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CMCOLE Posts: 2,667
9/23/13 7:39 A

Kris, that is VERY insightful.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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9/23/13 7:19 A

thanks so much! you guys are amazingly helpful.

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (256,570)
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9/23/13 12:29 A

My Dietitian was the one who spotted the problem. My GP had said that if I wasn't able to lose weight, then eat even less. '

Often, people have difficulty losing weight because they aren't being totally honest - they don't put down EVERYTHING that they eat. I included it, even if it was only 1 calorie, AND weighed everything to ensure that 'guesswork' wasn't way off base, as it can often be! My Dietitian was able to see that I wasn't eating rubbish, was eating a healthy calorie range, and a good balance of fats/protein/carbs. Some people blame their metabolism, when in fact it comes down to the little extras they keep putting into their mouths. In my case I wasn't doing that. It was because of that, and having blood results re thyroid, HbA1c etc. in front of her, she was able to determine that my metabolism was playing a very big part in my weight. That is why she put me on 1400 calories - no range, which for my starting weight and the fact I was exercising, was quite low. Even now, at my goal weight, she will tell me I am NOT to go to 1200 calories, even if I have overeaten the day before!

A Dietitian is generally far better qualified for this sort of thing than a Doctor is, UNLESS the Dr also has Dietetic qualifications as well, and not just their standard 'blink and you miss it' training.


ANARIE Posts: 13,205
9/22/13 11:39 P

Actually, if you lost 5-6 pounds in 3 months eating around 1400 calories, that's perfectly consistent with the numbers. There's nothing wrong. That's exactly the speed you should be losing according to the math. That means you have a normal metabolism and there's no mystery; it's just a matter of keeping realistic expectations.

It's not easy. It's not going to be easy. Nothing can make it easy. Losing weight, especially when you're over 35, means not eating as much as you would like and exercising more than you probably really want to. It means committing to a verrrrrrrrrry long-term plan, and it means holding on to faith in yourself through long spells when your progress is so slow that you can't really tell if you're making any.

When it looks like you're not having much success, sometimes the best option is to re-define success. It might be time to put the scale away and measure your progress by what you eat and the exercise you do. Instead of just exercising as much as you have time for, set yourself a specific goal and make time for it. For example, look into a "couch to 5K" learn-to-run program. That's where you go incrementally from walking to running until you're able to run a 5K without stopping. Most of those programs are designed for 12 weeks. If that's too much, join a class like you were contemplating, or buy a bike and see how much mileage you can put on it before winter hits, or think about an entirely new sport you'd like to learn. How about roller-blading? And you mentioned that you never saw much weight loss from exercise before, but did you ever get super-serious about exercise *at the same time* as you were counting calories? If you increase exercise without logging calories, you will instinctively and unconsciously increase your calorie intake to compensate. It's a very smart survival instinct that can only be countered by using technology (although that "technology" can be just a pencil.)

As for food, go back through your food log and count your fruit and veggie servings. Remember that corn is nutritionally a starch rather than a veg, and juice is not the same as fruit. Unless you're eating veggies that you're not logging, it doesn't look like you're hitting your 5 a day most days. And remember that 5 is the *minimum* and that you should shoot for more veggies than fruit most days. Another non-weight goal could be to get 5 veggies a day for a month. Some ways to do that are to eat your hummus with carrots or sweet peppers instead of crackers and your guacamole with jicama instead of tortilla chips.

