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Why can't I lose weight?


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Okay I know that can not be the end all for me but everything I try seems to work for a few weeks at best then the scales tip the other direction. 

 

I am a 37 year old female with a very active lifestyle and I eat healthy most of the time. I have tried everything from cutting out the starch based carbs to counting and measuring every freaking calorie that could possibly go in my mouth.  I carry most of my extra fat in my belly. 

 

I am only 5' 1" and I have been stuck between 130-135 for a long time now. I keep hearing it's muscle but I know it is not and I know it should not be too much to ask for to be between 120-125 instead of where I am now. I have even heard from some people to do more cardio and less pole and I really want to kick those people! I don't want to sacrifice my strength to get to where I want to be. I was 100 pounds my senior year of high school and I was just skinny I did cardio exercise but was not strong. About 10 years ago I saw a trainer and got down to 115-120 with his method but even that doesn't work anymore. It was 1 hour of cardio 5-7 days a week 30-45 minutes of weights 3-4 times a week and eating only meat/protein and veggies or fruit. He only let me have fruit because I am very picky but I had to split my meals into 5 meals a day not 3 meals and two snacks. 

 

I get really pissed off that my husband can eat whatever he wants and never gain an ounce. He is reasonably active too and generally eats healthy as well but he can eat way more and he never has to worry about how much weight he will gain if he is in the mood for donuts. I really wish I could just eat everything in moderation like he does. 

 

I think what makes me the most irritated is I took the classes and learned all about personal training methods and a bit about nutrition and well It doesn't really work for me so what am I supposed to tell clients? I have a gal that has lost 20 pounds just doing pole and watching her portion sizes. She has maybe 10 more to go and my best advice to her is to watch her diet, eat less processed foods and more fresh veggies and fruits. 

 

What I don't want to do is spend half my day trying to calculate how many calories I have eaten and how many I have burned. Who the hell knows how many calories I burn during a client session or during my own pole workout. My treadmill gives me a pretty good estimate but how accurate is it really. I have a heart rate monitor too but I have heard mixed opinions on that too as to how accurate the calorie burn is. Then there is trying to figure out ever calorie I eat everyday and how much I should eat or when exactly I should eat and so on and so forth. By the time I do all that I am so stressed out that I want to quit period! Yes I have tried wearing a bodyfit media device all day every day and counting every calorie and trying to figure out what I would have to do to lose weight but it always seems to turn out the same, lose, lose, lose then keep doing the same thing and start on the gain gain gain cycle. 

 

What the hell am I doing wrong and how much does of a role does age and genes play in this. I can not imagine how fat I would be if I was a couch potato! 

 

 

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Fruits have more calories than you'd think, if you're not careful.

 

I know you don't like calorie counting, but you have so many frustrations with every other method that maybe counting would help.  Simplify it by not calculating how much you're burning.  Instead, just focus on the intake.  Whatever you do on a typical day, aim for something like 200-500 calories less.  Track the effectiveness with a tape measure over the course of months.  If things aren't moving in the right direction overall, then lower the calories again.

 

If you decide to count though, make sure you do it accurately.  No guessing or rounding stuff if you hope to have a meaningful tool.  Food scales are a must.

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The only thing that will cause you to lose weight is a caloric deficit, period. There are lots of strategies to get to a deficit - eating less carbs, exercising more, etc. But the numbers are what matter in the end. Some people can cut carbs or make small changes, and their genes are such that they can lose weight easily, but it's because behind the scenes, they are in a deficit.

As far as calorie counting goes, measuring what you consume can be a very exact science. Weigh ingredients, measure everything. It's not fun, but you can get used to it.

Measuring expenditure is iffy. All the calculators and fitness monitors in the world have large margins of error. They can provide an estimate, but I've heard many people on the forum day that they don't even count the negative calories caused by exercise at all, it's an unpredictable bonus to expenditure.

I would recommend: measure your calorie intake (not expenditure) for a week or 2. Keep your activity levels roughly the same as they have been. If you're not losing weight, subtract about 200 calories per day, and repeat for a few weeks. Keep lowering the calories until you start losing at a comfortable pace. Once you get to the weight you like, do it all in reverse, adding back calories until you gain, then cut back.

It's not fun, but it's exact. Taking measurements can give you control over your weight.

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 Azotus

Human Assasin

My Assasin 6WC

"Ask not for lighter burdens, but for stronger shoulders"

 

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In addition to tracking food, I would suggest trying to get a decent measurement of your body fat percent. You sound very active and educated about this stuff, so it would probably be beneficial to you to have a good feel for your body composition. That will also help guide your goals better.  You don't want to sacrifice strength just to lose weight, which indicates to me that you are more interested in lowering your body fat.  I've really been enjoying Go Kaleo's blog. She talks about body composition a lot.  This one might be relevant to your interests:

 

https://gokaleo.com/2012/09/19/lastfivepounds/

Level 0 Undine Druid


 


"I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.†~ Finding Nemo


 


June challenge thread.

