How fast can you lose weight

Podcast Episode #026: How Fast Can You Lose Weight in a Healthy Way?

Faster weight-loss is always better weight-loss, right?

Maybe not.

Today we'll meet Johana Dominguez, a health coach and fitness competitor, who talks about the dangers of trying to lose weight too quickly. She also shares her healthy approach to getting in shape and explains how quickly YOU should expect to see noticeable results.

Episode Resources:

Follow the "Jo vs. Dave" Fitness Competition!

Jo vs Dave

Hey, Dave here!

So if you listened to this episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast, you already know that Jo "Fitness Champion" Dominguez is preparing for a photo shoot in May 2016.

Past experience has taught Jo what an UNHEALTHY approach to losing weight and getting in shape looks like, so this time she's doing things differently. She is going to transform her body with a healthy, sustainable approach that YOU can follow too!

Jo vs. Dave

To make things a little interesting, I will be her competition. Yes, Dave "The People's Champion" Smith is going to partake in this 12-week experiment. 

Both of us will be sharing out workout plans, diets, favourite recipes, progress reports, and more over the next 12 weeks.

Jo Winner

Jo with her fitness competition 1st place finish (June 2015)

Jo Photoshoot

Jo's competition day photo shoot

Jo Before

The Champion - Here's Jo's "before" picture (146lbs)

Dave Before

The Challenger - Yes, I know I really need a tan! (164lbs)

How Quickly Can You Lose Weight While Doing It The Healthy Way? [Full Text]

Before getting into the show, I just want to say again, thank you to everyone who writes in each week with such amazing questions. I really appreciate your ability to open up and be personal with me and maybe make yourself even a little bit vulnerable and reach out for some help.

I just want to encourage you in knowing that you are not alone. I get questions from people from all over the place that are asking very thematic questions. Basically, there's a lot of misinformation out there and there's a lot of struggle happening out there, a lot of frustration. You're not alone.

Thanks for your questions. Without your questions, we wouldn't have a show. Please keep bringing them in. You never know, your question might be featured on the next episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast.

Today, I have a really great question from Tammy G. Let's dive right in. Tammy says,

"I just wanted to ask about setting my expectations realistically. I've gained and lost weight before, but now, I really want to make a lasting change. I've got about 25 pounds to lose. I like to do it in time for my sister's wedding this summer.

I watch The Biggest Loser and I see them lose so much weight so quickly, but I know that's not realistic for the average person like me. What is realistic? I want to set healthy and achievable goals. What do you think is appropriate for me?"

Tammy, I just want to applaud you for that really insightful question. I like the fact that you recognize that what we see in the media is not necessarily realistic or even idealistic for the average person. I also appreciate that you're taking a long-term approach. You said it right in your question, "I want this to be something that's going to be lasting."

Again, going back to those fitness models that we see on covers of magazines, is that actually lasting? Is that something that we should aspire to or The Biggest Loser, should we be looking to lose these copious amounts of weight week after week?

I'm excited to introduce you to a really neat guest today. She's been through this herself. She's going to share her story of weight gain and weight loss and talk about how she approached it in an unhealthy way, in which she has since learned from that experience and has discovered the healthy way to approach weight. I'm excited to introduce to you, Johana Dominguez. Let's meet Johana.

Meet Johana

Hey Jo, thanks so much for joining us on the show today.

Johana: Thank you for having me.

Dave: I'm really excited to have you on the show. I think you're the perfect person to answer Tammy's question. Before we get into that, I was wondering if you could just tell the listeners a little bit about your story and how you got into the fitness industry.

Johana: All righty. I was born and raised in Colombia. Back home, I was ... I grew up on home-cooked meals. There was no junk food around me a lot. That was really good, but that completely changed when I moved to the States when I was about 14.

Unfortunately, in North America, there's a lot of processed food. Since I didn't see that before in the quantities that I had got to see it in the States, I just went crazy. I started eating that. I gained a lot of weight. Not too ... Well, yeah. I gained a lot of weight. When I was about 17, we moved to Canada, which made it a little bit worse, believe it or not.

Dave: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I'm offended as a Canadian. Why did it get worse in Canada?

Johana: Well, the food was pretty much the same, a lot of junk food. It was worse because I moved here in January and I don't like the cold weather. I think there was a storm that week or something.

Moving from the States to Canada meant that I had to start from the beginning. I got to start all over again. I didn't know anybody here. I was already used to the States. Again, it was cold. I hate cold weather. I don't really like it. I've been here for 13 years now and I'm still not used to the cold weather. I got depressed. I didn't have any friends. I had to start all over again. In order to cope with that, I started eating more and then I got to see the result of that. I gained more and more weight. My energy levels were down. I wasn't very active. It was bad.

