I've been primal/paleo for 18 months. In the first 6 months I lost almost 50 lbs (probably had 130+ to lose). Then I stalled. For a year. Recently I've started gaining. Admittedly I've been kinda lax on french fries, paleo "treats" and dark chocolate...but in a month I put on like 10 lbs and my pants got tight. I do Pilates, and I've started doing more "lifting heavy things" at home. I did sprints once. I'm about 100 lbs overweight and I'm not sure what to do. I've tried playing around with various % of protein, fat and carbs. From what I've read, this stuff is just easier for men (hormonally)... so I'm looking for a woman's perspective... especially one that has been significantly overweight and been successful. What's your secret?
asked byjennifer_6 (70)
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on January 11, 2012
at 06:12 PM
I am 48 years old, female, post-menopausal, had a starting weight of over 450 lbs, and have lost ~175 lbs so far-- it took me almost 3 years. It wasn't quick, but I'm still losing. I still have about 100 lbs to MY goal, and 150 lbs to get to where those silly charts think I should be -- but I've been steadily progressing for 3 years now, and have also, in the process, created a sustainable way of eating and living that will enable me to become progressively healthier over time.
Here's how I did it.
I chose not only ancestrally-inspired foods, but only those ancestrally-inspired foods that my body seemed to LIKE, and prepared the way my body liked them. So I didn't try to force myself to eat tuna or salmon or sardines... my body hates them and lets me know in no uncertain terms... but I -did- make a point to eat grass-fed beef and non-soy eggs, even though they're more expensive, because my body LIKES beef and eggs, and I wanted the most nutritional bang for my buck.
I stopped snacking. Period. I didn't start eating until my body said it was hungry, and then stopped after 15 minutes and waited to see if I was STILL hungry. If so, I ate a little more, then stopped again after 5 minutes and re-assessed. I tried to have pleasant conversation around my meals, but not too many distractions, so that I would remember to pay attention to my body. When I was no longer hungry (but not stuffed full), I stopped eating until I was well and truly hungry again. As a bonus, this significantly reduced my food bill and made it possible for me to buy better-quality foods for the things I -did- eat... which, in turn, further refined my body's ability to know when it really needed nourishment, and naturally reduced both my appetite and my focus on food.
When I was hungry, I ate -- It didn't matter whether it was 20 minutes since my last meal, or 6 hrs... when my body said "I need nourishment", I fed it. I didn't judge it -- I ate, making healthy, ancestrally-inspired choices for 90+ percent of my food choices.
I did a little bit of movement every day. Swimming, climbing stairs, dancing, desk push-ups -- I didn't get all frantic about it, though. I have health issues that aren't related to my size/weight (MS and genetic issues), so I had to find a way to help my body without being able to do powerlifting or sprints... and over time, my body did ok.
I didn't stress about plateaus or slow weight loss. I also didn't get a lot of expensive, comparison blood testing. I figured that it had taken me YEARS to put the weight on -- so even if I only lost 1 lb a month, that would STILL mean that next year, I'd be carrying 12 lbs less weight than I was this year. Now, I only weigh once every 3 months, or if my body feels like it's not doing well, to get a picture of where I'm at so that I can make some decisions about what to do to move my health forward. My goal was more about starting to really HEAR my body when it said that it was uncomfortable with a certain food, and to keep my nutrition as clean as it was possible for me to do. Losing weight was a nice bonus, but for me, it was more about doing the things I wanted to be able to do, and not feeling like doo doo all the time.
