100 lb. Club - Plateaus and maintenance




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Suezeeque
10-25-2009, 06:29 PM
The human body is an efficient machine and it seems that when we lose weight it is busily working away to maintain itself with fewer and fewer calories. At first we lose fast (water being shed from Glycogen stores), then we start to burn fat (not as much water) and weight loss slows, and then we replenish our glycogen stores and may actually gain (water). Then at six months our intake and outgo can reach equilibrium (our body has adjusted it's energy needs to match our intake) and we plateau. A plateau is defined as I recall as no weight loss for six weeks. :devil: It's at this point that scientists are somewhat baffled. Since our body will fight to stay at it's "set point" (the weight you keep going back to +) studies show that the best thing to do is to maintain at your plateau weight for about a month purposely to try to reset your set point and stop your body from agressively trying to get back to the original set point. This probably means increasing calorie intake. Then proceed with reduced calories again. And they recommend boosting excerise a little. There is evidence that people who haven't lost weight use more calories than we fatties AT THE SAME WEIGHT. Now if that isn't unfair I don't know what is. Anecdotal evidence from the Weight Loss Registry says that after 3-4 years maintaining at your desired weight your body will take that as your pemanent set point and stop fighting to regain weight. they basically say "it gets easier" to maintain, but not like someone who was never overweight to begin with.

I'm six weeks on reduced calories right now and I've been going up and down 1-2 lbs for a week. The water levels are fluctuating I guess. I'm 15lbs from my set point which as near as I can figure after all these years is around 280lbs. I always seem to go back to that weight whenever I lose; I have gained more sometimes but I can usually get back around there before I start having trouble losing.

So, that means that if and when I plateau that I need to increase my calories to maintain at that weight! and do that for a month. I have to trick my body. Oh boy. As long as I continue on reduced calories my body will fight losing any more. I'm trying to stay ahead of the game beause I know being at a plateau is a dangerous time and usually means falling off the wagon.

So, I'll have to think about this. It seems counterintuitive doesn't it? When I was 34 years old I didn't have this problem. I lost a steady 15lbs a month for about 5-6 months, then it slowed to 10lb a month and then once under 150lbs, 5lbs a month and gradually 2-3 lbs a month. But over 2-3 years I gradually went back up to 280lbs and danced around there for years. I'm getting older and running out of time and I want to maintain my weight loss this time. I guess I'm going to have to rethink all the old ideas about weight loss, esp those that they espouse on programs like the Big Loser and Dietribe where the advice there is really screwed up and is more for a TV program than anything to do with reality. They say eating grapes is bad for god's sake (too much sugar). What a crock. Plus they know that these people are losing mostly water, which accounts for the huge losses at first. Plus they are pushing them with overexercising to burn inordinate amounts of calories. And they are giving them food advice which is not healthy in the long run. Then, they all branch out and stat writing books and selling stuff with their names on them like they are some magic weight-loss guru. It's all so deceptive and commercial in the guise of helping people. I'm surprised that the AMA hasn't criticized these programs which are seen by millions who believe this stuff. No one goes back a few years later to see how these people have done. I'm sure they have all gained it back and more because it's inevitable.

Okay, I'm stepping down from my bandbox now. :)

My goal is to get into the Weight Loss Registry as one of those who loses and maintains permanently. And to be part of their study so other overweight people can be helped on a real level.


rockinrobin
10-25-2009, 06:53 PM
I personally don't believe in set points.

It is not a given that someone HAS to have a plateau. I didn't and I know there are plenty of others with the same experience.

I think lots of plateaus, certainly not all as has been witnessed here at 3FC, but many of them are due to the fact that people become complacent, have splurge meals or days and become lax in their food plan. An extra few nibbles here, a few unaccounted for bites there.

Keep on going, tweak that plan as need be, don't stop and you WILL get to your goal. :)

bargoo
10-25-2009, 06:55 PM
I am at goal and my weight generally varies 2 pounds or so for no apparent reason. That's OK. As a maintmainer I WANT to plateau , how well I remember the days when the scale would'nt move. Now I am deliriously happy if it stays at my goal weight.


catherinef
10-25-2009, 07:09 PM
I almost hate to say this, because I can be superstitious sometimes, but I haven't plateaued yet, in 14 months and 150 pounds lost. I've stalled occasionally, for a week or two, and my rate of loss has dropped off sharply from the days when I was losing 12-15 pounds a month, but nothing like a 6 week plateau. Usually I come off a stall with a couple of days of big losses, and as long as I know I'm not getting sloppy with my eating, or it isn't related to my menstrual cycle, I try very hard not to sweat it too much. I think that's just my usual weight-loss pattern.

