Weight Loss Support - Help! Desperately Need Some Answers, I'm Perplexed

10-30-2006, 02:01 PM
Hi everyone. I just got back from seeing my nutritionist. All is well, I'm down another 7 1/2 lbs from 13 days ago.

My problem is this: I've been going to her for about 7 weeks now. She's always tried to measure my body fat (oh joy) with some hand held thingy and it always shows up ERROR. Yeah that always made me feel good. Well today it didn't - it showed up fat slob, no just kidding - are you ready cause I promised for this journey I was gonna be 150% honest - it said I'm 49% fat (ucch) and 121lbs worth of fat. Now I weigh as of today 244 1/2 lbs, 5 feet 0 inches tall. My goal weight was in the one twenties, given my short height and some would even say that that is not low enough. But that will be impossible if I "only" have 121 pounds of fat on me. She says the machine is VERY accurate and even if it's not, it's within a couple of pounds. She says that I can never lose all of my fat (121 lbs worth), well duh. She says we all need at least 20 lbs of fat on us, unless perhaps we're super athletes. But that means I can never get into the 120's. She says the best I can hope for is the 140's. How can this possibly be if I am only 5 feet tall. I just don't get it. How can anybody my height be at their optimal health when they weigh in the 140's? So am I truly meant to always be overweight? Does anybody have any answers for me? Thanks.

10-30-2006, 02:04 PM
That seems baffling to me, too. Were you ever in the 120's as an adult? That might give you an idea.

10-30-2006, 02:11 PM
Well first of all she is saying that you have 120 lbs of lean tissue mass on your body which I suppose means you have a bit of muscle on you for your height and/or you aren't small boned. For one thing, as you lose weight, you'll also lose some muscle. Which means if you do a body fat measurement a year from now and you have lost 80 lbs, your lean body mass could be 110 lbs which means your goal weight would be around 130.

I've had body fat measurements taken before and they put me at about 165-170 lbs of lean body mass which means around 190/200 lbs, I'd be at my ideal body weight. I know I'll lose some muscle, although I'm trying to minimize it but my opinion is basically "we'll see" once I get to that point. I think you also have to take a similar approach.

10-30-2006, 02:12 PM
I was in the low 130's but I was overweight, not terribly but I definitely was. I was wearing size 11 jeans, that's just too much. I really am puzzled and disappointed. It certainly makes sense that I can't lose ALL of my body fat if I've only got 121 pounds worth, I just don't know. Where's Meg??

10-30-2006, 02:12 PM
I can't seem to understand right now, but we're composed of fat, water (more water than anything else, many say), muscle and bone. Presumably thinner people have less water weight than fatter people, right? And what about muscle???

I dunno, but I think at this point I wouldn't worry about something that far down the road! You have made great progress so far and can't let that worry you, right??? (yeah, I really don't know but want to be supportive!)

10-30-2006, 02:13 PM
Yeah, that's weird. If I were you, I wouldn't worry about it too much right now. When you get down to the 140s you will see for yourself if you are clearly lean and healthy or if you still need to lose more.

10-30-2006, 02:14 PM
Feel free to ignore me, but here is my personal opinion:

You can't force your body to burn ONLY fat. You can do things to help to not burn too much muscle (eating protein, weight training, not starving yourself, etc.), but I'm pretty sure that no matter how much you weigh, you will lose SOME muscle as you lose weight. That doesn't mean your body fat percentage can't go down--as long as you are losing more fat than muscle, your percentages will improve. And losing some muscle is not the end of the world--your lighter body won't need as much muscle to move it around. I mean, of course you've got a lot of muscle right now--you need it in order to move around all your extra pounds!

