5

votes

My habits have radically changed...but my weight hasn't. Help!

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 20, 2011 at 6:11 AM

Hey Everyone,

I've been frustrated recently because I haven't been seeing the weight loss I would have expected considering my lifestyle. I am female, age 22, 5'9", and 177 lbs. I just graduated from college and moved to a farm to work as an intern for 6 months. Here is how I would describe my diet and activity level currently:

  • I eat strict paleo and VLC (cheats generally consist of too many macadamia nuts or almond butter, and it's not often)
  • I don't really eat that much, especially on days I'm working because I'm so busy. I'm also not that hungry very often. When I do eat, it's generally good quality meat, eggs, avocado, coconut, etc. No fruit, tubers, or dairy ever.
  • as a farmer, I'm on my feet and moving around constantly (5-10 hours per day, 5 days a week)
  • I lift heavy things frequently
  • I get enough sleep and rest on the my days off.
  • I get plenty of sunlight and fresh air.

Because my jobs is so physically demanding, I don't do any training outside of work

Anyway, I was expecting to see big changes in my body composition after radically changing my diet and starting a job that is so physically strenuous (I've been here 6 weeks). I feel like I'm doing everything right, and this is pretty much as good as it's ever going to get. Honestly, I don't see there being a time in my life where I ever have it as together as I do now. What am I doing wrong?

I've been overweight since childhood (and was once a lot more overweight than I am now), and I'm afraid that my metabolism is damaged. Do I need to just be patient and eventually I will "heal" and drop the weight? Is my "set point" simply higher than usual? I really would love to lose these last 15-20 lbs. Thanks for your help!

0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on July 21, 2011
at 02:09 PM

Honestly, 6 weeks isn't a very long period of time, Sarah -- sounds like you're doing great! Agree with the other feedback -- stick to it, stay strong, ditch the scale and let it happen. Continued good luck to you!

132966e25fc0fea184ed0895f6d28ad4

(131)

on July 21, 2011
at 12:45 PM

I dont think two months is enough...we are all very different, some lose (fat/weight) straight away and other at a pain stakingly gradual pace...i was going to mention the woman who stayed the same weight for a year then started to drop weight also!!!! Keep doing what your doing knowing this lifestyle IS NOT primarily about being lean, but reversing disease, and losing weight comes secondary to all the other benefits. I am like you Sarah, i am not compliant all the time, i struggle with the last few kgs/lbs but i will never give up with my effort to live a paleoithic lifestyle.

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on July 21, 2011
at 11:36 AM

Ok if you were vegan for all those years, your B vitamins are likely depleted, especially B-12 because you can only get that from meat. They help catalyze reactions in energy metabolism. In addition to eating grass-fed meats and wild caught fish, supplement with B-12 (as Methylcobalamin). Don't use B-12 as cynacobalamin. Not everyone can utilize the cynacobalamin B-12.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 21, 2011
at 05:21 AM

I NEVER eat bread. I was actually gluten-free before I even knew about paleo. I was a gluten-free vegan, UGH. I really appreciate all the info though!

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 21, 2011
at 05:18 AM

I tried to eat as paleo as possible while I was at college for the past year, but to be honest, I was probably at 50-70% at best. We had to eat at a cafeteria and I have no idea what kind of oils they cooked with, what the ingredients were in all of the dishes, etc. After graduating I weighed in around 186 (which was high for me, probably because of all of the beer and celebrating). I've been eating strict VLC paleo for about two months. I think my fat is pretty evenly proportioned. I'd really just like to lose some of the extra around my abdomen. I could live with the rest if I needed to.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 21, 2011
at 05:13 AM

I'm not on any medications. As for agricultural chemicals, our farm is organic, but I guess you never know what's floating around...

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on July 21, 2011
at 02:48 AM

Sarah: What is your water intake? Especially with the nautre of your work and it being outside and your being VLC, and figuring in your weight, it needs to be at an absolute minimum, between eight and 10 eight ounce glasses of water a day, IMHO. Especially on VLC, appropriate fluid intake can really amke a difference in my experiece. Also, how long have you been at this weight - ie, you mention to another answer that your high previous weight was ~ 230. And as you already know, it is those last lbs which are by far the hardest. See Josh below. Do right stuff, let body self correct slowly.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 20, 2011
at 11:17 PM

In addition to the medication question, I would add exposure to antibiotics and pesticides could do the same, whether the exposure is from the farm you are on, at the feed store, or drift from nearby farms.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 20, 2011
at 11:12 PM

There's no rule that says you can't Spanx it up to accentuate the progress you've already made.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 20, 2011
at 04:00 PM