I didn't substitute a lot... I didn't eat nut bread to replace grain breads, or coconut milk to replace cow's milk or beet chips to replace potato chips... In fact, the only intentional substitution I made was replacing grain pizza crusts with crusts made of pao de queijo--a Brazilian tapioca flour bread... because I discovered that I LOVED the flavor when we went to a Brazilian restaurant, and loved that I could eat pizza again (pizza crust always made me sick to my stomach before, and my friends and companion would get annoyed that I'd only eat the toppings and leave the bare crust). Instead of finding matching substitutes, I made NEW food combinations, using things that made me feel good, rather than trying to replace my sandwiches, breakfast cereal, and potato chips from my OLD way of eating with "imitations" of those unhealthy options in my NEW way of eating. I found that this made it easier to let go of cravings, because I wasn't constantly telling myself "see, this is trying to make up for what I had to give up"... but then still craving the REAL thing. (I hope point made sense).
I tried to find new things to do that didn't revolve around thinking about food. I stopped charting my food on tracking sites, making complex meal plans, and planning out my food for days to come, because for me, that just made me think about food MORE and miss foods I'd let go of for VERY good reasons.
I stopped watching TV, because the food commercials triggered cravings, and it seemed like the more I restrained myself, the worse the rebound 'SAD binge' would be when I finally gave in -- even if I knew it was going to make me horribly sick.
I didn't beat myself up if I occasionally gave in and ate something that wasn't good for me -- after all, my body usually let me know in no uncertain terms that it wasn't happy, so I didn't need to batter myself in my head, too -- I just went back to a healthy plan as soon as I possibly could.
on January 11, 2012
at 10:51 AM
I would try going 100% paleo, no cheating, for a few weeks. It's actually not hard once you get past the first few days. I'm a total sugar addict and the ridiculous cravings only lasted 3 or 4 days. If you have an iphone I would encourage you to get the app 'Pichealthy', it's a photo food diary. Before I started using it I thought I ate pretty healthily and that I didn't cheat that often, I was shocked to find out that I was cheating pretty much everyday. Food diaries, particularly photo ones have been shown to be effective at helping people lose weight. I always lose weight without trying when I'm using pichealthy.
The second thing I would do would be track all your food intake for at least a week. You might be surprised by the number of calories you're consuming. Paleo or not you still need to be aiming for a calorie deficit. Use an app like fitday (free) or Cronometer (costs about ???2 but I prefer it) to do this.
on January 11, 2012
at 09:22 AM
Hi Jennifer. First of all, congratulate on your weight loss so far!
I'm female, and 22 years old. My weight was in the "obese" category only two years ago. At my highest, I weighed around 235lbs. I now weigh 154lbs and am about 5'6". That's right between "normal" and "overweight" but I feel okay with the way I look, so weight loss is not my main concern at the moment. Maintenance, however, is another story.
I lost all my excess weight through the "conventional" method - a diet consisting primarily of fruit and vegetables, minimal fat and protein, and a heck of a lot of cardio (think 8km run every second day). I was also starving all the time, going bald, and in very poor health overall. As soon as I ate anything remotely "tasty" (that's the only way I can think of conveying how lacklustre my normal diet was) and stopped exercising for a few days, my weight would bounce right up. Of course, the frequent binges (from hunger!) didn't help either.
Since switching to Paleo, weight maintenance has been a walk in the park in comparison to what I was doing before. That is not to say that it is easy, by any meals. I still count my calories, and am aiming for <60g carbs per day. But, if I'm still hungry and I've already reached the psychologically uncomfortable number of 2000 calories, I'll ignore conventional wisdom and eat until I feel full. I figure that, because I'm eating the way my body has evolved to eat, then hunger is a clear sign that my body needs more :D
At the moment, I'm eating all kinds and cuts of meat, animal fat, eggs, low-carb veggies like cauliflower and cabbage, coconut cream, avocadoes, almonds, macadamia nuts, sardines and 85% dark chocolate. I've cut out all other sources of dairy, as well as all fruit. One day a week (usually on the weekend), I'll eat whatever I want, in whatever quantities I want. And then I'm back to Paleo the very next day.
Exercise-wise, I do maybe 20 or so push-ups every day, lift my 4.5kg dumbbells, and go on hour-long walks. Maybe do some sprinting on the treadmill once a week. On some days, though, I just don't feel like moving and remain sedentary.
