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Scales not moving at all - feeling discouraged and confused.

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Old 12-02-2008, 04:59 AM   #1
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Default Scales not moving at all - feeling discouraged and confused.

Despite being on plan since starting to lose weight again, for the last five days, my weight hasn't changed at all. I'm feeling discouraged and I really don't understand why this is happening.

A bit of background information: I lost approximately 40lbs about a year and a half ago over a period of around four months, through eating around 1200 calories a day and taking regular exercise (swimming and walking). I've been maintaining my weight since then, until a couple of weeks ago when I'd been (unconsciously) eating more healthily than usual. I hopped on the scales and realised I'd broken the 13 stone (182 lbs) plateau that I'd been on for the past year. Spurred on by this, I decided to begin to shift the final 30lbs that I wanted to lose.

I've now been stuck on the same weight for 5 days, and I don't understand why. It might sound silly to be discouraged, but this didn't happen before when I was losing weight. I've stuck to my plan, which I thought was sensible and healthy, and I don't understand why I'm not seeing the results on the scale. I've been eating 1200 - 1300 calories a day, been going to the gym regularly (around three times a week), and making sure to get some sort of exercise on days where I haven't been at the gym (e.g. walking). I think that my diet has been good: I've made sure to eat three meals a day, I've eaten if I've felt hungry, I've tried to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you want to see what I've been eating, you can see my FitDay (linked to the left of this post). There's only been one day that's been not-so-healthy, but it's still been under 1700 calories.

Here's what happened to my weight over the past week or so. You can see that at the start of the week I was losing a pound every couple of days, which is about on track for a 2 - 3 lb weekly loss (what I was hoping for and what I had been used to in the past).

Mon 24 Nov: 179 (lbs)
Tues 25 Nov: 179
Weds 26 Nov: 178
Thurs 27 Nov: 178
Fri 28 Nov: 177
Sat 29 Nov: 177
Sun 30 Nov: 177
Mon 1 Dec: 177
Tues 1 Dec: 177

I'm on the pill at the moment so it can't really be related to my period, the only thing I can think of is that I've been a bit unwell with a cold since late last week. Could that be the reason my body is refusing to shed any weight? I know 1,200 is the minimum calories that should be consumed in a day, but I've never been below that and am usually nearer 1300. I don't feel as though my body is "starving" - I'm eating similar to what I ate before when I lost lots of weight, I haven't felt deprived or hungry.

I'm finding it really discouraging that my weight has maintained for the past 5 days when I've been burning more calories than I consume. I'd really appreciate any comments or advice about why this is happening, as I just feel quite fed up and want to understand what's going on.
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:08 AM   #2
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I'm sorry you're so frustrated. It's hard when the body has "another idea" than the one we want to follow.

It could be that this is a normal stall--and that if you stay on program, you'll drop suddenly. There's no way to tell except to do it.

A cold can affect weight loss--you probably need a few more calories than usual when you're ill, because your body needs nutrients to fight the virus. Losing weight shouldn't be a priority when sick.

I don't know what to tell you--you could try different things. Changing your exercise routine. Changing what you eat--increasing protein, for example. Increasing calories a little. But a 1-week stall isn't unusual for anyone.

Hang in there!

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Old 12-02-2008, 07:37 AM   #3
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I think you need to be more realistic in your expectations. When you've not got a lot to lose you can't expect to be regularly seeing 2 or 3 lb a week. We are roughly in the same ball park weight wise and even being strict with myself I normally see 4 or 5 pounds loss a MONTH. I frequently go 2 sometimes 3 weeks without any loss at all and then I'll suddenly lose 3 or 4 lbs. My advice would be to stop the daily weigh-ins and weigh once a week.

Even weekly weigh-ins can be frustrating if you see the same weight 2 or 3 weeks running but I know from experience that stick at it and you get the rewards in the end.

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Old 12-02-2008, 07:46 AM   #4
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Kitty is right. You're starting from a lower base, so your body needs less calories to begin with. Five days without a loss isn't anything to worry about, folks have been known to go two to three weeks sometimes!

It is interesting that without really dieting your body lost five pounds, and now that you are dieting it seems to want to stay where it is. Maybe you want to think about going back to your routine of the last three months, or even just very minimally cutting calories.

The good news is that as we lose weight we look and feel better. The bad news is that the closer we are to goal the harder it is to lose!
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:51 AM   #5
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You have made wonderful progress. I'm going to view your food log to get some inspiration.
In the past, when I have lost large amounts of weight, I had the same problem. You may need more protein. (?)
Good Luck!
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Old 12-02-2008, 08:22 AM   #6
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Welcome to the Plateau Club !

Listen my dear friend, 5 days is nothing and don't get discouraged..people stall for months when they get closer to their goals. I'm on plateau second time in last 5 months for more than 35 days and do understand how it feels when you don't see anything on your scales. At the same time remember it may be water, temporary adjustment & may even call of your body for some other changes.

