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How do you make it past plateaus?

I've been stuck at a plateau for two weeks or so, I'm wondering what other people have done to break free from it?

Tue. May 29, 12:22pm

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Lol, unfortunately for me, I've only broken through plateaus, really, when I've been sick! But, each time that's happened, I've lost a chunk of weight and successfully kept it off when I got healthy again. I'm sure that's not what you want to hear though!!!

If you want better advice, let us know who you are, and we can look at your logs and what you've been doing; then we'll have a better idea of what good advice to give you! You're probably either eating too much or too little, but it's impossible to tell without seeing the log.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007, 12:24 PM

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I have been stuck in plateus before. they can be aggrivating I know. when I am stuck I mix things up. if I walk. I hit the gym. cut down on carbs eat more veggies instead. just changing your routine . even the simplest thing as what you eat and do for exercise can shake up a plateu. I wish you luck. be patient it will pass. your body just may need to be shocked a bit by doing something different than your usual routine.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007, 12:26 PM

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OP here-

let's see, i eat 1200 calories a day and workout 6 days a week. i do cardio every day and add weight training in 3 of those days. my foods consist of mostly fruits and some veggies, i eat my protien in the form of fish and chicken with the occasional lean steak. maybe i eat too many fruits? i've mixed up my workouts with making them more intense. i mix up my 50 min of cardio between three machines. i've started using the bike instead of elliptical to work my leg muscles differently, i'm consistantly increasing speeds and inclines on the treadmill and i'm increasing speeds on the treadclimber too. not sure what else i can do... i would definately take getting sick over what i've got (or don't have) going on now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007, 12:53 PM

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I think you're not eating enough! Do you get any fats? You need some for your body to properly function. And with so much exercise, and only 1200 calories, it's likely that your body thinks it is starving, and such tries to hold onto everything it can!

It sounds totally counterintuitive, but, for a week, don't exercise. Eat like you are now, but don't exercise. Then go back to your routine, but add some healthy fats to your diet. I can almost guarantee you that you'll break through the plateau.

Or, if you don't want to stop exercising for a week, then just add more food, including healthy fats. Ask a doctor or nutritionist if you want to know exactly how much to add. But unless you are extremely short and small-boned, 1200 cals a day is not enough if you exercise intensely, as you do. I am 5'1", and weigh 113 lbs, and aim for 1300 cals a day. My exercise is walking my dog, and walking to/from the subway. I'm not losing, but I'm most definitely maintaining. And if I did a better job of actually sticking to my 1300 cals/day, I'd probably lose even more!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007, 1:10 PM

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I agree with the above poster. You're body needs more fuel, try upping your calories to 1300-1500 and i'm sure you will see results! Good luck! Let us know how it goes:)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007, 1:51 PM

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I have found that my body gets used to me eating 1400 calories a day. When I hit a plateau, I eat 1800-2000 calories for ONE day only, and it kicks my metabolism back into gear. Only do this when you truly hit a plateau and your body will respond by kicking up your metabolism.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007, 7:39 PM

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really look at your logs. Make sure you do not have a piece of choclate here and a cookie there. Lots of people get confused when they are not losing weight and feel as if their diet is right when really it is terrible from all the little things

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 2:33 AM

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Add taking your measurements. Some weeks I don't lose on the scale, but inches come off. Or get your body composition tested fairly regularly. Also, just shake things up. Maybe not doing cardio on the same days as strength training. It does sound like you're doing a bit much for the 1200 intake. Do you have a public log? We could make better suggestions then.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 3:03 AM

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I spoke to my Weight Watcher's leader about my plateau. She suggested eating different things, because if you eat similar things daily, you're body gets used to things. Mix things up, different lunches, change what you're eating for dinner. You seem to be excersizing alot.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 6:33 AM

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1200 calories could be way too little for you. If you're not getting enough calories, your body will go into starvation mode, and hold onto any and all fat in your system, and burn the muscle instead.

You need to figure out how many calories your body uses in a day, (including your excercise) and calculate your calorie deficit based on that.

a 5'1 24 year old female weighing 140 pounds with an active lifestyle may be using more like 2400 calories a day. To lose a pound a week that person would need to shoot for approx 1900 calories a day.

