to!" 

For years people have been told it's simple a numbers game. Burn more than you consume and you'll lose weight. We also often hear this magic number of "1200" calories. But these two notions, though fairly accurate, only tell part of the picture and this picture is drastically different if you are a life time dieter! 

Though true, what's flawed in these simple statements (which I too have used to oversimplify a complex machine) is that the body can and does quickly adapt to a diet of excessive deprivation (well below your caloric requirements) and will slow your Basal Metabolic Reate (BMR).  In essence, when you dip below your BMR in calories consumed for an extended period of time, you trigger your body to activate "starvation mode". The body, being a well equipped machine finds a way of burning fewer calories than are available. Smart, huh? Frustrating yes! Have you ever watched one of those programs on National Geo TV and wondered how individuals are able to survive on one cup of rice per day, yet do physically demanding work from sun up to sun down and not look like death? I suspect that their metabolisms have simply adjusted. (I'd love to see some research on that subject) 

In 2008 I was able to do some research of my own. I worked with 70 test group participants who sought to lose body fat and achieve weight loss. The test was part of my research for ChaLEAN Extreme. In that testing we measured the BMR of each participant, as well as hydrostatic body fat testing of their body composition. Of course all tests were supervised by a physician and we used the gold standard in all areas of testing. 

One woman in particular had me worried from the start. She hadn't exercised in over 20 years and told me she had be starving herself and making terrible food choices for years resulting in more and more weight gain. For her stature she was at least 60 pounds overweight. A part of me doubted her when she told me she was "barely eating a thing." I thought.."Yeah right!" That is until I saw the data from her BMR testing. Her BMR was 700 calories a day! What?? No wonder she was putting on weight no matter what she did. We'll call her "Cherrie" to protect her privacy. 

I thought it was most ironic to see those who were the largest in the test group also had the slowest metabolism. I had to wonder..."what came first? The slow metabolism or the weight." I know know the answer! 

So on day 1, Cherrie was burning only 700 calories a day, starvation by most standards. Her body fat was over 35%! She admittedly hated exercise and explained that most days she tried to avoid eating anything until dinner. She explained she had a habit of picking and snacking to get her through, but always felt hungry and deprived. At dinner she would often over eat, but still tried to restrict her calories. She said she woke up every day feeling exhausted, run down, defeated and depressed. She looked 10 years older than her true age. Despite her attempts to cut calories, her body had learned to accommodate by burning fewer and fewer, making weight gain a certain probability. 

Ironically, in our youth, when we have a considerable amount of muscle, our bodies are new an unfamiliar with the rapid weight loss game. Weight loss and weight maintenance are easy! The cycle begins when people try to "diet" their weight off, as opposed to proper nutrition and changing their body composition (i.e. add exercise and muscle).  One of the most frustrated groups of individuals are those over 30, 40 and 50 who see that year after year weight loss becomes more difficult. It's not the age...its the body composition that makes dieting difficult. 

In doing my research for ChaLEAN Extreme I looked at as many published reports on muscle, body fat, low carb diets, prolonged use of calorie restrictive diets, low cal diets, and the role body composition plays on weight loss and weight gain. What I really wanted to understand is why if consuming fewer calories is supposed to help people lose weight, some people actually begin to see a weight gain after a period of time and some actually find themselves obese! 

There's loads of research on the subject if one is willing to look beyond the glossy magazines which print misnomers and half-truths. Perhaps the most convincing of the clinicals studies I read was that reported a marked drop in the metabolism of "restrictive calorie dieters (even in obese women). "The decrease in TSH and free T3 actually blunt energy expenditure in response to long term calorie restriction, thereby frustrating weight loss attempts of obese individuals." 

So even though at face value it should seem that if you are consuming less than you are burning, you should be losing weight, the bottom line is this.... If your not providing enough fuel to your body to nearly support your BMR, your BMR will slow accordingly. 

So... how do we increase our BMR??? 


It's the only hope you have. Its the truth! And guess what... its really not that bad. Every night I have a battle with my 8 year old daughter to take a shower. "I don't want to! I'm not dirty! I took one last night. I hate getting into the water. I'm cold. I'm tired. I have homework. I'll do it tomorrow."    She dreads the thought. But ya know what... when she gets out of the shower, every single night, without fail she always says she feels better. 

