Weight Loss Support - Stuck in a plateau and giving up

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05-07-2005, 03:05 PM
I started my diet at the start of this year, weighing in at 165 lbs. I have since lost 30 lbs and am currently 135 lbs. But I've hit a plateau and have found myself eating more and exercising less. I've yo-yo dieted my entire life and have never been lighter than 135 lbs. (I must have gained and lost the same 30 lbs. about 5+ over the course of my dieting career!! :o ) At 5' 2", I could stand to lose another 30 lbs. but just can't seem to budge the scale! Any advice on what I should do differently? When I'm not discouraged, I try to do 70 minutes of cardio a day, and strength train 2-3 times a week. I eat a healthy breakfast (grape nut cereal w/ soy milk or yogurt) and lunch (turkey sandwich), but have found myself binging lately during dinner. :( I need help!!!

05-07-2005, 03:27 PM
I've hit a couple of plateaus as well and know how frustrating they are. What has gotten me through them and kept me moving was, first of all, knowing that it would pass eventually. Secondly, and probably most important, was knowing that even if I never lost another ounce I was still better off than when I started. So, yes, I want to reach my goal weight of 135 (I'm 5'2" as well, by the way) but the bottom line is that I'd rather be stuck forever at 157 than make my way back to 214. And the only way to keep that from happening is to keep exercising and continue to watch what I eat.

I also find that it helps to mix up my routine - diet and exercise. Sometimes it has gotten the scales moving in the right direction again, sometimes not. Either way I find myself more motivated because I'm not bored with it all. During a plateau I dread eating the same things, doing the same exercies, only to still not see the scale budge. At least with a new routine I can have the attitude that even if my weight doesn't change I am satisfied with having tried new things.

Finally, if you haven't already, have your measurements and/or body fat ratio taken. This is always helpful in showing results that the scale just can't measure. I think it is a good idea to do from the beginning of a program but absolutely critical during the final stages of one. The more fit you become the less accurate the number on the scale is going to be in terms of progress.

Please don't give up yet! Good luck.

05-07-2005, 08:58 PM
Hi Purplebanana,
I was stuck on that plateau for about 3 years. What finally broke it was 100% compliance on the food plan, and flipping the amount of time spent on weights vs. cardio. They only way the scale (and pants-o-meter) budged for me once I got to about 135, was eating 5 small meals a day, NEVER cheating (ok....once in a while), lifting heavy 5 days per week (different body part each day) and doing about 1/2 hour cardio 3-4 times a week. Once I did that, another 11 pounds came off fairly quickly. I'm 5'3" and currently wearing a very loose size 4 or tight size 2 (I still don't believe that!). Lots of muscle instead of fat is a wonderful thing!


05-07-2005, 11:49 PM
hey Purplebanana, you're actually AT my goal weight haha and I too have been experiencing the same problem you have .. this plateu has gotten me so down I've been eating muffins and cookies again *yikes* but these ladies have given you some awesome advice that I will be taking as well ... on plan starting right NOW!
thanks jawsmom and Mel :)

05-08-2005, 06:27 AM
Don't give up! My weightloss usually goes; lose 14lbs, in about 2 months, plateau for 10 months, lose 14lbs, plateau, lose 14lbs plateau! You get the picture! So don't give up! It will come off when it's ready! Just keep doing what you're doing and try mixing it up, and try to get all your water! Water is my friend, it's recently shifting my plateau even when I'm eating pizza and chips :o

You'll get there in the end ;)

05-08-2005, 10:18 AM
Actually, the closer you get to goal, the less you can get away with those pizza and chips :p They really hold the water, too, and will make you feel horrible if you aren't used to eating that way. I find that dipping into candy, ice cream, or chips, adds about 3 pounds which despite the math, takes about a week and a half of perfect eating for my body to "let go of". I don't intend to live my life without ever having a treat, but the effects sure make me think about whether mindless munching is worth it. I'd much rather save those treats for good food on real occasions ;)


05-08-2005, 12:19 PM
I agree Mel. I have found, too, that with the last 25 pounds I am trying to lose, that I have to work my rear end off with the weights and cardio...and I have to not only watch my calories-but cut out the junk almost entirely.
I have to really watch the special occasions now too-and really only indulge on very special ones-like my birthday and Christmas.

purplebanana-at 5'2" I think you really have to think about whether or not 105 pounds is an "ideal" weight for you, and whether it is attainable. Like Mel stated-she is a size 2/4 at 128 pounds, and only an inch taller than you. I wouldn't get so hung up on the scale. If you are exercising properly, and really challenging yourself during your exercise-you should see progress over time in the way clothes fit, and in your measurements.

