Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Yo-Yo Scale and Its Effects on Your Brain

Here I am, back from the ocean and refreshed! I had an amazing time. I will be posting pictures and telling more about my amazing trip, but first let me give a little update.

When I left on Sunday, I weighed 217 pounds. I was determined to come back at 215 or less, because I had carefully planned out how I would eat. The day before we left, I went out and bought apples, plums, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, snap peas, asparagus, squash, onions, peppers, and low fat ranch dip. I got very lean lunch meats including turkey breast. I got light American singles cheese, low fat mayo, and a couple of cartons of unsweetened, zero-calorie plain green tea. I knew we would have burgers one night and bratwursts one night but no biggie, I would have ONE plus all my produce and be fine. I also got whole grain light corn chips and fresh salsa. What a contrast to my usual camping fare of bags of chips, Cheetos, Doritos, sour cream, cheese, cookies and candy bars. Okay I admit I brought some Lorna Doone cookies too! But no sodas. No 2-pound bags of M&M's. No trail mix.

So off we went to our beach camping vacation. It was a nice peaceful time, just the kids and I (and the dog) and nature. I ate LOADS of veggies with just a bit of the low fat dip. I ate fruit. I ate turkey. I used low fat mayo. I did not overeat. However, one day we were out and about and stopped for pizza. I only ate ONE small slice of cheese pizza (and it WAS small), and a small piece of calzone. I did a lot of walking (which I will write about later) and I think I had to burn lots of calories doing that. I ate my mostly healthy food and enjoyed a campfire smore or two as well. On the last day, we went out to breakfast and I got a real treat: pancakes (2 small), bacon (2), and eggs (2). We were so full that we skipped lunch. We found a little candy shop that I remember going to in the past. I remember the last time we went there. That time, I left with about a pound of mixed chocolates, 2 pounds of fudge, and assorted other sugary treats FOR MYSELF. This time I got myself a few chocolates, maybe 5. When I was eating them I decided they weren't all that good and gave them to my son. For dinner I got a mushroom burger and a small order of onions rings and a Pepsi. That was the last day there, and I wanted a splurge since I had done pretty well all week.

So with that said, how do you think I did?

I got home. In the morning I weighed. When I left, I weighed 217. Five days later, I weighed... 224. UGH. How can a person gain 7 pounds in 5 days when they are eating 80% healthy? Not binging? Burning a lot of calories? I absolutely do not get it. Every time I post that I had some big gain like this, I get comments where people tell me it is not "real" weight, it is water, it is the sugar or the carbs or the salt. But you know what? Water or not, it is REAL to me. And since it takes days or weeks to remove from my body, it definitely affects me physically. Don't get the wrong idea. I am not depressed or even discouraged. I am not "letting the scale rule my life." I am keeping tabs on my weight, and trying to see an overall downward trend. But this crazy yo-yoing has got to stop!

It seems to me that a "normal" person could eat like this and maintain their weight. Why is it that I can eat healthy for 2 weeks, drop a couple pounds, then have one meal at Dairy Queen and regain ALL of the weight? I dunno. But it just tells me I have to fight harder. Really, a person my size who is trying to LOSE weight has no business in a candy shop at all. Has no reason to eat a burger and onion rings, ever. Truly. I tell myself sometimes that I deserve a splurge, or I should have a little treat sometimes or else I will rebel against the strictness of my healthy eating. Well frankly I think that is just an excuse (for me). Maybe it works for some people but for me, not so much. Here's my proof.

May 29: 224 pounds. This was a new low for me!
June 1: 219 pounds. All my hard work was paying off!
June 7: 225. Ooops! Had a splurge.
June 11: 220. Took me 4 days to work off that splurge...
June 16: 224. Ooops! Another little splurge...
June 19: 219. Took me 3 days to re-lose that 5 pounds...
June 24: 221. Oopsy, up another 2 pounds, better refocus...
July 4: 215. Hard work, no splurges. Paying off.
July 9: 222. Yikes! Splurged a little for the 4th of July, and leftovers, and a birthday... up 7 pounds in 5 days.
July 12: 217. Took me 3 days to re-lose 5 of those pounds.
July 19: 224. Up 7 pounds in 5 days... again.

