Hi! I'm a fairly new user (about a month or so), and I've been using this site to help me keep track of my calorie intake and my activity levels. For several weeks now I've limited my calorie intake to about 1300-1500 calories a day, and working out at least 5 times a week. I also have a fairly active job (I'm a teacher), and walk a lot every day. Theoretically, I'm doing really well, and should be proud of my weight loss and healthy life style.
Unfortunately, I have not lost any weight yet. Not a single pound. Now, I know I am probably putting on some muscle which weighs more than fat, so some of that is explained away. But I still feel as though I'm just chasing my tail here, and I need some help. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions? Am I doing something wrong? Should I be worried?
Edit: Specific details about me are that I'm 23, 5'8", 160lbs, and my BMR is 1525. My measurements have not changed since I started dieting/working out, which I know because I am an amateur tailor, so I measure myself pretty regularly. I keep really accurate track of my food by using the nutritional facts information on all of my food, measuring portion sizes carefully, and writing every single thing I eat down with no cheating. I drink over 2000 mL of water a day, and do at least 30 minutes of cardio 5 times a week and minor weight lifting 3 times a week.
I'm sorry, I know this will come across abrasively, but I have to.
First, muscle doesn't weigh more than fat. It's denser than fat. Semantics, really, since I know what you were trying to say. Just had to clear that up.
Secondly, you probably haven't put on a significant amount of muscle since professional body builders only gain a few pounds of muscle a year.
It sounds to me like one of the following two things is going on: You're not eating enough or you're already at a healthy weight. You should make sure that you're eating at least as much as your BMR. Maybe change the kind of exercise you're doing.
To determine what you're really doing wrong, people are going to need specifics (age, height, weight, what your exercise consists of).
Edit: You might also be retaining water. Try drinking more.
Wow - I can imagine this is crazy frustrating. I had a similar situation in my first month, working out like crazy (P90X and biking for 1 each day) and I only lost 3.6 lbs which was troubling cause I have A LOT of weight to loose. I found that I was not measuring my foods and my guestimations were very off, also I was eating things I thought were okay but not realizing how fatty they really were (damn kalbi beef ribs - I know, I know, I was in denial). Recently I hit a little plateau and I realized that I was not consuming ENOUGH calories, leaving myself with too much of a caloric deficit. Long story short, after figuring out my BMR, each day I make sure my deficit is not more than 1000 calories (a couple times it's been a bit over), about twice a week I have a deficit of about 300-500. What this has meant for me is that I've had to up my calories - now eating about 1700 per day on my more active days. The other thing it's meant for me is to spread out my cardio so I'm not burning too much on one day, and next to nothing on another. My advice, stick to it (I'm in my 3rd month - my second month was much better, loss of 11lbs). I hope this helps.
I agree somewhat with Healthyforever when she says you may be at a healthy weight. I was looking at your photo, and I would be stoked to be your size. So, maybe what you perceive as fat, is really the need to tone. Since you look like your body is in good shape (pounds wise), I would try tracking your inches. The scale might say you weigh blah blah pounds, but what is your new dress size?? Best of luck and hang in there. Sometimes a change in diet just causes the body to hold on for a sec. When it know's you are not trying to starve it, it will let go of a few pounds.
I appreciate everyone's feedback, and thank you for the support.
HealthyForever- I drink over 2000 ml of water a day, so I'm definitely getting enough water. As far as specifics, I'm 23, 5'8", and 160 lbs when I wake up in the morning. I do at least 30 minutes of cardio at the gym 5 times a week, am on my second week of couch to 5k (www.c25k.com), and do some minor weight lifting 2 or 3 times a week. I appreciate the semantic argument, as I'm an English/communication teacher, but I'm not at the weight I'd like to be, or where I'm at my most healthy. I've gained weight in the last year, and know where my body should be as opposed to where it is.
kyshablu- I always use the nutritional facts on the packaging of all my food, and use the calorie count search when I'm unsure or eat out, so I'm keeping a really accurate count. I do cardio at least 5 times a week, so it's spread out and my body doesn't go into shock at the activity/inactivity. Thank you, though, for your support. It is really frustrating.
Summer_Lover- I appreciate the compliment, but I've gained 20-30 pounds in the last year, which is why I'm doing this. My dress size has done nothing but go up, and in fact few of my clothes still fit properly or comfortably. I'm not saying that I've gained weight since I started this program, but I certainly haven't lost any inches off my waistline either. Also, don't let the picture dissuade you, you can't really see my body in the picture anyway.