05-08-2005, 12:55 PM
Aphil, I couldn't agree more. 105 pounds is very low for someone 5'2". I have more LEAN body mass than that! BTW, I'm 124 pounds, 128 was my goal. Those 4 pounds made the difference between the size fours and the very loose size fours and twos.

At 105 pounds, your lean body mass is probably going to be in the 90-95 pound range. That's pretty tiny, and not enough muscle to maintain healthy bones. How old are you? Another factor to consider is if you have been overweight for any length of time, depending on your age and skin condition, you may find that at 105, you don't have enough muscle or fat volume to fill your skin. You don't necessarily want the fat volume :dizzy: , it's definitely a trade-off, but 105 does seem pretty low!

05-08-2005, 02:16 PM
Thanks for the posts/replies everyone!! I appreciate it. I wish I could reply as quickly as everyone. Well, I recently turned 24 and have been struggling with my weight my entire life. I don't know if 105 lbs seems too low for me at 5'2". All the BMI calculators I've used and weight charts out there say I should be between that and 125 lbs or so!! I should stop reading these diet articles. They all tell me different things and a lot of times they contradict each other. (i.e. it doesn't matter what time of day you eat, longer easy workouts v. shorter intense workouts, lifting heavier weights v. lighter weights with more reps, etc...you get the point!!!)

05-09-2005, 01:24 PM
BMI is CRAP. BMI is just another way to define "ideal weight range" and it doesn't even take into account age, gender, or frame like most of the doctors' charts do! The ONLY reliable way to tell if you are at a good weight is to have your body composition tested. This will tell you how much lean mass you have relative to fat. If your fat % is in the 18% to 25% range, that's considered healthy. Some women can get below that and still be healthy.

Even if you still feel discouraged, don't give up. Plateaus happen, and it can take a long time to break through them, as Mel said. Instead of seeing this as a black/white issue -- you're either "dieting" or you "give up" -- see it as a continuum. Change your vocabulary. OK, so let's say you're weary of the constant struggle of working to lose weight, you're tired of those numbers staying stuck. That's OK, it happens to a lot of people. Instead of talking about giving up, though, talk about maintaining. If you give up, sooner or later you're going to regain the weight. However, if you switch from "weight loss mode" to "maintenance mode" you'll still keep your healthy habits, you won't regain the lost weight, and you'll be in a prime position to re-enter weight loss mode when you feel refreshed and re-energized, ready to tackle things again.

The way we talk to ourselves is very powerful, so take care with the words you use. Your mindset is your greatest ally, or your greatest enemy, it's up to you.

05-10-2005, 01:50 AM
Thanks for that funniegrrl. It makes a lot of sense...and I am SO glad to hear that BMI is crap!! Haha. Where would one go to get a body composition test? How much does it cost? I have to admit my mentality about dieting and the way I talk to myself about how I look can be changed. I guess I shouldn't be so hard on myself, but it's hard not to when you've always been the "fat" one and when your own mother reminds you constantly that when she was my age (prior to having children) she was a petite 98 lbs. Arghhh! So frustrating I tell ya. Anyway, it's late I need sleep so I can get up early for my workout tomorrow. I redeemed myself today for working out for 70 minutes after a couch-potatoe-like-weekend...!

05-10-2005, 09:17 AM
Purplebanana, I know exactly what you mean about your mother! For years my mom has been telling me "when I was your age, I was 120 lbs, and I'm two inches taller than you!" I'm like, that's great Mom, but now you're overweight too, and you raised me on junk food!

Hang in there, the plateau will end someday! BTW, the BMI range means that if you have a very small frame (usually measured by the width of your elbow or something) then the bottom weight (I guess 105 in this case) is the bare minimum weight to be healthy. Also, if you have a large frame, then the top of the range is the maximum. Shooting for the middle of the BMI range is probably the best (though like others said, body composition is more telling).

05-10-2005, 11:43 AM
I hit two plateaus. What worked both times was to change my exercise and counting my calories.

