Fitness: My Big, Fat, Epic Plateau

So, this is a really hard post for me to write. Hang in there, Tulle Nation – it’s about to get all confessional and real (and very looong). See, I am not one of those public announcement type people. I prefer to keep my issues and struggles and personal life, well, personal. For one thing, I’m actually not that much of a share-y kind of a person. I figure that everyone has their own problems and who the hell am I to toss mine into the mix?

Second, I am a lifelong procrastinator. I am one of those people who see a deadline as a nice little thing to completely ignore. And, while this is great for my stress levels, it’s not so much for the getting shit done side of things. And currently, those attitudes are not doing me any kind of favors. So, today I’m going to do something that I never thought I’d do… I’m going to use my blog as a platform to help me work through a specific issue and try to achieve my goal.

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Image Courtesy of: ImgFave

I’m talking about losing weight and becoming a healthier person.

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Image Courtesy of: The One With Ana

Many of my readers know that last year, I started a weight loss/fitness journey because I was frustrated with the way that I looked and the way that I felt. And up until January, I was doing GREAT! I was consistently making good choices and losing weight every week. Then, I hit a plateau. HARD. I have been at the same weight since January. It is now September and I was supposed have already been at my ideal weight for a few weeks. But I’m not and getting more frustrated with each passing week.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we? I have always been fat. My mom LOVES telling everyone how I was born 10 pounds/10 ounces. I grew up in rural Alaska with no fresh veggies or fruit (literally none), no gyms, and a family that did not work out or eat healthy. In gym class, I was the one who walked laps instead of running them. I was the kid at the pool party wearing an over-sized T-shirt and shorts. I considered French fries a vegetable. I was not healthy.

Fast forward to my California years (2002-2005) where I was constantly surrounded by impossibly thin people and worked in a neighborhood where the moms had nannies so that they could spend three hours on the StairMaster. I joined a gym but didn’t know how to do anything and was too embarrassed to ask for help so I stopped going. And then I got really heavy. Like 200 pounds on a 5’5” frame heavy. I was that size when I moved back to Alaska to help my parents and met The Boy. And he liked me and it was good. For a while.

Then, a couple of Christmases ago, my sister discovered fitness. Not “starve yourself skinny” fitness but actual “becoming a healthier and stronger person” fitness and she begged me to join her every morning at the gym so that we could spend more time together. I went and messed around on the elliptical a bit but, again, I wasn’t really sure what to do. I didn’t understand the machines, the weight room scared me (and was filled with mirrors and dudes), and I literally had no clue what losing weight entailed. But, I liked being with my sister and she was so happy to have me there that I continued going. And one day, I stumbled upon a machine in the back of the gym called the Koko Fitness SmartTrainer – an all-in-one strength training computerized machine. It changed everything. That machine showed me how to do different strength exercises, it taught me what a rep was, it encouraged me to try harder. From the minute I first struggled to do the exercises on that machine, I was interested in learning more about how I could become a fitter and healthier person.

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Image Courtesy of: Feel That Burn

After that, I got an elliptical machine of my own and started reading fitness magazines (starting with chick-friendly Fitness and Shape and eventually moving up to the more hardcore Oxygen). I did hour long workouts at home and experimented with incorporating high impact interval training into my cardio and learning how to lift weights properly. For the next year and a half, I worked out at home and firmed up but didn’t lose any weight. Then, in August of 2010, I saw a picture of me from my best friend’s wedding. And I was embarrassed.

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I was working out 5 days a week and was still nearly 200 pounds. I decided that it was time to do something about it (well, first I cried my eyes out and then I did something). I joined My Food Diary and started logging every single thing that I ate into its calorie calculator. I religiously stuck to my daily allotted calories and the weight started peeling off. I was starting to see the muscle under the fat. I was fitting into my jeans comfortably again. I was actually losing weight. Finally.

Enter January 2011, I came back from Alaska having actually lost weight over the holidays and was down a whopping 40 pounds. Everything was looking great and I was on track to being at my ideal weight (calculated through My Food Diary) of 125. But I hit a nasty plateau and here we are, ten months later and fluctuating between 150 and 155 pounds. And y’all, I have a wedding dress to fit into in May and babies to make (and keep in a healthy body).

