I joined The Edge towards the end of October. I noticed an immediate 7 lb weight loss, but then I slowly gained it back. I was keeping up with the dotFIT program during this time, but I will admit that over the holidays I slacked a little bit. I stopped tracking my food because I felt like it was becoming an obsession and I was beating myself up for being hungry and going over the calorie intake. Although I watched what I ate and worked out a lot during the month of January and most of the month of February, I was not seeing any results. Since then, I have lost motivation and I have not been that good about going to the gym this month. I have, however, been trying to keep a rough estimate in my head of how many calories I'm taking in and have tried to stay around 1600. I even went as far as to get some blood work done to see if I have a thyroid or cortisol issue, but everything came back fine. I'm not sure where to go from here. It feels like I have hit a plateau, but the weight I initially lost I have gained back, so it's more like starting back at the beginning. I need advice on what to do diet wise and workout wise in order to get back on track.
First, congratulations for joining the Edge and using the dotFIT program. When you increased your activity level and logged your food, making you more aware, you lost weight. Then the holidays hit and you got a little loose on the eating and your weight went back up. Very normal. You stopped using the food logging, which had helped in the beginning, and now you are at a plateau. Also, very normal. Your physiology is just fine, as you found out. What’s happening is that your “rough estimate” of your calorie intake is likely too rough. It is normal for an average weight person to underestimate calories eaten by 15-20% (this is very close to the deficit used to lose weight). Also, you have been exercising for a while now and the jump in calorie burn you initially had may have decreased some due to you becoming more adapted to the exercise. Let’s look at what we know:
1. Your weight is stable. This means that overall your calories eaten equal your calories burned
2. You lost weight when you were more conscious of and accurate about your food logging.
3. Nothing is wrong with you physically or physiologically (genetic or hormonal issues are not as big a factor as many believe)
So, start logging food again and be less rough on the calorie intake and more accurate. We recommend measuring food or using more portion controlled items for a while to get back in the swing of proper portions and servings. It shouldn’t be an obsession or a chore. Try to think of it as class on eating. Approach it from a learning perspective rather than a deprivation perspective. Once you have some consistency here then go to logging food a couple of days a week to be sure you are not backsliding. We at dotFIT still log our food a few times a month just to be sure we do not slack off. Also, keep in mind that many people kill their perfect week on the weekend, especially if you are a smaller person that does not get to exercise or move a lot. One really bad day of relaxed eating and liberal alcohol intake can wipe out the calorie deficit achieved M-F. Sad, but true. Keep in mind that you also have the option of increasing calories burned. Tracking this portion can be quite fun.
You would be amazed at the impact slight changes in activity during the day can have on total calorie burning. Something as simple as standing and pacing more during the day, rather than sitting (such as during conference calls) can burn as many calories as 30 minutes of cardio! Between the two, you can have a complete view of exactly what you are burning and eating. With this knowledge you can easily make adjustments in your calorie intake or movement to suit your lifestyle and needs.
One last area to consider, if you are still having a hard time with the above, is the proper use of dietary supplementation. We will assume you are at least taking our ActiveMV (if not, then that is a useful step one). Additionally, the use of portioned-controlled bars and shakes can help you stick to a better eating schedule and ensure portion control. Lastly, there are formulas that are specifically designed to make the process of program adherence easier and prove useful for a period of time.
For additional reading and info try these links:
• In a deficit but not losing weight
• Can supplements help me lose weight?
• Increasing daily calorie burn
• How I may be sabotaging my diet