Can't lose weight, what is wrong with me?

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11/07/2009 at 23:39

Hi!

I am a 5ft 7in female and currently weigh 218.2lb. My target weight is 140lb. I started dieting and exercising in January and took 5 months to lose a stone. In the last 6 weeks I have only lost 0.8lb.

I keep a food diary and eat 1500cals per day. I was doing 300 calories worth of exercise every day but have recently upped that to 600 calories as I'm not losing any weight.My exercise routine is a combination of running, long walks (I live in a particularly hilly area and am usually pushing a double buggy while walking) and doing the 30 day challenge on Wii active.

I don't understand why the weight isn't falling off me, with the calorie intake I have and the amount of exercise I am doing I would expect to be losing at least 1 to 2lb every week.

Any advice would be very welcome. Has anyone else had similar experience and what was the problem?

TT ;0)

11/07/2009 at 23:52

Hi Tangerine,

Not entirely sure what's going on here, but have a few things to offer:

- You say you were doing 300 calories worth of exercise and have now upped it to 600 calories worth. Just wondering how you were measuring this? i.e. Could it be that you're doing less and not realising it? I think we all know that sometimes you can feel like you're really pushing yourself but you're not actually working off as much as you'd have liked

- Perhaps your body has got used to the different exercises you're doing and has reached a plateau? How about adding some new exercises in or substitute some of the old exercises for new ones? What about using a Cross Trainer or a Rower at the gym? Rowing is an extremely good form of cardio, as is swimming - how about that?

- Are you eating enough essential fats? The body needs a certain amount of natural fats to be able to function properly and ironically, to lose weight. If you're restricting yourself too much and exclusively eating low-fat foods, your body may be conserving the fat you are hoping to lose as it thinks it's not getting any more! Perhaps introduce some things like nuts, seeds and oily fish into your meals and see how that goes?

- As for running, do you usually run at a regular pace? What about shaking your sessions up a bit? i.e. try some speedier runs to up the impact or since you say you live in a hilly area, what about adding in some hill sessions?

Good luck

12/07/2009 at 00:15

Thank for your advice D2D.

In answer to your questions:-

I measure my calorie expenditure for running and walking with my Garmin and the wii gives you a calorie count when you do an exercise routine on it.

I am unable to get to the gym as I have a one year old baby and work as a childminder during the day, my hubby works in the evenings. So I walk with the kids during the day to get them off for their nap and I run at 6am or 10pm when hubby is home and baby in her bed. Fit wii active sessions in when I can, usually with baby hanging onto my legs.

I am very careful with my diet and make sure I eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, 1 of which is oily fish, and use olive oil for cooking.

At moment a regular pace is all I can manage with running. Is very hard going on the joints running with 5.5 stone of excess weight. I run for 30 minutes 3 times during the week and I am up to running for 50 minutes on a Saturday morning, but knees ache quite a lot after long run. I am slowly increasing the pace of my 30 minute runs but nowhere near the pace that I was when I was thinner a couple of years ago. Can only manage around 3.6km in 30 minutes whereas used to run over 5 km in 30 minutes easily .

Am wondering whether maybe there is a problem with my thyroid, but can't quite get myself to the doctor as feel stupid and kind of expect doctor to not listen to my concerns and think I am just looking for excuses. So keep talking myself out of going.

TT ;0)

12/07/2009 at 07:10

You are either eating too much, or not enough, I suspect you aren't eating enough to sustain your excercise and you body is just storing fat.

Remember calorie calcs are just best (well, pretty rubbish tbh) guess calculations.

12/07/2009 at 08:59

I had this problem 6 months ago, I only wanted to lose 5 lbs but the less I ate, the more I worked out the more weight I put on and it was very frustrating! My body just went on a go slow and retained everything I gave it thinking it was its last meal!

I then started to train harder, with more tempo work and more speed, not just plodding around the fields which I was doing before I started eating three regular meals a day with horror or horrors carbs (I started eating chips again!!).  I went from an 8.30 minute mile to 7.20 within 2 months, and I realised I was just training in my comfort zone all the time and not pushing harder.

