If my increasing weight is causing problems (and I am at high risk of getting problems, e.g. cardiovascular, my doctor said) - what are the fastest, most effective and most "urgent" steps to take to reverse the weight gain and become healthy again?

I know there are lots of things like "do steadily", but I am in a great health scare, I have symptoms in the heart... I really want to get healthy and fit again as fast as possible.

Please help

  • 1
    If you have heart symptoms, you need to get a nutrition, exercise and stress reduction plan from your medical doctor. Ask your doctor for a safe exercise target heart rate so that you exercise safely. Feb 19, 2014 at 11:13
  • If you are truly at significantly great risk of health problems, you need to speak to your doctor about getting a fitness and nutrition plan. Otherwise, there are lots of great answers to this question already on this site, including the one linked above. May 2, 2014 at 15:54

4 Answers 4


Not sure why this is getting downvoted, but there is no surefire, fast, "urgent" way to get healthy.

There are no shortcuts to becoming healthy or fit.

Thinking otherwise is dangerous.

This is also a very difficult question to answer, because it's vague.

But the bottom line is, eat healthy, and become more active. Learn more about healthy nutrition from reliable (Not Dr. Oz) sources. Learn what your body should be consuming-remember that it doesn't have to be bland to be good for you.

And if you're sitting on the couch for more than an hour a day without budging, for the love of Pete get up and start walking.

Sitting is the new smoking. Keep that in mind. Sedentarism kills.

Find an evidenced-based personal trainer that focuses on health. Trainers that focus on "feeling the burn" may not be a good choice for you. Talk to cardiac rehab centers for references. Talk to local community colleges. Try out the YMCA-health based training is better than most for your particular situation. You need quality help.


You didn't get to where you are overnight. Why do you think that it is possible to reverse the damage quickly?

One of the most dangerous things you can do to your health is to make sudden and drastic changes in your level of physical activity in an attempt to compensate for years of poor habits. Engaging in a strenuous exercise regimen without physician supervision is a significant risk factor for acute or life-threatening injuries (e.g., stroke, heart attack).

However, that is not to say you should not make any changes: clearly, you do have to break your bad habits, become more active, and improve your diet. Push yourself, but not too hard: lasting weight loss takes time, contrary to the reality TV messages that Americans are bombarded with on a daily basis. Why does it take time? Because weight loss is fundamentally about making lasting lifestyle changes, and habits are not things you can break in a month or two and consider yourself "cured." It takes years of consistency to demonstrate you've overcome them, and put in their place healthier coping mechanisms.

Diet is always the first thing to look at when dealing with obesity. Eliminate--and I really do mean eliminate, as in zero, none--all refined sugar, especially anything that contains high fructose corn syrup. You cannot have anything that has sugar added to it (aka cane sugar, HFCS, fructose, sucrose). Any sugars you do eat must occur naturally in the food itself; e.g., fruits, vegetables, milk. Absolutely NO soda, diet or otherwise. No fruit juices! Drink water instead. First thing in the morning after you wake up, drink two glasses of water. Some degree of caloric restriction is necessary, but it is difficult to do this unless you count your calories. Cutting out carbohydrates in general (aka "Atkins" or "Paleo") is not needed. You can have bread and pasta--as long as it doesn't have added sugar. Eat more fiber.

Exercising in a gym is actually not important in the beginning stages. Just walking a few miles a day would be enough exertion to get you to increase your metabolism. The mistake that a lot of people make at the beginning is that they think they need to hit the gym hard--but they burn out, injure themselves, and suffer pain, all the while ignoring the fact they're consuming so many calories they would need to exercise for 8 hours a day every day to offset that caloric surplus.

Finally, you need regular medical supervision. This process will suck at first, and you will probably feel really crappy, tired, and irritable, but that will last only a few weeks until your body adjusts. Make it past that initial adjustment period and you will find you'll have more energy, and you will have lost weight. Then ramp up the difficulty and walk longer distances, keep up your diet with the goal of eliminating processed foods, and your body will figure out that it needs to continually adapt by losing more and more weight.