At my heaviest, in high school, i was around 230.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 20, 2011
at 03:57 PM

I honestly think your right. I am going to see a college friend that I have some romantic history with in a few months and I really wanted to wow him with the physical changes ("make him jealous" might be more correct). It's juvenile, I know, but he broke my heart, and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, the high expectations are probably what's stressing me out. Very good point.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 20, 2011
at 03:53 PM

Haha, the only scale I use is the one at the grain store in town (am I a country girl or what??). I was actually feeling really good about my progress until I stepped on it yesterday and noticed not change. That's when I got really frustrated. Honestly, I'm pretty happy with my body, except I'd like to lose flab around my middle to feel more confident in a bathing suit. I am pretty muscular and just have a large build in general. (I can't touch my forefinger and thumb when I wrap them around my wrist.)

E7dc4f2e3998906dd3213973a3c10d50

on July 20, 2011
at 03:20 PM

BMI does take muscle structure - or at least body fat % - into account when done properly, with calipers or liquid displacement tests. Otherwise I'd say your answers here are spot-on.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 20, 2011
at 11:01 AM

This is going to seem a bit general but may i just ask: How do you feel throughout the day? When you wake up are you energized and looking forward to the day? Do you have slumps, when? How often do you eat? Have you ever tracked your caloric intake? How many calories do you think you take in?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 20, 2011
at 11:00 AM

darn good answers right down that whole list.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on July 20, 2011
at 07:07 AM

I'm in a similar position. I've been paleo for 2 years and low carb for 3 1/2.

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12 Answers

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6
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on July 20, 2011
at 02:06 PM

You are getting caught up in 'expectations' the mind wants to see something immediate but your body will do what it is naturally programmed to do. Just relax and live healthy, this is not a race, everyone is different. Some people' bodies need a lot of time to heal internally before they see anything externally. Let go of stress, get lots of restful sleep. The body is way smarter than the mind, just give it what it needs, be patient, drop expectations and it will do the rest.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 20, 2011
at 03:57 PM

I honestly think your right. I am going to see a college friend that I have some romantic history with in a few months and I really wanted to wow him with the physical changes ("make him jealous" might be more correct). It's juvenile, I know, but he broke my heart, and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, the high expectations are probably what's stressing me out. Very good point.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 20, 2011
at 11:12 PM

There's no rule that says you can't Spanx it up to accentuate the progress you've already made.

15
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 20, 2011
at 06:41 AM

A. Burn your scale. Your gravitational pull has nothing to do with your fitness or health.

B. Too much exercise = stress = cortisol = belly fat

C. Have you had your thyroid checked?

D. Maybe you need a leptin sensitivity day. Have you tried upping your carbs for 12-24 hours every week or two, and seeing if that gets you through the plateau?

E. If you are as muscular as I suspect you would be with the work you are doing, your weight vs. height seem fine to me. BMI doesn't take musculature into account, so it is a pretty lame tool.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 20, 2011
at 11:00 AM

darn good answers right down that whole list.

E7dc4f2e3998906dd3213973a3c10d50

on July 20, 2011
at 03:20 PM

BMI does take muscle structure - or at least body fat % - into account when done properly, with calipers or liquid displacement tests. Otherwise I'd say your answers here are spot-on.

0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on July 21, 2011
at 02:09 PM

Honestly, 6 weeks isn't a very long period of time, Sarah -- sounds like you're doing great! Agree with the other feedback -- stick to it, stay strong, ditch the scale and let it happen. Continued good luck to you!

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 20, 2011
at 03:53 PM

Haha, the only scale I use is the one at the grain store in town (am I a country girl or what??). I was actually feeling really good about my progress until I stepped on it yesterday and noticed not change. That's when I got really frustrated. Honestly, I'm pretty happy with my body, except I'd like to lose flab around my middle to feel more confident in a bathing suit. I am pretty muscular and just have a large build in general. (I can't touch my forefinger and thumb when I wrap them around my wrist.)

13
2fdb7a6236b04bdfc3dacaf2bc236515

on July 20, 2011
at 06:49 AM

What are you using to calculate your "overweight" status? BMI, body fat? Your weight doesn't seem unreasonable to me given your height.

Farm work is hard stuff to do; are you adding muscle weight while losing fat weight? Are your clothes fitting differently, indicating a change in your body composition?

You say that you don't eat much. Maybe you actually need to eat more. You might even need to add some carbs in since you're so active.

Are you adequately hydrated? Make sure you're drinking a lot of water; believe it or not, it can help with weight loss.

Are you stressed? Adrenal fatigued? Do you have undiagnosed thyroid issues?