My metabolism has changed now completely, I feel fantastic and I have lost half a stone, in fact now I am worried I am losing too much weight and I eat like horse (including chocs most days!) and I just don't put on weight!  I have now upped my distance to 10 miles once or twice a week as well and make sure I am fully fuelled by carb loading the day before). 

So I would suggest eat more but keep it healthy and make the most of your exercise time and stress your body more.  In time it will come.

12/07/2009 at 11:48

If your calorific intake is lower than your calorific expenditure, you have to lose weight. This would suggest that maybe you're not burning off as many calories as you think or you are consuming more calories than you realise.

Given that you are monitoring your calories burned with your Garmin it would suggest that you may be consuming more calories than you think.

But it's not that simplistic. If you cut back drastically on your calorie intake and increase your expenditure, your body thinks there is a famine looming, (evolutionary thing), and the metabolism slows down in order to try and preserve body fat for the long haul. Not only that, but the body will hold onto fat and burn muscle first.

As has already been mentioned, you have to up your exercise in intensity. If you are limited to time then there will come a point when your body is used to a certain amount of exertion for a certain period of time. The way to deal with this is to up the ante and push a wee bit harder so you're outwith your comfort zone.

Keep at it. You will do it. It is just very frustrating when you don't see any results for a period.

12/07/2009 at 12:00
Winking Giraffe wrote (see)

If your calorific intake is lower than your calorific expenditure, you have to lose weight. This would suggest that maybe you're not burning off as many calories as you think or you are consuming more calories than you realise.

But it's not that simplistic. If you cut back drastically on your calorie intake and increase your expenditure, your body thinks there is a famine looming, (evolutionary thing), and the metabolism slows down in order to try and preserve body fat for the long haul. Not only that, but the body will hold onto fat and burn muscle first.

Contradiction?
12/07/2009 at 13:08

Well spotted! Meant to add something there.....

Because your body will burn muscle first you have to introduce a weights regime to your routine. This forces the body to burn fat and maintains your metabolism.

Sorry...

12/07/2009 at 14:41

Another thing to look at is hydration. Not only will you need to be drinking at least 2ltrs of water as per usual you will need to up this for the fluid loss when you exercise and as it's quite warm and you are carrying an amount ofextra fat you will be loosing more in sweat. As with fat, if you are not taking onboard enough your body will start to store what you have. you will also not be flushing toxins out of your body. Add at least an extra half ltr to your daily fluid intake.

On a side issue, you are female so have an amount of oestrogen in your body. Are you on the pill or using any chemical form of contraception. A side effect, much as it is played down, of chemical contraceptions, is weight gain and subsequent inability to loose weight. Just to add insult to injury, our female hormone oestrogen plays a big part in our weight. It stimulates the appetite, it is stored in fat so as you loose weight you release oestrogen into your body which in turn promotes the body to store food as fat. You may want to try vitB complex to help you get rid of the extra oestrogen. Don't go overboard, (like male body builders) oestrogen is a vital hormone for normal health - both bones and heart. Think about it, oestrogen is fed to animals (banned in europe) to fatten them up. If you eat a lot of soya (it's hidden in everything from readymeals, chocolate, bread etc) then you are probably getting a big dose of oestrogen in your diet. Great if you hitting the menopause, otherwise not too hot.

Having said that, I don't think 1,500 kcal for a 212lb lady is anything like enough. I think your body has come to the conclusion that you've had your head cut off.

Oh and you need animal fat. olive oil doesn't offer much unless you like the taste. Half a pint of semiskimmed milk a day will help you shed fat. Something to do with the type of calcium in the milk, it binds to fat in your gut and is excreted rather than stored.

12/07/2009 at 16:14

1500 calories is definitely a little on the low side for your current weight - not sure how old you are, but someone of your height and weight aged 30 would probably need 1750 calories a day to avoid starvation mode according to fairly well-established formuli.