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Thanks for the blog link. Yes I am interested in losing body fat more than weight! After thinking all day about this I decided to go back to the body media device at least it gives me an easy way to track my burned calories. It might not be perfectly accurate but it will help me figure out a base line and it can be worn most of the time. I am also going to go back to counting my calories for a few weeks. Since I am pretty much a creature of habit and tend to eat the same things I can just estimate after that but keep my portions in check. Some things I will not be counting though such as trying to weigh out my bowl of salad greens or figuring out how much onion is in my version of salsa. 

 

I realized when trying to track my food today my biggest issue with tracking is that I worry about everything and I should keep my focus on the things that have more calories I don't really think I could have enough spring mix to literally have to weigh it. On the other hand I might need to count the grape tomatoes in my salsa and keep even my baked organic corn chips down to a minimum. I guess that I need to learn which things to micromanage and which things are not a huge deal.

 

I made up a quick list of one of my worst days of eating over the last few days and calorie wise I am actually under eating even the day when I had nachos for dinner! Since I was eating much less calories the days I was really watching my diet I can only assume that my body was literally feeling like it was starving which would be why I lost then gained. On my good eating days I was eating essentially the same things roughly 1000-1200 calories. I felt like I was eating a lot of food though however I was also working out a good 2 hours or more a day. 

 

Thanks for the advice everyone I will keep it all in mind!

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I want to apologize for the melt down! I am too stressed out with other life things right now to go off and overhaul my diet so I am just going to go back to the original plan and make small changes for now. I am not going to drive myself crazy and try to remember I am at a healthy weight. Thanks again for all the advice.

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I think we've all been there. It's a super complicated thing on so many levels (emotionally, scientifically, socially etc.). Stick to focusing on positive, small changes. Eat enough good stuff to keep your energy up, and be kind to yourself.

 

Also... I've only taken one pole class, and it kicked my ass! The fact that you teach and do that on a regular basis -> That's an impressive level of fitness!

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Level 0 Undine Druid


 


"I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.†~ Finding Nemo


 


June challenge thread.

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I want to apologize for the melt down! I am too stressed out with other life things right now to go off and overhaul my diet so I am just going to go back to the original plan and make small changes for now. I am not going to drive myself crazy and try to remember I am at a healthy weight. Thanks again for all the advice.

 

Stress will also make you hold onto weight. The closer you are to your final goal the more little things like sleep and stress will make a difference.

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Here are two PN links that I particularly like and periodically go back to.

 

How to fix a broken diet: 3 ways to get your eating on track (they're not big into calorie counting, so it might be a good fit for you)

 

The cost of getting lean.

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You may have already considered this, but one thing that I have heard is that some people don't lose weight easily with low-intensity exercise.  They can walk all they want, but the weight will still stay on until they do high-intensity movement, possibly HIIT or something.  

 

At one point I sprung for the test to find out that I'm supposed to be one of those people who have to work out very intensely to lose weight and I also am supposed to cut back on carbs to help lose weight.  I can attest that it's difficult for me to lose weight if all I do is walk.  I would also add that I tend to carry my weight in my belly as well.  I don't know if that is indicative of anything or not.

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I am sure the whole tdee and calorie counting thing is wrong as well ... as much as it might work for other people the only time I ever lose weight is if I rock a good 1000kcal below my calculated maintenance ... which leaves me in a permanent state of hunger and grumpiness.

 

now either my calorie counting is way off, MFP is way off or I just need a steeper cut than others .... but on the other hand I also need to eat way more than 500kcal a day above maintenance as well to put on weight .. so there are some benefits .... basically my body likes this weight and fights to stay there 

 

Whether I exercise or not has absolutely no relationship to my weight as far as I can tell ..... but it has done a good job of defining my shape and fitness levels 

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Human | Ranger

Level 3 | STR: 8 | DEX: 2 | STA: 8 | CON: 5 | WIS: 0 | CHA: 7

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Not saying that's what you have, but your problem reminds me of mine when I had health issues I didn't know about. I was doing everything right and the scale wasn't moving. I just had no idea I was insulin resistant and that the moderate amount of food I was getting - got a diet prescribed by a doctor - was still too high in carbs for me. You could get your fasting blood sugar tested, it doesn't cost much, (here I got it done for roughly 5 euros - no insurance), it could give you a good indication. 

 

Other factor that could brake your weightloss is sleep. Do you have regular sleeping hours? Do you sleep enough? Your cortisol levels might be high and cortisol is a weightloss killer.