When it comes to protein, look at vegetarian recipes even if you have no intention of being vegetarian. I would never, ever call myself a vegetarian, but I have gone weeks without eating any meat just because I kept finding things I like that don't happen to have meat in them. You've mentioned dairy, which is a good protein source (and a good source of lots of minerals and vitamins we don't normally track), so do use more of that. It looks like you drink coffee for breakfast with a few tablespoons of whole milk. Think about whether you'd like to swap that for a latte or cappuccino with skim milk sometimes. It'll have a few more calories, but those extra calories will be almost all protein. And you're home at lunch time most days, right? You can have your fish then if the family won't eat it at dinner. (You might also keep trying fish on them every once in a while. Maybe once every month or so, make them something for dinner that they've been begging for but isn't good for you, and make something like fresh grilled tuna for yourself. But make just a *little* extra, and say, "Ooh, this is good. Anyone want a taste?" Then if they like it, you can make it for them later, but if they don't like it, it's no big deal.) Something that helps me a lot is egg substitutes like Eggbeaters; they're almost pure protein. I started making omelets or scrambles with one whole egg and two servings of generic eggbeaters, and IMHO they're much *better* than making them with two whole eggs-- they're fluffy and light and have a milder flavor. Most brands of eggbeaters don't have artificial ingredients (unless you count added Vitamin D), but if you're concerned, use regular egg whites. Eggs are cheap enough that it's still economical even if you throw out the yolks, or you can use the yolks to make tiny batches of mayonnaise instead of buying it in a jar, or freeze them and save them for custards or cakes on special occasions.

There are tons of threads on this forum about protein, so scroll around and you can get all sorts of additional ideas.

Basically, because this is such a glacially slow process even when everything is perfectly normal, in order to get through it you need some way besides weight to measure progress. You have to find a new perspective and focus. Just one example: instead of being frustrated about giving up foods, be excited about trying new ones. Look around the SparkTeams and the Challenges forum and see if anyone's doing a "new veggie of the week" challenge, for example. Instead of feeling like you "have to" exercise and it's a chore, realize that you "get to" try new activities and reward yourself as you get better at them. Make the focus fall on the healthy NEW aspects of your life and on the process itself. At your size, losing weight isn't a matter of life and death, so let it take a back seat and be a happy of side effect of the other changes you're making to improve your health and have a little fun.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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9/22/13 8:38 P

I talked to my doc in the past; her response: if you eat 1600 calories or fewer, you will lose weight.

I didn't.

What kind of doc are you seeing who can spot the problem so quickly??

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (256,570)
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9/22/13 8:25 P

I would be inclined to talk with your Dr about this, and ask for a referral to a Registered Dietitian. Take a few of your print-outs with you, and make sure that your exercise regime is included. That way he/she will more than likely find the problem very quickly. I know that after years of eating very healthily, including a healthy calorie range but still gaining, this is what I needed. My Dietitian was able to spot the problem straight away and since then i have had great success.


BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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9/22/13 12:11 P

Thanks for the great ideas: I AM the only one eating hummus and guacamole, so I CAN do that "weigh the container twice" approach.

Re exercise, I have a pedometer; in good weather I do a lot of walking outside (3-5 miles most days). In winter, I'm pretty religious about using my treadmill. I own weights, and go through spurts of using them consistently.

I'm a work-at-home mom of teens, so am up at 6ish to get the kids off, working at home, and then am involved with theater and music many evenings. Have been doing 15-30 minute exercise increments during the day to take a break from work... and am trying to figure out whether there is any sense in going OUT to take classes as they'd likely have to be classes that run during my working hours (8-3:30) if I want to be available to my family.

So bottom line, I do exercise, but could certainly do more! My experience in the past has been that exercise makes me feel good and virtuous, but I've never noticed any particular change in weight...

9/22/13 12:10 P

Oops in 3 months. Well a loss of 5-6 pounds in 3 months is better than none!

Edited by: JUSTEATREALFOOD at: 9/22/2013 (21:25)
NIRERIN Posts: 14,325
9/22/13 12:05 P

weigh things like hummus and other goopy things that you don't want to stick your fingers into. start with your scale. pop your empty measuring spoon [or plate or bowl, however you like to have your hummus, even putting a plate with a wrap on it will be fine] on the scale and tare or zero it out. if your scale isn't that fancy, just note the weight. then add your hummus. you can take the spoon off, scoop some out, put it back on the scale or spoon some on, however you like. on the scale you tared, the weight will be that of the hummus. on the unfancy scales you'll have to subtract the weight of the spoon from the weight of the spoon with the hummus.
the other option you have [and this only works if you're the only one eating the item for this time] is to weigh the container of hummus before you sit down and start dipping into it. once you have finished, weigh it again and subtract. the difference is how much hummus you had.

JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
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9/22/13 12:03 P

I think Anarie might be right.

Do you exercise?
Are you active?

If you are neither you may be eating too much to lose a more significant amount. Then there's always human error in measuring the calories you take in and there could be a good chance you're actually breaking even at around your maintenance.

So you have two options; either eat less (which we never want to have to do!) or move more (exercise and activity, which is probably your best option. Personally, I'd much rather increase my activity than have to eat less calories). However, you *could* eat less and not feel too deprived if you cut out some non-essential calories or "empty" calories (like the wine, for example) and eat more clean; lots of whole foods, little extra calories from additives, no empty calories, nutrient dense foods, etc.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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9/22/13 11:47 A

Whenever possible (when I'm at home) I weigh and measure anything with significant calories in it (milk, cheese, meat, etc.). I also have cups, glasses and bowls that I've already measured, so I can be accurate about quantities.

I eyeball things like watermelon or strips of sweet pepper (cup? 1.25 cups? not sure). I have a tough time with "goopy" things like hummus, as I can't quite figure out how to go about measuring and eating it without sticking my fingers in it!

Of course, I don't bring a measuring cup and scale to restaurants, so try to order items that are naturally relatively low in calories and use techniques like dipping my fork into salad dressing instead of pouring it over the salad. The tricky part, of course, are things like "gee, that broccolli tastes great -- I wonder whether they added some kind of buttery sauce that I didn't order?!"

I deliberately don't track most walks around the block, etc., and leave 100+ "extra" calories in my range, knowing there's a chance I've underestimated something.

LGANDAB SparkPoints: (5,443)
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9/22/13 11:36 A

Do you weigh and measure your food when tracking, or just eyeball it?

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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9/22/13 9:46 A

Thanks so much! I have been struggling with this 20 pounds or so for many years, and actually spend about 4 months on a strict low-glycemic diet. Even after a month of "detox" (NO grains or fats, alcohol) and three months of very careful avoidance of high glycemic foods, my weightloss was minimal (MAYBE 5 -6 pounds after all that time, and a great deal of frustration over having to give up many of my favorite foods).

I went to WW, which is all about fruits and veg, and lost nothing at all (am sure I was eating too many calories, though I didn't count them).

Now, with Spark, I'm trying to eat enough PROTEIN (which seems to be a big deal), and I'm not really a huge meat-eater. So if I have just one meat-meal a day, it seems to mean I have to eat a great deal of dairy or soy/tofu (otherwise I'm eating nuts or nut butter, which is so caloric it puts me over my calorie count). Sadly, hubby and kids don't eat fish, which means I'd be cooking multiple meals if I wanted fish on a regular basis...

I really thought I was eating a lot of veg and fruit: fruit at every breakfast and for many snacks, veg for much of my dinner and often as part of lunch...

How do I eat MORE fruit and veg while ALSO getting in enough protein (without eating three servings of meat/poultry a day)?

And yeah... I really do enjoy a glass of wine a day. I can certainly cut back on a few days where I'm going to a glass-and-a-half, but find myself feeling rather cheated if I have, say, tomato juice or sparkling water as I'm cooking dinner. I guess it's a just a habit, but having given up sweets most days, almost all pasta, much of the bread I used to eat, most salad dressing, pancakes (which I ate weekly), etc. etc., I am not willing to say good-bye to the wine too!

9/22/13 9:07 A

Eating a diet that is too low in calories will starve the body causing it to lose muscle instead of fat. Which will lower your metabolism and causing you to gain more weight in the long run.

The best thing you can do to lose weight is to fuel your body properly. Eat real whole foods that are free of artificial flavours and preservatives. Avoid eating highly inflammatory foods and foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients. Breads, pastas, pastries. Corn is extremely inflammatory, has a high GL and can cause weight gain just like it causes the beef we eat to become nicely marbled.

As for exercise, lifting weights will build muscle upping your metabolism so you can eat more and then walk or swim a few times a week.