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Image Courtesy of: The Ultimate Female

That is what I look like right now (and no sucking in The Shelf [as I call my belly fat] either). Currently, I am 5’5” and weigh 153 pounds. My measurements are: chest (38”), hips (44”), waist (36”), and thighs (25 ½”).

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My goal is to be 125 pounds and down 3” all around. I would also like to be able to start jogging regularly (very difficult for me right now because my knees hate the extra weigh). I want to have thighs that are smaller than my head. I want to not jiggle during sex.

The Boy and I joined a gym and last month I became a member of My Fitness Pal (it’s free and includes an app for smartphones). I’m hoping that those moves + my public announcement will help kick start the rest of my weight lost journey. So, here’s my goals for the next month:

  • Workout five times a week (at least 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training)
  • Make better food choices on the weekends
  • Try jogging on the treadmill for five straight minutes
  • Learn to use the Smith machine at the gym
  • Lose 4 pounds

So, I’m asking for your help Tulle Nation – I need your support. I need you bug me on Twitter and Facebook and ask me if I worked out today (and check out my Fitness board on Pinterest). I would love some fitness advice and nutritional suggestions. Be my friend on My Fitness Pal (email me and I’ll add you to my list!) and help me stay accountable. Because every month until the wedding in May, I’m going to post about my fitness journey and I could use some motivation (so that I can show you success and not just whine [like I did today]). Are you in? Do you want to publicly declare a Fitness Journey of your own (if you blog about it, I’ll be sure to follow you)? Because what’s happening for me right now? Isn’t going to cut it for my future. Thanks for listening, y’all.

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  • Cris,
    What an amazing post. Not to sound all cliche, but… you can do it! I’ve been wanting to get into a more healthier lifestyle, too, kicking my butt into high gear and trying to get out and get more active. Eat healthier. The whole shibang. I know the feeling! It’s amazing how once you start doing it, you start to really love how it feels. I’m finding the getting to that point is sometimes the hard part, especially when it starts to get colder outside. Feel free to tweet me about it, and I can tweet you back so we can try and get each other to get out and do something! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing the post!
    -E.

  • OMG. I woke up super early this morning, in a grouchy mood, NOT wanting to eat a healthy breakfast – then I checked my inbox to find these incredible comments from y’all. *sob* I’m crying a little…

    Ladies, THANK YOU. And please join me. I’m going to post again in two weeks with a progress report. Feel free check in then, too and share a goal that you’ve accomplished (ANY goal no matter how small counts).

    THANK you all.

  • literally, as soon as i started following my trainer’s food plan, i broke through my plateau. i didn’t run, i just did strength training and a bit of cardio 5x week, but wasn’t really seeing results until i started to follow the plan!! you can do it! we are all our worst critic, but to me, you are beautiful just the way you are 🙂

  • When I look at your pictures, I see clavicle definition. I see forearm definition. I see nice biceps and toned glutes. I’m looking at a healthy body that belongs to someone who’s put in serious work. You ALREADY look like an “after” pic. You may not be at your goal weight yet, but the work you’ve put in is inspiring and will carry you through the rest of your journey. I won’t wish you luck, because you won’t need it 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this post! I started a work out program a month ago, but I’m a bit bummed that I’m not losing any weight. My eating has to get better, and I know this, but I figured I would at least drop a few pounds… The toning you mentioned is happening, I think – my fiance mentioned it. Anyway, I need to inspiration as well and thank you so much for giving it to me! I was seriously considering not working out today, and now I’m putting on my gym shorts. 🙂

  • Aaah! You guys are killing me! I did not write this post as a backwards way to fish for compliments so hearing y’all supprt me (and compliment the changes thus far) is SO amazing.

    It is SO sweet to see that I’m not alone and that others are struggling just like me. Sometimes, it’s so nice to know that you’re not the only one… because there are many times that it feels that way.

    And I’m not joking. Join me on My Fitness Pal – email me and I’ll add you to my friend requests.

  • Thank you for this post! I can totally relate to this on so many levels. I’ve been tracking my calories in a little journal but I think I’ll check out my fitness pal. I could use some accountablity too!

