Weighty Matters

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Still Stalled and Fearful

on March 9, 2012

A week after doing my post on The Dreaded Stall, I fully expected to see some downward movement of the scale.  Nope.  All week long I was up two ounces, down two ounces, up two, down two.

This is so incredibly frustrating.  I want to do something so that I can break through it and get back on the losing track.  I’m not sure what will fix the problem.  Do I eat even less or does my body think it’s starving and that’s why it’s stalled?  Should I eat a little more calorie and carb-wise, since I can’t do more volume, and see if that shakes up my metabolism?  Go back to full liquids for a day or two?   Exercise more?  Well, that can only help in every aspect of this journey.

Welcome to the mind set of a recovering compulsive overeater.  All I want to do is control the uncontrollable, fix what is not in my power to fix.  Why isn’t it in my power?  Simple.  I am already doing what I am supposed to do and following the guidelines of my food plan.  Even with all of that, sometimes the body just stalls.  Every single person I’ve seen on ObesityHelp.com has shared that they’ve experienced stalls and that you just have to wait it out.  (Providing of course, that you really are following your food plan.  If you’re screwing around with it, then the recommendation is to get yourself back on track.)

It’s really difficult for me to process and accept that riding this out by sticking to my plan is as proactive as I can be in this situation.  I guess in its way it’s a reminder about the Serenity Prayer.  Grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change — that I’m in a stall period not of my own creation.  Grant me the courage to change the things I can — step up the exercise and also be patient instead of this constant hamster-wheel obessing.  Grant me wisdom to know the difference — Hell, if I can’t see the difference, I’m an idiot.

Some of the obsession is fueled by small measures of fear and anxiety.  I had a dream the other night that I lost all of the weight that I wanted.  I was happy for a couple of months and then systematically began to gain the weight back pound by pound by pound until I returned to my pre-surgery super obesity.  I woke up from that dream horrified and completely freaked out.   I’m terrified that I’ll fail at this effort like I’ve failed at maintaining very other weight loss I fought to achieve.

The emotional and mental recovery I’ve been working so hard on are still too new.  It’s only been six weeks since the surgery and that’s like the honeymoon period.  How many times did I determinedly diet for six weeks and then, like someone flicked off the motivation switch, start eating again and gain back the weight?

I need to calm down about this before I work myself up emotionally to the point where I can’t retain that part of my recovery.  Finding ways to eat off of my plan will not help the situation.  In fact, it will only damage me in ways I don’t want to consider.  I will succeed.  I already am succeeding.  That success is not totally connected to the number on the scale.   I need to have faith enough to continue to each correctly and on plan for the next meal and the next and the next one still.  That’s the path that leads to weight loss and it will come.  Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for several more days, but eventually the number will go down.

Faith is a good thing.  It can be stronger than the fear.


16 responses to “Still Stalled and Fearful

  1. pinkpelican says:


    I have starting using a computer tracker called “My Fitness Pal” (myfitnesspal.com) – other people have found success with other trackers. I haven’t had any serious stalls, but I realized that as I could slowly eat more, I’d had some slow downs. Tracking what I’m eating has been very helpful.

    I’m consuming anywhere between 900 and 1200 calories a day (which initially caused me to freak out, because 1200 calories a day is HUGE, & then I smacked myself upside the head because that’s still sufficient for at least 2 pound per week weight loss, & how bizarre is it that after a lifetime of eating excessively, suddenly 1200 calories makes me think I’m overeating?!).

    Being able to see where the calories are, which days I feel an urge to snack & on what, has been very helpful.

    (The program also tracks other things; I use it to monitor my protein as well as calorie intake, & to record the amount of water I drink.)

    I realize that, even without a diagnosed eating disorder, even with the surgery, I will still need to monitor my eating habits & thought processes for the rest of my life. I’m seriously considering going on Weight Watchers as I get closer to my goals, and for lifetime maintenance.

    Like you, one of my biggest fears is getting to my goal, and then backsliding into bad habits & putting it all back on, at which point THEN what do I do? Bariatric surgery is, at this point, a last resort solution. Once 3/4 of your stomach is gone, what’s left to remove?

    But fear is paralyzing, so I focus on how the surgery is a tool, about how it is helping me lose weight while giving me the time and the physical limitations to “get my mind right” & build new, strong, positive habits & try to set them in stone for down the line. I’m learning something new everyday, and I’m seeing progress in making changes. All of that is the hard part.

    I don’t know what the best thing for you to do is, but I’m proud of you that you keep trying to find the best path that works best for you.