The frustrating part in all of this is that no two people are exactly the same; sometimes it takes significant tinkering (as Robb Wolf says) to figure out what's right for you. Try to be patient :)

8
14b4ae1e371f99c4dc889ff655a305f1

on July 20, 2011
at 11:28 AM

Slow metabolism results from skipping meals. Eat 3 meals a day consisting of animal protein, fat, veg. Stay the course no matter if it takes 6 months to see the scale move.
One woman ate "the perfect diet" for a year before any weight loss, then her body clicked in and she was able to lose 80 lbs. Each person's journey is different. Let your motivation to stay the course come from the knowledge that

  • you are not on a diet, you are making lifestyle changes
  • eating in balance will slowly bring healing at the cellular level.
    Heal the cells, heal the tissue, heal the organs, heal YOU.

6
27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on July 20, 2011
at 09:34 AM

Please read this post carefully- http://everydaypaleo.com/2011/06/22/attention-scale-addicts-part-2/ then come back and tell us whether Deb's story may be true for you too. If it is, clearly the others here are right and you need to throw your scale out.

More importantly, how do you feel when you pick up, say, a bale of hay, and toss it up to the loft? How much energy do you have when you wake up with the roosters to milk the cows? How long does it take you to yoke the oxen to the plow? Then - how do you feel when you look in the mirror?

4
7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 20, 2011
at 09:23 AM

Some people don't lose weight easily on VLC. Have you tried adding in more carbs (from starchy vegetables, fruit and even white rice)?

edit: Because you are pretty close to a good weight already, if not already there, effortless weight loss might not happen, even if you are very active. Maybe you have to consciously create a small calorie deficit. Try tracking how many calories you're eating to get a handle on it and go from there.

2
Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 20, 2011
at 06:39 AM

When I switched to 'Paleo' my weight dropped rather slowly, and lately it's still going down but has slowed. I'm learning more and more and perhaps I'll try some variations, perhaps add those 'starchy tubers' I keep hearing about.

I don't know how long you've been doing this, but perhaps it's just very slow like mine, and the trend hasn't yet become obvious. I find that my weight shifts about 2-4 lbs over any couple days, so any long term trend can become hidden in the 'noise'.

btw I'm totally impressed by your lifestyle!

1
226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on July 20, 2011
at 10:54 PM

I noticed in your question you never specifically mention if you are grain-free or gluten-free. You say you are "dairy-free" and that's a key component of Paleo. But what about bread? Do you ever cheat by eating bread? You said you use almond butter. Do you spread it over a slice of bread? Slice of toast?

If you have an acute sensitivity to gluten then this could be keeping your body out of fat burning mode. It's possible that gluten is damaging your small intestine thereby reducing your absorption of important vitamins and minerals. If your body detects low levels of vitamins and minterals, it will remain locked in a gear where you are storing fat for emergency energy rather than burning it for immediate fuel in your daily routine.

I need to know if you're feeling sluggish or tired or if you still suffer through random bouts with depression or anxiety.

If you answer yes to any of the above, I recommend you get tested for gluten sensitivity. Although you may not have celiac "disease" you may still not be able to get away with eating a small cracker once a week or a bowl of oatmeal every now and then or an occasional slice of bread topped with almond butter.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 21, 2011
at 05:21 AM

I NEVER eat bread. I was actually gluten-free before I even knew about paleo. I was a gluten-free vegan, UGH. I really appreciate all the info though!

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on July 21, 2011
at 11:36 AM

Ok if you were vegan for all those years, your B vitamins are likely depleted, especially B-12 because you can only get that from meat. They help catalyze reactions in energy metabolism. In addition to eating grass-fed meats and wild caught fish, supplement with B-12 (as Methylcobalamin). Don't use B-12 as cynacobalamin. Not everyone can utilize the cynacobalamin B-12.

1
132966e25fc0fea184ed0895f6d28ad4

(131)

on July 20, 2011
at 07:21 PM

How long have you been eating this way? Just the 6 weeks that you have been at the farm? How long have you been 177lbs? Where do you store most of your fat (or is it evenly proportioned)? You mentioned "radically changing your diet"...what were you eating before and for how long?

Thoughts:

  1. I think your pretty close to your goal weight, so just remember the closer to goal the longer it may take, to lose the last little bit.

  2. Drink at least 2.5ltr of water a day

  3. Log your food for a few days to see how much your eating?

  4. I dont see too many veggies in your plan, they contain lots of great vitamins and minerals and are a great source of carbs.

  5. i agree with the whole stress factor inhibiting weightloss also, maybe meditation on days off.