  • I started at your plateu weight on my fitness pal about a year ago, and it took me a yearrr to loose my weight because i just couldn’t get myself to stick to my calorie requirements,i would always sneak a cookie in there or eat so much i couldnt move on the weekends XD but the second i said “no. i really want to loose this” and ate myself a nice salad for lunch the weight started coming off, I BELEIVE IN YOU! and its definitley possible, i went on maintenance at 135 and started pumping up my workouts, and suddenly my body just wanted to go to 130. im looking at your goal weight and thinking “wow i thought that was impossible and now its right there!” if i can do it you can do it!

  • Wow! I needed to read this today – big time! I have been on a similar journey and have lost a lot of weight (approx. 65 pounds). I’m down to the last 20 pounds and I’m plateauing hard. It’s getting harder to stay motivated. I’m losing all the pride that I once had in having lost the weight. Although I’m a much healthier person and I’ve completely renovated my life, I need the motivation and self-satisfaction and I feel like it’s been slowly disappearing.

    Then I read this post.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I think you just single-handedly changed my attitude and the rest of my year.

    Good luck with your journey! You can do it! I’ll be following 🙂

  • Seeing these blogs always makes me happy and inspired.

    As far as plateauing goes, often its because your body, being the amazing thing it is, has adapted to your routine. Remember homeostasis? If you want to spur change you need to constantly switch it up and constantly make it harder. Your results are so impressive and i would say that most of it has actually been spurred by your diet, which is even better.

    Im the opposite and while I myself cannot say i’ve lost more than ten pounds its been majority my workouts that have done this, i was 185, and i believe i now hover around 175. For a 5’7 eighteen year old female who’s built thick and strong i can inly hope to get down to a healthy wight of 160, 150 if i really leaned up and lost my muscle mass too.

    My point in mentioning that is that through workout and everything ive managed to feel so much better and ive gone from someone who struggled to jog for fifteen minutes to being able to go for thirty or forty minutes without breaks. My overall heartrate is down ive got strength and tone i haven’t had before from weight training and I love it.

    Dont be afraid of gyms, I understand why, I used to be and still am. However you need to remember you are there for YOURSELF so whatever other people think should be no concern of yours. Don’t be embarrassed about not knowing how to use something, ask, or if it helps and you can, go at an odd time of day when there aren’t very many people working out. Even better theres no end to videos on youtube showing you proper form and exercise. Everyone is bad and awkward at things when they first start, everyone, and you cant get better without practicing and working through that initial ‘this is embarrassing im so bad at this’ stage. So go get through it and feel better about yourself!

  • Wow. Thanks for the advice – I know that a HUGE part of my plateau is not sticking to my alloted calories for the day (I’m especially bad on the weekends). I’m going to try and work harder on this. THANK YOU ALL!

  • Hi love!!! I am super proud of you for this post. It’s not an easy thing to blog about (or live through) so give yourself a huge pat on the back for talking about it publicly.

    I lost 30 pounds for my wedding and I know how tough it can be. Pre-wedding I was at the gym 5-6 days a week doing serious weight and circuit training. I also worked with a nutritionist who taught me how to REALLY read food labels. One of the most shocking things he told me is that many people who are busting their booties to lose weight but aren’t losing weight have the same problem: they aren’t eating enough. When you are working out, your body demands more calories. A dieting website I had been using before I worked with him said that for my height (also 5’5″) I should be eating 1200 calories a day to continue losing weight. My nutritionist told me this couldn’t be more wrong! For someone working out as hard as me, 1200 calories left my body in STARVATION mode. When your body doesn’t get enough calories, it shifts into “store” mode, saving everything you eat and refusing to burn calories. For my start weight (of 166 lbs) and height, he told me I should be eating 1800-2000 calories a day (also shocking, girls need another 200-400 calories on period days… who knew?!). Guess what happened when I made that change?! BOOM weight loss. Of course I was also eating a very healthy, balanced diet, high in raw organic produce and lean meat, with daily doses of whole grain carbs and heart healthy fats. I was also eating 5-6 small meals a day, rather than 2-3 larger ones.

