One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ASK RONI Q&A

Ask Roni: Frustrated

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Hi Roni,

I’m 40 and I started a diet and a training program 35 days ago.  I’ve been training 5 to 6 times a week (on elliptical), between 60 to 90 minutes each time (doing intervals…going to up to 170HB per minute) and I follow a 1300 calories diet.    I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO discouraged as i only lost 4 pounds. (147 down to 143!!)…  I’m 5’4..and I want to get back to 117  (which i use to weight 5 years ago).  I thought I’d have a ‘’kick start’’ weight lost with all the efforts i’m putting in!! 

I don’t know what more i can do… I only have 1 to 2 days rest per week and i can’t eat less that 1300 calories (p.s. and i drink 4 to 8 glass of water per day)  I have to admit that I feel a lot better (more energy and less swelling etc) but i just don’t know what to do to optimize my weight lost.

Can you help me??

Signed,
Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

I actually just chatted about this in a recent video. Your body is going through some MAJOR adjustments. It’s probably holding on to water, repairing itself, trying to figure out what the heck is going on! 

It’s hard for me to advice as I don’t know what your are eating or any specifics plus remember I’m not a doctor or trainer. 

All I can give you is my advice based on my experience….

  • Don’t depend on the exercise to give you bigger losses on the scale. Exercise makes you feel good.. possibly look better and get you in better shape but in my experience when you start to exercise seriously you need to look to other ways to evaluate your progress as the scale can and will be fickle. 
  • Start keeping a food journal if you aren’t already. You may have hidden things in your diet you aren’t even aware of. A bite here a taste there.. they add up fast. 
  • HOW DO YOU FEEL?!?  All the effort you are putting in, is it paying off in other ways? Is this how you want to live your life. Are you having fun working out that much? Does your body feel leaner? Meaner? Are you getting more confident?

As for optimizing weightloss… focus on lean meats and lots of fresh fruits and veggies as your main source of food. Watch the "whites" (white sugar and flour) and the dairy. That was my overall approach. 

Hope that helps and I’m sure others will have some great advice as well. What do you think guys?



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Discussion

There are 37 comments so far.

    April

    October 20, 2010

    Actually, as crazy as this sounds, you probably aren’t eating ENOUGH calories. It sounds to me like you probably have 20 or less to lose. If that’s the case, weight loss is a whole other ball game. With as much exercise as you are doing, your body has decided to be stubborn and hold on to pounds. I’m willing to bet that if you up your calories 100-200 calories, you’ll see a change. I could go on and on about the science of this, but I’m 99% sure that is what happening with your body. Good luck!

    Patricia

    October 20, 2010

    First of all, good for you!

    Focusing on the scale is not the best approach. We have zero control over scale numbers, we only have control over our behaviors.

    1300 seems like a low number of calories if you are active and doing intervals for 90 minutes a day! Your body at some point will hang onto weight if you are eating too little. Try eating a bit more on some days. Eat nutritionally rich food, drink a LOT of water, and zig-zag your intake.

    Best of luck!

    Tracie

    October 20, 2010

    I agree with the others. I’m a similar height (5’3″). I eat 1300 calories usually on a day that I haven’t worked out. I’d try eating just a little bit more.

    Also at the weight she is at, she is very close (if not already there) to the top end of her healthy weight range. At that weight it is going to be even harder to lose any more weight. I personally think 117 is too low.

    I would also suggest drinking more water (when she is only drinking 4 glasses a day). With all of that working out her body needs more fluid.

    Christy

    October 20, 2010

    Well, your age may have a part in this. I say so because I am 41 and about three months ago started a diet. In my twenties and thirties, though more obese than I am now, I could easily shed 5-6 pounds per week. Not so today. I am losing .5-1lb per week. But don’t get discouraged. Your still in the fat burning zone if you are losing 1-2 lbs a week, which you are.

    I’ve not worked out on an elliptical before but if you are on that thing for 1 1/2 hours most days of the week, you probably need to up your calories a little to support the added activity.

