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Can we talk about plateaus?

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Old 01-04-2010, 12:24 PM   #1
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Default Can we talk about plateaus?

Ugh, you guys, this is not the way I hoped to start the new year. I am, as you know if you've seen any of my recent comments, rocking a plateau that's going on three months now. I've done a lot of things to try to shake it up, but my body is being just as stubborn as it can be, and no matter what I try, the scale keeps sticking firmly at 155. Except when it bounces up to 157, of course. Every once in a blue moon it'll go all the way down to 152 for a day, just to mess with my head, but then the next day I'm right back up to 155.

I don't post a lot, so maybe you don't know that this happens to me every 30 pounds or so. The first plateau lasted a year. A full year. I finally gave up a decade of vegetarianism to get the scale to budge.

This time I've upped my exercise so much that I am literally burning about 1000 calories a day just from workouts, according to my heart rate monitor. I've been lifting fairly heavily, which probably accounts for some water retention/muscle gain, but not this horrendous plateau. Upping my cardio more hasn't done the trick either.

So I'm terrified to do it, but I'm upping my calories from ~1500 a day to ~1800. It's scary! Dropping them to 1300 hasn't worked, though, and if I do go that low I just feel terrible all the time because I don't have enough fuel to keep up with my vigorous workouts. (Currently I'm doing P90X and Insanity simultaneously. It is no joke, let me tell you.)

Anyway, the scale went up two pounds this morning and my immediate reaction was 'OMG must reduce calories!' But I'm going to give it a week, maybe stay off the scale for awhile, and see if upping my calories makes any difference at all. If my weight continues going up, well, I'll reassess. I don't want to see 160 again, I really don't. But I don't know what else to do.

My point? I don't really have one. I just wanted to gnash my teeth for awhile over how hard I'm working and how stubborn my body is being. I'm in the best physical condition of my life to date, yet I am carrying around 40 extra pounds of fat that refuses to budge. My before and after pictures after 30 days of doing this weight training program show no real difference. I'm trying not to get discouraged, but it's hard.

So if you're stuck too, come tell me about it. It'll be like a mini support group. Something has to give eventually, that's what I keep telling myself. I'm just hoping it doesn't take a whole year this time.
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:56 PM   #2
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I'd be terrified too, but if it could be the answer it's absolutely worth a shot. I just want to say how much I admire you, Caroline. Most people would throw in the towel, but you keep going - working out, eating right. That's commitment! I think you're awesome.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:38 PM   #3
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Well, I'm stuck too!!!

I'm wondering with you if you may not be converting fat to muscle if you are working out that much.

Do you use a body fat % scale or do you have access to body fat testing (with calipers?)

I get that the scale isn't going down, but you yourself say that you're in the best shape of your life....so maybe some of that is fat to muscle conversion?

Also, have you had blood work done lately? There's always the possibility of a thyroid issue playing into the slow loss.

I've been thinking about having mine checked, as I think I'm the only perimenopausal fat lady in American who is always cold!

I've also upped my workout routine recently, and I can't believe that I'm actually doing RUNNING intervals. And yet I bounce, from 229 to 232 up and down.

I know that the set point theory has been more or less debunked, but I know that I tend to stick at weights that I tend to stick at, and I weighed 230 for a long time before I started shooting up. (my stick weights: 151, 161, 173, 231, 251, 272...)

I think it's a good idea to up your calories-- with the amount of exercise you're getting 1300 sounds low!

I really admire your stick-to-itiveness and it makes me feel like I can hold through a lousy month if you had to stick through a WHOLE YEAR!
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Old 01-04-2010, 03:24 PM   #4
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Thanks very much to both of you! It's just so nice to be able to come here and talk about it with people who *get* it, you know? My sister and I work out together, and she tries to understand, but she's always been 'the thin one', so it's hard for her.

I think the worst part is that I'm so carb-sensitive that any little extra carbs in my diet, even whole grains, just make me gain and gain. So I don't eat many carbs that aren't vegetable-based, and I'm usually hungry all the time. Veggies just don't fill me up for long for some reason (even if I eat a whole pan of collards, which I have been known to do.)

Ubergirl, I definitely think some of it is muscle. And some of the water retention has to be my muscle repairing itself. The rest...well, my sister-the-exercise-physiologist's theory is that I've been in starvation mode for so long that my body has no idea what to do anymore. So hopefully upping my calories drastically will do the trick. If not...well. I am committed to this lifestyle because I enjoy being fit, but it would sure be nice if some more weight would come off!