 

 

 

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You may have already considered this, but one thing that I have heard is that some people don't lose weight easily with low-intensity exercise.  They can walk all they want, but the weight will still stay on until they do high-intensity movement, possibly HIIT or something.  

 

At one point I sprung for the test to find out that I'm supposed to be one of those people who have to work out very intensely to lose weight and I also am supposed to cut back on carbs to help lose weight.  I can attest that it's difficult for me to lose weight if all I do is walk.  I would also add that I tend to carry my weight in my belly as well.  I don't know if that is indicative of anything or not.

You can walk at high intensity actually. High intensity has more to do with the energy you are exerting and your heart rate because I can't do a lot of jumping type exercises with my mechanical hip (one metal plate with three screws then a third long screw to hold my femur to my hip bone) I chose a sport that is actually low impact. I find the worst activities for me are lots of jumping (its the landing not the jumping) and jogging or running. I can walk fine but to get a good workout I push the treadmill incline up pretty high. 

 

It is okay though I have decided to work on other things and just use the treadmill to train for my next hiking vacation. 

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For the most part, what people mean when they talk about high intensity is doing something at a level that you just can't maintain for more than 30 seconds. Sprint-walking may approach this level, but not for most people. Not that it's not work, it just doesn't approach the point where you would fall over if you kept up the pace for 10 more seconds. Doing sprint intervals with low-impact is really easy - just use a stationary bike or a stair climber. If you have range-of-motion issues that is a different concern, but you can find work-arounds for those as well.

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Okay I was not explaining myself well I walk at a good incline the entire time but instead of running I raise the incline to a level I can not walk at for very long then lower it back to a medium intensity level. Does that make more sense? 

Typycally when I walk on the treadmill I go 3-3.5 miles an hour and I start by bumping the incline up each 30 seconds until I hit somewhere between 6-8 percent. To bring my heart rate up for a bit I go up to 10-12% incline for a minute or two then back down to the lower incline. I have a feeling if it won't work forever and I will have to increase my speed or find another activity.

 

It doesn't matter anyway I have not touched the treadmill this week and structured my own workout time to include things I love and I got on the scale for the first time in a week and I am down 2.5 pounds. So to hell with treadmill for now I will bring it back into play if we decide to do another hiking trip next year for vacation. Otherwise I can do polercize (is that a word?) I just have to structure it so my heart rate peaks here and there. 

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+1   Screw the treadmill.

 

Polercize?

DerekP I teach pole dancing so instead of the treadmill I spent time working on routines and coreography and going over and over it.

It is not like zumba it combines cardio with strength when you do it all together over and over. For example the first move in the routine I am working on has me climb the pole pull up with just arms while I grab the pole with my thighs and let go with the arms and curl into a ball still holding on with just my thighs as I open up I drop back into a layback and hold then come back up again and place one hand under my booty and one arm high and form a v with my legs holding most of my body weigh again with my arms basically sitting on my hand. Then Do it again and again and again until it becomes second nature so I don't end up on my head on performance day. Was not sure what to call that so I made up a name I am open to better names because that on is kind of cheesy. 

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You may have already considered this, but one thing that I have heard is that some people don't lose weight easily with low-intensity exercise. They can walk all they want, but the weight will still stay on until they do high-intensity movement, possibly HIIT or something.

At one point I sprung for the test to find out that I'm supposed to be one of those people who have to work out very intensely to lose weight and I also am supposed to cut back on carbs to help lose weight. I can attest that it's difficult for me to lose weight if all I do is walk. I would also add that I tend to carry my weight in my belly as well. I don't know if that is indicative of anything or not.

It is not indicative of anything.

I was not going to post anything, though I typed up several ideas and things the OP should be taking into account. But it looks like this topic is active again (I thought she was no longer interested in a plan for losing weight).

Fat loss is much simpler than worrying about insulin resistance or different intensities of exercise. In order to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than you burn. This has been proven over and over.

So, a reality check. Weight loss for you, at 5'1" and 135 lbs, will not be super complicated. But you do need to do a couple things you haven't been doing.

1: don't compare yourself to men. Even (perhaps especially) your husband. Men burn more calories than women on average, that is just the way it is. So don't fall into the trap of asking yourself why you can't eat just like your husband.

2: Do take your menstrual cycle into account. Pro tip: women retain more water than men, and it particularly ebbs and flows with their menstrual cycle. When ovulating, you'll retain the least water; on your period you'll retain the most. This water weight is no big deal and it doesn't affect your body composition whatsoever, so don't worry about it. However, it does mask fat loss. I'd bet a lot of money this is the #1 reason you only see results for a few weeks and then nothing seems to work: after a couple weeks, your weight starts to peak again as you reach your period. This is, again, totally normal, you are still losing fat as long as you're in a deficit. It's simply that the water masks your fat loss when you look at the scale.