    Also, you are just looking at one number… your total weight. We are a mixture of fat, muscle and water. You could be converting fat to muscle which won’t show on the scale, but is still happening behind the scenes.

    Lastly I’ll add that although it sound cliche, be patient and love/honor yourself every step of the way. Try to focus on the energy you are feel g increase and other positives. I know once you decide you’re ready to step up and make changes that it hard when you don’t see the results you think you’ll achieve.

    Okay, promise this is the last thing, be proud of yourself for what you are doing and don’t give up. Be open to making tweaks and adjustments to see if some small change can make a difference.

    Take care!

    Erin

    October 20, 2010

    Yep, I would say eat more. I had that same problem. I have more to lose, but I’ve been running 3+ miles at least 4 days a week. I had to eat WAY more than I thought in order to have any significant loss. You’ll have to play with it and see what you find. I do Weight Watchers and I had to eat most if not all of my activiy points to have any movement. Also, take your measurements. When I’m feeling down about the number on the scale, I look at that. It really helps with the feeling like nothing is happening.

    Also, yes, I would say you need way more water – especially on workout days. Good luck!

    Michelle

    October 20, 2010

    The first time I lost weight, I hit a plateau and was working super hard and then I asked a trainer at the gym if he had any ideas. He told me I wasn’t eating enough and my body was slowing down my metabolism to accommodate how much I was working out. Every second day, I added an extra 200 calories and within a week, I was losing again. And I sure enjoyed those extra 200 calories!!

    Valerie

    October 20, 2010

    It doesn’t seem like she’s eating enough calories each day. She needs to make sure she’s eating clean as well. You can lose weight eating 1800 “clean” calories as opposed to 1500 junk calories.
    I tend to focus on the scale so I can understand the frustration. But, I think the feeling better alone is huge!!!
    Don’t give up the fight!

    Robyn

    October 20, 2010

    I would agree with most comments here…. Increase you calorie intake a bit. The other thing I would say is.. mix up your workouts. If you’re only doing the elliptical, your body gets used to that. Shake it up and throw your body off, it may jump start your metabolism.

    I would also suggest adding some strength training into your routine. At your age, you really start to lose muscle and you also need it to strengthen your bones!! I’m a Les Mills Body Pump instructor and know the importance of weight lifting. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of resistance training 3 times per week. Plus, keep in mind, muscles burn more calories than fat. I find that lifting weights as part of a class is much more effective for me. In the classroom I’m pushed a little beyond my comfort zone. If I life weights on my own on the gym floor, I always quite TOO early and therefore am wasting my time.

    Robyn

    deb roby

    October 20, 2010

    At 41, losing 1/2 a pound to a pound a week is the normal expectation -especially since you only have about 25-30# to lose.

    With the others I would say: eat more calories (up to 1500-1800 calories). Cut the cardio to 45 minutes 3 days a week, and 20 minutes the other 2. On those shorter cardio days do 30 minutes of weight training.

    Make sure your diet is primarily vegetables and lean protein -with some fresh fruit and low-fat dairy. Limited grains: some brown rice, quinoa, slow-cook oatmeal…

    Drink more water. At least 8 glasses a day. Days when you do cardio for 45 minutes, drink at least 3 quarts.

    Rest 2 days a week. Ideally not in a row.

    Get 8 hours of sleep every night.

    This should get you going. And by going, I mean losing an average of .5#-1# a week.

    Cynthia (It All Changes)

    October 20, 2010

    I totally agree that you aren’t eating enough. When you are fairly healthy (even if you aren’t happy at that weight) then you body actually needs more to give up the extra pounds.

    I added calories/points to lose the last bit and it came off with the same amount of exercise.

    And check what you are eating. 1300 of cupcakes is different than chicken, barley and veggies.

    Carla

    October 20, 2010

    I’d advise to look at what you are eating. Are the 1300 calories empty or full of bread? Add in more veggies and fruit. And for goodness sake how the heck can you stay on the elliptical that long?? My toes would go numb! Try different activies to keep your muscles guessing. Take a class, do the Couch 2 5k and start lifting some weights.

