I had someone ask me about plateaus and being stuck.  Let me tell you – I have been there and had my passport stamped many times.

First off, I think I should define what a true plateau is.  I see those who stay the same weight for a week and call that a plateau.  It’s not.  A true plateau is at least 6 weeks without more than 1/2 pound change in weight and no measurement changes.  The scale does not tell the whole truth as far as plateauing can go.  You can certainly get smaller in size without the scale changing much if you have a good cardio and strength program going, so take your measurements once a month.

My absolute worst plateau happened about 3.5 years ago.  I had gotten down to 175 and bought my bike as a reward.  (You all know how I love this bike!!).  I was feeling great at having lost 75 pounds and feeling healthier.  I thought the bike would make the rest of the weight drop off. Hahaha.  For whatever reason, the brakes hit on the weight loss.  I was following WW at the time.  I switched between Core and flex points, nothing happened.  Scale did not budge week after week.  I changed up my exercise more and less.  Nothing happened.  No measurement change either, so it was just my body saying  “Take a break lady”.  I began to get so frustrated that I wanted to cry every week when I got on the scale.  That’s when you know it’s bad.  For a good 6 months I fought that battle and then the plateau started to win.  Instead of just accepting the plateau and being thankful that I was maintaining, I began to have thoughts of “Well, if I am doing all this work and not losing, I may as well just eat what I want.”  That was mistake number 1.

This was also a stressful time because we had put our house on the market for a cross country move from IL to NY.  The first sale fell through, as did the purchase on a building out here.  My grandmother had gone into the hospital suddenly and passed away shortly thereafter, which was devastating.

Then our house did sell, and we had to live in temporary housing for several weeks before we were closing out in NY.  That meant our household belongings were in the warehouse with our business stuff.  The temporary housing didn’t even have a kitchen, it was basically a long-term motel room.  Problem number 2 occured with discovering the Mexican bakery that was en route from the warehouse to the temporary place.  I let stress talk me into stopping there quite often (and the stuff was amazing and really inexpensive!).  John and I would get a bag full of stuff and sit on the bed, watch TV and eat the pastries.  I would think about saving some, but usually ended up eating everything I bought.  This temporary housing with no kitchen also led to a lot of eating out.  We did try bringing the microwave to the motel and a toaster, but it was so depressing.

At this point, I just said “please pass the cake” and quit.  Mistake number 3.   Plateau officially over because I ended up gaining 30 pounds back.  Folks, that is one way to break a plateau, but it really is *not* the recommended way.

I did get back into the groove again eventually awhile after the move.  I would say it was about a year long process there of the plateau and gain.  I really never considered it a ‘restart,’ but part of the whole process of this journey to where I am today.  In looking back, I think the problem was eating too little.  The WW point system just didn’t work for me with the exercise I was doing and my body was trying to tell me, but I didn’t understand what it was saying.  When I ate more, I didn’t eat enough.  Then I went and ate too much!

None of those things that occurred during that time are excuses.  That is just what happened and I chose a poor way to deal with it.  The one thing that I had absolute control of during that period was what I put into my mouth, and I let that pass.  I’m a lot stronger now, and I learned from that experience, oh yes I did.  (The main thing being do not ever move  a business and a househould across the country  😀  )

Sometimes I get annoyed that I haven’t hit the magical number on the scale quite yet, but I am so grateful that I can maintain or catch the upward blips in the scale before they turn into full blown relapse.  It’s not an instantaneous process.  The words patience and dedication are my mantra, and they ride on the back of a turtle.

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15 thoughts on “Plateaus.

  1. debby

    Wow, Lori! That’s a miracle that you were able to check yourself and stop the pastries, etc! That is one of my biggest worries, esp. when I give in to the baked goods! Not so much anymore. But still. When life piles up on you like that, its hard. I think that’s why I keep an ‘arsenal’ of healthy baked goods in my repertoire. So I can put up a good fight when/if something like that happens. And we all know, in LIFE, that is going to happen.

    I liked your sentence about what you learned–(The main thing being do not ever move a business and a househould across the country.) When I think about moving, I mostly decide that I am very happy right where I am!

    Thanks for sharing stuff like this Lori. Obviously, I benefit from it. But I think it is so helpful for those who are starting out and still really struggling.
    .-= debby´s last blog ..A New Recipe or Two =-.

  2. Ali

    Thanks for sharing this Lori. All too often, I look at the scale and not the measurements- and I’m losing inches and not weight because I am lifting weights! You are so right about it riding on the back of a turtle, but such is life. Great post!
    .-= Ali´s last blog ..A Weekend with Gram and Gramps =-.