Keep in mind: 1 lb of fat is 3500 calories. When you step on the scale and you've gained 3 lbs since yesterday, of course you didn't secretly eat 10000 calories; it's water weight (which fluctuates very quickly, much faster than your body fat).

So, to make your tracking more useful and see through the water fluctuations, you need to:

3: Get better measurement methods. The scale is a good tool, but not on its own. My recommendation is using a combination of scale weights and tape measurements to track your bodyfat. Take a look at strengthunbound.com, Waldo (who runs that site) has an excellent article on tracking bodyfat percentage using measurements. Unlike the scale, water weight will not show on the tape, so keeping track of measurements is a great reality check when your water weight is fluctuating. If your weight is going nuts but the tape is going down, you're still losing fat.

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Cowardly Assassin
Training Log | Challenges: Current8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st

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Paul thanks for the info, I am more interested in loosing body fat than weight so I know I need to use the measuring tape....it is just easier to get on the scale but obviously it is not that accurate for me. 

 

I think you are absolutely right about my menstrual cycle too! I know I get bloated just before and during my cycle because I can feel it more than I can see it. I always feel fat then and I knew I was retaining water but I didn't actually realize it could be that much of a difference on a scale. 

 

I really appreciate the link for how to measure body fat at home. I thought about buying expensive tools to do that at one point but after reading reviews on accuracy I decided not to. 

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The scale gets a bad rep IMO, its useful but you have to find out how to read it for you.

I fluctuate on the scale a fair amount but I've found that if I weigh every day and use an average of the last 7 as my usable figure then it works out pretty good. I eat my protein and strength train so I know I'm doing all I can to ensure that any weight lost is fat.

Whether that would work for you due to menstrual cycles I don't know. Now you have that info you could always be like "I'm heavier than last week but lighter than at the same point last cycle, win".

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Paul thanks for the info, I am more interested in loosing body fat than weight so I know I need to use the measuring tape....it is just easier to get on the scale but obviously it is not that accurate for me.

I think you are absolutely right about my menstrual cycle too! I know I get bloated just before and during my cycle because I can feel it more than I can see it. I always feel fat then and I knew I was retaining water but I didn't actually realize it could be that much of a difference on a scale.

I really appreciate the link for how to measure body fat at home. I thought about buying expensive tools to do that at one point but after reading reviews on accuracy I decided not to.

Glad it was useful.

Dradis is right that the scale is of limited use on its own. Pretty much the only time you can expect it to read truly accurately is if you compare it to another weigh-in at the exact same point in your cycle. Daily weigh-ins tend to be a little less useful for women because of the menstrual cycle thing, but only doing it once per month is a little too sparse too.

I was recently helping my girlfriend with a little weight loss. She tends to get a little obsessive about the scale, so we decided on a rule: she only would weigh once per week. She started her period on a Saturday, so we weighed that day and every Saturday thereafter. We found that her weight on the scale went up and down in a wave that exactly matched her menstrual cycle, and she'd fluctuate by 4-6 pounds during the month. I'd already told her about this, but she was still a little surprised to see it for herself.

It was really useful for her: I was able to let her know which weigh-ins she'd be heavier or lighter before she even stepped on the scale. And doing them weekly was easier for her to handle mentally. Of course, she was a much bigger fan of the tape measure. Every week we measured she'd lose a little from the waist and a fair amount from the hips/thighs, which let us know she was still losing fat no matter what the scale said -- and using a couple of formulas, we knew exactly how much fat she was losing.

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Cowardly Assassin
Training Log | Challenges: Current8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st

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Thanks again everyone! I am actually a little irritated that my personal training certification did not cover this topic of a woman's cycle in more detail. I guess I just have to do my own research because I have clients who struggle with this too. I will probably weigh still since I can't seem to help myself but I am going to try not to fuss about it. My cycle as I have gotten older has become more regular but it is still not entirely predictable and I have been tracking it on an app for my phone for a little over a year. My cycle can go from 26 days to 33 days which might be why I can't seem to predict the shifts in weight.

 

Any how thanks for the advice, I used a few of the formulas and some online calculators to calculate body fat and the numbers were between 24% and 28% I don't like that I want 20% or less so I have work to do. I will have to learn not to freak out about the numbers on the scale if my measurements are staying the same or getting smaller.  

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Yeah, I've taken a few courses myself and none of them covered menstrual cycles. Maybe they think it's a too specific of a subject to include (or they just tell you to not bother women on their period). I've run into a few articles about it though, and for a lot of people it can conveniently sync very well with 5/3/1.

 

Period Periodization: Harnessing the Power of Your Cycle

 

The Role of the Menstrual Cycle in Exercise Recovery

 

The Hormone Cycle and Female Lifters by Shannon Clark

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