There are tools online where you can figure out what your body needs. You may find that adding more calories will speed up your metabolism, and you'll get better results.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 11:39 AM

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I cast my vote for increasing calories too.

I was on a small plateau (weeks rather than months - and I've had a few of those too, yuck!) and started a new form of cardio that gave me one hell of an appetite, so I increased my calories from 1500 to 1800 a day. The weight started coming off again. When it stops, I'll drop back a couple of hundred calories.

Just don't give up. It might even take a few more weeks because women's bodies are especially stubborn about losing fat, even moreso if you're on the pill. It will start moving again, probably in a quick chunk - quite a few of us lose that way.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 11:54 AM

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op here-

i'm not sure if i'm eating enough, i'm certainly not hungry at 1200 calories so it never occured to me that i was in "starvation mode". i'm quite satisfied and full... i'm 5'4"and currently at 175 down 25 since march 11. i've come to a screeching halt the last few weeks, i guess that's why it's so dissapointing that i've slowed way down and come to a weight loss stand-still.

i'm gonna try the not working out thing for a week and stick with my 1200 and that totally freaks me out as does eating more calories. but maybe if i am in starvation mode now, the not working out and expending so much energy will help start to let go of the pudge?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 1:31 PM

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The barebones minimum that we're supposed to eat while dieting is 7x our body weight, but 8x is recommended for a healthy rate of loss. That puts the OP at 1400 calories a day. However, she's extremely active and my experience has been that creating a big calorie deficit does not increase the rate of loss.

Also related...25 lbs in 9 weeks is pretty fast (I know, it's been 11 weeks, but they were part of the plateau), and fast loss like that often leads to a "rebellion" amongst the fat cells, thus the plateau. Persevere. Follow the assorted advice you'll find on the previous plateau threads in this forum, and you'll be losing again within 2 weeks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 3:46 PM

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When you get stuck at a certain weight for more than two weeks (rule of thumb) despite doing your usual diet/exercise routine.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 4:11 PM

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If you try to lose weight too quickly, your body will automatically KEEP FAT CELLS and burn muscle. If you have to great a calorie deficit, then your body will automatically do this.

You can keep working out, but eat more food. You've obviously got the determination and drive to lose the weight, but you'll have BETTER RESULTS if you eat more. You'll lose weight faster, generally have better energy levels, and feel better. Maybe your headaches will be less frequent, because your brain will have the proper energy it needs to work on.

I seriously think you need to look into your calorie targets. Don't forget that when you work out it uses calories. Search the web for a tool to figure out your metabolic rate. If you scale down 500 calories a day from what you use (INCLUDING YOUR EXERCISE) you should lose a pound a week. A Pound of FAT. not a pound of muscle or water.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 5:09 PM

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I agree with most of the other folks here - you are probably not eating enough. it sounds funny, but if you think of food as fuel, it makes more sense. Your body will "burn" at a much lower rate AND will not build good new muscle (which keeps your metabolism up) if you're not eating enough. The body is a really amazing thing - and very miserly! it will learn to "live" on the reduced calories and in doing that lower your ability to burn calories. In addition, I am told women's bodies are REALLY good at this because we may need to "feed" 2 (or 3 if we're prgnant and nursing) on what we take in

I think most health professionals would tell you never to go below 1400 calories a day and then add "good" calories in relation to the amount of exercise you do

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 5:29 PM

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I found a decent thread on another website where somebody did some research about "starvation mode" and with links to more websites. The link is below.

As for "starving people should have been fat", sorry, that doesn't prove your point.

I'm not saying that you won't lose weight if you are in starvation mode, but that it's healthier for you, and the weight won't balloon back on when you go back to a normal eating pattern. What's the point of so much hard work to lose weight and improve your health, if you're not trying to make the weight loss stick?

You need to have realistic calorie goals. That's all. You shouldn't try for a deficit higher than 50% of your basal metabolic rate for an extended period of time. If you're working so hard to improve your health, then you might as well make it stick.


Thursday, May 31, 2007, 4:06 PM

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op here- thanks for the links

i'm working very hard and have every intention of it sticking forever. i don't ever plan on going back to my "normal eating pattern" because that's why i got fat in the first place. hence why "diets" are temporary fixes. i've changed my eating habits completely. however, i do plan as i reach my goal to find a calorie count that is slightly higher and realistic but not compromise my hard work. i'm not to the point of maintenance yet.

