Feb 16, 2010

Day 38 - The Beck Diet Solution and my struggle.

Day 38 - Beck addresses plateaus.

The first thing she reminds us is from Day 21:

Don't expect the scale to go down every week; it won't.

She divides plateaus into two categories, short term and long term. She says short term are when the scale doesn't move for a week or two, or goes up and down the same few pounds for a few weeks.  Long term is more than a few weeks. 

To be honest, I think what she is calling short term plateau is not a plateau at all but our bodies adjusting to our new weight, to our new muscle mass, to our calorie intake, to our exercise - I don't think it's realistic to call less than 4 weeks a plateau.  When you have alot of weight to lose, in most cases, it's going to take a long time and during that time, your body needs time to heal and readjust.

Her suggestions for getting through or over a plateau are nothing new and we have all seen them here on other blogs and weight loss sites. My comments are in red.

1. Continue to do what you're doing and see if you continue to lose again.
I honestly believe that about 80% of success in weight loss is persistence and consistency. It's not about being perfect 100% of the time, it's about continuing to do what is working, day in and day out and making adjustments as you need to. There may come a time when what you're doing isn't working, but I think that time is longer than a few weeks.

2. Reduce your daily caloric intake by about 200 calories (check with a medical professional to make sure it is safe to do so).
The whole WW Momentum program is based on this theory, that as you lose weight - your body needs fewer calories to sustain it, so you should eat less. I have a whole book to write on this later on in this post - Tamara - keep reading!

3. Increase your daily exercise by 15-20 minutes.
Seems to make sense, burn more calories, lose more weight, right? Basically I think #2 and #3 are saying 'do something different" or "shake it up a little".

4. Call this your goal weight and move into maintenance.
Well that depends where you run into a plateau doesn't it? I'm not going call 215 my goal weight....but I might call 142 my goal weight (my goal is 140). 

It seems to me that Beck's plateau advice is based on the sense that you have been doing all the right things and have been consistently losing and now you're not, so based on that, her suggestions mostly make sense.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I hit my own plateau; physically, emotionally and mentally back in October and basically have lost no new weight since then.  I started around the middle of December in what I call "weight loss mode" again, tracking my points/calories - eating a balanced, healthy diet, cutting out almost all processed foods and exercising regularly. 

Yet..here I am 3 months later still "stuck".  Has my body forgotten the plan? I eat right, exercise and it loses weight...it's a simple deal - and although I am holding up my part - my body isn't playing nice.

Along the way, I've become iron deficient and D3 deficient which led to a whole host of other problems that certainly hindered my efforts in the last few weeks. 

I finally decided that I must be missing "something". I must be doing something wrong or not enough of something right.  I finally decided to see an Obesity doctor.

I showed him my weight loss graph, my food journals, my blood work history, I talked to him about my emotional/mental struggles I've faced, my physical health challenges and my fears. I told him about my trigger foods and what my philosophy is. 

What did he tell me?

"You're not eating enough.  1200-1300 calories a day is not enough. Your body is holding on to every calorie. The more you exercise and the less you eat, the worse you are making it, you are creating too big of a claorie deficit."

Now I know, somedays I could eat a lumberjack under the table - and some days I don't make the best choices - but most of the time, I eat 1200-1300 calories of real food (24-26 points), including grains, protein, vegetables, fruit and healthy fats.

This is how he explained the WW program to me.  As you lose weight, they knock off points - so you eat less calories because you weigh less, the theory being that the less you weigh, the less calories your body needs to sustain itself. He said the theory is sound and true, but it doesn't take into account that at 30-40 and more pounds lighter, your body is healthier. It is now using insulin better, your cholesterol is down, your muscles work better and more efficiently and if you are more active, your metabolism has actually sped up.  A faster metabolism needs more calories - not less. I think WW tries to address this with the Activity Points, i.e. you work out, you have more points to eat - but I don't think they explain well enough WHY you need to eat them.

I always get stuck at this point. I am at the 5th or 6th time trying to lose the same 100+ pounds. Every time I get to 35-40 lbs, I get stuck and eventually give up. All along through this time around, I've said, I am not giving up this time. I will break through it and I will succeed.  I've tried the more exercise, less calories, Wendy plan, more fats, less carbs - oh sure, it would work for one week, I'd lose 2-3 lbs but then be back up the same 2-3 lbs in the coming weeks.

The clinic I went to does a resting metabolism test; it tells me how many calories I burn in a day, just living.  I've always been told I have a slow metabolism; diabetes and thyroid disorder do that to you, so I had to eat less to compensate.  I'm a bit of an anomoly - I don't have a slow metabolism, I have a fast metabolism - I've been feeding a slow metabolism yet starving my own fast metabolism.

So..what am I doing now?  Up to 30 points a day on WW or 1500 calories a day - I can't decide which I want to stick with but it works out to be about the same either way.  As I drop weight and get healthier, I may need to eat more...I will redo the test every 4 weeks and see where I'm at.  I don't know if this is the solution. I was told to expect to gain weight the first few weeks as my body will want to hoard calories until it realises this is a regular thing and I'm going to feed it properly.  I have to admit that the thought of gaining is scary, every pound up brings me closer to my highest weight of 250 that I never want to see again.

But what this doctor said made sense to me. He could show me my own test results and he could explain the patterns that have happened in all my attempts before.....what have I got to lose?  Oh..about 75 more pounds.  Trying this for one month isn't going to hurt, right? What I'm doing isn't working. Maybe eating more will help.

I'll keep you posted.


  1. Very very interesting, Enz.

    This is why I have a problem with WW. They never address the science behind things yet maintain that they are not a diet.

    I recently (today) raised my calorie allowance on Sparkspeople because I think I could eat more than what they give to me especially with my high level of activity.