When I was around your age, a bad flu was the impetus for my turning over a new leaf with my eating and exercise. I worked out every day (power walking and some light muscle work -- nothing special) and ate a clean diet. Two and three weeks went by with no change in the mirror or on the scale. Four weeks, five weeks -- still nothing. Then, around the sixth week, I swear I started to change overnight. It seemed every day I would wake up a little thinner and more toned. I think I stopped weighing myself around that time because all the feedback I needed was right there in the mirror (and people were now commenting), but I probably only dropped 10 lbs total. Nevertheless, results were pretty dramatic. I (5'9) was probably 145 when I started and 135 when all was said and done -- always a healthy weight and not far off from your own stats.
Based on discussions on this board, many people seem to be under the impression that if they simply do the math, they will get their steady 1 pound per week loss from the get-go. This may indeed work for some, but in my experience, that is not how weight loss works. You may just be like me in that you have to pay your dues up front -- meaning several weeks of effort with little or no reward -- but there may be dramatic rewards for you right around the corner. You won't know unless you stay on this path.
Not gonna lie, Choppy_chop, that's exactly what I was hoping to hear. I know I'm doing everything I should be, I just need to know that it's going to pay off in the long run. I really appreciate your feedback. I'd prefer, of course, to have a ton of weight drop all at once, but it's comforting to hear someone else's experience.
Original Post by girlishoutline:
but I've gained 20-30 pounds in the last year, which is why I'm doing this.
Maybe the question to ask is why you've gained 20-30 pounds in one year. Maybe that will give you a clue as to why the pounds are not coming off as fast as you'd like. Not that I'm going to ask and intrude on your privacy, but maybe there's an answer in medication, lifestyle, something different you did in the past year.
Weight loss isn't a smooth procession of gradual loss. It goes in spurts. I think all of us who have lost significant amounts of weight can honestly say that we have periods where we just don't lose, then suddenly drop a few pounds all at once.
The only thing that really matters is progress over time. Just log your weight regularly, say weekly, and watch that green trend line on your weight chart. If it's angling downward, then you are ok, no matter how slow it's going. You want this to be permanent, right? So speedy weight loss should not be an issue.
One more thing - I'm not in a position to know this because it's not happened to me yet, but losing the last few pounds is said to be very difficult. Just keep at it and you'll be fine. I'm hoping that in a year we'll both still be here and you can give me advice about losing that last 10 pounds.
pinzywinzy- Not exactly sure where you were going with that, but 20 lbs in a year isn't some huge gain. I'm tall, so I didn't really notice I was gaining weight as my eating and workout habits changed after undergraduate college. Graduate school is one long experiment in chronic stress and panic, with little time to work out or eat right. Instead of going for a run I would get a pizza and pass out on the couch after teaching all day and then taking my own seminars at night. It doesn't take many changes in your life to have 20 lbs add up.
For me, the biggest challenge to keeping this up is that I'm in the middle of writing my thesis. All my body wants to do once I've pushed my brain past the point of exhaustion is pass out, but instead I go to the gym. I work a full time job which requires work all day and grading all night, and go to school for myself; if this is going to have no results it's pretty hard to feel good about it.
I've changed my activity patterns and eating habits nearly 180 degrees in the last few weeks, and it's hard to feel like it's worth it when you see no results.
Just wondering, but have you been taking measurements at all? Waist, hips, whatever? Have they changed? Do your clothes fit differently? Any subjective changes other than weight? I'm inquiring because this past month, I haven't lost much weight, but I seem to have dropped a pant size. To me, that's a desirable effect, even though I can't quantify it in lbs lost.
Also, I agree with the spurts thing. Sometimes I won't lose any weight for several weeks, and then I'll suddenly drop 6 lbs - usually following the end of my menstrual cycle.
I'm 23/5'10.5"/157 lbs, btw, so our stats are sort of similar.
Do you use a food scale or just eyeball your food intake? I ask this question because most often, people try to estimate, and they tend to under estimate the number of calories they're eating.
How do you know the number of calories burned while exercising? Do you use a heart rate monitor? When it comes to exercise, people tend to over estimate the number of calories burned.
I highly recommend using a food scale if you're not using one yet. I also highly recommend some type of calorie monitor system, like the bodybugg, or a HRM to get a basis of how many calories you actually burn.
If you're already doing these things, then I highly recommend buying a tailor's tape measure and take measurements and recording them. Progress comes in spurts. Some weeks you lose 0 pounds but lose inches, some weeks you gain inches but lose pounds, etc.
Best of luck to you.
asphyxiac- I measure myself regularly, as I sew as a hobby, and there has been no change. The problem is not that thepounds haven't dropped, it's that I feel like I'm seeing no change at all. Additionally, I've had 2 periods since I started this, and nothing has changed.
bigkorean- I'm really precise when it comes to portion control, and keep really close track of my calorie intake. I also use a heart rate monitor when I work out and underestimate the calories burned rather than overestimate. Lastly, like I told asphyxiac, I've lost no inches, which is where my frustration comes into play.