If I was predominately running, I would change to bicycling and ellipticals, do aerobics on some days, added more weights, etc. In addition, I started not just eating right, but watching calories a bit and played with them. I eat about 5 or 6 smaller meals a day rather than 3 main meals. So if I had ate a lot one day and needed to stay within the calorie range I was shooting for, I had to plan my later meals around that and opt for foods extremely low in calories. I would decrease my calories and try it for about a week. If I still didn't have a loss, I'd reduce them a little more. Finally I broke the plateau and started losing again.

05-10-2005, 10:35 PM
Paperclippy: You know exactly how I feel! Thank goodness someone out there has a crazy mother. I'm not alone. Hahahaha...jk ;) I've decided that even if it takes the rest of 2005 to just lose 5 lbs, it'll be worth it. *Sigh* The hours I'll be putting into my elliptical machine! Makes me wanna curl up on the couch with a bag of chips. But no! That's what got me in this predicament in the first place!! Must stay strong...

Almostheaven: I am already counting calories and I definitely try not to eat under 1200 calories a day. The problem is I'm diligent Monday - Thursday. But once Friday hits, it's all over. I eat a lot and work out considerably less! I'm beginning to loathe weekends as much as I do dieting. Haha ;) So, how long did each of your plateau's last? Weren't you discouraged when the scale didn't move? I can't seem to get over my disappointment after weeks of exercise and not seeing the scale nudge a bit! But you've done amazing on your weight loss, so thanks for the advice and you're an inspiration!!! :)

05-10-2005, 10:56 PM
If you want the weight to go and stay off, you have to stop thinking about "dieting". Maintenance doesn't look much different from how you live when you lose weight.

The problem is I'm diligent Monday - Thursday. But once Friday hits, it's all over. I eat a lot and work out considerably less! I'm beginning to loathe weekends as much as I do dieting.

You need to change that mindset, and your plateau will be gone and you'll have no trouble maintaining at your goal weight. As long as you loathe the way you are living, it's not going to work in the long run. I'd really suggest you take some time and read Ann Fletcher's Thin for Life, or go to the Maintenance forum and read the 10 discussion threads that we had about the book earlier this year. Meg gave a great synopsis of each chapter, then a lot of us at or near goal weight posted about our experiences on whatever the chapter topic was. It was really surprising to me how closely most successful losers and maintainers experiences mirrored each others. And keeping it off is what's really important.

As you said, even if it takes the rest of 2005 to lose another 5 pounds, it's worth it. But you need to learn a way to live without loathing it :)


05-10-2005, 11:48 PM
Well, I just kept doing what I'd been doing, just the lifestyle change, and I was maintaining the weight, just not losing it. So the by the time I realized I wasn't losing anymore and was ready to shake it up, did shake it up, and actually started losing again, probably a couple of months each time. I stalled out at 170 and then again at 150. And I'd been so used to dropping around 5 pounds a week initially. I had dropped down to around 2 pounds a week before I finally reached 170 though.

The more one weighs, the more they're likely to lose at first. As you lose, it simply gets harder and you might have to start changing things around and just experimenting. Giving each change a week or two in order to actually see if it's going to make a difference. To keep from getting discouraged during this time, you keep reminding yourself that you're NOT gaining.

And sometimes...we just need a break for that little bit and may not be inclined to pour it on strong to pass that plateau. I know I was completely satisfied with getting to 170. I still wanted to lose, but I wasn't in any hurry and didn't worry about pushing it at that point. So I just let it sit, and after a couple of months, a renewed interest just cropped up and I added the calorie counting and stepped up my exercises.

05-11-2005, 12:05 AM

I'm definitely working on changing my mindset about "dieting". I've heard time and time again that I shouldn't even use the word dieting anymore and to consider it a lifestyle change. I guess somewhere inside me I wish I could get to that ideal weight and never worry about it again. *sigh* But I know that's just wishful thinking...I'll get over it!!! ;)

I also looked into that book you recommended (on Amazon) and it looks good. The next time I head to a bookstore I'll be sure to pick it up. Thanks!! :)

05-11-2005, 10:53 AM
This is funny, your thread tittle could have been written by me this morning. But you Cannot give up. If you give up then you will undo all the hard work you have already done. Just stick with it and before long the scales will budge.