  3. Another Ali

    Thanks for this post, Lori. I read you regularly, and I think to myself, “Well she has it all figured out and look how she exercises now. She probably never struggled on her way down.” I have been in plateaued now for about seven months because of some serious injuries and an inability to exercise. I gained about five pounds and weigh about the same that you weighed at your plateau–and I am also about your height. I know I will get this off in the new year, and I refuse to gain more weight. I originally gained after coming off heavy exercise. There are times that I get incredibly frustrated, but then I have to realize that this is not the end of the world, and that there are far worse problems to have in life–and I have dealt with those far worse problems!

  4. Dawn

    I’ve sometimes thought I’ve done this the long way by introducing exercise and weight training from so early in my journey. But then I think that really is what helped me get so far in this journey. I think we all have our way of getting to where we want to be. But what I know for sure is someone that doesn’t at some point put the exercise into the mix is never going to stay where they want to be. That’s why I love reading your blog because I see you can enjoy food (including wonderful looking baked goods) yet still stay focused on getting in your exercise and also how you just make it ALL so enjoyable.

    I think that was what I loved about reading dietgirl’s book too that it took her 6 yrs to get where she wanted to be. But it was real life, a real journey with all the ups and downs just like all of us have.

    You are so right about all you wrote about plateaus too, truthfully I’ve never been on one. For me, it’s been about the regular ups and downs of just living my life the best way I could and sometimes not putting in the effort I needed to.

    Thanks for writing this, very well written. Glad you’re here.
    .-= Dawn´s last blog ..Another busy day =-.

  5. Jo

    I gripe all the time about my slow weight loss, but I have never called it a plateau. I think it’s just grossly unfair when one follows the rules and doesn’t see a number change on the scale! lol

    In my gut, I have the feeling I’m not eating enough. Yes, I’ve been following Weight Watchers. I have also tracked calories the past few weeks. The week where I ate a lot more calorie and points, I lost 2.5 pounds which for me is a huge weekly loss. Yet those big points/calorie numbers scare me. I’ve got it in my head lower=better, lower=better deficit=loss. That isn’t happening. Then again, my body is changing for the better. Another week I ate more and zeroed. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what I’m doing.

    Trying to find the balance is difficult and scary.

    You are an amazing inspiration. Do we focus too much on that scale number? I look at your photos and see a fantastically fit and healthy person, something I aspire to be like.
    .-= Jo´s last blog ..Thank You, Body Fat, Sick, etc. =-.

  6. Pingback: Good Morning. And A Finished Quilt. « debby weighs in

  7. Susan

    Wonderful post Lori! Think the next time someone asks me about plateaus I’ll just send them here 😉

    I think you totally got it when you said you were probably eating too little. A lot of people hit a plateau and just start eating less and exercising more, which is probably the worst thing you could do. Sometimes our bodies just need a break from being in a deficit, especially when you’ve been in one for a while.

    I especially like the part where you said you weren’t starting over, but continuing the process 😀
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..The Christmas Issue… =-.

  8. Fran

    You’ve really come a long way!

    I read somewhere that you’ll reach a plateau usually on a weight that you’ve maintained in the past. So this would mean that I should get one when I lose about 6 more pounds. Don’t know if it’s true but I do know I’ve been on the same weight for about a year but that was caused by eating healthy on week days and blew it all over the weekend so I had to start on Monday again and again and again 🙂
    .-= Fran´s last blog ..A day in my life: Tuesday November 10 2009 =-.

  9. Diane Fit to the Finish

    Plateaus are a big pain!! Getting through them isn’t always easy as you’ve so well written. One thing I tell people who are in the midst of one is to think of it as a little bit of pre-practice for maintenance. You are in a plateau period and even though you are eating/exercising correctly the weight isn’t moving. Kind of like long term maintenance!

    You’ve done such a great job! I love reading your blog!!
    .-= Diane Fit to the Finish´s last blog ..Don’t Talk To Me Now! =-.

  10. PTG1002

    I’ve been in a plateau for approximately a year now – no significant change, just up and down, 1-2lbs. It’s a royal pain. I’m very well aware that the solution is in the food – but like you were, I’m just at the point where I’m fully ready to take that next step. It’s sad to say, but I know what I need to do, but Im not ready to do it yet.
    .-= PTG1002´s last blog ..d1, w2 =-.

  11. Pubsgal

    Thanks so much for writing and sharing this. It’s especially encouraging to hear how you made it back down from an upswing. I’m struggling with that now, and man, it is frustrating. (The difference this time is that before, I’m not looking at it as a restart, either…before I’d have just thrown in the towel and said, “Nope! Done! Bring on the Ben & Jerry’s.” No longer an option, even if I wanted it to be.)
    .-= Pubsgal´s last blog ..Weekly update, 11/11/09 =-.

  12. Kat

    Hi Lori, I am so glad I found your blog, originally through South Beach Steve. This post is really helpful to me right now. I have been at the same weight for almost 2 months. Part of me is pleased I haven’t gained, and the other part of me is a little frustrated. I am just trying to take it a day at a time and have faith that the scale will move at some point. Thank you for this post and your blog in general. You are an inspiration to me!

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