It's worked for me so far in maintaining my weight. My pants (which were getting tight before when I started running every day) fit again. I look a lot slimmer, although I've only lost about 4lbs. And, best of all, I don't feel like I'm depriving myself anymore. I do love the foods I eat. I sometimes miss sugar and fruit, but I figure there's always cake on the weekend to look forward to :D
Hope this helps somewhat!
on January 11, 2012
at 07:31 AM
You tell my story just as if it came from me!
After about a year I went to see a Naturopath - he got me down to 15- 20 gms of carbs ( get into ketosis and stay there) No dairy and low fat ( yeh killer ) just meat, fish eggs and green veg/salad. No fruit - just lots of protein really. I also have protein soups and shakes - no carb ones - got to keep the protein up ! its not paleo but small amount of Protein every other hr seems to work - I have done IF and eating large amts of protein in one sitting but it was not as effective as small amts often.
I also take pregaba to help me sleep and take vita B and D ( my D was low even though I spent 20 min in sun each day ) I do weights at the gym 3 times a wk - only for 20 min but I lift big weights ! I renovated a house prior to rejoining a gym - it seems that renovating is not as effective as the gym!
So in short what is working for me ( I have 10 kg to go ) KETO diet but low fat - under 1000 cal /day ( I can hear you all now but I really have done every thing else this is what works for me ) SLEEP VITA D
on January 11, 2012
at 06:45 PM
I'm not a woman, but one thing that came to mind was stress and sleep. Do you have any kind of prayer/meditation routine? Are you getting adequate sleep? Does your schedule allow for more sleep?
My mom had a lot of success with a Protein Sparing Modified Fast. Might look into that.
Congrats on the weight lost so far!
on January 11, 2012
at 03:38 PM
Sometimes its just genetics. What does your mother weigh?
Do you supplement with Coconut Oil? I take about a tablespoon a day (straight) and keep losing weight!
on January 11, 2012
at 03:20 PM
I can totally relate! I've been eating Paleo only for about the last 4 months. I'm 5'7" and weighed about 231 when I started. I'm down to 216 now but the last few pounds have literally taken 2 months to come off. I lost a lot at first and then stalled at 218 forever. What's helped was increasing my exercise. I lost most of the first 13 lbs with no exercise (I have a 7 month old daughter - getting to the gym was really hard, if not impossible on most days - and she's adopted, so I'm not trying to get rid of baby weight from pregnancy). I've started doing some Jillian videos in my living room during her naps and that has been a great way to work out daily. Those are only about 20 mins long but they seem to be helping to break through the plateau. I also bought a jogging stroller and take her out for power walks as often as I can- again even if it's only 20 mins the activity adds up.
Anyway - 216 is NOT enough for me. I have been so frustrated by the slowness of my weight loss, even though my naturopath is thrilled. One supplement that she has me on, which I'm positive has been helping me bust through the plateau is called Xanthitrim. She said that it has solid evidence that it helps to speed up weight loss in people who are eating right and exercising. And by eating right I'm including Paleo because I think it's all about finding the diet that is right for your particular body.
Otherwise I guess I have to accept the idea that it will be slow-going for me. It's a constant education, and I'm so glad for this forum to see that others are struggling too. I do think it seems to be a smoother process for men - I won't say easy because I don't think it's very easy to do this for anyone.
on January 11, 2012
at 07:17 AM
"This is easy." Original Part of Response "It will be easy to get fat loss going again." Updated, reworded response.
Keep eating Paleo, but start walking. Walk as much as you can, don't run, don't do sprints, keep lifting heavy things.
DO NOT eat more because of your increased activity.
You can lose as much or as little as you want by varying the amount of walking, email me when your down 50 out of the 100 you want to lose and Ill tell you what to do next.
And drink water. Lots of water and Vitamin C.