Do what Jay suggested, try changing your exercises, increase your exercises a bit (Last time I started losing again when I included biking in my cardio) and NEVER GIVE UP. I'm on plateau for 35 days and little irritated with what's going on but not discouraged at all, we all can do anything when we decide not to give up.

SO my suggestion is to keep reading, keep learning, change your activities & never GIVE UP

EDIT : Just noticed that you'd been on stall previously too...sorry just jumped in without noticing that (I keep searching for the posts talking about the plateau on the forum these days so get little excited when I see one )
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:16 AM   #7
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I know how frustrating it is - but try to keep your chin up! If you look at your numbers you have actually lost 2 pounds over the last week (11/25-12/2).

That is where your focus should be. I also weigh daily, but I think this is one of the reasons that so many people recommend against it. Keep in mind that your scale does not give you a pure, honest picture of all the positive changes happening to your body as you eat healthy & exercise.

Try to have patience, with yourself & the scale. You might also check out information on how the body will tend to hold on to weight when it feel it isn't getting enough food to fuel it. I've heard/read that a bit of an increase in healthy calories can pump up the metabolism and get the scale moving again.
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:20 AM   #8
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Hey tiny,

My personal advice is to lay off the scale for a while. I weigh myself twice a month, sometimes only once a month. You do not need to be on the scale every day, I would be frustrated myself if I didn't see the numbers changing. But, my body behaves just like what other chicks described - sometimes the weight stays the same and then it goes down by quite a few pounds. That is entirely normal.

You are 5'7" - are you sure 1200 calories is enough for you? I have a feeling you are not getting enough food. You mentioned eating having 3 meals a day - I eat 5-6 times a day and I am trying to make sure all my meals are a balanced combo of protein and carbs. Personally, I don't count calories so I cannot tell you how many calories worth I am eating but I suspect it probably fluctuates quite a bit (and I like it that way).
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Old 12-02-2008, 10:56 AM   #9
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What everyone else has said. There are a few things here that I will mention:

1 - Expectations. As others have said, this might be the time for you to rethink your expectations. While you've been lucky enough so far to have a fairly regular and consistent loss, it doesn't work that way all the time. Our bodies are not machines and many things other than being "on plan" and exercising can affect what the scale says. Many people lose in chunks - 2 lbs here, 5 lbs there, with long pauses between.

2 - The Bermuda Triangle. A lot of us here on the site seem to find ourselves in what we've laughingly termed the Bermuda triangle of the 170s. There's something about that weight level, especially for people who have previously weighed in the 200s, that seems to be a common plateau level. My theory (totally not researched, but borne out by experiences of a lot of people) is that after 50 or so lbs, some people's bodies need some time to readjust to being lighter. That 170 range just seems to be the sticking point for a lot of people.

3 - Protein. Looking at your fit day, it seems that you don't get a whole lot of protein (your one "splurge day" aside! ). I am noticing between 25-35g of protein a day. There are several of us on 3FC who advocate a lot more protein than that (up to as much as 1g per pound of body weight), but even the US RDA is significantly higher than what you're getting. The US RDA is .8g of protein for every 1kg of body weight. At your weight, that means you should be getting a minimum of 64g of protein per day. Many days you're not even getting 1/2 of that. I personally have found that I lose weight much more efficiently and my workouts are more efficient when I eat a lot of protein (and not just from meat, but protein from all sources).

4 - Too few calories. At your height and weight and combined with working out 3-4 days a week, I'm wondering if you're not getting ENOUGH calories and nutrition. I'm 3" shorter than you and when I am 100% on plan I lose weight regularly at 1500-1600 calories. I'm wondering if you lost a good bit at first because of the calorie drop and then your body froze up and stopped losing because of the lack of calories. I honestly would try boosting your cals to 1500 and adding in some protein. See if that helps.

Hope that helps you some!

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Old 12-02-2008, 11:53 AM   #10
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Agree with the others about expectations and I know the Bermuda Triangle of weight loss well.

My suggestion would be to clean up your diet. Toaster pastries, chips, cupcakes all fit in with calorie counting but they are not exactly lean mean calories. Focus on getting your carbs from whole grain sources, legumes, fruits and veggies. Increase your protein---turkey, eggs, chicken, cottage cheese. Do you lift weights? If not, you might want to start. Building muscle will help you lose fat weight rather than muscle weight and you'll be smaller even if the scale doesn't zoom down.

Good luck!
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:53 AM   #11
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I agree whole heartingly on number 4 of PC's posting. 1200 calories is not enough with you working out as well. Your body is in fear of starving and is holding on as much as it can for fear of not getting enough calories. If I were you, I would up my daily calories to around 1500 to 1600 per day. (With fruits, veggies and good stuff for you.)
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Old 12-02-2008, 01:47 PM   #12
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Your diet needs to be overhauled.

You are feeding your body lots of processed carbs (toaster pastry, chips), but hardly any protein! Also about 5-10% more fat than required. Not to mention not enough calories. You need quality calories.

There's only so long you can keep from feeding yourself the nutrition it needs before it starts to slow down.

