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I just started an exercise program. Is it possible to lose five pounds per week? If so, what should I do, and how often should I go to the gym?

Q: I just started an exercise program. Is it possible to lose five pounds per week? If so, what should I do, and how often should I go to the gym?

A: 

Five pounds per week is an aggressive, unrealistic, and unhealthy weight-loss goal. You did not put all the weight on in one month, so you should not expect to lose it all in one month either! As a general rule, you should aim for 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week.

Weight loss and weight maintenance are long-term commitments. To lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, you'll need to eliminate 500 to 1,000 calories from your daily diet as well as engage in regular physical activity. You don't need to join a gym; walking is great exercise. Over the course of a few weeks, you'll want to work your way up to 30 minutes of exercise per day at least five days a week. When you start feeling comfortable doing 30 minutes a day, begin to add more exercises and activities, and build toward 45 minutes to an hour of exercise, five days a week.

Your primary exercise should be aerobic in nature — for example, walking, stationary cycling, or swimming. You should also add 2 hours a week of strength training (weight lifting), it will also help you with weight loss.

Before you start a new exercise program, it's always a good idea to check with your doctor — especially if you have any medical conditions. 

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