Classes for the first year of my grad program ended in May. When classes were done and my schedule began to return to normal, I decided I would have a brief (3-day) celebratory period where I ate what I wanted and didn’t worry about counting anything. I’ll call it my own personal carbfest. I had popcorn every night. I ate out (including Mexican food). I didn’t overindulge. I just enjoyed myself. After my brief carbfest, I rededicated to my journey on May 20, 2018 (having started this whole journey on April 20, 2017). My starting weight on May 20th was 189 (yup, I put on nearly 6lbs from 3 days of carbfest). When I started this rededication, I identified the missing pieces of my weight loss puzzle and made the following changes:
- Began diligently tracking macros again. 20g (total) carbs, 118g fat, 90g protein for 1500 calories.
- Added exercise (or tried, at least, it’s HARD getting up at 5 am) twice a week. High-intensity interval training (HIIT).
- I significantly cut back on dairy (probably cut 3/4 of my dairy intake). I’d read that dairy can impede weight loss in women.
- I switched to decaf (slowly – started with 1/2 caffeine and 1/2 decaf and progressed to full decaf). I’d read that caffeine can impede weight loss.
- I incorporated Apple Cider Vinegar to my daily routine (2tbsp in a tall glass of water every morning). It’s supposed to be good with helping your body process carbs.
- I started taking 400mg Chelated Magnesium every evening (surprisingly, it helps me sleep better!). Magnesium is a nutrient we tend to lose when going low carb.
- I gave up alcohol (temporarily – just reducing the variables).
- I stuck to an 8-hour eating window (noon to 8 pm).
- I got a blood ketone monitor and am measuring it and my glucose regularly.
All of this had virtually no impact on the scale. I’m 185 right now which is roughly what I was before my three-day carbfest back in May. So. No impact. At all. All those changes and no impact. I know it’s only been a few weeks, but I expected some impact.
I posted about it in a keto support group on Facebook that I really like. I got some great feedback. Mostly, I learned I am not alone. I’m entering the 10th month of my weight loss stall. It’s frustrating. It’s making me crazy. It’s making me want to throw in the towel. Several of the people who commented on that post gave me hope and encouragement to keep going – keep making adjustments – it’s not a linear process by any means. More than one person in the group had experienced plateaus of nearly a year or more but they persevered and got past it.
To this point, I have thought that I absolutely must weigh myself every single day to stay on track so I can make “quick” adjustments if I need to. Weighing daily kept me accountable, or so I told myself. But seriously? How realistic is that? What one eats today rarely shows up on the scale 24-hours later. So many factors influence what the scale says. So, rather than look at my jagged curve of weight loss, I need to look at the smooth slopes – I need to be less intense about weighing myself daily. I also need to look at other factors – like measurements. I am still getting compliments. I am still buying smaller sizes. I am fitting into things I couldn’t wear comfortably even a few months ago. While the number on the scale has chosen to take a sabbatical, my body is still happily chugging along albeit at a sloth’s pace.
I will keep most of the changes I incorporated in May, but I will make the following adjustments:
- Net Carbs. I am going to start looking at net carbs rather than total carbs – at least for a while. Net carbs are total carbs minus fiber. It allows for a few more carbs in the day which primarily come from vegetables. I am no longer going to worry about the carbs in avocados for example. An avocado has 12g of carbs, but 10g is fiber so it has 2 net carbs. I avoided avocados because it “sucked up” my carbs for the day. It’s just going to help my general psyche counting net vs total carbs.
- Weekly Weigh-ins. I am going to weigh myself and take measurements once a week. There is no need to make myself crazy and put me into emotional tailspins weighing myself daily during a plateau. And I’m adding measurements to the mix.
- More Fat. I am going to really up the fat quotient ala the Volek and Phinney school of thought. While my mantra has been to eat until I’m satisfied, I will modify that a bit and eat more fat if I am not satisfied after a meal.
- Macro Percentages vs Grams. Again, via the Volek and Phinney school of thought, I am going to pay more attention to the percentage distribution of my macros rather than the total grams. I am going to try not to go over my daily grams (because that means I am taking in more calories), but if I go over, I am going to make sure I go over in proportion. My percentages should be 5-10% carbs, 10-20% protein, 70-80% fat. Read more about “Stagnant macros” on the Virta Health blog.
It’s all a balance and finding what works and, clearly, there is no one single way it works. I just need to keep trying different pieces to my own personal puzzle. In the beginning, when I lost the most weight, I rarely counted anything and just eyeballed stuff. Simply cutting sugar, rice, pasta, bread and potatoes kicked my body into gear and the weight fell off. It is far more complicated now. I am not going to lie and say I will be “fine” with having to monitor my food intake and all the other factors influencing my weight for the rest of my life. That is so depressing I don’t even want to think about it. The one area of hope I have is I know I can maintain. While I may be in a plateau it is also maintenance. I have not gained back a significant portion of what I initially lost. That is encouraging.