Get over it people! You are going to have to lift weights! Just 3x a week! And guess what... You're going to feel better! A lot better! 

So back to "Cherrie"...What happened after 90 days of eating every 2.5 hours and lifting 3x a week? What happened after we started giving her body the fuel it needed and changing her composition.  Well, at first, Cherrie hated it. I would say she hated me for the first two weeks. She even gained a few pounds those first few weeks, but she trusted me and stuck with it! After the 2nd week it was obvious she was losing weight. But weight loss alone wasn't my goal for her. I wanted to change her BMR

At the end of 3 months we went back to the doctor and tested her again. She had lost over 40 pounds and not one ounce of that was muscle. In fact, in the process of losing fat, she actually gained muscle! We reduced her body fat by over 50%! Huge! We increased her BMR to nearly 1400! That's amazing! Even the doctors were astonished. Most rewarding for me was the day she reported she was now off her  blood pressure medication, the depression had lifted and her boys had their old mom back! 

I promised "Cherrie" I would put her picture up here, but she's just one example of a person who was able to reverse the slowing process of the BMR.  Every single person in our group increased their BMR substantially. The average body fat loss was nearly 40% , with many participants like Leslie (below) losing more than 50% of their body fat. 


Is it possible to reverse what you thought was a metabolism 
slowing due to your age? 


If you do not have the means to have your BMR tested, the key is finding the balance between where you no longer lose weight, but aren't gaining weight.  Keep in mind that the average woman will fluctuate up and down between 1 to 3 pounds from week to week. Pick a range, not a number!  

When working to increase your metabolism (which is ultimately the goal if you want to eat more and come in a smaller package) remember that muscle is an active tissue. It's requirements are far greater than fat. Fat is this mushy, lumpy, yellowy stuff that requires very little to sustain itself, but takes up a lot of space. Lean muscle tissue on the other hand requires are great deal of calories to sustain. It's firm! It's tight! It's red with blood and healthy tissue that makes life easier and fat burning a breeze! Muscle burns fat!   To do this means taking the time to "get it right" and as unpopular as it may be, to know the amount of calories you're consuming per day, at least in this "getting it right" stage. 

If you're interested in my new program, please buy it from a coach! You can find them by searching "Team Beachbody Coach", by going to  or from my sister 

Oh... and don't forget to subscribe to my blog :) 



ChasingPavement said...

Great Blog Chalene! I'm on day 20 of CE and I'm loving this program. Ive tried contless work out programs and I've never got results ans I'm getting with your program! I just completed my first round of p90x right before I started your program and I NEVER used heavier than 10 pound weights. With your program I'm already up to 25 pound dumbbells for the lower body sets! You have taught me its ok to go heavier! I started this program at 18.6% body fat and I checked my results yesterday (mid week 3) and I'm at 17.5%! I'm already down 1.1% in body fat, that just blows my mind. Thank you so much for creating this program, I'm going to the beach body coaches summit in march and I hope to meet you! it will be right after I completed my first round of CE :)


Sam Adams (SamA) said...

Chalene, I love your new program. I'm about to start the 4th week of the Burn Phase and the Push phase begins Jan 18th! I can't wait! Although I'm not even 20 yet (turning 20 later this month) I never had an easy time losing weight, even doing Turbo Jam and sculpting 3 times a week and eating ok (but I know I could be doing better). But now that I'm lifting heavy (I used 20 lbs for the first biceps in burn circuit 2 yesterday!!) I'm seeing big changes and I'm so thankful for that! Can't wait to chat w/ you Wednesday in the BB chat!!!

naptress said...

wow I left really nice comments about your dvd's and chaleqn extreme but you didnt allow it to be printed,what's up with that? I also have raved about it on my blog...not a nice feeling...

Tara said...

Chalene, awesome blog post. I just received my CE package and was originally going to hold off until I finish a 90-day round of Power 90/Turbo Jam to start it, but after seeing the results of the women you've highlighted here, I'm rethinking that decision. My primary problem is my midsection, just like the women whose pictures you shared, and if they got those results by doing CE, I am ALL on board.