I face a similar situation. When I last had my body fat/lean mass tested, I was something like 165 pounds of lean body mass. I'm only 5'5"...even 165 would still be overweight for me and then add to that a normal percentage of body fat--not happening :dizzy:

10-30-2006, 02:15 PM
I won't claim to understand the science here. But for now, why worry about how low you can go? Maybe you'll find that you're pleased with how you look and feel at 130-140. It sounds like you're doing really well right now -- congrats on your loss so far! :carrot:

10-30-2006, 02:17 PM
WOW...how was that for a lot of responses in only about 5 minutes time? :dizzy:

And that's another good point brought up--a smaller body will also have less water and such, which could also decrease the "lean body mass" amount.

10-30-2006, 02:19 PM
I was rather perplexed about my body fat reading too. When I started having it measured it was 46%. After losing a significant amount of weight, it has only come down to 43.5%. I asked Meg about it since she is a personal trainer, and she was kind enough to fill me in on some info I wasn't aware of. (Thanks, Meg!) So I'll paraphrase some of the things she said:

--The electrical impedance body fat monitors tend to read high.
--It is almost impossible to get an accurate body fat measurement on an obese person, and personal trainers are advised to wait until a person is closer to "normal" weight before they start to take the body fat measurement seriously.
--If the body fat monitor is a handheld model, the electrical current travels through your upper body to get the reading. If your upper body is disproportionately fat, it will assume that your whole body has the same composition and the reading will be high.

I definitely wouldn't assume that you won't be able to get into the 120's, and I hope it makes you feel better to know your body fat percentage isn't much different than mine. :hug:

10-30-2006, 02:22 PM
You have all have made good points and made me feel better as usual - you guys are such a smart bunch, that's why I love it here. Anyway, if it were true with the losing some muscle and water, why the heck didn't SHE mention it. She's the one with all the degrees, isn't that what she's supposed to do. Another thing she said that really pissed me off, she said she thinks the best that I can do is the 180's, I mean the 180's is she crazy.
I told her she really shouldn't tell that to her patients and she says she must be 100% honest. I'll show her, the skinny *#*%*$* (just kidding).

10-30-2006, 02:23 PM
Keep in mind that for every 10 lbs you lose, you'll also carry a pint less blood - so for every 20 lb of fat, just on blood alone, you'd have to lose 22 lbs on the scale.

There are SO many things that lose volume as you lose weight - less water, less blood, less muscle to carry yourself around...so you can't plan to -just- lose fat.

10-30-2006, 02:24 PM
Actually, Fiddler my lower half is larger (tree trunks for legs)

10-30-2006, 02:41 PM
Don't worry- even if that is an accurate reading, you will lose some muscle with the fat. It's very hard to lose only fat. If you aren't doing strength training, about 40-50% of your scale loss may well be muscle. This is why we try to stress the importance of strength training so much. You really don't want to lose very much muscle. Some muscle loss will occurr, but you can be at or close to your goal of 120 and still be muscular and not fat. Or you can be "skinny fat" at the same scale weight. Fat carries a lot of water, you have more blood in your body now, more hydrated surface area (skin)...all things mentioned above.

Keep at it. Are you exercising?


10-30-2006, 02:43 PM
Did I hear my name mentioned? :lol:

Fiddler pretty much covered everything I was going to say (thanks! :) ): And Wyllen and Jill are right that lean body mass is more than muscle - it's everything in your body that ISN'T fat, so it's water, bone, hair, etc as well as muscle. People tend to talk about muscle pounds vs. fat pounds but that's really not accurate.

In my opinion, what your BF% is now (even if you had an accurate reading) doesn't have anything to do with what your final goal weight should be. It's significance is only to determine what's happening with your body composition as the pounds come off. When you get down much closer to a normal BMI, then you’ll be able to assess a what a healthy and sustainable goal weight is for you.

The reason it's important to track your BF% as you're losing to be sure that you're minimizing the amount of muscle lost through dieting. Studies show that if you're dieting and not lifting weights to maintain your muscle mass, up to 40% of what you lose will be LBM (and I think we all know how bad that is). The reason why we strength train during weight loss is to minimize the loss of LBM as much as possible - but you're going to lose some.

