If you’ve never tried to lose a few pounds and been stuck in the midst of a diet plateau, then today’s post is not for you. Okay, for the 99.6% of you still reading, here’s hope. We asked St. Thomas Health to weigh in on today’s topic and then we chatted amongst ourselves about real specifics that have worked to help us lose those stubborn 10 pounds or keep us motivated when our weight just won’t budge.
What we’ve learned? There’s no single right solution, and what works for your BFF may not work for you. Moreover, at some point, we’ve all hit the proverbial wall and have felt frustrated with our bodies. So today’s post was written to inspire you to take heart if you find yourself in that place of frustration where your current routine isn’t working anymore. We get it, we’ve been there and we are there.
Note: Always contact your doctor before starting any weight loss or exercise program.
Saint Thomas Health: Busting Through The Diet Plateau
There are few things more frustrating to dieters than working hard, eating healthy but not seeing the scale budge. This is the dreaded diet plateau. After a few months of dieting and routine exercise, typically four to six months, your body adjusts to its new and improved form and begins to use calories more efficiently.
One way to start seeing results is to switch up your routine. A new workout will require your body to burn more calories as you utilize and build different muscles. If you usually walk, try intervals, alternating walking with short bursts of running. Other cardio activities to boost your calorie burn include cycling, kickboxing, kettlebells and Zumba.
Increased weight training can also kick start your calorie burn. Greater muscle mass burns more calories throughout the day, so opt for weights that are a few pounds heavier, or include hand weights in your current walking routine.
To find a doctor, who can help you through your weight frustrations, check out 1800doctors.com.
Amy and Clean Eating:
With the exception of my first pregnancy (when I gave in to wicked sugar cravings and gained way too many pounds), I’ve been lucky that I’ve had a relatively easy time maintaining my weight over the years … until I turned 40, that is. I was not necessarily a model student during my young adulthood where diet and exercise were concerned but, until a few years ago, anytime I reached a plateau of some sort, where my metabolism shifted and extra pounds found their way to my midsection, I had always been able to add something new, like running, or cut out obviously bad stuff like fast food, and return to a size that “felt” comfortable. (I don’t like scales, btw. Too-tight jeans are my signal to re-evaluate. I know, so scientific, right?) Dismayed to discover at an annual check up that I had gained 12 pounds in 3 years, at 43, I decided it was time to get a handle on this creeping weight gain.
Over the summer, my sister-in-law let me borrow some books she was reading about “clean” eating. Similar to Paleo, the Eat Clean Diet embraces a philosophy of eating whole, natural foods and eschews the processed, white flour, sugary stuff. This diet also emphasizes weight lifting in addition to cardio (something I was not doing). It took about five months of eating six small, clean meals a day (until Fridays, when I freely enjoy pizza and beer if I’m in the mood!) and adding Bar Method classes to my running to shed those pounds and feel better.
Two years later, I’m happy to say I haven’t fluctuated much at holidays or during summer (and I like feeling more toned and stronger–thanks, Carrie and your wonderful Bar Method teachers!) and I don’t have horrible sugar cravings anymore. I’m sure as I hit the next inevitable plateau, there will be more necessary tweaks to my routine, but I’m certainly in a much healthier place to deal with whatever Mother Nature has in store!
Katherine M: How to Keep to a VEGAN Diet And Not Gain Weight (after gaining weight):
My family went vegan last year (for health issues, not weight loss) and it never occurred to me that I might gain weight through this dietary change. Fast forward a year and lo and behold, I’ve put on a whopping 10 pounds. Excuse me? I’m vegan! This was a cruel joke. So, I enlisted the help of Nutrition Coach Julie Taube, RD, who educated me that I may be overeating my carbs. She explains,“Plant-based protein sources (beans, lentils, quinoa etc) have less protein for the same amount of calories as animal sources of protein, and the protein is what leaves you full after a meal. Many vegetarians overeat plant-based carbohydrate protein sources to feel satisfied. A 1/2 cup of beans is 130 calories with 8 grams of protein; the same amount of calories in 3 oz of chicken provides 26 grams of protein.”
Julie usually suggests vegans/vegetarians to get some professional input to make sure they’re following a well-balanced diet, The three problems she sees most often are too much fruit, processed carbs, and not enough fiber. So, to knock of the extra weight, I’ve got to start filling up on non-starchy vegetables. Just like every other diet, portion control will be the big issue. Julie advises that at each meal, my fruit serving should be the size of a baseball, my carb serving no bigger that 1/2 a tennis ball, and my fats less that a ping-ping ball, but my other veggies are unlimited. (Atlantans can contact Julie Taube, MS, RD, LD, or fellow coach, Sheryl Westerman, at www.sherylwesterman.com. And to read more about making the jump to a vegan diet, click here: www.styleblueprint.com/vegan-tale)
Liza and the 5-2 Mini Fast:
I’m tall. Really tall. At 5′ 11″ I can easily gain 10 pounds without most people knowing. Over the past two years, I gained 10-15 pounds. By this I mean I gained 15 pounds, but could lose 5 and never any more. I eat well, I workout, I drink lots of water, I shun gluten and eat very little dairy. I eat tons of veggies and I hardly ever drink alcohol. I was convinced I had a thyroid issue and had my blood checked. Nope. I was then convinced, after keeping a diary of everything I ate for a month, that I must have a metabolic issue. I had my metabolism checked and found out I was above normal. It was suggested that I start eating MORE to lose weight. I normally eat about 1400-1600 calories a day–that’s just when I naturally stop. I increased my calories up to 1800-2000 and guess what? I lost weight! Then, over a month, I gained it right back. Not more mind you, but I ended up just where I started, but this time I was eating more by forcing small snacks all day long. I’m not an every-3-hour snacker and I found this all to be way too much effort. Seriously, just let me eat when I’m hungry. This trying to “think” about food all day was not a good match for me. Oh, did I mention that I added walking 1.5 miles every night on top of my regular workouts? Still, I couldn’t break through. (But, it’s a great way to talk to my hubby, sans kiddos!)
BTW, I was committed this entire time to NOT trying to restrict my calorie intake to something that I knew was unsustainable. And, the metabolic tests gave good reason for me not to do this.
Then, I was listening to the science behind the 5-2 diet on NPR one morning in July and it struck a chord. I was game to try it, as what I heard made sense to me. I would eat however I normally did 5 days a week. Then, for two days each week, I would need to cut my calories by 75% and leave carbs by the wayside. Oh my gosh, for me and my crazy life, this was soooo doable. I only had to think about food two days a week? Done. And, if one week I couldn’t follow this, or I just found myself extra hungry, I could just start back the next week.
And guess what? A month in, I had lost 8 pounds. I’m now down 10 and only have 5 more to go. Wow. For the science about this 2 days of “light-fasting” per week, read NPR’s Two Day Diets: How Mini Fasts Can Help Maximize Weight Loss: click here.
A Few Last Thoughts:
As we said at the beginning, what works for one person may not work for you. If you are struggling, seek out medical advice. Have your thyroid checked. Consider having your metabolism checked, too. But, don’t give up! The process of losing weight is hard, and those who have never really struggled with it are few and far between. Whatever your goal, whether you have 200 pounds to lose or 15, enlist friends and family members for help and encouragement. Verbalizing the need for support not only opens the door for affirmation from the people who care about us, it helps us see that we all often struggle with variations of the same thing. There’s strength in that. And, where there’s strength, success and victory are not usually far behind.