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Weight Loss Plateau – I’m Stuck

I was doing so well with my [weight loss progress](http://tinyscreenfuls.com/2011/04/im-done-being-the-fat-guy/). Better than I had reason to expect, actually. I was losing two to four pounds per week. About 35 since the beginning of the year. And then it all stalled out. For the last four weeks or so, I’ve been stuck at about 315-317 pounds. And it’s driving me crazy.

I’ve been trying to figure out why – take the nerd approach, and figure out what part of the system is causing this outcome. I have a couple of suspects. First: High sodium intake. I like the salty stuff. Popcorn with lots of seasoning. Overdosing on the jerky. I even put salt on my pickles (a lifelong favorite snack, even more so now that I’ve learned that they have practically zero calories). I’m thinking that maybe there’s something going on with osmosis and water retention. But I obviously don’t know.

My other suspect is eating late at night. I’ve found myself in the habit of eating really low calorie snacks and lunch during the day so I can have practically whatever I want for dinner, and leave room for some heavy duty snacking in the evening while I’m watching Battlestar Galactica with Rachel. I’ve read in the Lose It book and elsewhere that getting good sleep is important to weight loss. I don’t stay up too late, and I sleep well, thanks to my BiPAP machine I wear at night to treat my sleep apnea. But I’ve also read that eating after a certain hour (say, 8PM) makes it harder for your body to burn calories while you sleep. Or makes it more likely to store your late night snacks as fat. Or something. I don’t know, and that’s the point. But it makes sense.

I also suspect that my metabolism might have adjusted to my new eating habits, and needs to be jumpstarted. So I’ve started walking at least once a day to fire it up. What used to be painful torture is actually enjoyable now. Never thought I’d get back to the point where I enjoy physical exercise. It’s something I hated for so long.

I’m not looking for someone to tell me the answer, because I know what they’ll say. You’re right. They’re all bad. Stop it. I need to continue the nerd approach, modify one variable, and see what that does to the results. I need to either cut down on the salt, or the late night snacks. My problem is that they’re often the same thing, and I really don’t want to stop. I like them both. A lot. I guess that’s why this whole weight loss thing is so hard. But on the other hand, I’m tired of the frustration of my weight not going down week after week even though I’m staying under my calories. I know what I need to do. Now, I just need to do it. Shut up and ship. Wish me luck.

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19 thoughts on “Weight Loss Plateau – I’m Stuck

  1. One technique to consider (I’m also not a fan of the “it’s all bad – stop that” approach) is to completely shake up your eating habits for just one day or two and see what happens. For example, you can do a “protein” day where you only eat protein for a single day, no exceptions. For whatever reason this has worked for me in the past to break through a plateau. Afterward, resuming my approach worked. Just an idea on a global variable you can change to see if it makes any difference. No matter what, You are doing great – 35 lbs is a lot of weight that you no longer have to haul around every second of every day. That is a true milestone in itself. Thank you for the inspiration – can’t wait for the next update!

  2. Anonymous says:

    At the risk of offering an unwanted solution, I suspect this is just a normal phase as you remake your body. The scale only tells part of the story, and it seems to me that tracking just your weight numbers is getting you down. Since you’ve gone from completely sedentary to walking more and more, I’ll bet you’re building some muscle as you burn fat. I’m not sure if muscle really weighs more than fat, but it can’t be a bad thing to nurture this trend, maybe with some light resistance or circuit training. Also take into account how much water you’re drinking — don’t stop, but remember it’s heavy stuff.

    Keep at it! You’ve come so far already!

  3. Paolo says:

    I had a similar issue. I lost about 50 pounds. 220 to 170. At around the 30 pound mark I went from 2 pounds per week to .5. What I figured out is I needed to eat more not less. Well – more often – same amount of food. Sounds like you are saving all your eating for the end of the day – that didn’t work for me. I had to eat small things 6 to 8 times a day. I also added about 3 miles of running/walking per day.

  4. Raage Golden says:

    been there done that soooo many times, key-don’t give up. keep going. your not alone, this is very common. And may the force be with you.

  5. Dan says:

    Read “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It” by Gary Taubes. It’s done wonders for my wife.

  6. Kevin Pirkl says:

    Dont worry, the humps are there and you will get past them. I hit at least three of them dropping from 250 on my way to 180.. Just keep up the workouts and calorie burns and lots of small meals to keep yourself even.

    Cheers

  7. After reading this today, I had an interesting experience. I googled around for sodium’s effect on weight loss (something I’m working through myself) and it became obvious how much opinion is out there. There are all kinds of people trying to tell you all kinds of different things. I think the best approach would be talk to your doctor, or a dietician. Not only will they be able to give you correct information, but they’ll also be able to give you information that applies to you.

    It may turn out that sodium combined with some other chemical makes you retain water better than you could have imagined. Or it may turn out that a particular activity, time, food, etc. makes all the difference at this exact point where you are in the process.

      • Dennis Hurlbut says:

        Excellent, that’s good to hear. I’ve definitely hit a few plateaus myself on the way, and completely understand not wanting to jinx. 

  8. Kathyannfarrel says:

    When I was dieting (lost 60+ pounds and have kept them off for four years) I found a remarkable difference when I stopped my eating for the day around 6. At the time I was using a glucometer to track my sugar and got on the kick of seeing how low I could make that first reading every morning. When I started doing this in earnest the weight started to drop off gradually, but steadily. If you absolutely can’t make it from 6 ’til the next morning, a 100-snack such as a small orange is good. If I wanted ice cream during the day I made sure I ate it at lunch time.

  9. Plateaus happen. One thing I learned while doing a combination of Atkins and Paleo is that sometimes your body gets used to your eating habits, and so what a lot of people would do when they hit a plateau is they would have a “carb up” weekend. This gives your body a kick in the pants and helps it readjust. So, do something like what Jeremy suggested. Have a carb up weekend or a protein weekend. It’s a little bit like exercise. Your body will stop building as fast as it can if you do the same exact work out routine for months on end. You have to change it up. If you do a lot of cardio, move to muscle building, or if you do a lot with your legs, try working your arms. Same thing with eating sometimes. It can help you bust through that wall. 

  10. Nickirieske says:

    I have been on a diet since april of last year and have lost 60 lbs, but now I cant lose anymore, I have been stuck for about 3 months and I dont know what to do, any suggestions

    • Nickirieske, I’ve been doing some reading and experimenting on myself on how to break through my own plateaus, and I’ve found something that works. I’ve been doing it for months, and I’m going to write it up soon, but I keep finding more and more reading on the topic that I want to do before I share it. 

      The thing I recommend you do is get and read the book “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes. It takes a look at the science of what makes our fat tissues grow (hint: it’s carbohydrates and insulin), and turns the conventional wisdom of “all you have to do is burn more calories than you take in” on its head. It’s very enlightening, and I’ve been following a low carb “ketogenic” diet for a few months now, and I’ve make great progress. Plateau busted. 

      Good luck! :-)

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