Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pause Button

I've been fighting a weight plateau.  It has been weeks and weeks since I lost any real weight... and I'm not doing anything different now than I was when I was losing.  In fact a couple weeks ago I really buckled down and kept my calories under a certain number (which I choose not to divulge because how things are for me may not be how they are for you) and was stricter with myself than when I was losing - to no avail.  It's a real honest-to-goodness plateau.  In the process, I've swayed back and forth between annoyance and discouragement so much these past weeks, I'm dizzy.

I've been mulling over what to do about this plateau because I sincerely do want to lose a bit more weight.  If you do any googling at all on the subject you'll find lots of suggestions including changing up exercise in a drastic way, calorie cycling, change of diet, out right fasting, etc.  In other words, there is no ONE answer to this - you've just got to hang in there, maybe try some things and as Lori recently said to me in a comment, "grind it out."

I know I've also mentioned how tired/fatigued I've been feeling with everything that goes with trying to lose weight and that fatigue continues - part of the grinding it out I'd say.

Then came the great vacation clothing try on and much to my astonishment things that didn't fit me 4 weeks ago, now fit.  So my body has been responding to all the exercise, but the scale has not been responding to those same diligent efforts.

Right after I got into my vacation clothing, another blogger, Bzybee, wrote about making a goal then taking a short break and declared that he is going to refer to the time before and after his break as Part One and Part Two.  My immediate thought was, that is a clever, clever idea.  Doesn't sound nearly as bad as falling off the wagon or any of the other things associated with taking a break, does it?

That got my brain in a stew and after some thought, I have decided to take a break from trying to lose weight.  However, I'm going to refer to it as pausing.

As I have gotten deeper and deeper into the plateau I have started to see some silly behavior that needs to just stop.  It's okay to track intake of food, however it is NOT okay to become obsessed with every single bite of food that goes into my mouth. Obsessing that if I eat even 50 calories over what I feel my maximum should be, I should then punish myself via deprivation the next day or doing 100 jumping jacks before bed.  I certainly don't want to live that obsessed and controlling about food.  I also personally never want to associate food intake with exercise output.  I realize in weight loss it is calories in and calories out but I have always considered my exercise calories to be a bonus toward my health and fitness and never, ever do I want to tie them with food.  This is important, to me.

Mind you, my pause won't be long - just until after vacation.  I need the break to be honest.  Until then, my plan is to first dwell on the fact that I made my clothing goal. I made my clothing goal!! Secondly, I am hoping to maintain and not gain any weight.  Rather, I should clarify, not gain prior to vacation.  I fully expect to gain a smidge on vacation as the combination of serious sand gravity, different schedule and different/richer types of foods almost always mean I gain.   If I happen to lose some before or during, then that will be a bonus.  In other words, no more pressure to lose, just a bit of reveling in my accomplishments so far.  A pause to appreciate.

Once I'm back there will be plenty of time to figure out how to bust this plateau. Who knows, maybe this pause will be what I need to get things moving along again.  In the meantime, I have no other plan than to exercise normally and eat healthfully.

Interesting that I composed this blog first in my head during a run and then put it to paper over the last week and then my sister, who has gone through hell to find the heaven she is currently experiencing, posted this link:  What About the Happy Now? She always says that the biggest lesson she's learned from Gary's death is that we have to stop putting off living our lives now right at the place we are.  While the article refers to happiness, there are universal lessons in there.

Is any of this irony, or coincidence?  I think not.  I think karma knew I needed that. A huge reminder to not forget to celebrate where I've come from and not be so focused on the end that I miss the victories along the way.  A great reminder indeed.


  1. I bet you feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders (pardon the pun) with this decision. Proud of you for recognizing some unhealthy behavior creeping in and putting a stop to it. Enjoy life, absolutely! :)

  2. I embrace the last sentence of this post. Living in the now is a lesson I've learned after the death of my father, same as your sister.

    I think it's wise to hit the pause button for a while because becoming obsessed isn't a good thing. You recognized it in time and took action, not many people can do that but you can.

    I'd say live in the moment and enjoy your vacation to the fullest. You've come this far, you won't gain it all back overnight.

    You're still a huge inspiration!

  3. I understand where you're coming from. Enjoy your vacation, and enjoy this special time for you and your husband. You are beautiful and you look great!

  4. It's good to recognize stopping the obsessive behaviors before they become ingrained! I think a scale break is a good thing. While the weight has plateaued, the progress has not, as evidenced by your clothing.

    In my Fit Female book, Rachel remarked on a woman who went down 3 clothing sizes, but did not lose weight. The woman didn't care about the clothing sizes, she just wanted a certain scale number. It just can't be the only focus.

  5. Helen - enjoy your vacation, enjoy your clothing goal, enjoy all the fun things you have planned.

    I love the link you posted - so very true.

  6. Sounds like you already have a lot of success to savor, so taking a break seems like a really smart move! Much better for long-term motivation to enjoy life and not feel hounded by scale goals. Have fun!

