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week94When The Biggest Loser contestant Rachel Frederickson won Season 15 of the television reality show, the public and the media went on a frenzy – her weight loss gone too far. During the taping of the show and the three months proceeding, the voice-over artist from Los Angeles dropped from 260 to an unrecognizable 105 pounds to claim the season’s crown and $250,000 cash prize. Her astonishing 155-pound weight lost, equivalent to 59.62% of her starting body weight, was achieved from daily six hours workouts and limiting her diet to 1,600 calories a day.

At 5’4” and 105 pounds, 24-year-old Rachel is now the exact same size of me. So of course, I will disagree with the self-claim body critics who will say she’s too thin and that she is anorexic. I like my size. And I think Rachel looks great! I believe it’s perhaps more about the shock of going from an unhealthy, obese body size to where she is today in the rapid speed of time to complete. In just under eight months. Wow! Now that is motivation and discipline. Or is it insanity and starvation?

To be fair, a swift weight loss can occur when a person of obese size stops eating poorly, frequently, and in overly amounts with little or no exercise in their day-to-day life and instead switches to eating wisely and healthy with the right foods in the right amounts and with an exercise program approved by their physician or personal trainer. The pounds can drop off. Easily 10 or more a week initially, depending on your starting size, and less as time passes. And of course, results are even quicker when you are on a national television show and have the constant support and guidance from a personal trainer and dietician.

So for those who aren’t cast on a weight lose show, what is a good rule of thumb to follow when it comes to losing weight? How much is too much and how much is too little? How much should you lose versus can lose?

There is no perfect answer to these questions since there are several baseline factors to consider. Starting weight. Goal weight. Metabolism. Genetics. Health conditions. Diet restrictions. Discipline. Exercise regimen. Support system. Lifestyle. Environment. And more.

However, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, your goal should be just one to two pounds a week. That’s all. It may not sound like a lot, but remain patient, dedicated, and consistent and you will see your hard work will pay off over time. Plus losing weight at a slow steady pace reduces the risk of unwanted side effects and increases the likelihood that you will be able to keep the weight off long term, like with The Biggest Loser Season 1 winner Ryan Benson, who started at 330, dropped to 208 and is now at 300 and Season 3 winner Erik Chopin, who began at 407, plummeted to 193 and is back up to 368.

Rapid weight loss is unhealthy and ineffective. It can cause dehydration, fatigue, dry skin and nails, hair loss, bloating, constipation, gallstones, iron and nutrient deficiencies, mineral loss, liver damage, heart disease, osteoporosis, and more. And if you are losing more than a couple of pounds a week, your body perceives it’s in starvation and will start burning muscle for needed fuel and energy. With less muscle mass, your metabolism automatically slows down and burns fewer calories.

As with any weight loss plan, consult with your primary physician first and request a complete physical before dieting. He or she can help you select a diet plan that is right for you and the correct amount of calories. Discuss an exercise program that is appropriate for your age, existing, fitness level, and goal. Finally, keep a dairy to help with your own personal weight loss journey. Track your daily food intakes and times along with the triggers that cause you to want to eat outside your meals and snacks. Document your exercise regimen, nightly hours of sleep, and your daily stress levels. Collectively, this will reveal your best recipe for your weight loss.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.