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3-wk plateau followed by sudden drop in weight????


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Hi:

I'm really perplexed.  I started watching what I was eating about 8 weeks ago, and monitoring my calorie intake and exercise levels on CC about 4-5 weeks ago.  My aim was to go from 127 lbs to 121 lbs at a rate of about .5 lbs per week ... slow and steady, because I wanted to do it in a healthy and sustainable way.

Just to give a bit of background, I am 5 ft 6 in, and in Feb last year decided it was time to get myself in check, having gained about 20 lbs over 5 years (high weight in Feb of +/- 137 lbs).  By June this year I was fluctuating between 127 - 130, but by August was still hovering at 127 - 129.  For the past 8 years, I've run at least 4 km at least 5 times a week.

In early August I started adding in light weight training, back strengthening, and abs to my routine, and started alternating the elliptical with running (after a bad bout of sciatica in July, the running is iffy).    So a bit of strength training, a bit of elliptical, a bit of running ... about 1 - 1.25 hrs a day, five or six days a week.

I started tracking my intake about mid-August, taking in about 1400-1600 calories a day, with an occasional cheat day at around 2000.  Daily calories out is usually about 2000 to 2400 according to CC meter. I've always been a fairly sensible eater, so my diet hasn't changed much and monitoring just dissuades me away from that 1-2 glasses of wine with supper or that last night-time snack.

From mid-August to mid-September I oscillated between 125 - 128 lbs (depending on the day, ttom, etc.).  Then two days ago my weight dropped to 122.4, and this morning it was at 120.4, with no significant changes to diet or exercise (I actually didn't exercise yesterday, and did no cardio day before yesterday).  While I only have one official weigh-in a week, I tend to weigh every day because I'm trying to establish my trend line and just keep focused.

Has anyone else experienced a plateau followed by sudden drop?  Don't get me wrong, I'm headed in the right direction, which pleases me, and I feel great, but I'm wary of anything that comes to easy, and I'm concerned that fast weight off will equal fast weight gain; but for the life of me I can't figure out what I've done differently.  And I don't want to see the scale jump up as fast as it's gone down ... I'm ok with seeing 1 lb heavier or lighter on the scale, but 3-4 lbs heavier would be really disheartening.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I'd like to hear anyone who's had a similar experience.  Is it possible that my metabolism has simply kicked back in with the change in exercise routine (I used to have a really good metabolism, and ate pretty much what I wanted while sticking at around 115 lbs).

 

9 Replies (last)

Lengthy posts are good because it gives us a lot of information! I've read about people who seem to stay the same weight for a while and then all of a sudden just drop all this weight, so that could be what's happening to you.

Maybe when you started the weight training you gained a bit of newbie muscle while losing a bit of fat so it balanced out on the scale, and now you've stopped gaining muscle and are just losing fat? Just a suggestion. Have you measured youself, and do you feel/look slimmer? I suggest just keep doing what you're doing and the next few days/weeks will tell you whether it's a random fluctuation.

 Honestly I think if you haven't done anything different/extreme like eating a lot ess, eating less carbs, exercising to extreme, which you haven't been doing by the sounds of it, then it's nothing to worry about. Just watch the scale for a few days and if your weight stays there then it's sweet. The only way the weight is going to come back on as fast as it came off is if you just stop eating well and doing all your exercise all at once.

About a month ago maybe I was ranging from 72 to just under 73kg, and one day I was like 1.5kg lighter, but the next day it was back up. So it clearly was just something like dehydration. Anyway recently since starting some HIIT and eating well I've dropped about .9kg (2lbs) in the last week or two and part of me worries like you, but I'm not extreme dieting or anything. My point is if your weight stays the low amount for a week or more I'd say it is your metabolism kicking in and there's nothing to worry about. :)

Oh also: fatigued muscles hold water (from cardio and strength training), so it's possible that the days off from exercise gave your body a chance to release some water weight. Which means that you may have been losing fat all along but wouldn't have seen it on the scale because of the water retention. Again just an idea!

Lau3nMae, thanks for your insight; like you said, I think I'm going to keep on this path for the next week or so, and if the weight is stable or drops any more, I will start upping my calories a bit to aim for maintenance.

I have lost inches, though I can't say how many because I haven't actually measured.   But I am back to feeling very comfortable in my old clothes, and some of the comfier roomier clothes I bought last year when I was at my heaviest is actually too big.  So that's definitely an indicator.  And beyond the weight loss, feeling comfortable again in my clothes and my own skin was what my goal was all about, so that is definitely good.

So I'll wait and see, and let you know if it's just a fluke or a true loss.  Your info on tired muscles retaining water, dehydration, and gaining muscle weight is really interesting and I will read up on that as well.  Another thing is that I have lowered my carb intake somewhat, though it's still at a very good level according to CC.

Thanks, and congrats on your own weight loss.  Sounds like you are trying to keep it as healthy as possible also.

Cheers.