  7. It's interesting to me after all these years of blogging and reading others' blogs to see the ebb and flow that goes on. And when we resist the ebb (even though it sucks, and yes, I just posted a bit about this on my blog, but it feels right to repeat it here), it doesn't do a damned bit of good, does it. Because ebb and flow what our lives are...we're not static and we don't go in just one direction.

    Anyway, enjoy that vaca in your smaller clothes! And thanks for the's what I need to hear right now!

  8. I think that's a great idea Helen. I do agree with the change of food consumption - there was an old WW unpublished program called the "Wendy" program. It was a WW who changed up every day point wise - but in the end it was still the same points for the whole week.

    So if her point total was 25 points a day - that would be 175 points (obviously you could do this with calories too). One day she'd have 20 points, the next day she might have 38, but just as long as she never went over the 175 points total for the week, she continued to lose weight. She discovered this after eating 25 points exactly every day for two months with no loss.

    She determined that by changing the amount of calories each day, her body was always guessing to keep up.

    The clothes goal is still awesome!!!!!!

  9. This is great, Helen. You really are in good physical shape, and have gotten yourself medically into an excellent place. You look good and healthy, have met clothes goals - This seems like extreme wisdom to me - intuitive thinking as well. Trusting your (no pun intended) gut, which is the right thing.

    I've really seen you change over the time you've blogged - I recall your original "About Me" saying you were an almost 50 something trying to get back her 30-something body. Can't be done - but you've made yourself the best you can be for today. And when you get back from vacay - you can figure out what's the next best thing for you. You're one of my inspirations.

  10. I think it will be a great day when we all can stop obsessing about our intake regardless of what we're taking in & our output. All that obsessing takes us out of the present moment. Experiencing death always brings you to the moment and makes the silly things seem really silly & trite.
    Have a great vacation and obsess about living in the present.

  11. I really like this pausing idea Helen. Just what I needed to read today - funny how the universe prodives us with what we need when we need it.

    We all need to be grateful for where we are and enjoy it. A book I read recently pointed out that many of us are always looking back or looking forward instead being present. I know I am guilty of doing that from time to time especially when it comes to my weight. What a pity I have given the number on the scale so much of my time and energy!

  12. Helen,

    I lurk in the background mostly but felt I needed to comment today on your perceived struggle with weight loss. You have done an amazing job in figuring out what works for your body and medical conditions. You have gained muscle and lost fat. You are now wearing smaller clothes. All this is great success. The number that shows on the scale is arbitrary with so many factors influencing it.

    One thing I think many people forget is that muscle weights more than fat. As you continue to build muscle, you may not lose pounds. That's okay as muscle is the holy grail. It keeps you strong as you age, helps control blood sugar, strengthens your bones and so many other good things. It also takes up less space than fat...probably why your smaller clothes are fitting now.

    As someone who is struggling to gain muscle after a broken leg sidelined me for 4 months, I am so envious of you. Keep doing what you're doing and try to not be OCD about the number on the scale. Enjoy your vacation.

  13. After 8 intensive months, I really did need a break. This last 3 weeks has been great not having to think every moment about food, exercise and the scales. I was still careful with food, but not to the point of counting calories to keep under x amount. I feel a lot more energized and I also think I have shaken my body up with the change.. Time to get back to work though!

  14. This post made me smile Helen. I can so relate, I'm on my little self imposed weight watchers break, and it feels good. Not that I plan on being gone long, but it's already recharging me. Have a wonderful Friday.

  15. I am pausing now. I think spurts are good. Tomorrow, I'm back on the wagon and back at the gym. This summer I'm doing the Cross Fit program for three months, then holding steady and I'll probably go to WW meeting from Oct-Jan just to keep the holiday eating at bay. I figure if every time I jump in I lose 20 pounds and I can keep 90% of it off in between, it works for me. I felt like trying to lost 60-80 pounds was too much to chew. Or not enough... hee hee...

  16. so true, just eat healthy and exercise and don't be obsessed!! The rest will take care of itself. I know sleep is soo important, when I don't get my 8 hours I have a harder time maintaining my weight loss. I just let go of the silly notion that I "ought" to be staying up... ummm why? I work hard, am a busy lady and I am tired!!
    I am also a WW follower, and I come and go with the program (old points) I will get tired and try counting calories, but counting calories makes me too crazy!!

  17. I think that's a great idea Helen! Just don't focus on it so much and it will probably come off just from that. And do enjoy your vacation in your smaller clothes - that's awesome!

  18. The main lesson I learned from my They Walk Among Us series is that it took everyone a long time to lose the weight, and most of them used a variety of methods to lose it. That's been helping me to stop thinking about dieting in terms of failures; instead of thinking that whatever I did before didn't work, each shift I make in my eating is an adjustment as I work my way down the scale. So Paleo worked well for you for a good run, now maybe it's time to tweak it somehow to something else that works. Etc.
    Just something to ponder!