Yes. It was water retention, it was salt, it was carbs, it was not "real weight." But it WAS real weight, because look at the net result!
May 29: 224
July 19: 224

However, I resist the urge to say that I "wasted" nearly 2 months yo-yoing around, because any time traveled on this path is not wasted. It is valuable. It is educational. I DID exercise regularly and eat healthy MOST of the time. And surely I am stronger (in many ways) now than I was in May. And finally, the light bulb has come on. I AM going to crack down and do this. You ARE going to see a good loss in the next 2 months. I am going to get this weight off me. No cheeseburger, onion ring, or Lorna Doone cookie is going to stop me.

Do not let your yo-yoing scale trip you up and make you think you are a failure. This IS doable. There is too much of a tendency to see a gain on the scale and then flip out and eat the world, throwing up your hands and crying, "I worked SO HARD! And then ONE slip-up and I gain! It isn't worth it! It's impossible! I may as well just EAT!" You're wrong. Don't give up. You can do this. And as life is a journey, so is losing weight. It is the journey that is life... that is this thing we call "losing weight." Do not focus so much on the destination or you will miss out on all the hard work that builds character and strength in you.

Charting your weight is beneficial, because you can see what works and what doesn't. Whether you weigh daily, weekly or monthly doesn't matter so much... just do what works for you. But if the overall trend in NOT downward, something has to change. So change it. It is in your power. It is ALL up to you.

Let's do this thing!


Joy's Journey in Weightloss said...

Been there done that! The loss will show up on the scale next week. Maybe you did not drink enough water for all of the activity. Keep on keeping on. You will have a great result next week that will make up for this week. Where we lose focus is to get upset with one weigh in and say screw it (which I have done before a zillion times). You will be at 215 before you know it!!

spunkysuzi said...

I'm at the same point it bothers me a bit but i don't let it get to me. I can also gain 5 lbs from one day to the next (at least on the scale) and some times i just shake my head and don't have a clue why ;)
Have a great week!!

Granna said...

This sounds so familiar. We just returned from a week at the beach. I have lost about 70 pounds. I really and truly and honestly thought I had done great. I only had one small splurge and we only ate out 2 times. Healthy eating all the rest of the time, with NO snacking and I came back home, weighed, and was up 7 pounds! That means I would have had to consume like 3500 extra calories each day, so I knew logically that it was a fluke, but no matter how many times I stepped on and off the scales, those pounds were there. It has only taken a week to get back to where I was, and this week at WW I was down 1.6 pounds from 2 weeks ago, but every day I feel like I have stepped backwards, it is a downer. Just a lurker!

new*me said...

Glad you are back......I missed your posts. I was going to say the same thing as Joy...maybe not enough water. I know when I am out of my regular environment, I don't drinks as much water because I want to avoid millions of trips to the bathroom. My advice......drink lots of water, get in a few good workouts. I know the weight looks real and feels real to's got to be a downer....but it will be right off and I hope it is by tomorrow ;)

Marshmallow said...

When you gain weight, you gain fat cells. When you lose weight, you don't lose the fat cells, they just shrink. That's why the yo-yoing is painful, it's something that we're doomed to struggle against forever, and that's why thin people who have never been fat don't really 'get it' about gaining weight that easily.

That being said, it sounded like you had a great time :-D Take the recuperated you and get back into the swing of things!

Great to have you back :-D

ryry the adventurous said...

Omg, I am right there with you. I totally busted my butt last week with very little results. It's not going to stop me from continuing to bust my butt, but it seems to be a thankless job at the moment!

Either way, I am so glad you had a great time at the ocean. :)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear how you felt at the beach this year compared to previous trips. Was it easier to move around and chase after the kids? Were you able to do more? Were you more active than in times past? What were your victories on this trip? Thanks.

Heather said...

glad you had a great time! dont worry too much...its not "real" weight gain, its just because you ate more than you usually are eating with some indulgences. it happens to me, and sure, I freak sometimes, but it goes away, and I know your weight will drop back down. it sounds like you made great choices while you were gone and enjoyed yourself. focus on that rather than the weighin. trips are hard, and since I will have taken 4 trips by August, I certainly know how it affects the scale (and your mind for that matter). but you know you are doing great so focus on the great time you and staying on track.

Ceres said...

Hi Lyn,
thanks for your comment on my blog! I yo-yo like crazy, I'm just used to it. I weighed 4 pounds higher today than my all-time low, which was all the way back on July 12th! :-(
I must admit that I have a natural tendency to update my blog when I have a new low... Believe me, though, most days I am constant or see a gain. Then, all of a sudden, there's a big drop or 2 pounds or so, and then some yo-yo-ing again, although in a lower weight range. My point is, you should take a look on your progress overall and convince yourself of the clear downward trend! You went out of your normal schedule, you shocked your body, so it reacted by storing water or carbs or whatever, who cares? The weight will come off when you go back to regular eating, but you didn't need me to tell you this. You had written in a previous blog entry some time ago that it's not like you signed a contract with your body about how much weight you will lose per week :-) I liked that, and I kept it in my mind. So should you :-)
Missed you lots, by the way, I'm glad you're back!