    Reinaldo

    October 21, 2010

    Lift. Some. Weights.

    Barb

    October 21, 2010

    Oh dear, you sound exactly like I did about a year ago except I was doing 45-60 elliptical 5x a week with 1300 cal/day and I would lose 2 pounds a month. Wow, was I upset. And boy, was I whining a lot – understandably. Then I had a long talk with my trainer and got very serious: 1) upped calories to 1500, with at LEAST 100 grams of protein a day, 2) 3 days of VARIOUS cardio with two days of strength training. I lost 30 pounds in 3 months (at 55!) and honestly haven’t been on the elliptical in a year – I’m still mad at it. Good luck – the commenters have all presented very valid suggestions!

    TJ

    October 21, 2010

    If you are eating healthy and excercising, don’t worry about your weight. As long as you treat your body well, you will reap the benefits of it in the long run. It is a difficult mindframe to get in to, but just know that you are doing your best.

    Kirsten

    October 21, 2010

    What I’m not hearing from anyone is that it takes time, if you are losing at least 1 lb a week that is great. This is a lifestyle change no magic bullet or wishful thinking, if that were the case it would be easy! It took you a long time to gain the weight and to incorporate bad habits. Now focus on what it will take, planning, time and patience. Don’t expect instant gratification, you have to focus on body, mind, and spirit…. the whole package. If you are at least changing 1 habit and being consistent you are heading in the right direction.

    Shelley

    October 21, 2010

    I agree with everyone else and eat more. I have been a constant dieter all my life and have never been successful. I finally put my foot down and said I am going to do this and not “diet” but eat healthier and be aware of what I’m eating and follow WW points. I began in January and wrote down every meal except supper. I mean every mouthful. It totally worked. I lost 20lbs by May and I”m at a maintaining stage. Don’t think I don’t splurge sometimes. I love food and love cooking. Dessert is my downfall and if I want something I eat it. I will admit that I unfortunately don’t exercise and I know that I need to. But in your case, don’t be discouraged. I have always been that way with dieting. If you lose it slowly it will stay off longer. If I saw where the scales weren’t budging, I would eat more and lose. I will also admit that I weigh on a daily basis because it helps me stay on track. I hope this helps. Good luck!!!!

    Swedish Pankakes

    October 21, 2010

    Um … 4 pounds is a GREAT number. And probably a bit extreme, considering your current weight and height and the fact that you aren’t making working out your day job.

    RJ

    October 21, 2010

    I don’t have much else to offer than anyone else. But I think she should aim for 8 to 10 glasses of water a day instead of the 4 to 8 already mentioned. Might not make a difference on the scale but it really helps flush out all the yucky stuff in our systems and helps with water retention.

    Patty

    October 21, 2010

    Be proud of your accomplishment, – 4# is great! You did that, Own it! keep in mind that people who lose slowly are more likely to keep the weight off, and also keep in mind that you are improving your overall health by working out and making healthy choices. One last thing go read Roni’s previous post about “Just a Pound”.

    Alicia at Poise in Parma

    October 21, 2010

    I agree with a lot of what’s been brought up already. I think by getting a variety of foods and exercise (not just cardio) might help. Remember that real life isn’t an episode of The Biggest Loser where you are going to drop 10 pounds in one week. To keep the weight off, you have to make a lifestyle change, and that takes time. Believe me – I know the waiting is the hardest part! Just keep up the good work and success will follow!

    Melissa

    October 21, 2010

    I have to comment because I’ve been there. One thing I’ve learned about myself is I can work out 7 days a week till I’m blue in the face but that scale won’t budge if I don’t watch my diet (for me that’s points). I do think exercise is important however you need balance. Are you working out too much and now your body thinks it’s starving and you won’t loose? I’d say keep up the 5 times a week workout but shorten it to 45min. Try that for a week or two and see what happens. I’m always surprised when I workout less and loose more. Hope this helps, good luck:)

    Alison

    October 21, 2010

    Personally, I would pay more attention to how my clothes are fitting that the scale. If you’re gaining muscle but losing fat, then the number on the scale could be dropping little, but if your clothes are fitting looser then you’re doing the right thing. I agree with the other comments too – eat more calories, especially if you’re working out so much!