Negative emotions are part of life. How can you deal with them aside from turning to food?

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Dave: I know, we were talking before the show, and you said that it wasn't just you. Your entire family went through that same process.

Johana: The whole family. Everyone was depressed. From my dad to my youngest sister, everyone was so sad because again, we had to start all over again and we don't like cold weather. We were at home all the time just eating. It was sad.

Dave: I'm getting a sense that you don't like cold weather.

Johana: Not at all. I'm trying to get used to it, but after 10 to 13 years, it's still not happening.

Dave: You were at a point where you were getting, later in your teenage years, started to gain this weight. What changed then? Because you've obviously come out of that. What changed?

Johana: After graduating high school, I got a job at Goodlife. I was a filer. When you work for that company, they'd automatically give you a free membership. I started working out. My diet was still not the best. I was still eating a lot of processed food, but at least, I was starting to move more and more. I started losing the weight a little bit, not enough for me to be completely happy, but it was okay.

After that, I just wanted to make more changes and learn more about nutrition. I took an online program to learn more about the proper foods to eat, what to eat, what's healthy, what is not. That's when I started seeing real changes.

The World of Fitness Competitions

Dave: You've taken that to the next level. You started to incorporate some healthy eating practices. You started to exercise. More recently, you started to compete in fitness competitions. Can you tell us a little bit about what that looks like?

Johana: Yeah, definitely. What got me into competing was a friend of mine, someone I used to work with, she did a competition, and then after she was done, she was like, "Hey Johana, you should do it. I can help you." I started training with her. The first competition I did, I wasn't really into it. I just wanted to work out as if I was going to do a competition. I wasn't really into the competition itself. I didn't really follow her instructions much.

Last year ... Well, after doing the first competition, I got hooked. I really liked it. I liked the feeling being on stage and everything like that. I didn't do too bad. I'm like, hey, if I really follow what my trainer is telling me, if I really put myself into this, I know I can do a lot better. Last year, I decided to try it again. I got myself a really good trainer. I started working out really hard, eating a very restricted diet. I did really good on it. I got first place.

Dave: Congrats.

Johana: Which is awesome.

Dave: Congratulations.

Johana: Thank you. Which is awesome, but you know what, it wasn't easy. It was not easy at all. Again, the diet is very strict and the workouts are very intense. I'm glad I went through the process, but it's not something I would do very often for sure.

What Weight-Loss Results Are Realistic?

Dave: I like you pointing that piece out because I'm going to go back to Tammy's question and just in summary, she says that she wants to lose about 25 pounds for her sister's wedding in the summer, and then she cites the TV show, The Biggest Loser, and basically says, "They make these huge improvements week to week, and I see that and want to be able to do that, but is that realistic?"

You just talked about having a very restrictive diet, probably like they do on the show. What was your experience like? Do you think that getting prepared for your competition was healthy, like that's something that Tammy or other people listening could do?

Johana: Anyone can do it, but again, it takes a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice and it takes a lot of time. I started training 8 months prior to my competition. It just didn't happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work. Like I said, very restricted diet. The workouts are very, very intense. Anyone can do it, but again, you have to give yourself enough time to get there.

Anyone can get in great shape, but there will be sacrifice. What are you will to give up?

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Realistically, I think you can lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week if you do it the healthy way. You can lose more, but again, it's not going to be that healthy or it's going to be very intense that it would be hard to maintain.

Dave: That's super important. I want to hone in on that point of losing 1 to 2 pounds per week, doing it, what you call, the healthy way. When you were training for your competition, it sounds like you were all in, like this was a huge focus in your life.

The Healthy Way to Lose Weight 

Most people who are listening to this show right now, they have kids. They have jobs. They don't have time to train the way that you were training and probably to set up meals the way that you were eating. What would they have to do to lose that healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week?

Johana: Two things. Follow a healthy diet. A balanced diet consisting of lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fat. Also, the second part of that is working out. Cardio and weight training is very important too.

Dave: I know you're a big proponent of weight training. Maybe you can tell the women in the audience why they don't need to be afraid of lifting weights.

Johana: I don't know why a lot of women are so afraid to lift weights. I have a couple of friends. They work out. They go to the gym and they get on the treadmill for an hour every single day. I asked them then one day, "Hey, how come you guys don't do any weight training?" They said that they didn't do it because they don't want to get big. They don't want to look like a man. I'm like, "What are you talking about? Honestly, that doesn't happen at all."

You know what, my friends are not the only women that think that way. A lot of women are afraid of touching the weight because they think they're going to look like a man, but it's not true. I'm telling you right now, that's not true at all.