That's great that you have lost inches, it is definitely a sign that you have lost weight and it's not the scale playing tricks on you.  Yeah carb intake means more stored glycogen (readily available energy) in your muscles, and for every gram of glycogen stored, your muscles hang on to 3 grams of water. Thanks, but I still have a while to go! And you're welcome, yeah wait and see and then message me if you want to let me know how it goes :)

I just had a similar experience. I was losing every week and then had 10 days where the scale didn't move at all. I stuck to my program, and one morning I woke up 2 lbs lighter, and the scale's been moving ever since.

I've had that happen before, and that's usually the point when I say, "To hell with this. It isn't working. Where's the cake?"

Personally, I think it's my body holding out as long as possible, in the hopes it will get Chick Fil-A. :)

Lauramae nailed it. Inches lost is a true indicator of weight gone.

Commonly weight can fluctuate according to volume of intake and level of hydration. So sometimes the scale does lie.

My experience of weight loss has been a series of small pauses (like yours) followed by periods of weight loss.

Changing things up with your exercise routine was definitely the right move .. if we consistently do the same thing, for the same length of time and intensity.. then the body adapts (surprisingly quickly) and learns to conserve energy for the exercise instead of burning it off. Changing the type of exercise you do exercise shocked your body into losing again.

I suggest making small changes to your routine approx every six to eight weeks, so your body never gets comfortable with what you are doing.

Make one of your sessions into fast/ slower intervals (research HIIT).

But IMO taking up weight training was the key to your success. Totally different than what your body is used to. Make sure your form is good and as you find the lifts becoming easier, increase the weight you use to keep challenging your body.

 

You aren't alone.  This happens to me, and I definitely haven't switched things up.

This has happened to me a few times, most recently this week (or should I say this month?).  For a frame of reference only, I started at 200 lbs on Jan 1st.  I lost a steady 10 lbs in August, dropping down to 160.  I hit a low 157.5 at the beginning of Sept, but then I went back to 160, and for the last 3 weeks have fluctuated between 159 and 160, unable to break through my plateau.  Without changing anything - except that it just happened to be the day AFTER I'd told several people that I was stuck at 160, LOL - I suddenly dropped down to 156 lbs, then 154.5 lbs the next day!  I've now been 155 lbs for the last 2 days, so this doesn't seem to be a fluke.  I'm not sure how I suddenly dropped 5 lbs within 1-2 days, but I did and it's sticking.  This is after 3 weeks being stuck at 159/160, though. 

As I said, this has happened a couple times before.  I've found that after a 2-3 week plateau, I'll have an overnight 3-5 lb. loss that tends to stay.  Those months, I've chosen to view the month as a whole.  Perhaps it's a combination of water weight, hormones, and typical weight loss coming together on just the right day.  I've simply accepted that sometimes this is the way my body prefers to lose weight.  Other months, it will be a slow and steady pace. 

Thanks to you all for your insight and your plateau experiences. 

Re. the comments on dehydration, do you all log water into CC?  I know it has no calories, but I've always had a hard time drinking 8 glasses a day (I tend to walk around with a coffee all day), so I thought if logging foods can help me keep my calorie intake in check,  maybe logging water will help me drink more.  The mention of dehydration, combined with the fact that I got a foot cramp last night (which my hubby said is a sign of dehydration), made me think that maybe I've been letting water consumption slide.  When I look back on yesterday, I can only come up with 5 glasses drunk, so maybe the weight loss is also a reflection of being slightly dehydrated.

Nikkisue2, 45 lbs!  And judging by the timeframe, it's come off slow and steady, which is a really good thing.  It must be so empowering to look back on less than a year and see how successful you've been with your goals.

Foxriver, my husband was always telling me to mix things up, and I was always thinking "well, if something worked for me before, why change it up, it should just keeping working".  Much as I hate to admit it, he seems to have been right.  I will follow your advice and keep on trying to mix it up every 8 wks or so. 

I am now in wait and see mode, and if this is true weight loss, then I am at my maintenance weight and will start to change things up accordingly.

I'm really happy to have found CC.  My skin looks healthier, I feel better physically, I'm less tired, and I'm thrilled to feel like I've taken charge again of my mental and physical well-being.

I use a different program than CC to log water (Eatright on the iphone - has a list set up of pictures of all the food groups, plus sweets and water. You select how many of what you need per day, and then you tap each graphic - a picture of a cucumber for veggies, a cheeese wheel for dairy, a stalk of wheat for grains, etc - to tell it what you've consumed. It definitely helps keep you aware of your water intake and your macronutrient ratios, and if at the end of the day there are unchecked water glasses or veggie servings, you know you're not eating enough of those.)

So I ended up bottoming out at 119.4  the day after writing this post, then bounced back up to 122 before going down to 121.4 and have oscillated between 120 - 122 this past week.  So it seems that the weight loss was legitimate, though it's still amazing to me how the body will hold out and then all of a sudden drop. 

I have upped my calories to about 1500 a day this week (from 1400), and have excercised 5 days instead of 6.  I'll keep that up for a few weeks and see if I maintain, lose or gain.  Right now I find both my daily diet and exercise very easy to maintain, so I'd be quite pleased if I stayed as is, though I can still do with more belly toning!

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