Friday, May 16, 2008

When Weight Loss Stalls

What do you do when your weight loss stalls? Also known as a "plateau," a stall can be emotionally taxing. You are eating right, following your normally effective plan, but the pounds are just not coming off. Sometimes, there is no apparent reason for the stall. That makes it all the more frustrating! At least if you slipped and had burgers and fries, or ate too much salt, you KNOW why you are not dropping the pounds. But what do you do when you think you are doing everything right but nothing is happening on the scale?

There are lots of suggestions, advice, and "plateau-busting" plans out there to be had. Eat more. Eat less. Zig-zag your calories. Work out more intensely. Some of the advice is sound and some is not, but here is a really great thing I have discovered: It does not matter so much what you do. It matters what you DO NOT DO.

I think the critical time in any person's attempt to lose weight is when they step on the scale and see a gain, or no loss, or what they consider a "minimal" loss. Often, they hop off the scale feeling fat and frustrated, and go binge into oblivion. "This is just not worth it," they think. "I have tried SO HARD this week and I didn't even lose ANY weight! What's the point?" Well let me tell you. The point is to stop making excuses to eat junk. Stop finding reasons to quit the hard work of weight loss. You didn't lose weight? So what? You ate right. You are healthier for it. Just keep doing it. I don't remember any contract you made with your body at the beginning of this journey that said "if you eat x calories, I, The Body, promise to lose x pounds per week." It just doesn't work like that. You have a choice when you hit a stall: go off and stay fat/gain weight, or keep on going and eventually it will come off.

I have learned a lot by weighing myself every morning and charting my weight for this whole journey. I learned that I can expect to lose several pounds when I finish my "womanly cycle" each month, and then again mid-cycle. Otherwise, my body just hangs onto the weight. I usually go a week, maybe even 2 weeks each month with no loss whatsoever. I also learned that if I overeat for one day, it takes me (usually) about 3 days of eating right to correct the weight gain. So you might want to think about that the next time you want to binge. Is it worth several days of eating right JUST to get back to where you were before the binge?

So, why am I posting about a stall? You got it! I am IN one. The stats:

On May 3, I weighed 226 pounds
Today, May 16, I weigh 226 pounds!!

How annoying!! But here is where record keeping is a big plus. I can look at my weight chart and see that in fact, I got down to 225 pounds on May 6. But then three days later I was up to 230. I can look at my calorie log and see why! Those are the days I overate. And since then, I have eaten healthy. I have stayed under 1500 calories for one solid week. In fact, I only ate about 1200 calories yesterday. I would have expected that after an entire week of eating healthy, I would drop SOMETHING. But no. Today was the fifth day seeing 226 on the scale. So what will I do?

I am going to keep on doing the same things I have been doing, pretty much. Maybe increase the veggies a bit today, watch the carbs, and be sure to get my biking in. I also know that not getting enough sleep can cause your body to hang onto weight, so I will work on that tonight. Toddler-Girl has not been letting me sleep much lately. I will remember that 226 is way better than 278. I will not give up just because this is taking more time than I anticipated. That's what is REALLY important... that during a stall, you do NOT give up.

And on another note, lookie at the top of my blog page! This blog is one of the Top Ten finalists for Best Health/Fitness Blog in the Best of Blog Awards 2007! I am thrilled. When I started this blog, I never thought even 3 or 4 people would find it and read it. I never thought it would be so helpful to me, to journal my feelings and my new discoveries as I lose weight. I have come to LOVE blogging and all the wonderful people out there who read and comment. It is so enjoyable to me, and I am glad you find it helpful as well. So with that said, if you would like to vote for my blog, you can click the link at the top of the blog. You can vote once a day if you wish. Thank you for all the support. If this blog helps ONE person escape from the hellish prison of obesity along with me, it will be so worth it!

Hang in there, you're going to make it!


Sarah said...

I keep voting for you! Funny you talk about the plateau today... I was noticing your stats from the winter and you were hanging steady for three months. I've only been reading for a month or so, but was that also a stall? Or by choice, regardless, you maintained and that is so key!!!