    Paula

    October 21, 2010

    You are so right about upping the veggie intake and avoiding the white poison(white flour & sugar) Cutting down on fat will change things too. (like dairy,oils,nuts & nut butters)

    mel

    October 21, 2010

    I am40 years old…run 6-8 miles per day (6-7 days per week)along with weight training a few times per week.. And I always find that diet is what determines my weight … not my level of excersise. I would wonder what the quality of food is that make up your 1300 calories? If it’s a lot of processed foods they will metabolise differently then 1300 calories of Clean foods (meaning non processed …and as close to natural state as possible) I know so many people who think they are eating a certan number of calories, but are actually taking in more calories then they realize. I would be really looking into the diet aspect of your weight loss efforts… not so much your excersise efforts… I think it sounds like you are on track with that.

    Laura Jane

    October 21, 2010

    Unfortunately, I don’t have great answer for you, but I definitely know how you feel! You work so hard and you want to see results. Five pounds, while it is something, isn’t as noticeable as you would like. However, 5 pounds in 7 wks is right in line with what you should be losing (.5lb to 2lbs a week). I’m 5’4″ as well and that is about my pace of losing, and I do work out a lot. It really sounds like you are doing the right things – working out very regularly and eating 1300 calories, and keeping it up for 7 weeks!!! One thing that has helped me (I’m not doing too well lately) in the past to stay on track is the idea (I read it on here) of falling in love with the process. Enjoy the process of the lifestyle change instead of just the results. I know that’s a lot easier said than done. However, think about how much better and more confident you feel when you are in control of your eating and are eating mostly healthier foods. Also, focus on how great you feel after a workout. Try to enjoy being in shape and on track as much as possible. (Again, I know that’s easy to say, but that concept has helped me.)

    Jennifer

    October 21, 2010

    I’ll chime in with the folks who encouraged you to 1. Consume a few more calories and 2. add strength training to your work out routine. My weight loss is always better during weeks where I have a good combination of strength training and cardio. And even during weeks where the number on the scale doesn’t change too much – the strength training is really contributing to changes in my body in terms of inches lost. If you’re at the gym, see if you can get a consultation with a trainer on a good strength training routine for both your upper and lower body. You’ll probably be quite surprised at the results. Good luck!

    Julie Varee

    October 21, 2010

    We all are about soooo much more than that number on the scale! You can feel good about establishing what sounds like a great exercise habit, about taking good care of your body and working to keep healthy. Focus on feeding yourself a variety of nourishing foods that keep your body working well, eating moderate portions of low-processed foods you truly can enjoy. Love yourself.

    Jana

    October 21, 2010

    Everyone has mentioned a lot of good things, I just want to stress the importance of strength training in your workout routine. Lean muscle burns more fat, so doing interval training is going to change the shape of your body more than just doing cardio. Also, I would change up your cardio routine once in awhile, your body adjusts and needs some variety…shake things up a little and you’ll see results. I’d suggest Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred for strength training, and if you don’t like her, there are tons of other videos to choose from on collagevideo.com You sound very disciplined, keep it up! Oh, and like everyone already said, eat some more :)

    Sasha

    October 22, 2010

    Wow – I don’t have any feedback for the writer, unfortunately. However, I did learn quite a few things by reading this post. Thanks everyone who gave their input!

    Amber

    October 22, 2010

    I know its frustrating to try to lose a lot of weight in 1 week. I swear I hate the scale. Well, love/hate it. Sometimes we just eat too much salt or are bloated for whatever reason we get bloated. If I was in the weight loss mode I would have to remember all the ups and downs. The funny thing is that the downs are actually LOSSES not gains! They just aren’t as much as you want. Congrats on the hard work…it WILL pay.