Thank you so much for bringing us exercise programs that WORK and are FUN (I am a die-hard Turbo Jammer also). You rock!

Suzanne said...

This is a great post. So many women don't get this. They think starving themselves is the answer...I am forwarding this to every woman I know! Thank you.

Drennans said...

I'm pretty sure this is all of what's happened to me. It started when I breastfed. I don't think I ate enough and my body stored fat or something thinking it was starving. I wasn't trying too I just would forget to eat with all the busyness. I've always had a slow matabolism (I could sleep pretty much all day) so I think I need to re-evaluate. I'm on Weight Watchers but I'm hungry all day even when I eat "free food" so then I end up going overboard and need to re-start all week. I love your videos so I'll have to check out your new program but I'm a little worried that I won't have the energy to do it properly. Thanks for always posting on's a great uplift.

you're friend from WAY to far up North!!

Kassandra Bragg said...

Those before and after pictures are the exact reason why I purchased CLX! Everyone, even my OBGYN said that the only way to get rid of the infamous "c-section apron belly) was a tummy tuck and these two ladies have proved the nay sayers wrong! I can't wait until I go for my annual with my new ChaLean Extreme body minus apron belly! Woohoo!



PS: I listen to the motivational CD every day. One thing I've learned is repetition is the mother of skill so I'm going to keep listening until it becomes autopilot for me. I love it that every time I listen to it I never get annoyed or bored with it. You have a true gift :)

Lesley said...

I am extremely keen on trying ChaLean Lean and can't wait to get it. Btw, I credit your Turbo Jam workouts for helping me not only keep up, but manage very well in doing P90X Kenpo. I like to mix it up.

Keith Williams said...


Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for coming out with ChaLEAN Extreme. My wife enjoyed doing Turbo Jam, but she loves doing the CE workouts. It is so exciting to see her this excited about the program and to be able to workout with her. We are starting week two, and our diet is spot on. We are loving the meals out of the menu plan. Missing Tony a little, but love working out with you! Thanks again!

largemarge said...

Great info!! I have a concern though, I am in the 3rd week of CE and although I love it, I feel like my legs and butt are bigger! I eat from 80-100 grams of protein/day and limit my carbs. What am I doing wrong? I started incorporating Turbo Jam this week. Is that what I need, cardio?


Caryn said...

Chalene, I am like all your other fans! I love getting up and working out because of you. I lost about twenty pound on turbo jam maximum results and I just received the Elite package. I'm enjoying it, but I really want CE. I'm sure it's worth every penny. I work out really hard every morning for usually an hour and I always wear the hand gloves, but I'm not really getting more results. Would you suggest that I return the Elite and go w/CE? I have three baby daughters and so the extra cost, though I'm sure it's worth every cent, is something I've been saving for, but won't come up with for awhile.

I really enjoy your enthusiasm and how you are contagious. We are like little house flies who keep buzzing into the porch light! I love your positive attitude!

I'd love to hear from you!
most sincerely,

sheilajn46 said...

Finally! I, too, have a slow BMR because of stupidity over the years as well as stress-induced periods of starvation. Now that I'm nearing menopause, it's getting worse since estrogen is found in fat cells and my body doesn't want to let go of the fat. I am tired of people assuming that you eat like a pig -- I've always eaten pretty clean and smaller portions. I want to be healthy and actually like exercise but it was very frustrating to work so hard and not see results. I can't wait to start Chalean Extreme. My question to Chalene is -- I realize I will have to experiment with my calories to find the key but is it better to "start" your baseline caloric needs with your current weight or the weight you're attempting to get to? I am 158 lbs now but want to eventually get to 135, so should I start with the higher calories (once I start working out with the program) or should I start with the lower calories. Thank you so much for all of your efforts in helping us women get realistic advice in our battle, ha ha. I am a warrior but need to arm myself with the right information. (Men don't have to deal with hormonal issues)

chamachama said...

It ends at the New Year of Japan and the next event is Setsubun, February 3.

Various dieting、beauty, healthy is written in this blog.

TJ said...

I need serious help. I had my BMR tested and it is at 1271....20% less than it should be. What amount of calories do I need to eat to lose weight while doing CExtreme?? Nothing is working for me. It's been two years of misery and dieting and I've lost nothing.