I've talked to my doctor about this and she says my thyroid is fine, but you know they never do the right tests. So if I continue to plateau I'm going to have to go back in and push for more tests, or maybe call an endocrinologist, because I suspect that's where the real problem lies. It's just frustrating to have come so far only to get stuck *just* above the 'overweight' category.

Anyway, thanks again. Ubergirl, WTG on the running! Stick with it; it really makes you drop weight. I bet you'll bust through your plateau any day now with the intervals added into your routine. I've been punking out on running myself lately because it's so cold out, but I need to suck it up and just do it. Running is honestly the best weight loss exercise I've found, and I've tried pretty much everything at this point.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:17 PM   #5
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First off, I commend you on your stick-to-it-ness. Getting frustrated and quitting altogether would give you a major gain instead of a maintain. It doesn't hurt to test the theory that your body is holding back because of fear of starvation. I hope it does the trick. It just might.

I too have a skinny sister that gives me advice. Don't you love that?! If it helps, I am not sitting here swilling full-sugar pop and munching on potato chips while wearing a size two as I type this (or maybe that is just MY sister. Lol)

I like the suggestion of checking thyroid. It wouldn't hurt to check pituitary (which regulates thyroid) too. With the carbs sensitivity, are you diabetic? That could affect hormone balance and make it harder on you.

If this doesn't work, I know that you will persist and find something that does work.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by lovemyboy View Post
I too have a skinny sister that gives me advice. Don't you love that?! If it helps, I am not sitting here swilling full-sugar pop and munching on potato chips while wearing a size two as I type this (or maybe that is just MY sister. Lol)

I like the suggestion of checking thyroid. It wouldn't hurt to check pituitary (which regulates thyroid) too. With the carbs sensitivity, are you diabetic? That could affect hormone balance and make it harder on you.
LOL! My sister is a fitness professional, at least, so she gets paid (or used to, anyway) to give people weight loss advice. And she practices what she preaches, for the most part. In fact, she is always lecturing me about overtraining. Which she's right about, but I honestly don't know what else to do.

Funnily enough, I am not diabetic. You'd think I would be, considering all the women on my dad's side of the family are, but my blood sugars are always perfect, even at my high weight. I suspect PCOS or some sort of hidden thyroid issue, but I haven't pursued a diagnosis because I have friends with PCOS and the meds don't really make it much easier for them to lose weight. If I can't break this plateau I'll have to bite the bullet, though.

The last time I talked to my GP her solution was Ephedrine, which broke my last plateau, but as soon as I stopped taking it, I got stuck again. I do wonder if there's a correlation there, but I really don't want to get back on it.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:29 PM   #7
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Oh boy, you seem to be experiencing exactly the same rhing I did a few years back , when I was lifting. My plateau lasted for a year or so,I kept getting smaller and tighter, but the scale just kept going up and down two pounds either way. Finally I let it get the best of me, gave up and all the pounds just started hopping on.....
Eating a bit more is probably a good move, and... I don't know if this works for you, but it might help to weigh less often. Sometimes the scale isn't the best measure of progress
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:43 PM   #8
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yup yup yup, I've been stuck stuck stuck for a long time. From my high of 196, once I got my thyroid medication, I lost 30 lbs easily, then ground to a screach halt. I've been pounding on that 150 barrier for YEARS. Hit it once but can't maintain it. Trying again.

My body just does not want to give this weight up. I will do well, get to 152, and GET REALLY HUNGRY. And I am not good at being hungry. I'm really good at maintaining my weight without too much worry. But getting it off is a whole nother thing.

I've been uping my dance practice and being more precise about my monitering, and resigned myself to it coming off s-l-o-w-l-y.

The thyroid thing really does impact and it's really much more complicated than calories in, calories out. Which your experience shows.

Good luck, persevere. This is a great and much needed thread.

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Old 01-04-2010, 09:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by marigrace View Post
Oh boy, you seem to be experiencing exactly the same rhing I did a few years back , when I was lifting. My plateau lasted for a year or so,I kept getting smaller and tighter, but the scale just kept going up and down two pounds either way. Finally I let it get the best of me, gave up and all the pounds just started hopping on.....
Eating a bit more is probably a good move, and... I don't know if this works for you, but it might help to weigh less often. Sometimes the scale isn't the best measure of progress
I am going to try to stay off the scale for a little while. My problem with that is I generally let it become an excuse to loosen up on my eating plan, and then I get back on the scale to find a gain. But this time I'm tracking my calories so carefully that I don't think that'll happen. Time will tell!

If I was tightening up much I wouldn't be quite so frustrated, but I haven't really seen a difference in inches either. It's pretty annoying.