  • Respectfully I disagree on your recommendation regarding refined sugars. He doesn't need to completely cut out refined sugar to succeed. Small steps to ensure success. The only molecules that would be considered somewhat off limits are trans fats. You're also demonizing HFCS and sugars in general without providing solid evidence as to why. I would also strongly disagree with your recommendation regarding fruit juice. Real 100% fruit juice is completely fine. Feb 21, 2014 at 16:56
  • There is abundant evidence of the problems with refined sugars and HFCS. Watch Professor Robert Lustig's presentation, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth": youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM and read the book he mentions, "Pure, White, and Deadly": sheldonsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/… which proposed the connection between sugar and obesity that was only later supported by research into metabolic disorders.
    – heropup
    Feb 21, 2014 at 17:02
  • I am familiar with Dr. Lustig's body of work, and almost all studies he cites are not longitudinal or relevant when translated to human health. He's good at marketing his body of work, but his body of work isn't particularly groundbreaking. Feb 21, 2014 at 17:06
  • If you won't find credible a UCSF professor of pediatric endocrinology, someone whose research background investigates the exact metabolic pathways that are involved in insulin resistance, then I suggest it is you who does not have the solid evidence to back up your claims. You sound exactly like a shill for the soda/corn industry. It is not about "groundbreaking" results, but rather, correct models of how food affects our bodies.
    – heropup
    Feb 21, 2014 at 17:06
  • What are you proposing? That increased amounts of glucose in the bloodstream will lead to increased insulin resistance? That's basic human biology-you don't need to be an endocrinologist to understand that, and I don't understand what pediatrics has to do with that. HFCS is a misnomer-most are 60/40 fructose/glucose anyway. Feb 21, 2014 at 17:13

First, talk to your doctor. You need to know what your current health state is before deciding what kind of exercises you can perform.
Second, update your nutrition. There are lots of nutritional information on the Internet; however, essentially, it's vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and lots of water.
Finally, the exercises; those are vital for your weight-loss and overall well-being. You can start with basic walking. Make walking part of your daily routine. Use the elevators and cars less (unless it's not a walking distance).

You might need to join a fitness group also, mainly for moral support (because you'll likely need it).

Don't join a gym; it's a waste of time and funds; make your home a gym (not with equipment and such, but with knowing that every object in it is a potential weight lifting object for you).

If you can, volunteer as well (especially for manual labor duties).

Lastly, it's a marathon....not a sprint. You won't lose the weight in one day.

  • Mmm...it's not worth a downvote, but saying not to join a gym is impractical. Just wandering around your house hoisting random furniture won't do much, and there is no consideration for instruction or proper form both of which you can get at a gym.
    – JohnP
    Feb 20, 2014 at 15:16
  • @JohnP from personal and anecdotal experiences, more people lose weight (within a timeline) without joining a gym. You are much more likely to lose weight following a program than just hitting the gym. Feb 20, 2014 at 15:22
  • personal and anecdotal = broscience. I know quite a few people that hired a nutritionist, trainer and followed a program at the gym to lose their weight. Can you without joining a gym? Yes. Can you with joining a gym? Yes. Most of it is going to depend on the personality of the person, and whether they have the mentality to go it on their own.
    – JohnP
    Feb 20, 2014 at 16:50
  • @JohnP Exactly my point.....it's not a requirement (and they shouldn't think that it is). And for those starting to work out, going to the gym frequently is one of the deterring factors for them. Feb 20, 2014 at 17:02

For a start, take a look at your diet, track the amount of calorie you intake. You need to make a diet plan, and make sure you stick to it.

  • You can start this by avoiding junk foods(McDonalds, KFC, BurgerKing, chips, fries, cola, etc.)

  • Ever time you buy a food make sure you read the label. For now just keep in mind that food you buy (per 100g) should not contain more than 10g fat and 10g added sugar.

  • Also, make sure you drink plenty of water. At least 3 litres a day. See benefits [here].2

  • And, the key to loosing fat is speeding up your metabolism. So, make sure you eat at around 6 meals a day, about the size of a fist.

  • Finally, make sure you stay active, start this by walking around half an hour a day. After you feel comfortable start jogging, you can also join a gym nearby and start working with light weights.

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