    Post wedding, I am embarrassed to say I stayed away from the gym for 6 weeks. I was so tired and just needed a break. I strayed from my diet and put 5 pounds back on. It’s hard to stay motivated, especially when you pass the “reason” why you were losing weight in the first place. What I started to notice the longer I was “cheating” the less energy I had, the less “well” I felt, and the less happy I was. So, after 6 weeks of heading straight home from work to lounge with the pup, I packed my sneakers with my laptop and headed to the gym. The first few days were hard. My bootcamp instructor didn’t go easy on me. But, I was amazed at how fast my body got back in the swing of things. I know it’s a battle I’ll always fight, but it’s one I’m happy to be a part of.

    My nutritionist sent me this blog while I was working with him. I’ve made quite a few of the recipes and they are all really good. If you are looking for some new ideas for meals, give it a look: http://askgeorgie.com/

    Good luck!! I know you’ll rock it!

  • Very cool advice (thank you!). I already knew about the increasing calories for the days that you workout (MFP actually “credits” you calories for whatever cardio you do [though not for strength training ;(]) but I had NO IDEA about increases calories during your period. I knew to try and increase my iron intake during that time but not about calories. Good to know.

    The Boy and I are hoping to join a bootcamp at our gym soon (we have to wait for me to get a job!) because we really like the instructor. I actually love strength training so I’m excited if that program can teach me/push me more.

    Thank you for the blog suggestion – I’ll check it out ASAP. Love you, girl.

  • I absolutely love Spark People. It’s an online community for food and exercise journaling. I’m 5’5″ and I have always been around 125 but I bounced up to 140 after a busy winter working and studying abroad in France. I was really sick of weighing more and I disciplined my food and I was ecstatic is finally get back down to 118 which I haven’t been since high school. I’m back to maintenance in the 125-128 range and I’d like to get more toned as I get back to work and the danger zone of food. I’d like to get to the point where I can eat more food and maintain my weight, haha without thinking that I’m going to gain a ton of weight by indulging in treats. Alas, that will require dramatically more exercise!! My BF loves good yummy food that my parents would never by (chips, candy, full fat, full sugar, etc) and I need to really fight to make sure we eat healthier as a couple.

    I hope you keep pushing yourself on your journey! You’ve already been able to do so much, but you need to keep pushing and going with momentum! I’m thinking about starting Couch to 5k again or getting a personal trainer to help with the scary gym machines. Keep up your good work and keep us posted! I am amazed by people brave enough to update the online world with their stories and I enjoy reading your blog! Keep going!!!

  • Confession: I was once 250 lbs. at 5’7″.

    It sucks that I always remember how EASY it was, really, to lose 75 lbs. or so. I’ve been fighting with the last 25-30 for YEARS.

    When you remember a time where you could lose 2 lbs. in a day, the daily fluctuations when you’re trying to lose ten can and will drive you batty.

    I’ve basically sworn off the scale and am going by how the wedding dress fits. A freshly washed pair of jeans is a good judge, too. I’m trying to stop eating junk and am working out with a trainer 2-3 times per week. I try to make better choices on a daily basis, hoping it will all lead to a healthier body. I’m trying to cut out the emotional eating, which is the real culprit.

    I had a goal of being 135 or so on my wedding day. It’s not going to happen. But, I’m getting stronger, and my clothes are fitting better. And, what I’m doing now, I know I can maintain vs. crash diets I’ve done before.

    Believing it will work is the hard part. You can do it!!

  • Nora – Thank you! I’ll look into Sparkly People. And I love that you talked about getting down to one weight but deciding to maintain at a different one. This is what helped me decide on 125 as my ideal weight. Technically, I can be all the way down to 116 but I’d rather be a bit higher and eat the occasional ice cream sandwich!

    Liz – Yay for us! My first goal was to be a certain weigh but once I started strength training I was thrilled with how much stronger I am. Now I have lifting goals and stamina goals instead of just “I wanna fit into these old jeans” goal (Not that that isn’t a GREAT goal [it’s on the list, too!]). Keep posting me on MFP – the support is great and super helpful!

  • Just checked back here and amen to ice cream sandwiches. 🙂 I am so much happier at 126-128 than I was at 118-123. Looking back, it kind of scares me because you want control but healthy control not how low can I go control. It’s so much more about how healthy can you be!! Keep rocking it, girl!