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stalled weight loss - diet and exercise questions (long)

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  • stalled weight loss - diet and exercise questions (long)

    Over the past 2.5 years, I've lost somewhere between 60 and 65 pounds. I started at 215-ish pounds and I'm now 148 and 5' 5". I'm a 47 year old female who's having the typical hormonal changes associated with skirting the edge of menopause. My primary symptom (read...worst) has been insomnia. Like a light switch I go from sleeping deeply, easily and well, to being both unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. The changes correlate with my monthly cycle and so far all doctors have said is that when things get bad enough I'll sleep and they reassure me that just as soon as my hormones "settle down", my body will be able to sleep again because it won't be getting surprised by huge surges or collapses in hormone levels. On my worst nights, I take ambien to sleep. It's better than nothing, but it's not real rest.

    At the early stages of my diet, I was totally CW. I simply reduced eating sweets, fries, chips and the like. A fairly easy 30-35 pounds came off in six months. Overall, I was eating approximately 1800 calories per day. Then I stalled. I stayed the course for months, but no new weight came off. Every chart told me that 1800 calories per day was a typical maintenance expenditure for a 155 pound female, so I was confused as to why I was stalled at 175/180 pounds. After almost 6 months of no change, I finally decided that stubborness wasn't going to work, I had to figure out what the problem was. I stumbled onto low carb literature (still hadn't found paleo or primal info yet). I lowered my carbs (I ate 30-50 grams per day on average) and the calories fell about 1400-1600 per day. Weightloss started again and another 15 pounds or so came off. Then I stalled again. The next step was lowering my calories yet 1200-1400 per day on average. I lost about 10 more pounds before stalling again. (FWIW, each stall lasts for months before I jump to conclusions) Next, I started calorie/carb cycling. It's been a royal pain in the bu## to keep track of, but I lost about 5 more pounds over approximately 3-4 months.

    I've tried the leptin reset protocol...nothing really changed. I've tried eating no wheat or gluten products for months..nothing really changed beyond the changes I had already gotten by eating low carb. My current body fat percentage calculates to about 27% if I find an online calculator that takes into accout measurements of forearms and wrist circumference along with neck, waist and hips. If I purely use torso measurements, my body fat percentage is like 34%. This tells me that I'm storing most of my fat on my torso...and looking in the mirror shows it. I have a slim face, hands, arms and legs and a thicker torso. I've looked at photos that show examples of a woman's physique at differeing body fat levels and my torso really does look like the 30-34% range.

    So I've started doing workouts during the last 5 weeks.....basically HIT as I read in Body by Science. I can't afford a gym though so I'm focusing on slow, accurate movements of core exercises like pushups, overhead presses (I have some resistance bands that are labeled as 19 pounds that I use), squats and since I can't do a pullup, I'm doing the exercises that build you up to doing a pullup and chinup. Doing the slow movements makes it hard to compare my fitness level to the typical rep based charts, but for instance...I can do 16 full length pushups (the last couple are super hard and I'm prone to cheat on those by dipping my head down, but I don't droop my back or do other cheats). I'm very interested in the workouts on Al Kavadlo's website too. I'm torn as to whether to approach bodyweight exercises using an HIT method or just "do 'em". I have to admit that my natural tendency is to prefer to just "do it" versus spending lots of time thinking and timing things. As soon as he has a kindle version of his book available, I'm probably going to buy his book and it should help me make up my mind which approach I want to take.'s where I need advice. I've been tracking macronutrients for over a year on myfitnesspal. Over the last 6 months, I've averaged under 1400 calories per day, occasional days under 1000 and often with entire weeks at 1200 per day. During those 26 weeks, I've had about 15 "cheat" meals where I had to eat out due to being out of town etc...and no it wasn't all stacked into the recent holiday . Over the 2 weeks around Christmas, I cheated with 2 meals. On the cheat days, my calories went up to 1600-1800 for just that day., I don't eat perfectly, but over the last year it seems pretty doggone close to me. I've *never* paid so much attention to food in my life. There have been months in there (usually 3 months at a time when I try an experiment) that I have eaten utterly clean (no wheat, low carb, and no whey powder, no milk). Since it didn't appear to make any difference, I've added whey back into my life as an occasional convenient meal (using unsweetened almond milk) and I eat some cheese during lunch and a clementine (or a small apple when clementines are off season).