Women: If you want to lose weight, start lifting weights every single week!

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Dave: I know, quite often, we'll talk about women are afraid to lift weights, but even men, some clients that I work with will talk about, "I want to lose weight. Therefore, I need to do more and more hours of cardio." Why is weight training the ticket to weight loss?

Johana: Weight training will help you put on muscle mass. Those muscles are going to help you speed up your metabolism and it's also going to help you burn fat 24/7. Even when you're sitting down, your muscles are working for you, burning fat. They're going to help you lose weight a lot faster than if you'd run on the treadmill for hours.

Weight training allows your body to burn calories 24/7, not only while you're working out.

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Dave: That's ... What you just said there is so important. I just want to emphasize that. Everyone, please, please, please listen to what Johana is recommending here. When you go and run on a treadmill or go on a bike or an elliptical or whatever it is you're doing, you're burning calories during that time you're on that piece of equipment, but once you step off that equipment, that calorie-burning stops. Whereas, Jo, when you're lifting weights, you're, like you said, putting on muscle and then that calorie-burning continues.

Johana: Yeah. For sure.

Dave: That's great. For Tammy, again, this idea, she says she wants to lose 25 pounds. You talked about exercise, focusing on weights. I want to go back to what you said about the diet because this is really important. You said a balanced diet with protein at each meal, fat at each meal, and complex carbohydrates. What's the difference between a simple carbohydrate and a complex carbohydrate?

Johana: A complex carbohydrate will keep the body full for an extended period of time. It will help you fill fuller faster for a longer period of time.

Dave: Can you give an example, like a simple carbohydrate that's converted to blood sugar and then you get that sugar crush? What would be an example of food that maybe you notice, when you came to Canada, we eat a lot of?

Johana: Bread, pasta, crackers, all of that stuff. An example of complex carbs are sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal.

Dave: Complex carbs. Exactly. You said it bang on. It keeps you filling full longer. It won't cause a blood sugar spike, not going to create an energy crash.

I know that you're big on your protein, particularly when you're training heavily. What would be the example of protein that you eat on a breakfast or lunch or dinner?

Johana: For breakfast, I usually go for eggs, egg whites in particular, if I want to increase my protein and lower my fat intake. I will take one egg and maybe half a cup of egg whites. That would be my breakfast. Chicken breast, fish, those are good sources as well for your meals.

Don't Believe What You See in the Media - It's Not Real Life!

Dave: Johana, you were talking about how after your last competition, you had to put in such hard work in the gym and then really restricted your diet. You were saying that you actually felt like that was an unhealthy approach. Tammy, she's asking about losing this weight. Would you recommend that someone like her try and do what you were doing?

Johana: No, not at all. I didn't find it healthy at all. Again, my diet was very restricted. When the showtime came closer, my calories were very, very low. My energy level was just not good at all. My hormones got all out of whack. I didn't find that healthy at all. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody to do it just because they want to lose weight. No.

Dave: It's interesting. Chatting with you is like a glimpse behind the scenes. Quite often, we look at the covers on fitness magazines and see these women or these men that are just a walking specimen of what muscles look like. I'll post some of your pictures in the podcast notes. That's what some of your pictures look like. You can see your six-pack. All your muscles are so defined. Is that something that you think that you could sustain ongoing?

Johana: No. Not at all. No, no. That is impossible. That picture, again, that was the day of my competition and I did that photo shoot. To get ready for the competition, again, your calorie intake is very low. My fat percentage weight went so low that my hormones were out of whack. My mood will change all the time. One day, I will be happy. The next hour, I'll be crying. It was a complete roller coaster.

Having a 6-pack might look good, but it might make your life miserable!

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I do not recommend it to anybody. The way I look there is not something that I can maintain because I cannot be so restricted for so long. Women need a little bit more of a higher percentage of body fat in order for the bodies to function. Having a six-pack for a woman, to have that all the time, that's not realistic.

Dave: I absolutely love that you were saying that. I know, women in particular, but men as well, quite often, will see these fitness models and aspire to look like that. I want to review what you just said. It is not realistic to look like that all the time.

Johana: Yeah. It's impossible. I know I cannot do it for sure.

Dave: Do you mind me asking, do you have a six-pack right now?

Johana: I wish. No, I don't. I do not have one at all.

Jo vs. Dave: A Competition

Dave: This actually leads into something that Jo and I have been discussing over the last couple of days or week or so. Jo, do you want to talk about this challenge that you proposed to me?

Johana: Yes. After my competition, because I was so restricted, after finishing, I went ... I fell off the wagon. I just ate everything that crossed my way and obviously gained back some weight.