Now watch me hit a plateau, because I opened my big mouth. ;)

garnetrising
10-25-2009, 07:30 PM
Just because you didn't hit a plateau, Robin, doesn't mean that other people don't hit plateaus that have nothing to do with how well they are maintaining their exercise and eating regimes.

Personally, I think the concept of set points that Suezee presented makes sense. If you're eaten too many or too few calories for most of your life, it makes sense that your body and your metabolism will fight you at certain points. It can do so because it thinks you're going into starvation mode. You're working against everything you've taught it up to that point. Conditioning your body to know that 1600 calories isn't starving if you've lived off of a 2600 calorie diet for 15 years or that today's isn't the only day you'll see 1900 calories if you've been lucky to get in 1200 calories in the past is a process and processes can't always be solved simply but continuing to plug away with your current plan. Bodies grow and change and mature and for some people, that means they'll hit a plateau. Perhaps not the medical 6-week plateau, but a plateau nonetheless.

rockinrobin
10-25-2009, 07:40 PM
Just because you didn't hit a plateau, Robin, doesn't mean that other people don't hit plateaus that have nothing to do with how well they are maintaining their exercise and eating regimes.


Well of course it doesn't mean that. Of course. Of course. Of course. Which is exactly why I mentioned that in my original post.

keepnsane
10-25-2009, 08:35 PM
I wish I knew this when I plateued for 6 months!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just got discouraged & then you can guess the rest....I have to start all over!
Thanks for the post, I hope it helps others.
Also, if you ever plateau think "If I never lose another pound at least I'm better than I was" & maintain what you have lost if nothing else.

bargoo
10-25-2009, 10:50 PM
catherinef is the one who said she had not hit a plateau. I believe she was only expressing her personal experience.

Suezeeque
10-26-2009, 12:41 AM
Kudos to those who never hit a plateau. And, as I said, I never hit one years ago when I lost 130lbs. There always seem to be frequent posts on here about having hit a plateau and so I did a little research to maybe encourage some people who are going through this and to help myself if it happens to me. Maybe there are people who get complacent about counting calories or let up on their exercise; but, to those or you who have remained true to your eating plan and exercise, know that if you keep at it eventually it will work. Nothing against you RockinRobin; I know you are a hardliner and that food addicts do have a long list of excuses whey they don't lose sometimes. But, in studies where the subjects are closely monitored they have found the theory of set point to seem to account for why body weight in general seems to plateau after 6 months and why our body fights so hard to regain the weight we have lost. To me, information is power. If your experience is different, they can't argue with that. And I wouldn't. And it wasn't my experience when I was 34. So, we'll see this time.

Suezeeque
10-26-2009, 12:53 AM
I am at goal and my weight generally varies 2 pounds or so for no apparent reason. That's OK. As a maintmainer I WANT to plateau , how well I remember the days when the scale would'nt move. Now I am deliriously happy if it stays at my goal weight.

I hope you don't mind my asking, but is it true for you, like the experience from the Weight Registry seems to indicate, that as time passes it gets easier to maintain? How long have you been at goal? Three to four years has to go by according to them before your body accepts the new weight. What do you think?

garnetrising
10-26-2009, 01:15 AM
Bargoo -

I personally don't believe in set points.

It is not a given that someone HAS to have a plateau. I didn't and I know there are plenty of others with the same experience.

:)

JulieJ08
10-26-2009, 01:16 AM
I find it curious that in the event of plateau, they advise maintaining for a month to reset your setpoint, but then advise that it takes 3-4 years after reaching goal to reset your setpoint. Not that there couldn't be explanations for that, but on the face of it, it's an unexplained contradiction.

rockinrobin
10-26-2009, 01:17 AM
I wasn't looking for kudos when mentioning that I (or many others) haven't hit a plateau. You mentioned a theory, I mentioned what has been the case with me (and many others). Plateaus are not a given. There I said it again ;). We are here expressing different views, experiences, practices, approaches, etc.