Thursday, May 31, 2007, 5:11 PM

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You're doing great!

Hey OP

You're definetly on the right path. You're absolutely right that it's a lifestyle change rather than a quick fix.

You've put in a lot of hard work, and it's clear that you're determined to succeed.

Thursday, May 31, 2007, 5:26 PM

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Just hang in there through the plateau...your body will swing into loss mode again. You know, I have to agree 1200 cals does sound too low though..and your body starts to hang onto weight if you are not eating enough. Why not schedule a session with a licensed nutritionist just to check things out?..You will be their dream client because you have these great logs

Saturday, June 02, 2007, 11:33 PM

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Monday, March 17, 2008, 7:52 PM

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Saturday, June 07, 2008, 2:02 PM

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I know EXACTLY how the OP is feeling. I am very short (5'0) and gained about 10 lbs (a lot on a small frame) in the fall due to lifestyle changes (new job, less time to workout than I used to) -- but after months of all my clothes feeling noticeably tighter, at the end of Feb, I finally decided lose the excess weight. I have always been a healthy eater, but also an avid runner (esp in the last few years), so I never 'counted' my calories, per se, just made good choices and stayed extremely active. So I decided to start REALLY watching what I eat and keeping my calories to about 1300, which is definitely enough since I am so short. And, whereas I used to think that 'a calorie is a calorie', I now eat almost no sugar/processed foods, have stopped drinking alcohol, and pretty much the only carbohydrates I eat come from fruits/veggies. So, in at the end of April, after 3 mos not losing even a pound, I decided to kick my workouts back up from 2x per week to almost to where they had been - an hour of cardio 5-6x per wk, before I gained the 10lbs.

Now, after almost 1.5 months of the 1300 calorie diet and intense cardio routine, I am at a loss for what to do. Besides being frustrated, upset, and discouraged, i just dont understand it. I wouldnt mind so much if this all just meant that I have gained muscle-- but I definitely have not-- my stomach, legs and arms seem to have more fat than ever on them. I dont feel or look good and I am so depressed.

I'm sorry if this seems like a rant, but I was just wondering if it could be *what* I'm eating thats the problem. Pretty much the only snacks I eat are fruits, carrots, and low fat dairy (low fat string cheese and skim milk). So the only thing I can think of at this point is, is my body not reacting well to dairy? natural sugar? starch from the veggies? the chemicals from the occassional diet pop or splenda? Mind you, I'm not even trying to lose a large amount and I definitely have pounds to lose (120lbs, 5'0), so how could my body not be reacting to anything I have tried???????? I am just so so confused and miserable :(

Tuesday, June 10, 2008, 1:17 PM

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maybe try a middle ground with your workouts (4x -5x/week?) and decrease cals to 1100.
Also try doing something different and less intense than running (ie swimming or biking) and include 1 -2 days of weight training.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008, 2:55 PM

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wow..i can relate...


Wednesday, June 11, 2008, 4:14 PM

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Ok, i'm in a plateau also...I'm 130lbs and want to get down to 125...thats it...but i cannot get past 130!!! I exercise 3 times a week and try to maintain a calorie intake of around 1375 and 1600 a day

Wednesday, June 11, 2008, 7:40 PM

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I am totally going to try upping my calories. I have also hit a plateau.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009, 4:30 PM

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Plateaus are often a function of calories creeping up and exercise intensity slowing down.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009, 5:22 PM

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I'm frustrated and stuck at a weight loss plateau. I found that I've let my calories slowly creep up from 1200 a day to about 1500 a day. I need to cut that stuff out. I'm starting anew today!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009, 1:00 PM

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Feed the machine! :-)

Listen to Jillian Michaels, crazy, but effective, trainer from the Biggest Loser: You gotta feed the machine! You're doing great on exercise, and you've got to feed your body so that, as previous posters have said, your metabolism doesn't shut down, thinking you're starving. Don't be afraid of food; it's your friend :-) I know it seems counterintuitive to eat more when you're trying to lose weight, but it really does work! Another thing I've heard is that staggering your calories from day to day kind of keeps your body guessing (i.e., if you eat 1200 cal. one day, eat 1800 the next, etc.). I wish I could feel full on 1200 calories a day :-) Best of luck!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009, 10:53 PM

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