ETA - This is a great site with nutritional info, inflammation factor and glycemic load.

Edited by: JUSTEATREALFOOD at: 9/22/2013 (09:12)
ANARIE Posts: 13,205
9/22/13 2:32 A

You're a woman over 40 who is less than 20 pounds overweight. Your MAINTENANCE calories are probably around 1600. If you're eating 1450 on average, that's only 150 less than maintenance. If everything goes according to the conventional wisdom/math, you would lose a pound about every 24 days.

At that rate, you would be at your goal in about 16 months. That's not such a bad thing, but most people are not that patient. If you don't think you can wait that long to lose your weight, you'll need either to eat fewer calories or exercise more, or do a little of each.

Eating fewer calories doesn't mean eating less food. You're not eating much in the way of vegetables; if you can bring up your veggie consumption, that will put much more food on your plate for the same calories. Switching from white to whole grain bread won't cut calories, but it'll make you feel more full.

And if you're willing, you could make a lot of progress by ditching the wine or having it only on weekends or special occasions. Most days, wine is 10% of your calories or more. Alcohol is like white sugar-- it adds calories that don't have any useful nutrients. It can make you feel hungrier, and it might make it harder to resist junk food or even just extra healthy food. If those two servings of wine are something you really, really enjoy and look forward to, you can cut calories from somewhere else. But if you don't LOVE that wine, skip it and replace half of it with a healhty food that you do enjoy. For 150 calories, you could have two small apples, or a good-size slice of whole grain bread with all-fruit spread, or half a sandwich, etc.

That's probably the best advice I can give-- if you have to restrict calories as much as you do at this point, don't waste any. Make that food pay for its calories-- whatever you eat needs to "earn its keep" by giving you nutrition.

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (256,570)
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9/22/13 1:47 A

When I started to lose weight, my Dietitian put me on 1400 calories - no range. I got exercise, but not a lot - just some walking and at that stage 1x 1hr mat Pilates session per week. The weight came off slowly - 16 months to lose the first 50lb - the slow ones are best for longevity. I have been maintaining for nearly 3 years.

I don't remember if you mentioned what your current weight is, in any of your previous posts, or your body's healthy weight range, but do remember that the closer you are to a healthy weight, the harder/slower it is to lose.

My maintenance calories is 1600. I sometimes envy those who can eat more, but I practice eating whatever I fancy, one day per week. In weight-loss mode, it was one day in two weeks. That is the only change I have made since reaching my goal.

Remember, too, that you weight WILL fluctuate for a variety of reasons - it doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong.


WHOLENEWME79 Posts: 951
9/22/13 1:00 A

I don't know how long you've been at this, but I'd suggest giving it some time. Be consistent with your calories- Maybe aim for 1400-1600 per day, and see what happens. Weight loss is not a linear process, unfortunately, and some weeks you may gain, some you may lose, and some you might stay the same.

I looked at your food tracker and it looks okay. I might suggest trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, and maybe reducing how often you have alcohol, but otherwise it's fine.

I did not notice anything for your fitness tracker, but to be honest, I was not looking at that. Have you been exercising at all? going for walks, strength training, etc? Abs of steel are made in the kitchen, but fitness and strength training can only help matters.

When I started this, my first two months I saw no loss at all- Not even an ounce. I understand how frustrating this can be, but please be patient and consistent with your efforts. Your body needs time to adjust, and everyone is different- some people it takes only a little time, and others it can take weeks or months.

Best of luck.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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9/21/13 11:58 P

I've been steadily lowering my calorie intake, from 1650 to 1550 to 1440... and am seeing very, very little change in weight. It goes down half a pound, up a half pound, down a pound... I can't imagine living my life for decades at 1300 or 1200 calories a day without feeling constantly hungry and resentful!

Any thoughts? Do I just stop where I can reasonably expect to stay indefinitely, even if there's no significant progress? Or do I do one of those "crash diets" and see if 1200 calories works, even if it's for the short term? Do you think that if I stick with 1450 long enough and exercise a little more that something WILL happen??

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