And it wasn't my experience when I was 34. So, we'll see this time.

As for set points, when I was a young adult the lowest I ever got was in the high 130's. So I set my goal weight at 135, believing that I could never get lower then that. Lo and behold, at age 43, with different eating habits and exercise, I was able to smash that number to bits.

Here is a fascinating and informative article on why it is so hard to maintain ones weight:

http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/747134-post1.html

For the reduced morbidly obese, it most certainly may be (is) more difficult to maintain ones weight, but it is doable. And I'm with you Suezeequee, knowledge is power. And having this little nugget of information keeps me that much more on my toes. I will have to be ever vigilant. No problem. The rewards are THAT worth it.

And I just realized what your name spells out. So cute! Suzy-q. Love it! Looking forward to hearing of your continued progress and success. :)

bargoo
10-26-2009, 12:07 PM
I hope you don't mind my asking, but is it true for you, like the experience from the Weight Registry seems to indicate, that as time passes it gets easier to maintain? How long have you been at goal? Three to four years has to go by according to them before your body accepts the new weight. What do you think?
I have been at goal for 22 months, and I still count calories . I don't know if it is easier to maintain, I doubt it. If I expect to maintain my loss , I have to plan for that. As I said I still count calories, still plan my meals . still keep a food diary. I am not rigid about it, but find I cannot forget to do these things or I will start gaining. This is a minor inconvenience to what it would be if I regained my weight and have to start over.

waquilter
10-26-2009, 12:38 PM
Well said rockinrobin & bargoo. Although I'm not at goal, I find if I DON't keep a food journal and DON'T exercise, it's way too easy to let the little "extras" start creeping back into my daily life. I have to keep myself accountable, and I can't see that changing anytime soon.

ubergirl
10-26-2009, 01:31 PM
I am not at goal, but I do have a background in science and health, and so when I first came on to this site and saw numerous references to "starvation mode"... etc. I felt a healthy skepticism.

So I did a little research myself, and I did not find exactly what Suzeeque found.

One: the "set point" theory of weight was popular at one moment in time, but it has not borne scientific scrutiny. This idea, largely outmoded now, believed that we were born with an inherent set point and that if our weight deviated above or below that point, the body would make metabolic adjustments to fight to get back to that point. This is an appealing theory, and one that I used to believe in. I remember being "set" at 151... and about ten years later, I thought I was "set" at 251.

But, it turns out that there is nothing magical or "set" about a weight that we tend to hover around. It just means that we are keeping our input and output at roughly the same amount for a given period of time.

When my weight was 151 I was a high school varsity athlete on a rigorous training schedule. I was seventeen, and I had a very active lifestyle where I walked everywhere.

When my weight was 251, I had largely sedentary lifestyle, drove everywhere and had a tenacious binge-eating habit.

My lifetime tendency has been to continuously out eat my caloric needs so that my pattern has always been one of slow to moderate gain. My weight was higher at 28, higher again at 38, highest at 48. True, I hovered at certain weights for longer periods of time, but the cause of the gain was pretty obvious. Higher caloric intake, lower metabolism due to age, and progressively more sedentary lifestyle.

All of the research that I've done on "starvation mode" indicates that the theory was derived from some studies of hunger that were done after WWII. In those studies, it was found that once people reached such a low body weight that they had no more fat to burn, the metabolism would reset lower in order to spare muscle. There was NO INDICATION that this same mechanism occurred in people who still had abundant fat stores to burn. Even if there is a modest slowing of metabolism, the calorie deficit is still more significant than any metabolic difference. That is why people are able to lose weight.

Our body is designed to store fat and then burn it in times of hunger.

I can see why the idea of increasing calories to lose weight would appeal to obese people!

We are purposely restricting our calories, an act that is not natural to humans-- we are basically exercising mind over matter, using our intellect to overcome our natural desires. This is NEVER an easy thing to do.

But, I have not yet been able to see any compelling scientific data to indicate that increasing calories would accelerate weight loss.

If anyone has a good reference for that, I'd love to see it.