PamW said...

Dear Lyn,
I found your blog right after July 4 weekend when I was looking for encouragement after gaining back over the weekend. I just finished reading from the beginning and want you to know that I admire your strength and determination. I have cried with you and have heard you put a voice to the same pain that I feel in dealing with this weight. You are an inspiration to me and today's words were once again what I needed after plateauing again. My scale has been stubborn and up and down for the last week even though I stayed within my planned calorie count. This journey will be long one and I am glad to see you leading the way. Your words and the responses here encourage me to keep on trying and to realize that this will be a long journey, but it will be worth it.

Dinah Soar said...

I know how you feel--and it sucks...but...we can't change the way our body responds to eating/ we must accept, adapt and move forward...which is exactly what you have done/are doing. Way to go!!! We just inch forward, learning from our setbacks and eventually we'll get the job done.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be the fly in the ointment it seems but it's done with respect as I'm a heavy lady with some questions about my own eating.

Here's what I see:

-snap peas
-zero-cal green tea
-low fat ranch dip
-lean lunch meat
-and the salsa I'm not sure about... not sure how it's made.

Not so great:
-low fat mayo
-whole grain light corn chips
-Lorna Doone cookies
-5 chocolates
-mushroom burger
-onion rings

Although your second list isn't that big and you only ate a small amount of the items there, as well as the fact you were probably moving around a lot more than usual since you were on a trip, it's pretty clear where the extra pounds came from.

This is NOT a judgment on your progress and I agree you're determined and no doubt it'll all come right back off. But here's what worries me: As a heavy person, if I don't exist solely on veggies and no-calorie drinks, if I don't watch every single bite I put into my mouth and be on guard 24/7/365, can I expect the same?

How reasonable is it to assume we're going to be perfect all the time, especially when we're on holiday? I mean, that's what a holiday is supposed to be, right?

I also wonder if a thin person would've skipped the urge to indulge a little while on vacation. I think not. I think they would've probably eaten much as you did - a bite here, a bite there.

What makes our bodies different, I'm speculating, is the tendency through years of eating badly, low metabolism, maybe some broken inner mechanism, whatever, to pack the pounds back on at the slightest opportunity. This is the intimidating thing about lifestyle change to me. Not that it can't be done or is difficult initially, but that I'm going to be fighting *myself*, my own body, for the rest of my life just to be a normal weight.

And that makes me wonder further... are naturally thin people fighting this same battle although not acknowleging it as a battle?

Questions, questions...


Jill said...


I am wondering if you've had your thyroid checked? I was recently diagnosed with a thyroid disorder which has had a huge impact on how my metabolism works (doesn't work is more like it) and makes it near impossible to lose weight. I'm working with my docs to correct the problem, but in the meantime just maintaining (and not gaining) is what I'm working for.

If anyone out there is having trouble losing when you're truly working hard - do get your thyroid checked. It's easily overlooked by docs (my first doc said it must be salt intake), but once diagnosed can be life-changing.

Lyn said...

Thanks Jill, a good point. I did have my thyroid checked and everything looked normal. But I agree, it is an important step to take if you are having a hard time losing weight.

For me the real "test" that showed me the problem was taking a few days and writing down everything I ate. It didn't take long for me to realise I was eating far too much for my body.

Twix said...

I've been doing this for months!

This was educational. Thanks! :)

Olivia said...


I really enjoyed this post because it ties in well with a book I just read about what"real" food is. And although I truly believe that we are responsible for our actions I do have to wonder if you would have gained that much back if you had made the burger(organic) and onion rings yourself? I do believe that some of it is us but I think that some of the responsibility does lie on the poor quality FDA approved food provided to our society. It may be interesting to conduct some sort of experiment to see which food, the organic good quality homemade version or the fast food version causes the most weight gain.

Again, wonderful post. I absolutely love your blog. :)

Christa said...

Thanks for the post. Even though I hate that you gained, I've been in that exact same mindset and felt very lonely. This post reminds me that I'm not alone. And while it would be easy to dwell on the gain you did have positives. No more of the big binges that vacation used to be--you made concious food choices, don't forget that!