General Diet Plans and Questions - hitting a plateau way too soon

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05-27-2011, 01:21 PM
hi everyone. i'm new here! :) i'll give a bit of background first..

i've been struggling with my weight for year and years. my highest weight was 240lbs (i'm 5'7), my last successful weight loss was 20 lbs in 2009. i was moderately successful with keeping it off, but i did bounce up and down a bit and just before my most recent effort had gained almost 10 of the 20 lbs back.

well a few months ago i started trying again at almost 230. when i'm "off the wagon" i eat awful, i binge like crazy and have generally poor eating habits. when i lost the 20 lbs in 2009 i wasn't working so i had a lot of time to pay attention to what and when i ate. i'll admit i didn't exercise a lot. i would eat small meals every 2-3 hours as is recommended and i was really successful with losing about 4-5 lbs a month. it took me a little over 4 months to lose the weight.

so when i decided to start losing weight and get healthy again, i started with trying to eat mostly things like lean cuisines to get myself back in the habit of good portion sizes. i got down to 220 about a month ago and have since stayed there. i got sick of the frozen dinners, especially because i know the sodium is outrageous. i try to drink a reasonable amount of water, but i'm guilty of not getting as much as i should.

after my initial small loss (which could have been water weight mostly) i haven't moved, in fact the scale has been creeping up about 2 lbs as of the past week or so.

i started eating on my own this past week, with checking my own portions and counting calories. i've been working with between 1,200 and 1,400 calories. but sticking closer to 1,200. i don't have the ability to eat as many small meals as i have a job now, but i bring a lunch from home and eat a moderate dinner with snacks in between. my only fault is that i haven't been eating breakfast lately (which starting yesterday i started doing again hoping that maybe that was the problem)

i know that i should be getting more exercise but i'm really finding it hard to believe that i can go from eating 2,500++ calories before to a little over 1,200 and the scale is just not moving!

is this something normal that will pass? was it maybe my lack of breakfast? i know i'm getting older so my metabolism is changing, but i'm just getting so frustrated and discouraged.

05-27-2011, 01:32 PM
Welcome to 3FC =)

At 5'7" and 220 pounds it's likely that you could actually eat more than 1,200 calories to lose weight. Are you counting & measuring diligently, as well? Or just eyeballing?

You don't necessarily have to eat every 2-3 hours to lose weight. But, if you like smaller meals more often, then adjust as best as possible as you have. Try to eat breakfast, though. Doesn't matter what it is. If you aren't terribly hungry, have a yogurt or piece of toast or a hardboiled egg.

Exercise can be anything from a light walk to a full blown workout at the gym, or anything in between. Don't let it be intimidating. Any movement is better than no extra movement.

I would ignore the word metabolism and focus more on what's in your control. This is a long-term process and it might take a little while to figure out what's right for your body and your lifestyle.

If you haven't kept a strict food journal, you may want to buckle down and start one. (Or use an online one) to help see patterns or note where improvements could be made through your days.

Regardless, keep at it. You'll find the key that works for you and it'll be worth it!

05-27-2011, 01:33 PM

Lots of people will have great advice for you. I wanted to chime in quickly though about your meal frequency and times. In short: don't sweat them. The advice to eat every 2-3 hours is an old dietary myth and not one that has ever really been proven to directly contribute to weight loss. Some people prefer to eat frequently to help stay within their caloric limit, which is great, but you definitely do not need to adopt this as a prerequisite for weight loss.

Lack of breakfast, unless it leads you to binge later on which it sounds like it's not doing, will also not prevent weight loss. There is a pretty devoted group of people here who do not eat breakfast in order to only eat during a narrower window of time during the day for all sorts of metabolic reasons who can explain more if you are interested :D

The questions to start off with that everyone will probably ask is :
1. How do you know you are eating 1200 a day? Are you eyeballing or measuring or weighing? If the answer is either of the latter, it may be time to move towards weighing food to absolutely ensure accuracy.

2. How much processed food are you intaking? Many people here (myself included) do not do well eating Lean Cuisines or other processed foods. Switching to whole, fresh foods may make a world of difference.

3. How are your macronutrient levels (protein/fat/carbs)? A lot of people find great success lowering their carbs and ramping up protein and fat.

4. How much sodium are you getting and how much water are you drinking? It's possible you are eating too much sodium and your body is holding on to water, which is masking a loss.

Just a few places to start a conversation. good luck!!

05-29-2011, 03:10 AM
I'm also wondering if you are eating too few calories so your body is holding on to the weight.

06-01-2011, 02:54 PM
thanks for the responses ladies, and sorry for the late reply.
i count calories/check portions pretty diligently, pretty much everything i eat comes in some sort of package where i can find out and the portion size and go from there..

now that i no longer am eating the lean cuisines i haven't been measuring my sodium intake but i know it has dropped significantly.

i think i might be headed out of the plateau. i'm almost wondering if maybe my body was just readjusting to quitting the frozen food diet and going to a more normal diet.

and i think you're right in saying that i just need to figure out what works for my body. i'm learning that i don't need to eat as frequently if what i eat is filled with a lot more protein, so i've been trying to eat more things like chicken and almonds and such.

i haven't weighed myself in a few days, i'm trying to give my brain a break from stressing about it (i have a tendency to weigh myself way too often) and hopefully when i get back on i'll see some good news.

i also agree that it's possible i was not eating enough calories some days, and i'm working on trying to feel less guilty about increasing my calorie intake sometimes.

so, we'll see. thanks for all the advice!

06-01-2011, 03:10 PM
"pretty much everything i eat comes in some sort of package where i can find out and the portion size and go from there"

Right there is what is wrong. You must be eating mostly processed foods and they equal junk. Try eating lean meat, fish or poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and you will feel better and do better at weight loss.

06-01-2011, 07:10 PM
I agree that eating all the processed foods can be hampering the weight loss. Do some clean eating - all fresh fruits and veggies and lots of lean protein and see how that works.


06-02-2011, 12:06 PM
i cook a lot of chicken ahead of time and eat it throughout the week. i don't see how eating cooked chicken in a low fat wrap with bagged lettuce and a serving of low fat dressing is eating all processed foods? most of that stuff comes in a package with nutrition info?
i also don't understand how eating more processed food should be hindering weight loss when the basic premise of weight loss is calories in/calories out? or am i wrong?

06-02-2011, 12:33 PM
Hi, sadira,

I wouldn't worry too much about where your calories come from. I eat "clean" 95% of the time, from vegetables and meats I grow myself, and I prepare everything from scratch. That includes yogurt, cheeses, pastas and breads (though I don't eat much pasta or bread these days, and limited cheese as well). I lose weight -- and hit plateaus -- just as readily with the "clean" eating as with the "junk" eating. No question sodium can wreak havoc, but it's just water weight and will resolve sooner or later.

A calorie is a calorie, although their nutritional contribution to your overall health may differ, and calories derived from one kind of food over another may be much more satisfying (protein v. carbohydrate, e.g.).

Bodies are weird things. They do what they want when they want. Like you, I've hit an early plateau... been hovering between the same 2 pounds for over a month, despite eating and exercising just the same as when I was losing an average of 1 1/2 pounds a week. Crazy. I just keep on doing what I know I need to do and believe I will ultimately prevail.

Best to you. Sometimes patience is our best weapon!


06-02-2011, 12:53 PM
thank so much. i think i just need to keep tweaking things to figure out what works for me (and maybe throw in a little more exercise) and just not let myself quit just because i'm hitting a problem.