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My body just does not want to give this weight up. I will do well, get to 152, and GET REALLY HUNGRY. And I am not good at being hungry. I'm really good at maintaining my weight without too much worry. But getting it off is a whole nother thing.
THIS. Exactly. I'm great at maintaining too, as long as I keep working out hard, but getting the weight to come off is a constant uphill battle. So frustrating!

I'm terrible at being hungry too, and the only thing that ever makes me feel not hungry is carbs. Which, of course, make me gain weight.
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:47 PM   #10
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Tracking the calories works for me. Even if you don't weigh in too often... as long as you get the calories right the rest seems to work out ok.
You got me thinking about exercise again, Caroline....I can't seem to get motivated with that right now, but I know it is the right thing to do....maybe tomorow... getting late... think I'll watch a movie on Hulu, now.....
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:05 PM   #11
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Yes we can talk about plateaus... but why would we want to? lolz!!!! Just kidding Before Christmas I was experiencing my very first REAL plateau. It remains to be seen whether it's been broken or not... ask me in a couple of weeks.

However what I AM doing is trying lower calories, more exercise, journal ling every single bite and getting in all my water. once I do that? It's out of my freaking hands.
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:10 PM   #12
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If I was tightening up much I wouldn't be quite so frustrated, but I haven't really seen a difference in inches either. It's pretty annoying.
I'm always amazed by the people who say they are compacting, or whatever it is that you do that makes you feel smaller even though you haven't actually dropped pounds.

I NEVER see any change unless I drop pounds. And my waist, which is my problem area, can sometimes bloat right back to 45", where I started... I don't know if it's gas (yikes!) or that my abdominal muscles don't support as well at night, but I do know that I LOOK LIKE A BROODMARE a lot of the time.

I've never stayed on a healthy eating plan long enough to have this happen...
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SUCCESS WITHOUT KRYPTONITE!
First Mini-Goal: 260 by vacation.
met 7/25/14
Second Mini-goal 240.5 Half of regain gone.
Third mini-goal below 230 by the end of 2014
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:22 PM   #13
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I'm in the middle of a plateau right now, but not for as long as you're experiencing. My heart really goes out to you. Your workouts sound intense. I was wondering if you've tried calorie cycling? You can Google it and a lot of people have good results with this, as long as it doesn't trigger binge eating in them. I think it's a good way of shocking the body and it sounds like your body might respond to a little shock. I'm completely brain storming, but do you think that since you're not running anymore, that has slowed things down? Also, I find that I burn about 1,000 calories at the gym, but that really doesn't make a difference which makes me think that all those numbers are wrong. It doesn't matter because I don't tap into those calories with my food, and it sound like you don't either. My question is: do you still keep active the rest of the day? I find that when I'm sedentary (aside from my kick butt workouts), I don't quite get the same results as when I'm active all day long. I even try to workout a bit while watching t.v....even if it's just lying on my back and doing air bicycle movements with my legs. It's not "cool," but it gets the blood pumping and I kind of feel like having the blood going at unexpected times of the day makes things move a long better.

Finally, are you (pardon the question) going to the bathroom properly? I hate to ask this question, but it's important. Even if people go every day, they might not be doing enough, so that can make things worse too. I thought I'd just mention it.

I hope you figure it out. Either way, I think you're such a fighter and so committed and it's very admirable. Hang in there. Like you said, it took you a whole year to get over a plateau in the past and maybe you're up against that kind of a challenge again, but you will persevere in the end..you already have!
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:42 PM   #14
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This is coming from the 266 pound woman mind you so please do not let me offend! Maybe your body likes 150? My doctor asked me lately when I asked her what my reasonable goal weight would be, "What is the weight your body went to naturally before you started to diet?" Mine was 175lbs. Definitely "fat" by the BMI but it seemed easy to stick at. (of course I was 22 years old!)
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:06 AM   #15
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Yes we can talk about plateaus... but why would we want to? lolz!!!! Just kidding Before Christmas I was experiencing my very first REAL plateau. It remains to be seen whether it's been broken or not... ask me in a couple of weeks.

However what I AM doing is trying lower calories, more exercise, journal ling every single bite and getting in all my water. once I do that? It's out of my freaking hands.
True. And wise words. We can only change what we do. We can't change what happens.
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End of 2014 Challenge

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.--Winston Churchill

SUCCESS WITHOUT KRYPTONITE!
First Mini-Goal: 260 by vacation.
met 7/25/14
Second Mini-goal 240.5 Half of regain gone.
Third mini-goal below 230 by the end of 2014
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