05-11-2005, 11:08 AM
you've gotten a lot of good advice already- so just want to share my experience- I hit "mini-plateaus" every 5 lbs or so now... I just broke through last couple of weeks from 176. now I'm at 173 and I'm sure I'll bounce around there for a few weeks 172-174 and then one day it'll be 170 and bounce along 170-173ish. My body fat % is 28.8% so I'm getting healthier, just a little bit more to go for me!

just have to stick with it- and YES! this is for life! unless you want to go back where you were, you need to change your thinking. you're "eating healthier" now instead of "dieting"

05-11-2005, 03:49 PM
Nonster & KandiceS: Thanks for the words of encouragement! :) I will definitely keep trying and moving along with the maintenance of my weight if the scale doesn't budge. I guess my new hobby can be counting how many weeks this plateau will last. Hahaha ;)

05-16-2005, 02:37 PM
i am having a real problem...how do you find your answer to a question...how do you find a board..how to you post something and find it. if you answer this question where do i go to find the answer that you sent... my e mail is tpuglio@comcast.net i just am having a real hard time with this and how to get my weight chart to appear. thanks ..anyone

05-16-2005, 10:34 PM
Have you given thought to your body being happy at 135? For being 5'2", 135 is actually a good weight. I am 5'3" and my top weight should be 141 and I can't Wait to be that again!

05-17-2005, 02:15 AM

I know! I've heard that before too, but when I look in the mirror, all I see is FAT!!! GRR! I am working on it and am currently maintaining my weight unless my body decides to give and lose more weight. haha :lol: We'll see how it goes. I really wouldn't mind losing more though, but who doesn't right...*Sigh...

05-17-2005, 08:25 AM
Something to ponder...if the weight your body decides that 135 is going to be it's natural weight-maybe it is time to stop trying to gain more progress on the scale-and rather progress in your fitness level.
If you increase the intensity of your workouts you can become fitter and leaner and stay around the same weight-your body will just have more definition and less body fat.

05-17-2005, 11:02 AM

I will try to increase my intensity workout! This summer is looking promising. I'll have more free time to devote to exercise. Besides, I think my body has completely adapted to my daily elliptical routine.

I KNOW I need to strength train, but every time I start, I stop because I can't stand doing it. I feel like I'm wasting time because I don't really feel much different afterwards. I was using two, 8lb free weights to work out my biceps, triceps, and shoulders, but after a few weeks, the soreness stopped and it just didn't feel like I was doing anything for myself. It's probably weird that some people find cardio on a machine to be "boring" because I feel that way about lifting weights!!

05-17-2005, 11:21 AM
When you strength train, you should be lifting to failure for the ultimate progress. This can be done by either lifting heavier weights in shorter sets, or it can be done by using lighter weights in a longer routine. Your muscles are different sizes and strengths, so when you get serious about it you will find that you need different weights for different areas. I lift much heavier with my biceps (and now my triceps!!!) than I do for my shoulders.
If you aren't "feeling anything" you either are not doing the exercises with proper form/technique to properly isolate the individual muscles (it DOES make a huge difference!!!), you are not doing enough repetitions, or you are lifting too low of a weight. You should really be struggling to squeeze out the last couple repetitions with proper form.
Are you just "lifting them" and doing an exercise or two for your arms and shoulders...or are when you strength train are you following a routine of some sort that is laid out-or a video-and are you strength training your entire body-or just the arms and shoulders?
Knowing a little more about what you are actually doing will help me to guage how to help you.
I can tell you this though-I have done cardio for a long time and I still do it to burn calories-but strength training has done the most for the appearance of my body. My shoulders have good shape to them...my abs have definition lines...cardio never did that for me.
I hope that I can help you further. :)

05-17-2005, 11:48 AM

Well, I'm not sure if this counts as a routine, but when I actually muster enough will power to strength train, I use my two 8 lb dumb bells and workout my biceps, triceps, and shoulders. I do 15 sets/15 repetitions for my triceps, 50 sets/20 repetitions for biceps, but can only do about 10 sets/10 repetition for shoulders. When I follow this routine, I actually DO get fatigued by the end of each set, but I'm not sore or don't feel or notice any difference the day (or days) after. I guess I shouldn't use soreness as a means to measure progress, but I've always thought of it that way because that means my muscles are tearing and need a day or two to repair while I'm sore! I also aim to do this routine 2/week but have been slacked off for WEEKS now (again, because of lack of progress or maybe I'm just doing it all wrong!)

Anyway, I'm not sure if I explained that correctly or if it makes any sense, but I don't belong to a gym (own an elliptical at home) so it makes it hard to do any more than using my dumb bells. Is joining a gym the only way I will get a "full" strength training workout?