I think maybe your body is getting used to being starved, and may also have been getting used to your regular exercise pattern. Some resistance work (either using weights or your body weight as resistance) would help, particularly if you managed to fit in 15 minutes of resistance exercise before running, as that's supposed to help give the fat-burning a bit of a kick. Might be worth trying an exercise DVD as a way of getting something new in and increasing the variety of what you're doing - it'll also make exercising more interesting for you.

Tempo and speed interval workouts will help by pushing the intensity of your exercise up, which kickstarts your metabolism and also helps keep your metabolic rate raised for longer after your exercise session. And again, it's more interesting to have different running workouts than churning out the same pace every time.

There is some research suggesting that dairy products aid weight loss: there's also research suggesting you can get good, healthy weight loss results without animal fats at all. 

12/07/2009 at 20:56

Would just mention loads of water 2-3 litres a day, really helps shift the weight.

Dragon lady - interested in your situ, if you dont mind can you tell me what you eat on a excersise day and a rest day??

12/07/2009 at 23:17

Bikermouse - I do have slimfast milk shakes for at least one meal each day, so am already having at least 250ml of milk. Don't have any soya in my diet and not on any forms of contraception, but am a pear shaped woman so do have high levels of oestrogen I would imagine. Which probably does make weight loss more difficult.

I know that not eating enough can slow down the metabolism but find it very difficult to accept that it would stop me losing weight completely when I am so overweight. If that were the case then anorexics wouldn't get as skinny as they do.

I know I don't drink enough water and start every day vowing to drink more.

RunnyBunny- I am already doing resistance training on the wii active, it involves a lot of exercises with an elasticated resistance band and lots of squats, lunges, jumping etc. It works a bit like a personal trainer, every workout is different so it doesn't get boring like an exercise video.

Winking Giraffe- I write down every single morsel that passes my lips so definitely not eating more than I think. Measure everything out and write everything down.

I know what everyone is saying about upping the tempo of my running but honestly I am running at full pelt at the moment. I sweat buckets when I exercise and struggle to talk for most of my run as I am working as hard as I can at the weight I am at, the sweat is literally running off my chin and nose when I finish. I am pushing myself on every run to go a little bit further each time in an attempt to increase my speed to what it used to be. When I go for a walk I maintain a speed above 5km per hr which is hard going in a hilly area pushing 4 stone of double buggy and toddlers.

Convinced myself today that will def go to doc to get thyroid checked as have been totally exhausted all day, struggled to keep my eyes open for most of day. Had to resort to caffeine which, as never usually touch the stuff , normally wakes me up and has me buzzing all day, but made no difference at all. I was still knackered. Had seven hours sleep last night, which as a mum of a one year old is fab, so shouldn't be so tired. Have also got my second whopping big cold sore in the space of two months. I usually only get cold sores if have been really unwell, or when I am pregnant (definitely not) . Last time I had one outside pregnancy was probably 16 years ago after a bout of flu.

Thank you everyone for all the advice, I am sure a lot of it will be useful to others who are struggling with weightloss. 

TT ;0)

13/07/2009 at 07:23

Hi

why don't you post your menu and I can have a quick look. Also i can keeping a food diary and using this web site : http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/.. Some times we eat a bit more then we think....so make sure that you write eveything down.

Simone

13/07/2009 at 07:46

Tiredness can also be a syptom of a lacking diet too.

13/07/2009 at 07:54

Anorexics enter a state where their bodies are consuming muscle, but not everyone wastes away completely when dropping calories. I have a PT client who was gaining weight on 800 calories a day when I first started working with her, and she's now losing weight on 1800 calories a day, although it is quite slow to come off.

With the resistance training, I'm not familiar with the Wii programmes, but if working with gym equipment, the weight would be set so that the muscles were fatigued and really couldn't manage much more after a set of 15-20 repetitions for toning/endurance (and fewer than that for strength training), having a break of at least 30 seconds before another set could be completed. The moves would be slow (eg 2 seconds to lift up, 2 seconds to bring back down again). Is the Wii doing this? You'd also have at least one day's break between resistance workouts for the muscles to repair. Resistance bands are useful equipment, but you only really get high resistance at the extreme end of each move because the resistance varies with the amount of stretch in the band.

