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Unsustainable diet/exercise to get through plateau?

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Old 01-09-2011, 03:24 PM   #1
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Default Unsustainable diet/exercise to get through plateau?

Looking back over my weigh-ins for last year, I recognize what my problem was - I plateaued at 130 for months. Up 2, down 2, with calorie-counting and exercise. Then I started slipping and my weight stayed about the same, and I lost motivation and focus by September. And here I am, up 10 lbs.

In general, I think this is a lifestyle change and not a diet, and the foods I eat now and the amount of exercise I do is something I am willing to do forever. What I am wondering is whether anyone has changed their behavior dramatically to get through a plateau, using methods they would not use over the long-term? In my case, I'm thinking of things like going very low-carb(I normally eat very little meat and a fair amount of things like otameal, borwn rice, and ww pasta) or going to the gym twice a day or doubling my cardio. My only fear would be whether when I went back to old behaviors, the few lbs. would come right back.

Does anyone have any experience with this?
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:54 PM   #2
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I have some slight experience with it. While I do not recommend personally changing how you eat unless it is something you can maintain for an extended period of time, a double cardio or more weight training even temporary will impact you significantly growing more muscle and burning more fat. Doing this will help you break a plateau down eventually. Changing how you eat and not maintaining it, in my experience, causes me to gain any loss back.

But your body could be different from mine.
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:57 PM   #3
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Well, you busted through your plateau before, just in the wrong direction. If you had just kept on keeping on, you wouldn't be 10 pounds behind.

Maybe find a fun endurance activity if you hit a plateau again, like a long hike or some cross country skiing.

I found that over the last couple of weeks when my weight was sticking that counting more carefully and lowering my points intake by a few per day helped.
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:58 PM   #4
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I think drastically changing your eating habits will end up with the weight gained back once you're back to 'normal'. But is there any one thing you're willing to cut out? For me, I used to have a few glasses of wine a week and I was unwilling to give it up. But once I hit a plateau I gave it up and it helped get me through. Maybe something like that would be helpful. Also, increasing your exercise a bit will probably help too. And if you're doing a lot of cardio, increase the amount of weights you're doing. It will help build muscle and increase your metabolism for the long haul.
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:47 PM   #5
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I don't mean to be negative, but maybe 130 is what your body wants to weigh. Maybe you could go back on your weight loss regimen and see if you can get back to 130--then very slowly and cautiously raise your intake to see if that maintains 130.

I don't necessarily believe everything I've read about set points, but I think most people have a weight that their body will resist if they try to go below it.
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:21 PM   #6
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It WILL come right back.

Another idea is to focus on exercise at 130 rather than food. 130 is perfectly normal for 5'3, so perhaps a dedicated exercise program (which lasts for life) will help you with recomposition. Go from a "soft" 130 to a fit 130.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:24 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for their replies.

130 is a reasonable weight for my height, and if I weren't carrying extra flab around the middle, I would be prefectly fine with it. My scale has a body fat reader(which I know is not totally accurate) and at 130 I was around 34%. This is with going to the gym 5-6 days week, doing body sculpting 1-3 times/week, Zumba once/week, treadmill/elliptical other days. 123 has been a set point for most of my adult life. And I'm 42 now, so if it's higher that's fine, but I defnitely still had some work to do at 130.

I am hoping to be back at that number sometime in the spring, and I'll focus more on exercise, especially some more running. Once it's lighter in the mornings, I may try to get some extra workouts in then and see what that does. Sounds like everyone agrees that going very low-carb will just backfire once I add the carbs back.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:34 AM   #8
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Just a little over a year ago, I was at 14% bodyfat. I remember how HARD it was getting to that low level bf. The closer bodyfat/weight gets to lower bf levels, the HARDER it is to lose and sustain. Your body wants to be fatter than YOU want it to be. AND it's prepared to FIGHT tooth and nail to keep you at that higher bf %.

How do we win the battle? We need to take things to an all time LOW level...YES...TRICKERY! LOL! We need to trick the body into believing that we are giving it plenty of calories, so no need to hold on to our current bodyfat stores. How I keep my body guessing is by giving it a CHEAT MEAL once every 2 weeks approx. Just a MEAL, not an all out eating binge all day. My meal is usually around 800 calories, higher in fats and sodium than my body is used to, but healthy none-the-less (Jamaican food..YUM!) Of course there is also EXERCISE, which I do as well. I run 4 times/week, and TRY...and I do mean TRY, not always succeeding, to get in 2 days strength training...as well as pull ups and pushups.