No one will lose 100% fat and 0% lean body mass. That's what we strive for, of course, but it's impossible to lose 100% fat no matter how much protein you eat and how much weight you lift. And the closer you get to your goal, the more LBM you'll lose along with the fat. Of my last ten pounds, I think that I lost about 50% fat and 50% LBM. You're fighting for every pound of lost fat at that point. :p

Those handheld BF monitors are notoriously inaccurate, but easy to use (they can be off as much as 6% - much more than 'a couple of pounds'). So use the numbers it gives you to indicate a relative trend over time, not an absolute number. So if it goes down 2% in a month (for example), that's a good thing regardless of what it says the numbers are. :)

I know it's hard to do, but try not to worry about where you're going to end up weight-wise and just concentrate on keeping up the fabulous job that you're doing so far. :cp:

Edited to add: Mel beat me to it! :rofl:

10-30-2006, 03:46 PM
Again, I thank you all for your wise comments, I feel you guys should get some of her fee today. You really did answer some of my questions. I'm just not sure why she didn't. I wonder what she charges my insurance company?

I really wasn't even thinking of my goal weight when I saw her today, since it's soooo far off, but when the fat reader said that I was 121 lbs of fat, I kind of added things up and it started to not make sense. The truth of the matter is I know I must exercise more, I haven't been doing much, but have managed to get in about 30 mins of either walking or aerobics 5x a week. Keep in mind that I do burn more calories then most because of my weight. And lately that has become harder not easier because of a new and severe pain in my right knee. This really bothers me because I am beginning to feel an increase in my energy level and I'm just dying to walk further, but I am terrified I will hurt my knee even further. My hope is that as I lose more weight the knee will get better and then I can increase my exercise.

10-30-2006, 04:02 PM
Oh boy, let's talk about knee pain! :D I don't have any cartilage left in either knee (arthritis) so I've been forced to adapt my exercising to suit my cranky knees. :devil: (I'm putting off knee replacement as long as possible).

The good news is that there are lots of exercises that you can do that won't bother your knees - but walking isn't one of them, I'm afraid. If you have any kind of joint problems in your hips, knees, and ankles (like so many of us do when we're overweight) then walking and running (and jumping around aerobics) really aren't going to be your best bets.

For cardio (that is, exercise that elevates and sustains your heart rate), how about stationary biking, swimming, or the elliptical? Do you have access to any of these? They're all great ways for people with bad knees to exercise. As a matter of fact, the elliptical was the only cardio machine that I did for the year that I was losing weight (so I guess it worked OK! :lol: )

But don't forget the strength training part of your exercise program that Mel and I were talking about. That's exercising with weights to sustain and build your muscle mass. Cardio exercise (like I was talking about in the paragraph above) won't help you keep your muscle. You need to be working with weights or resistance bands or something that stresses your muscles.

Fortunately, one of the best things you can do for sore knees is to strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint with leg exercises. It's kind of like building an internal knee brace. :) And lifting weights isn't tough on your knees so long as you're not going crazy heavy with the leg exercises (like Mel does :faint: ).

The bottom line is - don't wait until your knee feels better to exercise. Instead, find a way to exercise NOW that won't hurt your knees.

Do you belong to a gym or the Y? Or do you like to work out at home? :)

10-30-2006, 04:28 PM
I think it was really bad of this nutritionist to say that realistically you can only get to 180. Talk about discouragement right off the bat. The main reason I went to see a dietician is so that I could feel like someone believed in me, that I could lose weight. This so-called "realistic" prediction is a bunch of BS and I'm glad to see that your reaction is to prove her wrong.

Are you sure that this nutritionist has a bunch of degrees as you say? The term "nutritionist" is unregulated... anyone can call themselves that. In contrast, the term "dietician" can only be used by qualified ppl. At any rate, even a qualified person can be extremely discouraging. It's one thing for a professional like that to give some tough love but it's quite another to dash people's hopes seemingly arbitrarily. There's no reason you can't get lower than 180 if you stick to your plan.