  6. Depending on how long you have been eating like this i was going to suggest a serving of sweet potato(tubers??im from australia lol) but if you have only been eating this way for a short period dont add the fruit or tubers yet.

  7. Did you exercise before the farm??? Maybe 1-2x a week add in some intentional HIIT crossfit style exercise for 15-20min using farm equipment...you should get to the point of collapsing on ground when workout is over...VERY different from what your doing now which is constant steady state exercise with the heavy lifting thrown in.

Things to do... tyres(flipping), sledhammers(hitting tyre repetitivly), sandbags(carrying/running/throwing)? loading up a wheelbarrow and doing short sprint intervals, chopping wood, heavy objects for squatting and doing overhead walking lunges, digging with a shovel....etc maybe start with a 2min run, then spend 2min on each activity working at maximum effort, then end with another 2min run...

Goodluck :)

132966e25fc0fea184ed0895f6d28ad4

(131)

on July 21, 2011
at 12:45 PM

I dont think two months is enough...we are all very different, some lose (fat/weight) straight away and other at a pain stakingly gradual pace...i was going to mention the woman who stayed the same weight for a year then started to drop weight also!!!! Keep doing what your doing knowing this lifestyle IS NOT primarily about being lean, but reversing disease, and losing weight comes secondary to all the other benefits. I am like you Sarah, i am not compliant all the time, i struggle with the last few kgs/lbs but i will never give up with my effort to live a paleoithic lifestyle.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 21, 2011
at 05:18 AM

I tried to eat as paleo as possible while I was at college for the past year, but to be honest, I was probably at 50-70% at best. We had to eat at a cafeteria and I have no idea what kind of oils they cooked with, what the ingredients were in all of the dishes, etc. After graduating I weighed in around 186 (which was high for me, probably because of all of the beer and celebrating). I've been eating strict VLC paleo for about two months. I think my fat is pretty evenly proportioned. I'd really just like to lose some of the extra around my abdomen. I could live with the rest if I needed to.

1
419ed2220b46523ccf0f4c765af85b4b

(70)

on July 20, 2011
at 11:40 AM

you don't indicate how much weight you have lost. Just that you don't think it's enough. I would echo what others have said it's a "lifestyle change" just go with it. It will come off over time, the naturalness of it will take you to your set point. Also perhaps the one day of high intensity aerobic work would help kick start your fat loss. 20 minutes of sprints, or bicycling where you go really hard for 15 - 20 seconds then rest to full recovery and repeat.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 20, 2011
at 04:00 PM

At my heaviest, in high school, i was around 230.

0
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 21, 2011
at 01:37 PM

I'm assuming you have only changed your diet in the last 6 wks? You also didn't indicate how many calories you are taking in, whether you stay hydrated as well. It sounds like a very physically challenging job and the fact that you are stressing over the lack of change, I'd bet you have become your own worse enemy.

I don't always agree with the burning of the scales, especially when you need to really figure things out. I'm simply suggesting that you use it periodically not regularly.

I would suggest a lot of the same things everyone else is suggesting, but I'd first want to start with getting accurate measurements, determining your BMI and working out how many calories you should be consuming. I suspect you aren't taking in enough and your body is protecting itself by storing everything it can. Maybe your %'s are also off. Consider fitday.com to work this out until you get it down pat.

Figuring out what works for you is going to take some time, you will want to make changes every 2 wks, until you figure out how to burn those calories and not store them. It literally took me 3 months to do this myself.

Just my opinion for someone who is having a rough start, if you really want to loose weight you need to put a little more effort into understanding what is the right combination of things, (ie: 65%fat, max 25%protein, less 100gcarbs) for a while, just until you get to the bottom of what works for you. Each person is different and each person responds differently to things. Learning to calm yourself down and listen to your body is something that will provide you big payoffs in the long run.

wishing you luck!! Give it time, the weight got there over time and over time it will come off!!

0
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on July 20, 2011
at 01:08 PM

A question and a comment.

Question: Are you on any medications? Certain meds will stimulate your appetite and kind of thwart all your other good efforts.

And my comment: Maybe you aren't that much overweight so it's going to be slower for your body to let the weight go? My mom is 5'9" and I seem to remember her looking great at about 165 lbs. You aren't that far from there.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 20, 2011
at 11:17 PM

In addition to the medication question, I would add exposure to antibiotics and pesticides could do the same, whether the exposure is from the farm you are on, at the feed store, or drift from nearby farms.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on July 21, 2011
at 05:13 AM

I'm not on any medications. As for agricultural chemicals, our farm is organic, but I guess you never know what's floating around...

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