That what's been working for me...and that's how I got to 14% bf last time.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:34 AM   #9
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Just wanted to add that you might want to consider what level of exercise and food intake you'd find sustainable in the long term.

For myself, I don't think I could ever reach 130 again, although that's what I weighed in my 30s. (I'm now older--older than you by quite a bit!)

I am willing to have a somewhat higher weight if it means I don't have to work out hard six days a week and restrict my eating tightly. On the other hand, I realize I will have to work out or do some form of physical exercise the rest of my life, and I can't eat at the supposedly normal "2000 calories a day" that one reads on the interent etc.

I'm still trying to work out how to maintain my weight.

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Old 01-10-2011, 10:49 AM   #10
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Maybe what you need to do is focus on strength training rather than on losing weight. Instead of lowering your calories or increasing your cardio, maybe you need to start doing more weight training/body shaping stuff. Do the body sculpting classes, but also add Pilates, for example. Are you eating enough protein?
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Old 01-10-2011, 04:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natamars View Post
Thanks to everyone for their replies.

130 is a reasonable weight for my height, and if I weren't carrying extra flab around the middle, I would be prefectly fine with it. My scale has a body fat reader(which I know is not totally accurate) and at 130 I was around 34%. This is with going to the gym 5-6 days week, doing body sculpting 1-3 times/week, Zumba once/week, treadmill/elliptical other days. 123 has been a set point for most of my adult life. And I'm 42 now, so if it's higher that's fine, but I defnitely still had some work to do at 130.

I am hoping to be back at that number sometime in the spring, and I'll focus more on exercise, especially some more running. Once it's lighter in the mornings, I may try to get some extra workouts in then and see what that does. Sounds like everyone agrees that going very low-carb will just backfire once I add the carbs back.
I suspect your problem is with a lack of muscle mass rather than too much fat. First, at 42, the amount of lean mass you have lessens each year, which I'm sure you already know. The key to getting the lean mass that makes a 130lb athletic woman look much better than a 130lb average woman is hard & heavy weights. "body scuplting" suggests to me that you are doing high rep/low weights. That's just another form of cardio. Lift hard, lift heavy. If you can lift it more than 8-12 reps, then it's too light for you. ****, I'm on a 4-6 rep kick right now.
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Old 01-10-2011, 08:00 PM   #12
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sacha, interseting suggestion. You're right, I'm doing 3 sets of 12 reps in the class, using 3-8 lb. weights. I haven't used the machines at the gym in a while. I like the class because it forces me to do an hour, but I'm not getting the results I want, so it's time for a change.

rana, good call on the protein too - I often struggle with it. Lately I've been having a lot more egg whites, chicken, turkey, and beans, but it's something I have to work at.

jay, I think trying to figure out where we're going to maintain keeps changing over time. I was 116 lbs. when I got married at 29, but I was also spending 2 hours a day at the gym, something I'm not willing to do now with a full-time job, a husband, and a 7-year-old son.

joy, I like the cheat meals. Once I get closer to 130 I'm going to try that. For now I'm losing, but I know the plateau awaits...
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:59 AM   #13
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Natamars, yes. I have taken things to the extreme to get the scale moving again. It has always worked, but it is always followed by another stall once I return to something more sustainable. This last stint, however, I kicked my workouts into high gear for one month followed by an exercise break of a week and a half. THIS has been successful. My plateau has broken and things are moving and I am so happy with my results. I guess for me the break was really important. I shocked my body with the intensity, then I shocked it again with a break, and yet again with a return to sustainable activity. Along with all that I have started cycling my calories. Low calorie does not work, but gosh I sure was hard headed about it. I gave low calories my absolute best effort. I eat low calorie naturally anyway, so now I eat low when I feel like eating low and I eat higher calories on days I am hungry. It's working better than I imagined it would.

Increase the weights! I love Sacha's suggestions. I lift anything between 6 and 20 reps, depending on what I'm going for that day. My current routine has me doing about 12 reps. I do almost all free weights, so I worry about going too heavy in case I fatigue and hurt myself. I love the weight lifting class I do, but the weights are too light. They only go up to 7.5 pounds. I haven't been back in a while but the next time I go I may drag some heavier weights in there.
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