Thanks for the input!
girlishoutline - I seem to be almost in the exact same boat as you...5'8" and 160lbs...I just gained about 30 lbs in about a year too (although that was about 2 years ago)...I know why I gained and there was little to nothing I could do. I moved across the country without my family and took a VERY stressful job...the stress levels killed me and Southern food killed me even more! You are right though...at 5'8" I really didn't notice that I was gaining...until I reached 25 lbs of gain I was still wearing the same clothes...they just seemed to be getting tighter. So dress size didn't really change all that much for me...I am only one dress size bigger than I was 30 lbs ago (although anymore gain and I will have to go up another one!)
I joined this about a year ago and did really well...the lbs came off and I was eating the right number of calories and working out 3 days a week. then I thought I had this all under control and after a couple of months, stopped tracking and ended up gaining back the 10lbs I lost over the last year.
I am back on the program now and I also just recently added the C25K program to my exercise (I needed some motivation other than just "go jog on the tredmill")...I love it...working on Wk2 Day 1 starting tomorrow!! But in the last 3 weeks I have been doing the calorie counting and exercise, I haven't lost anything either. But I can tell you from experience from last time. I didn't see a change right away...it took me a few weeks and then huge changes...as everyone has said though make sure you are eating enough. That will make a HUGE difference. I could tell when I wasn't eating enough sometimes I seemed to actually gain a bit!
Just don't give up...I promise it works...it's certainally not a quick process.
I have a few other ideas that might help?
1. I would weigh myself daily, and take the average weight per week compared to the average weight of the following weeks. Sometimes, weight drops very minutely and it may not look like any weight loss, but it might be around 0.2lbs per week, but because of the normal ups and downs, it's hard to see it on any given day.
2. I would try to alter my workouts a little bit. If you're doing cardio, maybe try HIIT, or some form of interval training. The body has a funny way of getting used to normal cardio, then not burn as much anymore. Having intervals of extreme/high intensity to make your heart rate skyrocket often helps.
3. Maybe try a different exercise for a while for cardio, and try doing your weights heavier and more like circuit training. When I do weights, I often like to mix in several types of calisthenics while doing circuit weights. For example, in between bicep curl sets, I'll do jumping jacks in between to keep the heart rate elevated.
4. Sometimes it helps me, every so often, to change the way I eat. I normally do not prefer to eat 5-6 times a day, but I'll do it every so often.
5. Mix it up a bit, meaning if my normal was 1500 calories, I'll bump it up to eat 2000 calories but work out really really hard and long. Then I have days I don't work out at all then eat smaller calories accordingly.
Hope this helps?
girl - I wasn't going anywhere with it - nothing intended. Sometimes asking questions helps to uncover the reason for nothing happening even though one is doing everything right.
The reason I am on a weight loss program is now is the same as you - I've maintained a stable weight my whole adult life, which is just 5 pounds above the healthy BMI for my height. In my last year of grad school, I gained about 15 - 20 pounds. To me, that is a huge gain but that's just my opinion. Like you though, my frame hides most of it pretty well and I didn't really notice what was happening, but my clothes were just getting tighter and tighter. But I had no time (bad excuse, I know) since I was moving house and starting a new job, settling kids in new school etc. Fast ffwd one year later, in June this year I decided to do something about it. 2 months of just exercising later my weight had NOT budged at all. Then I started cc'ing in August. I'm finally seeing some results.
The point I'm trying to make is that for me, I think the weight loss took a year to happen, it'll take close to a year (even though cc tells me differently) to change my habits, get my stamina back to what it was, and to burn the fat off in a healthy way. I hope this encourages you to keep trying!
One last point about grad school - at the very least you are exercising, which is more than I can say of most other academics. I am a firm believer in how the body fuels the brain, and exercising keeps your blood flow going and your thinking fresh. To me, exercise is part doing well academically.
Hey I have pretty much exactly the same stats as you (23, around 160, 5'8) and I try to NEVER go below my BMR, which is like 1550. Maybe the more experienced CCers can correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought BMR was the very bare minimum your body needs to run itself in a given day? Like, if you were in a coma. Maybe you're eating too little on the days you're eating around 1300 cals, especially if you are working out!
My little burn meter tells me that I burn around 1850 calories sedentary, so even eating my BMR and not working out, I still end up with a 300 calorie deficit. Try eating at least your BMR and see if that revs up your metabolism a bit.