One of the reasons I know I have been successful is my management of plateaus. One lasted 6 months at 240 and I thought, I'm done, this is it (I also felt thin there...) So there I stayed, but then my mental outlook changed changed and I got back on my way again. By then the plateau was way over and my body was cool with losing again, but it is that time that I think is key. Many people can lose weight successfully but not many can keep it off-- and that's the point. You continue to eat well and the weight will start to move again.
Keep up the good work!

Leanna said...

I forget whose blog it was on, but someone posted a 2 pictures of themselves taken about 3 months apart. Their body had changed dramatically, but they said the scale had only gone done 1 pound. It was all turning fat to muscle, which might be what you are doing now.

Are you keeping track of your measurements? My weight has only gone down 7 pounds, but I've been losing inches and look like I've lost more than I have.

Anonymous said...

lynn, i'm surprised you think no one would read your blog, b/c dang, it is just soooo informative. you have really helped me. i'm still struggling, but thank you for reminding me to never give up. also, i like how you realize what a different person you are, how you NO longer say, "oh i haven't lost weight, i'll go binge" you go girl!!!! keep up the good work!!! you're really the bomb and again, you're writing is VERY good.


Ryry the Adventurous said...

You are quite correct Lyn, lack of sleep has been found to inhibit proper glucosamine production... a study done on previously healthy subjects who had less than 6 or 7 hours undisturbed sleep for only a week produced the glucosamine levels of a prediabetic! Also...

Lack of sleep is also have found to:

Increase the level of cortisol that is released. This hormone increases a persons hunger.

Increase blood sugar levels and interfere with the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates. This leads to higher insulin levels and more fat storage.

Lowers the levels of Leptin released. Leptin is a hormone released by fat cells in the body to indicate if the body is starving or not. The body responds to low levels of leptin by increasing the craving for carbohydrates.

A long comment (sorry!) but I am a firm believer that a good night's sleep is a big cure for what ails people. :)

More about it here...

Ceres said...

Your posts are always spot on, Lyn :-) Plateaus are the ultimate test to your determination not just to lose weight, but to change your relationship with food entirely and forever.
Every time that I see no loss (or even an unexplained gain) on the scale, I tell myself "I am more than a number!". Then I look at myself in the mirror and see how different my body looks now that I've lost 17 pounds or so. That makes me proud, because I know it could have been different, I could still be as fat as I was three months ago or even worse. I made a decision to change, and I'm sticking to it. It's my job to lose this weight, like you said in the previous post. I try going about my day, watching what I eat and all, as if I hadn't seen the stupid number on the scale. What's the alternative, anyway? Going back to my old ways? No, that's not an option for me right now, I have no choice but sticking to my plan. The weight eventually comes off, sometimes sooner than others, but it always does, and then I usually drop many pounds all at once.

Heather said...

thanks for this because you are preaching to the choir! it helps to realize Im not alone. and you are so right..I may bitch but I definitely am not going to go off and binge. sure its crossed my mind because Im angry at myself. but that gets me no where. at least I can say I am doing eveyrhting I need to be doing and I guess my body will cooperate when its ready.

Dinah Soar said...

When faced with a plateau the thing to remember is we have all the time in the world to get to our weight loss goal....what's the rush?

I think if one is following a plan that is too restrictive or too low in calories, it is hard to follow for long, and a plateau will be the downfall....because there is no reward for the deprivation.

But if one is eating healthfully, enjoying some favorite foods along the way, there is no reason to quit, and a plateau is no big deal.

If we are so encompassed with weight loss that we over-focus on the end result we will lose patience with the whole process.

Also, I'm casting my votes daily for your blog! I was wanting something steaming hot and I borrowed one of your ideas and microwaved some zucchini, seasoned it with salt and pepper and butter spray and topped it with a slice of was heaven.

Hanlie said...

A well deserved nomination!

You're on the right track, no matter what the scale says.