Here's an example of a 40/35/25 ratio at 1600 calories (which is closer to what you should be consuming at your height):

Breakfast: Egg whites/turkey bacon/whole grain toast (400 calories)
Snack: Yogurt with almonds (200 calories)
Lunch: 1/2 cup brown rice, 1 cup broccoli, 1 large 5oz grilled chicken breast (400 calories)
Snack: apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter (200 calories)
Dinner:1/2 cup brown rice, 1 cup broccoli, 1 large 5oz grilled salmon filet (400 calories)
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Old 12-03-2008, 06:04 PM   #13
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Thank you all so much for the excellent advice. Your comments are hugely appreciated and it's really helpful to get an external perspective.

Protein - having read your comments, I think I'm definitely going to make more of an effort to consume lean protein. I love poultry and fish, and I think I could do with eating more! What often happens with me is that I might throw two diced chicken breasts into a pan to make a pasta sauce. I love veggies, so I then add loads, and instead of having half of it as a portion (so one whole chicken breast), I end up having a quarter of it (so just half a chicken breast) because I've bulked it out so much with the veg. I think that's how I lose out on protein sometimes, so I'm going to watch that some more and make sure I get a proper portion.

Calorie intake - this might sound really silly but in a way I've been a bit worried about eating more than 1200 calories. I think it's been drummed into my head for a long time that it's the amount to aim for if you want to lose weight, but you're right, for my height and activity level I should probably consume more. I think I'll try to aim for around 1400 or so (by increasing the amount of lean protein) and see how that goes. I can always up it by more if it seems to work better.

Exercise - thanks to some wonderful advice I received in another thread, I'm going to change and vary my exercise a bit more. I'm due to receive a book any day now on weight lifiting that PhotoChick kindly recommended to me, so I look forward to getting started with that.

Expectations - I'm sure it's correct that I have some unrealistic expectations for my weight loss. I think it's because I've been so excited to see myself losing weight in the past that it's just really disappointing when I don't see the results rapidly. I know I can't expect to eat healthily one day and then have magically lost a pound overnight, so I think I just need to relax a bit more. And at least I haven't been putting on weight, so I'm going to see that as positive from now on.

"Bad" snacks - this might be an awful thing to say on a healthy eating forum but I just don't plan on banning unhealthy snacks altogether. It makes up a really small amount of my diet (only around a couple of hundred calories), and I just don't see myself sticking with this healthy eating thing if I'm "enjoying" a small handful of blanched almonds and an apple with my afternoon coffee instead of the home-made cupcake I baked. I've accounted for these unhealthier items within my calorie and fat intake, and I just don't think it's sensible (for me) to demonise and/or try and ban "bad" foods altogether. I think it's more positive that I've learned to eat these foods in moderation and with restraint - like the "slim" people I know. Also, I really believe it will do more for me in the long run to make this adjustment to eating in moderation than it would be to try and make sure I only munch on yoghurt/veggie sticks/nuts/dried fruit etc. I understand that I'm "spending" some of my calories on things that aren't providing any nutritional benefit, but hey, I really enjoy it, and want to make allowances for these sort of treats in moderation.

Thank you again so much everyone for taking the time to help me out with this one. I'm going to bookmark this thread and refer back to it a lot!
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Old 12-03-2008, 06:18 PM   #14
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this thread has really helped me out so thanks very much guys!
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Old 12-03-2008, 07:19 PM   #15
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Glad we could help both of you!

One thing you said tiny ...
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Bad" snacks - this might be an awful thing to say on a healthy eating forum but I just don't plan on banning unhealthy snacks altogether.
I don't think it's an awful thing and I actually agree with you here. The thing is, if you deny yourself of all of your favorite things all the time, it's easier to "cheat" or even to give up because you feel miserable and deprived.

The trick here is to make them true TREATS and not something you have all the time. I have to be honest - I ADORE potato chips. They are my weakness. I love them with a passion that is probably immoral. And I do allow myself potato chips once in a while. I don't have a bag every day because I just don't have the calories available to "waste". But once a week or so, I'll have one of those snack sized bags of potato chips when I have lunch at the deli. Another thing I do is budget in a vodka martini a ocuple of times a week - I love my vodka martini before dinner and I'm not willing to give that up 100%.

The other trick is to make sure that you're not "allowing" yourself treats in lieu of good nutrition. I allow 15% or so of my calories each day to be "empty" calories. But if it reaches the end of the evening and I know I need more protein for the day and I know that I haven't had enough veggies, then I won't allow myself my vodka martini. I need to apply those calories to proper nutrition FIRST. Then I get my treat.

And the difference there is that I'm not saying I can NEVER have another martini, I'm just saying that I can't have it *tonight*. Tomorrow is another day.

I'm a big believer in eating the way you plan to eat the rest of your life. Yes, it means I don't lose as quickly as I could if I were super strict. But I'm happy losing slowly and knowing that this is a lifestyle I can maintain forever.

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