10-30-2006, 04:30 PM
I have been very reluctant to join a gym, fearing that joining too soon will in fact discourage me. I mean I am sooooo out of shape. I really feel like the only thing I can manage now is the walking and aerobics, although I am terrified that I am going to make the knee worse. The only joint pain that I have, luckily is in my knees, especially the right one. So you're really telling me there is what for me to do at this stage, bad knees and all at a gym? I just don't know why I am so fearful to walk in there and yet I truly know that is the only way I will get off and keep off all of this weight. I also wonder how informative they will be at the gym that is nearest my home and at the most reasonable price. I think I'm getting close to taking that step, but for some reason just can't bring myself to it.

So do you still have knee pain? Did it get better when you lost all the weight? You mentioned putting off knee-replacement surgery so I'm guessing you are still in pain.

10-30-2006, 04:40 PM
When I first started lifting heavy, I had pretty severe knee pain. I'd been a distance runner and tennis player for years despite my weight. After losing the weight, I still ran and played tennis in pain. When I started lifting heavy, I wrapped my knees for each set of heavy squats, lunges or leg presses. After about 7 months, I forgot my wraps one day. Guess what? No pain. If you have no cartilage left in your knees (Meg's problem) the pain isn't going to go away. But if you have minimal damage, improving the supporting musculature can really decrease the pain levels.

When I was losing, I did almost 100% recumbent bike as my intense cardio. NO knee strain!

PLEASE don't be afraid to walk into a gym! We all start somewhere. The hardest part is going through the door the first time and asking for help. When you do join, ask for an intro session with a trainer experienced with weightloss clients and ones with knee limitations. Also explain that you are already working with a nutritionst.


10-30-2006, 04:45 PM
I damaged my knees with a lifetime of obesity and unfortunately, losing the weight won't fix them. :( I've tried all the drugs and physical therapy and knee replacement surgery is the only option left. BUT ... the good news is that all the exercise I do enables me to keep going with knees that would cripple others, according to my doctor. :carrot: That's why you'll see me in the gym every morning at 6 am!! It may hurt to walk a block, but I can still put in a good, sweaty hour on the elliptical, so I'm a happy camper. :lol:

About joining a gym - I was 257 pounds when I joined mine, so heavier than you. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, but - it changed my life. Read my corny post here (http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=96741) about what the gym did and does for me. :) I KNOW I never would have lost the weight - and kept it off - without the gym.

I know you're horribly self-conscious and afraid that people there will laugh at you ... I felt that way too. But please let me assure you'll find more support and encouragement in the gym than you will in real life. People there will see how hard you're working to better yourself and admire and respect you for it. We have people at our gym over 400 pounds and they're treated with dignity, respect, and genuine friendship. We're all in this together, working to improve ourselves. :)

Most gyms will give you a free one or two week pass to try them out. Go and give it a week or two and see what you think. Ask one of the staff or trainers to give you an orientation on the weight machines. Try out the bikes and ellipticals - your knees will thank you. :lol:

And be sure to come back and tell us all about it. :)

10-30-2006, 04:46 PM
(note to self - quit posting after Mel :rofl: )

10-30-2006, 05:33 PM
I just wanted to mention something about your first post, some people feel the need to be "know-it-all's". I've experienced that before with a trainer, and while maybe she was good for other people.. I didn't really enjoy her comments. Take it all with a grain of salt.. some people just are missing that whole humble thing.


10-30-2006, 05:37 PM
First of all futuresurferchick: I'm glad you agree with me with the 180 and the encouragement or lackthereof part. I think she was highly unprofessional.
But at this point I don't want to give her up, I do like bouncing ideas off of her and I would like her to be around when I get to my eventuall plateau.

