Monday, May 04, 2009

How I Made the Scale Move

I've had several people ask me how I broke my plateau and have been able to keep the scale moving. So I'll share my thoughts and strategy with you all ...
First of all... I hesitate to think that I had anything to do with the end of the plateau. I have come to the realization that I've got very little control over the scale and that my body will do whatever the heck it wants to do. And it'll do it in it's own good time - not on my schedule.
Some background. In December I noticed a dramatic slow down in my weight loss and after speaking to my dietician about what I should do, she suggested I increase my calories up to 1500-1800/day. Needless to say, I freaked out about that number. So instead I had my RMR (resting metobolic rate) tested to find out exactly what my body needed -- rather than just some random number pulled out of thin air. My RMR came back at 1450 -- meaning my body needed 1450 calories just to survive doing nothing but sitting like a bump on a log all day.
So mid-December I started increasing my calories to the 1400-ish mark. It was a huge mental struggle but eventually I was able to sustain that amount for a while. But while eating that much the scale stopped completely. For four months.
I tried everything to get the scale moving again. I followed my list of questions about How to Break a Stall religiously. I'm sure you all remember the myriad of posts here about my frustrations with the stall -- so I won't rehash it all for you.
In April I decided to drop my calorie intake down to the level that I was eating when I used to be losing. Which would be around 1000-1200 calories/day. Almost immediately I saw movement in the scale. So I kept it up. And in fact, I still shoot for around 1100 calories five days a week. I'm less strict on the weekends and eat around 1400 calories.
So why the two numbers? 1100 during the week and 1400 on weekends.
Well, I'd been doing some reading about calorie cycling. The principle isn't exactly like what I'm doing, but the general idea is that when we give our body the exact same food and calories every day, then the body becomes more efficient and finds ways to exert less energy to do the same task over and over. So we need to change our diet routinely just like we change our exercise plan.
Interestingly, in the past week and a half while life was very chaotic and there was no routine whatsoever and my calories were all over the place .... I lost 4 pounds. Granted, I tend to be a "stress-non-eater" -- which means when I'm stressed I don't eat -- so the dramatic loss might be due to lack of food. But the food that I was eating was pure crap most of the time. I've eaten more fast food in the past week than I have in the entire 18 months since my surgery. I also haven't exercised in about 2 weeks. So I was definitely keeping my body guessing about what was coming next.
But was it my actions that caused the weight loss in the past few weeks? Or was it my body just doing what the heck it felt like doing? I don't know. I firmly believe that as a morbidly obese person that we "broke" our metabolism and that the whole "calories in vs. calories out" thing doesn't work for us like it does for someone who has been thin all their life. I think we just do the best we can do and let the chips fall where they may. And this week, I just happen to be on the losing side of the scale war. I'm not complaining... I'll take any loss the scale wants to give me and celebrate for the victory.
Sorry the explaination wasn't more earth shattering. LOL! But honestly, I think the best way to break a plateau is to just not give up. Don't quit just because you're discouraged. Before surgery I would have quit. I would have thrown my hands in the air and proclaimed the diet a failure and gone back to eating like crap. But this time around I stayed the course ... eat right, exercised and kept following the rules. And even though it took four months - the "not quitting" thing paid off.

1 comment:

  1. Pam, I think you hit the nail on the head. The ONLY effective way to get past a stall is to not give up. The stall can't last forever, especially eating the way we do. Can you share some thoughts on a future blog post about getting comfy at 1400 cals and then dropping back down? I am up to 1300and I worry about how comfortable I am with it and wonder if I could do what you've done.


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