    Christine

    October 22, 2010

    Frustrated

    We have all been there trust me… you are doing great. Your workout dedication is phenominal. I struggle every day to have an overall healthly approach to life. Here are a few tips that may help your success.
    1) drink min of 8 glasses of water
    2) stay away from white stuff (rice, white flour, white sugar) and processed foods if possible.
    3) two words muscle confusion. Your muscles get used to the same exercise, so change it up even if you do and you aren’t feeling as tired or sweating as much.
    4) eat more (and switch it up ) so if you choose to eat 1700 calories then one day eat 1700 and the next 1600 and the next 1800 so the total calories for week is what you need but confusing to your metabolism.
    5) vitamins – especially the multi vitamin will help with build up of lactic acid (muscle craps/soreness), calcium and B-6 for TOM.
    6) break your day into several small meals eating every 2-3 hours. Your body in an engine and giving it a little fuel to burn every few hours helps me with overall weight loss.

    You deserve to be healthly and happy in your skin.

    -Christine

    Amanda

    October 23, 2010

    I have a similar question. I’m a religious calorie-counter, and usually I do an hour of cardio (every day, I never miss one and I refuse to take a rest day) and eat 1800 calories a day. I stressed out changing jobs and stress-ate up four-ish pounds. I’ve been on a 1450-calorie diet for three weeks, and I don’t feel like it’s making much of a difference. I’m a vegan, and I drink way more than 8 8-oz glasses of water a day, and I get about 30-ish grams of fat, 50 grams of fiber, and 70 grams of protein each day, all from whole, unprocessed foods (mostly fruits and veggies, with at least one serving of nuts each day). What am I doing wrong?! :( I even have been taking an extra couple of dance or kickboxing classes per week and shifting my calories over the weekend to confuse my body. That’s doing everything right, isn’t it? But I don’t feel very different.

    Any help would be MUCH appreciated.

    roni

    October 24, 2010

    Amanda – You make no mention to what you need to lose or how much you currently weigh. Maybe you should speak to a trainer or dietician to reach your specific goals.

    Lauren

    October 27, 2010

    Everyone has left awesome comments! One more thing…maybe add some variety to your workout routine. I totally agree with Roni, nutrition is where you’re going to see the difference, but your body will also become very accustomed to one workout (in this case, the elliptical), and although you are burning more calories, you’re not burning as many as you could, or toning (which is where you’ll lose inches). Try some circuit training workouts that involve both cardio and strength training—fastest way to burn mega calories and tone all over! I absolutely love Tae Bo workouts and Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred! Best of luck, your dedication and hard work are inspiring and amazing, don’t sell yourself short—you are doing PHENOMENAL!!!

    Jeffgriffin

    October 27, 2010

    I completely agree with you Lauren. Despite the way it feels, losing weight isn’t a mysterious process. It’s a simple matter of burning more calories than you eat. But, if it were really that simple, none of us would have a weight problem, would we? Weight loss can be such a struggle that we start thinking we have to do something drastic to see results — diets, pills or those weird fitness gadgets on infomercials that promise instant success. The true secret to weight loss is this: Make small changes each and every day and you’ll slowly (but surely) lose those extra pounds. The key is to forget about instant results and settle in for the long run.

    Michelle

    October 31, 2010

    Cut out carbs. Pick up the South Beach diet book at the library and do the 2 week cleanse. The weight will FALL off. I assure you! I lost 18 lbs in 3 weeks just following the 2 week cleanse and 1 week with minimal carbs added. It can’t last forever BUT it gave me a good jump start!

    Amanda

    October 31, 2010

    Michelle – was it water? Or actual fat? Do they make you cut out fruit, too? I really like fruit. :( I mean, most of my diet right now is fruit and high-protein vegetables. I’m a vegan, so I can’t go all meats and cheese or anything. Thanks for your help (to all of us with this problem haha).