weight loss plateau- please help!

2 months ago I started a diet and exercise plan. I’m trying to lose 40 pounds. In the first month/month and a half, I lost 10 pounds. More success than I’ve ever had at weight loss before.

But the scale’s been stationary for the past week or so. I’m wondering if I might be losing fat but gaining muscle. The first month I only did strength training once a week, but now I do it twice a week and working more muscles. I know that gaining muscle is a good thing, but it doesn’t seem like I lift enough weights to really gain much. I only have 5 and 10 pound weights at home, and when I used to go to the gym, I lifted 4 or 5 times that. So does anyone think I’m gaining muscle and that’s why I’m not losing weight?

I know that once you lose some weight, it’s a lot easier to heave your lighter body around, so you don’t burn as many calories. But I made sure that when I created this exercise plan, I increased the amount of exercise I did each month. The first month, I worked out 3x a week. The next month, 5x a week. Starting yesterday, I’m doing yoga and jumping rope on Monday, soccer and strength training Tuesday, walking on Wednesday, yoga and a workout video on Thursday, and strength training and jumping rope on Friday.

I’d also like to start a “real” diet too. My diet so far consists of drinking Crystal Light instead of juice or soda. All in all, it’s saving me several hundred calories a day. I’m not a big fan of diets really, unless you don’t eat healthy at all. I’ve got a decent diet already. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, I eat wheat bread instead of white bread, etc. But I also think that if I feel like having a cookie, I’ll have a cookie. I just won’t eat the whole bag. According to the Interactive Healthy Eating Index from the USDA, I eat better than the average American, but my normal score is 70-something out of 100. So there’s definite room for improvement. Any ideas for a really simple diet, something along the lines of my Crystal-Light-instead-of-soda diet?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

First, platueas are normal.

Second, weighing yourself weekly will make you think you are experiencing more plateuas than you are. Weight yourself every 10-14 days to add in some control for variables like PMS, bloating, sodium intake, bowel movements, etc.

Third, a refined approach to weight loss would be to focus on body fat as you get deeper into a diet and exercise regimin. (Even if you add muscle, it won’t amount to a great deal of weigth, but body fat analysis is really a way of getting a new goal in your head to perk interest in your mission)

Fourth: measure yourself sometimes…waist…hips and problem areas. An informal boidy fat check,more or less.

Finally, add in different types of foods, and different types of exercise as your body will get used to any eating routines and use that food more efficiently, and it will adapt to any exercise routines and use the energy more wisely. Mix it up.

If you are male, try keeping track of your waist size as an indication of how you are doing. A really successful men’s program in Australia - Gutbusters, aimed for a 1% reduction in waist measurement per week.

I’m a girl actually, and I have a naturally small waist. Even at 40 pounds overweight, I still have an hourglass figure. I store fat in my butt and tits.

Measure your butt then, or rather the widest part of your hips. It’s true you can go a good while not seeing the scale budge, but your measurements will go down and clothes will fit differently.

Congrats on your success so far! Keep at it!

First, one week does not a plateau make. If you are staying at the same weight for several weeks, then you might be plateauing. So have patience.

Second, you would not build muscle that quickly that it would more than make up for whatever fat you’re losing. I don’t think you’re working out enough for that to happen by a longshot (most of us don’t, so I’m not picking on you).

If it is indeed a plateau, you’ll want to figure out if it is a mental or physical one. By that, I mean, are you really eating as much or as little as you think? Keeping a food/exercise journal can let you know if the old habits are sneaking back, or if your intake has recently increased. As much as it’s a pain to keep a food log, it’s really eye-opening, so I recommend it highly. Then you can see where your weak spots are, and if there are any areas for improvement.

If your intake hasn’t changed, it maybe a physical plateau. That’s natural, and if you keep at it, you’ll eventually break through. Try increasing the intensity or the duration of your workout, or mixing up your meal plans. Sometimes a simple change in your routine jars your body out of the routine it’s gotten comfortable with.

Above all, DO NOT GIVE UP. Keep plugging away, this is long term stuff you’re dealing with. Well, at least it should be.

-scout, at goal weight since August 1997