    It appears that my metabolism is running really slow. I'm guessing that I lost muscle mass over the obese years and due to the long period of conventional dieting when I first started this journey. The thing do I get my metabolism back up to where it should be? I've already done long periods where my calories were 1200 per day and I'm not keen on lowering that any further. I've done about 5 hard workouts so far (about 1 month using Body by Science weekly regimen) using bodyweight exercises to failure (I'm talking can't stand up, screaming to get out the last rep or just to hold the position level of difficulty). I've also done a couple of bicycle sprint days because I have an exercise bike that it's easy to up the tension on. So...with 4-5 weeks of best-I-can-do exercises and eating 1200-1400 calories per day with 60 grams of carbs on average...there's been no weight loss or change of measurements. Nothing...nada. Lots of soreness, muscle weakness, and I rest for the week except for maybe a bike ride/sprints...low calories...for slightly over a month...but no change. I still have a 33 inch wasit and it's been that size for 4 months now....stalled before the exercies and it seems I'm still stalled even with the weight exercises.

    Since I've been doing this for 5 weeks now, why am I not seeing any progress? What am I doing wrong? If I keep averaging 1200-1400 calories per day, is that reasonable...too high...too low? Am I wanting results too fast? I don't excpet much, but surely I should see *something* after 5 weeks of this experiemnt...maybe only 1/2 inch or a 1/2 pound of fat gone. ....something...anything. I'm at a loss as to what else I can try because I'm getting no feedback of change happening in my body to tell me anything is making any difference. With no feedback, I don't know what "protocols" to accentuate to optimize things for my physiology. I know over time an exercise routine will make me healthier and more fit, but I'm I wanting too much to also be able to reach like 20% body fat?
    Last edited by cecirdr; 01-08-2012, 11:10 AM. Reason: typo

  • #2
    I am 5'3" and according to calculations in Protein Power, 139lbs is the upper end of ideal weight. Maybe you are at ideal, too. Ideal for health, not for catalog models.
    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


    • #3
      I agree that you may be very close to ideal weight, so your body is holding on for dear life! It also sounds like this has been very stressful for you, and stress is no good for weight loss! I would recommend not counting calories for a good two weeks. Eat until you're satisfied, and don't worry about how many calories you're taking in. When you've eaten so little for so long, you could very well use a few weeks of a "diet-break" to get things moving again. I would even cut back on the exercise-walk and do some yoga, but nothing strenuous, and get a massage. In short, relax!!!
      $5 off QOC241

      "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

      For nutrition/wellness tips:!/pages/One...34671179916624


      • #4
        Thanks for reading my long winded monologue sbhikes and tradawg. I can tell you both did because you came up as stumped as I am as to how to get through this stall.

        One thing I do know, stall or no, I'm going to continue to do weightlifting/bodyweight exercises. I'm middle aged now and I *know* I've lost muscle mass. I'm also going to keep eating lower carb (as in under 100 grams per day) and I'll keep taking the vitamin K2, D3 and magnesium regimen that I started almost a year ago.

        I'm not sure I can continue to worry about things like wheat/no wheat, whey/no whey, dairy/no dairy, fruit/no fruit, nuts/no nuts. I'm just going to eat healthier than I did when I was over weight and do my workouts. If that means I end up eating more than 1400 calories per day, then so be it. I'll keep using myfitnesspal to track information and I'll try to keep my calories under what should be a reasonable number for a women my height and age. Other than that...I'm tired. Tired of all this tracking of every morsel of food, micro and macro nutrient.


        • #5
          Have you tried IF? - Once a week, dont eat anything after dinner till the next day at around 2 pm?


          • #6
            Originally posted by macadamon View Post
            Have you tried IF? - Once a week, dont eat anything after dinner till the next day at around 2 pm?
            Doh! I haven't. Thanks for bringing that up. Now, if I recall, the thing to keep in mind is that when you break the fast, you don't eat more to compensate. You just have a regular meal. Right? I'll give this a try.

            So far, I've occasionally missed a meal, but usually I remember it by the next meal. (nothing healthy made me forget...I got the game me, many gamers exit this reality when they play that game) Usually, I may not eat tons more, but I eat a bit more than usual since calorically I can supposedly get away with it. I'll try to do IF "officially" now.


            • #7
              If you do a search on Mark's main blog (not the forum) for Mary Titus she is an older woman who has had a good experience with IF and she gives a lot of detail. She has written a lot on the protein power blog, too. Her comments are really interesting and helpful plus it helps she isn't a "dude bro".
              Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


              • #8
                I don't have any advise about your stall, as I'm having a similar problem, but I did want to chime in that I've been doing the BBS workout for about a year and a half now and have put on a good amount of muscle, something other programs never did. I hope you'll keep that up even if it doesn't help with the fat loss, nothing feels as good as being strong

                Also, have you tried having a day or two of high calories to try to keep your metabolism up? I have read of a few others doing this and thought I'd try it, maybe it could help you too? I have a really low metabolism too from a lifetime of dieting, if you find something that works I'd love a PM to let me know
                PaleoMom's Diet Recovery Journal