I proposed to Dave to do a 3-month challenge, where I'll be getting ready for a photo shoot. I just want to show your listeners what it takes to lose weight in a healthy way. I'm giving myself 3 months. I'm going to follow a healthy diet. I'm going to exercise. I will show you guys the results. I have challenged Dave, so I don't have to do this on my own, and I also want to kick his ass.

Dave: Just to clarify here, anyone who's listening, you probably heard me talk about this, but over the last year, I really changed my training regime to focus a ton on cardio, basically doing exactly what Jo and I were just chatting about a minute ago, as I was training for triathlons, and almost completely cut weight training out of my routine altogether. It's great for competing and being faster and all that, but from an aesthetics standpoint and even feeling fit and strong, I don't like what it did to my body. I don't like how I feel now.

I'm jumping into this competition. We're going to post before-and-after pictures. I'm going to take this scrawny, little guy and transform him into someone who's fit and strong like I would like to be. I'll show Jo how it's really done.

Johana: Bring it. I'm ready. You know you're going to lose.

Dave: We will see. The thing that I like about this is that you mentioned you're going to be sharing your exercise programs and what you've been eating. You're going to do this in what you would consider a healthy way, so not as restrictive as you did for your competition.

Johana: Exactly.

Dave: Perfect. Likewise, from a man's perspective, I'll show what I'm doing to train to transform my body, what I'm eating. Women, if you want to follow along with Jo's regime over the next 3 months, come to this podcast episode, MakeYourBodyWork.com/26. It's episode 26. MakeYourBodyWork.com/26. You'll be able to put in your email address and then get updates from myself and from Jo about what we're eating, what we're exercising. We'd love for you to follow along. Jo, you're going to come back here and give an update over the next 3 months, correct?

Johana: Correct.

Dave: Are you going to share basically everything that you're doing during the process?

Johana: Yeah. Everything I'm eating and every single exercise I'm doing at the gym. I think, every 2 weeks, we're doing an update. We are posting pictures and stuff to show people our progress as we go along.

Dave: Yeah, definitely. We start it by doing before pictures and taking measurements.

This goes to Tammy. You asked a really good question about setting expectations. Jo, she answered that. Don't look at the fitness models. That's not realistic. Don't look at what people are doing on Biggest Loser. If you're looking to lose weight, do it the healthy way.

We're going to show you how that's done. That goal of, specifically, for weight loss, 1 to 2 pounds per week, that's something that most people could achieve. We're going to try and show you how that's done. Hopefully, you'll join in with us.

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Jo, we're going to be back in 2 weeks with some updates. Before you go though, I do want to finish up with the Make Your Body Work takeaway. That's just something to tell people what's an actionable step that they could do right now. Back to Tammy's question, "I want to lose 25 pounds. I want to do it the healthy way. What can I start doing today?"

Johana: Follow a healthy diet. You can do that by just eliminating processed food. Please, please, please, please don't be afraid to lift weights at the gym. That will help you a lot and you'll see. I promise you won't look like a man. I think that would be my takeaway.

Dave: I like it, getting rid of processed food. We're getting 2 for 1. Eliminate processed food and lift weights.

Johana: Yes.

Dave: Awesome. Jo, thanks so much for being our guest today. I know, myself and everyone else, we look forward to seeing your program and your changes over the next couple of weeks.

Johana: Thanks again for having me, Dave. It's been fun.

Dave: Thanks, Johana, for joining us today. Thank you, to you, the listeners, for tuning in and hopefully learning a little bit about what happens behind the scenes on those people that we see in the media that look so fit and look like they have the ideal bodies. Well, really, what is it that they're doing? What is the sacrifice that they're making? Is that a healthy sacrifice they're making in order to look that way? Johana speaks first hand in saying, "No, that's not something that we should aspire to."

Hopefully, you'll tune in to this competition that Johana so graciously challenge me to and see what a healthy approach really is, what healthy eating can look like, and what healthy exercise can look like. Hopefully, we can inspire you to follow along and participate with us over the next 12 weeks.

Thanks again for joining me today. I look forward to see you again here next week.

Thanks for joining me today!

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  • Beate Probst

    Wow Jo you went through some ups and downs for sure but I like how you pick yourself up again and keep going, thanks for sharing and I would love to follow along. You have a great challenger on hand 🙂

    • Yeah Jo…a great challenger 😉
      (thanks for the vote of confidence Beate!)

    • Jo Dominguez

      Thanks so much Beate for listening and for your support, it means a lot!
      I do have a great challenger indeed… For that reason I’ve been pushing myself a bit harder in the last few weeks… Can’t let Dave make me look bad at the end 😉