Q: I am (obviously) a HUGE fan of your website and information. I am all the way there regarding eating clean and exercising. I have pretty much eliminated sweets, junk food, etc out of my diet. I don’t drink soda (always hated it) rarely drink juice and when I do I never finish the cup because it’s too sweet. I have started jogging and enjoying it even though I am still slow. Here’s my question-I know we are in this to not just lose weight but to be healthy too but I currently weigh 235 (down from 250 5 months ago) and it’s getting so hard to lose weight. I thought since I am so heavy now the weight would fall off just from changing my eating habits and moving more but it’s not! Have any of your other readers experienced this? I don’t consider it a plateau ( I read your post about that) because the scale moves…just veeeeeery slowly. Suggestions? Tips? I would be honored if this was a Wednesday post on your blog…if you haven’t covered this already. Thanks!
I know, I know… 2lbs per week, yadda yadda. I’m actually going to approach this from a different angle.
And of course, we’re in this to be healthy, but let’s be real. We want to lose weight. We just want to do it in a healthy and sustainable fashion, and there’s no shame in admitting that that’s what you want.
When you’re in the upper 200lb ranges*, and you’re getting your eating together and your activity levels are in check, the weight can, in a sense, “fly” off. It just does. The weight will “fall off” at a rate faster than the standard answer of 2lbs per week.
That being said, this presents a problem for you as you shrink. Let me try to explain.
A larger body burns more calories than a smaller body. I know that I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: this is why smaller people tend to have smaller portions and smaller plates. This is also why portion control becomes important. The larger you are, the more your body can be expected to burn throughout the day.
Look at it like this. Let’s say that you’re 265lbs, and because of your body composition and level of activity, you burn – on average – around 3600 calories a day. Let’s suppose, now, that you’ve been consistently eating 2200 calories a day and burning an average of an additional 3500 calories each week in the gym doing cardio (and no weights, shame on you), which results in you now losing weight and dropping down to 225.
Except. At 225, now your body doesn’t burn 3600 calories a day… it burns 3000. And now, you’re used to doing the same thing in your workouts and instead of measuring and making sure you’re burning 700 calories 5 days a week, you’re just going through the motions… not noticing how the motions are getting easier. So now, it’s not “Oh, I’m burning 700 calories!” – it’s “I’m done now.” Well, “I’m done now” now means you’re not burning 700 calories anymore. It means you’re burning 500 calories 5 days a week.
Your weekly caloric deficit isn’t lending itself to 3-4lbs a week anymore – now, it’s lending itself more towards 2lbs a week.
Now, your weight loss has slowed down. Now… you feel like you’re not doing something right. It might not feel like a plateau, but that’s only because you haven’t gotten to the point where the the caloric expenditure scale hasn’t completely balanced out, yet. It’s getting closer, though.
For every ten pounds you lose, you should be taking stock of your caloric intake and your regular caloric expenditure. No, you don’t need to be obsessive about it and keep track of it round the clock, but knowing how much you can expect to burn throughout the day as well as knowing how much food you’re putting into your mouth is more than enough knowledge to empower you to stay on track.
Coming down from the high 200lb range can mess with your head, because its so easy at first to see the pounds come down. But, the smaller you become, the less your body can burn – both in exercise and throughout the day – and without troubleshooting those variables, you can experience a slow down.
Keep in mind that as long as the scale is moving while you’re properly nourishing your body and being active in a healthy and sensible fashion, you’re doing something right. Furthermore, you can also help mitigate this by maintaining a moderate weight training routine – even 10lbs of muscle can help by providing a several-hundred calorie boost to your metabolism, regardless of what kinds of issues might be inhibiting your ability to burn.
Truthfully, weight loss is tricky, and to counteract that, your plan should be modified and updated throughout the course of your journey. Creating a good program for yourself that is modified and updated in cycles – I think a series of 6-week cycles is often the most common – can help you keep a program that will consistently help you lose the same numbers you were losing at a higher rate… just be prepared to work your tail off. Just like I always say, your body will thank you for it!
*I make these kinds of statements with the assumption that you’ve visited your doctor and been told that all of your blood work is clear, all the relevant hormone levels are normal and you are generally healthy. A slow down could be caused by any number of things, and you’d be wisest to double check any and all of that with your physician.