    Thanks for sharing.

    You will get there.. the fact that you were willing to see a doctor about it is proof enough to me that you want it.

    Good luck!

  2. Ha! Funnily enough, this is exactly what I alluded to in my post! I had to EAT MORE the last couple of weeks, and the weight kinda flew off. Still want to test the theory some more, as I mentioned, but so far it seems to be working. Specifically what I've been doing is tracking my calories in MyFitnessPal and making sure my net calories (after exercise) for the day don't drop below 1000, and ideally closer to 1200. So far so good!

    I will be very interested to see if this works for you as well! Good luck!

  3. Shake it up, baby! That's the best way to bust through that plateau...

  4. Good luck with what you are doing!

  5. That is very interesting, Enz. You know, I often wondered what would happen if I never knocked my POINTS down as I lost weight. I never lost huge numbers weekly anyway, so I thought if I just stayed at the beginning number and I still lost why play that mental game with yourself of "oh no, now I have one less POINT a week to work with"!
    Anyway, I definitely think it's worth a try to find what will work for your body! Can't wait to hear all about it!

  6. As I was reading the suggestions for getting out of a plateau, I was thinking how I would comment that I didn't agree with some of it. Then when I got to the obesity doctor, I was glad he told you to try eating more. When your body starves, your body reacts by slowing down your metabolism which in turn makes it harder to lose weight.

    I would also suggest instead of increasing your exercise levels, instead try a different routine. Lift weights instead of cardio, workout at a different time, do your routine backwards. Your body adapts to what your doing and if you change it up you force your body to burn more because it has to try to adapt again.

    I was in a 3 month rut last year and I bumped my calorie intake UP by 200 calories and now I switch my workout routine every 6 weeks. As soon as I did those things, the weight started to come off again. Good Luck.
    -FogDog Weight Loss

  7. OK, stick with those 30 or 1,500, and report back. I hope the good doc has given you the key.

  8. So glad that you aren't giving up. I admire your consistency and it motivates me. I also found that the stuff the obesity doctor told you about to be really interesting. I LOVE the idea of the body getting healthier therefore speeding up the metabolism.

    Keep on keeping on my friend, you will bust through that plateau. I have NO doubt!

  9. I'm reading along and started saying in my head "eat more during a plateau" as this happened to me. I was stuck until a woman at the scale suggested eating a few points more a day and shazaam I started losing again.

    I admire your dedication and your analysis about that you're doing. You're self aware and that is hugely important.

  10. I SO needed this post! I was thinking that I had hit a plateau since I have pretty much been at a stand still for the last couple of months.....but if I am being completely honest.......I have been lazy, not keeping up with my points like I should, nor my exercise. Yes, Im doing better than I was before I started, but NOT like I was when I was really losing. So, even after losing 56 pounds, I dont believe its a plateau YET.....just my not being persistent! I needed what you wrote to make me realize that I have been making excuses and need to get myself back in the game......thanks!

  11. That's so interesting! Thanks for giving me something to think about :)

  12. It's true! So many people don't realise this! I might write a blog!!

  13. I'm definitely glad you went to the doc for an opinion instead of just giving up, which is easy to do sometimes. hopefully his suggestions work, and you'll start losing again!

  14. I think your doctor is absolutely correct. Obesity is, after all a form of malnutrition. Our bodies are designed for survival, and if they do not get what they need to survive voluntarily, they will do all that they can automatically get what is needed. It is NOT about calories in/calories out, but rather a much more complicated mix of nutrition. A plateau will last for about 6 weeks- if it is longer there may well be other factors at play and a different approach would be a wise idea.

  15. I love the part about your body working more efficiently when you lose weight and become more active. I'm so glad to read that you will be eating more. I honestly don't know how anyone could sustain themselves at 1200-1300 calories a day.

    I'll be watching for updates. Very interested to see how things go for you.

  16. What a great post. I'll be very interested to see how the changes unfold for you. Very smart to go to an obesity doctor to get the real scoop on what's going on. Thanks for all the information. I think your take on Beck's take is pretty accurate. You seem to be firing on all cylinders to me, and that will surely result in some weight loss very soon. I'll be staying tuned!

  17. I'm glad to learn I'm only on a short plateau instead of a long ne! I've been stuck at the same spot for most of Februrary, but I keep on, knowing pounds will eventually drop again.

  18. Great post, Enz! I can't wait to see the great results I am sure this change will bring. I'm rooting for you, girl!

  19. Fantastic post, Enz! As counterintuitive as it souds, not eating enough can be as damaging as overeating. I learned that on WW. I would gain all these APs and not eat any of my weeklies and it would big me in the (big) butt every time. Keep going girl!

  20. I think your doctor is EXACTLY right! I'm excited to see how this works for you. Just don't freak out if the scale goes up a bit at first, like he said it might. You are NOT going to gain 40 pounds back by eating 1,500 calories a day!!!

  21. This is really interesting Enz, especially the WW explanation. It all makes sense now to me why they cut you down on Points if you lose weight.

    I started this week on calorie counting and said a goal of 1700 a day with a mininum of 1500 and I found out that on good days (lots of healthy food) it's difficult to get to the 1500 calories so I need to eat more too.

    I would try it if I were you for a month, it sure wouldn't hurt.

  22. I wrote a post recently about how I got past plateaus. The conclusions were changing up the exercise and eating MORE. yep, it works. :)

  23. Enz, I live exactly where you think I live!!!

  24. Great post! It's hard to be persistent and consistent when you don't get the reward of the scale moving, but for me, that has helped me bust through plateaus.

    You just got a shout out at Jack Sh*t! :o) I hadn't seen your blog before, but I'll be following your progress from now on.

    Bye for now

    Patsy :o)