Meg and Mel: You have absolutely no idea just how helpful you have been to me (as is everyone else). I know I'm going to walk into that gym sooner or later, hopefully sooner and I'm telling you it is because of you guys. Dumb question alert: Is recumbent bike the same thing as a stationary bike? And just exactly what is an elliptical? You don't know how I wish I was going to the same gym as you. It would be so fantastic, I wouldn't hesitate to walk in. Meg, I am really sorry about your knees. Thank you again and I will definitely keep you posted.

10-30-2006, 05:47 PM
Didn't you ever hear that there's no such thing as a dumb question? :D

A recumbent bike is one type of a stationary bike. The typical exercise bike is upright, but here's a recumbent bike:


It has a back rest on the seat and is awesome for anyone with back or knee problems.

Here's an elliptical trainer:


My gym has models with arms that move (we call them crosstrainers) and arms that don't move (we call them ellipticals). Some people call both types ellipticals. Be sure to try one out - your foot never leaves the pedal so there's no impact. They're like running in the air. :)

PS - if you moved to Central Pennsylvania, you'd be halfway between Mel and me. :lol:

10-30-2006, 05:51 PM
Thanks for the photos. Another dumb question, if the elliptical is like "running" on air, why doesn't it effect your knees? Thanks.

10-30-2006, 05:56 PM
Because there's no impact - your foot stays flat on the pedal the whole time. When you walk or run, every step you takes involves lifting up your leg and foot and putting it down again (= impact). On the elliptical, there's no picking up and putting down, so no impact and no stress on the joints.

But it 'feels' to me like I'm running (maybe flying? :lol: ) - and it's one heck of a workout! :D

10-30-2006, 06:21 PM
Allright, it sounds good, I just hope I don't get carsick.

10-30-2006, 11:47 PM
Meg and Mel: You have absolutely no idea just how helpful you have been to me (as is everyone else). I know I'm going to walk into that gym sooner or later, hopefully sooner and I'm telling you it is because of you guys.

"fed" up,

The gym might be full of wonderful people like Meg and Mel. You won't know until you go. ;)

10-31-2006, 06:39 AM
I know Fiddler, I just wish one of my 3fc buddies could go with me, it would make it so much easier, but then again no one ever said this was gonna be easier.

10-31-2006, 06:49 AM
I know how you feel, "Fed" up. *hugs* We'll be there with you in spirit, cheering you on every step of the way; does that help a little?

10-31-2006, 07:12 AM
No - it helps A LOT. Thank you so very much.

10-31-2006, 09:59 AM
I'm a convert to the elliptical, so let me join the others in praising it. A couple of things to know going into it: the motion of it can feel very unnatural at first, but don't give up! Soon you'll be able to 'ellipticate' in your sleep.

Also, it's not uncommon for your feet to slide forward on the footplates as you go. This may cause some numbness in your toes. If this happens, take a QUICK break and stamp your feet a bit.

Good luck! You can do this!:carrot:

10-31-2006, 11:04 AM
Umm it's funny you mention that, because not only am I big, but I'm a big scaredy cat. I get carsick going around the block, I'm not kidding. How quickly does it take to get used to it, although I'm sure it's different for everyone? And do you think someone with motion sickness can ever get used to it?

10-31-2006, 12:01 PM
"fed" up,

Maybe we can't really be there with you when you go to the gym, but if you let us know when you're going to go, we'll send good thoughts your way. And you can post as soon as you get back and let us know how it went. :hug:

10-31-2006, 12:57 PM
Hey Fedup... if you have a YMCA near you I would recommend checking to see if they are running the Y's "Personal Fitness Program" which is no additional cost with a membership. It is a 12-week individualized program designed to (re)introduce people to fitness. You get a personal fitness coach, separate private workout room, and a personalized schedule. The other advantage of the Y is that it is designed for everybody... people of all abilities and ages so the snob and musclehead factor is very low. Plus they have a swimming pool which is fabulous for overweight exercisers!

Otherwise Curves is very popular with many women because its safe and uncomplicated. However in the big picture their program is extremely limited and will only take you so far in fitness.