It does sound odd that the weight isn't coming off though, and I think a visit to the doctor might be sensible. It also sounds like you're a bit run down, so could be that the exercise regime is resulting in overtraining. Has increasing the amount you do had any effect on speeding up the weight loss?

13/07/2009 at 11:34

I would definitely agree with the comments that perhaps you are not eating enough - especially in light of your overall tiredness.  It sounds like your body is hanging on to every calorie you put in, as it thinks that it will only get a net 900 calories a day, and is trying to slow you down to stop you burning it off as well.  I know it sounds daft when you are overweight, but that's evolution for you!

There's a good calculation here (scroll down the page) for your Base Metabolic Rate - eat less than this on a regular basis and your body goes into famine mode.

Using the info you have given, and assuming you are 35yo, you need 1747 calories just to exist.  Add 600 cals worth of exercise, and you need 2347 cals to stay the same weight.  The usual recommendation is that you reduce by a maximum of 500 cals a day to lose weight in a sustainable way, so that would suggest that around 1800 cals would be what you should be eating.  This would also give you a bit more energy for running and more oomph generally.

It does work - I've actually lost half a stone since I went back to work post maternity leave - just because I now have time to eat lunch on a regular basis (and snack at coffee time too!)

13/07/2009 at 11:53

TangerineTwirly - when you say you keep a food diary, do you weigh everything or estimate?

I use foodfocus.co.uk to calculate my calorie intake but just before Christmas had a real nutritionist checking my food intake.  I had to weigh and measure *everything* I ate and drank for a week.  Her calculations and mine were poles apart.  I think I'd calculated that I'd consumed 1500 calories, her calculations were at 1900 calories.  Makes a big old difference over a week.

If you aren't losing weight and you are eating sensibly and exercising then the most likely scenario is that you are under-estimating portion sizes.  Spend a couple of days weighing food, not estimating how much you've eaten and making sure you write the diary as you go through the day, not at the end (because you don't remember properly)

My all means talk to your GP if you feel thyroid might be a reason, but people with thyroid problems tend to not have the inability to lose weight as their main or only symptom. 

13/07/2009 at 11:58

Excellent calculatory thing Nessie.  Might just have provided part of the answer as to why I'm stuck at this weight despite being back at the gym 4 times a week and cutting back on food.

Definite food for thought ....

13/07/2009 at 13:17

I second the hydration thing. You say that you 'sweat buckets' when you run (as we all do!), so if you're not replacing these essential fluids/salts afterwards, you're not giving your body the necessary means to function properly - let alone lose weight.

Also, if you drank more water, your body wouldn't have a chance to confuse hunger and thirst - something else that may be happening here?

I found a good article here:

http://www.solveyourproblem.com/weight-loss-dieting/drink-water-lose-weight.shtml

(Any article that comes from a site called 'solveyourproblem' has got to be good, right? )

13/07/2009 at 14:16

I have been in a similar position to you.  I'm the same height, but was 165lb, with a goal weight of 150lb.  I eat around 1600 cal per day (according to food focus), and burn around 600-800 cal with exercise. 

 I went months where I didn't lose any weight at all, and it was quite disheartening, as I just didn't feel I could eat less while maintaining my exercise levels.  Over the past year, I have lost maybe half a stone.  It's not a lot - but it is progress.  I am still losing weight, it's just 1 pound every few months, not per week.  I have just accepted that some people find it harder, and that losing it slowly will hopefully mean it stays off.

Maybe you will be the same as me - not lose anything for a while, then lose a pound here, and a pound there.  Eventually, it will feel like it is adding up.

If you are worried about your thyroid, I would get it checked out though.  Even if it is fine, maybe the doctor will have some advice to help your energy levels etc.

Also, remember to take measurements as well as weighing yourself.  I do look like I have lost more weight than I have, as I've been doing a few body pump classes a week, and that combined with running has caused me to gain a bit of muscle, which weights more than fat.

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