    Maybe instead of giving up your scale, pick an “official” day. I started off strictly limiting myself to weighing once a week (in my case, on Monday mornings, without shoes but with clothes, because that’s how I weigh at the doctor’s office). Lately, I’ve been checking a few times during the week, but because I know there are fluctuations from day to day (and from time of day to time of day), I’ve got my mind set that none of those random extra weights “count”. The OFFICIAL weight is Monday morning. The others are just generic check ins to see how things are going or to satisfy my curiosity.

    Of course, the “head” stuff is so much harder to wrangle than the physical stuff, isn’t it? But maybe if you can find a way to accommodate your need to weigh daily with a different structure for what the numbers mean & how they “count”, you can find a balance that works for you.

    Best of luck!

    • Mary Stella says:

      I’ve been using myfitnesspal.com for a couple of weeks. It helps! I like the idea of an official day. I’ve already told friends and family that I’ll only talk about how much I lose in a week on Fridays. So I’m now going to designate that as my official weigh-in day, too. Great suggestion!

  2. Mary Stella says:

    Happy to report that I was able to complete the one mile Sansone Walk Away the Pounds DVD that I couldn’t get through earlier this week! I still need to work up to five times a week and do it more consistently, but this is a victory. I’m also getting together with some other Tai Chi students later today to do some Tai Chi at the beach. Between that and the cleaning chores I need to do today it will be a fairly physically active day.

    Still haven’t lost any additional weight, but I’m feeling better mentally about it all! Thanks, everyone.

  3. Renee says:

    Okay, from someone who has lost one hundred pounds (40 of which have crept back, the nasty little buggers) here goes. First and foremost, you need to step away from the scales. I mean it! Weigh yourself once a week, once every 10 days is even better. Weigh yourself at the same time of day, preferably right after you’ve woken up and have gone to the bathroom. Then put it away!! You are causing yourself stress, you’re releasing stress hormones, and those hormones cause fat. Every time you feel the need to step on the scale, go take a walk around the block, or two blocks, or more, whatever you have in you to do. A nice leisurely walk, just as long as you’re walking AWAY from the scales. You will go thru a 10 to 14 day body adjustment period. Your body is adjusting to the new system you’ve implemented. Give it a chance to get with the program. Depending on how much weight you’re hoping to lose, you will hit this adjustment period about every 10-15 lbs of loss. It’s okay, your body is just catching it’s breath, trying to adjust. Just roll with it. AND STAY AWAY FROM THE SCALE. You should also take measurements the same day you weigh – waist, thigh, hips, upper arm, chest. What you will find quite often is that you may have lost inches, while not having lost actual pounds. Your fat is turning into muscle. A handful of muscle weighs more than the same handful of fat. I lost inches faster than I lost the pounds. And after each of my adjustment periods, I would drop weight and the inches would stall. It’s all connected, and it’s all good.

    Secondly, I worried less about what I was eating and more about how much. Don’t skip meals – your body goes into panic mode and stores up on fat. Eating smaller meals more often (4 or 5 times) worked for me. Even if one or 2 of those meals was a glorified snack. I used a salad plate instead of a dinner to help me with my portions – I refused to measure every little portion. A plate of food, that was good.

    Thirdly, exercise is always key. In the beginning I was too big to do anything but walk. So I walked and walked and walked. Any walking is good, no matter how slow or how long. Even several short walks a day is helpful. In the beginning, you don’t have to feel the burn, you just have to introduce your body to the joys of movement. Later on as your weight decreases and your body is physically able to handle more strenuous activity, you can increase your walks, time yourself, set up mile goals. But your body has to be able to handle it. It won’t do any good to cause yourself to break down because your body couldn’t handle the stress. Slow and steady will work just fine for the first part of this journey.

    Lastly…………………………..YOU CAN SOOOO DO THIS! I KNOW YOU CAN! Don’t let the doubts creep in, smack them down. You live in a beautiful place – distract yourself with the beauty that surrounds you. Walk on the beach, walk to town, walk around your yard, just move. If you want someone to give you pep talks, we can skype, or I’ll give you my phone number. Maybe we can help each other as I battle these 40 lb buggers back to hell! I would do this!!! Just let me know, send me a facebook message, email me. I’m here. You. Can. Do. This.

    • Mary Stella says:

      Renee, thanks so much for coming by the blog and leaving such a detailed thoughtful reply. You included several really good reminders. Chief among those for me today are that any movement right now is good. When I’ve been sedentary for so long, even the sometime little I can do helps.

      Portions are not the problem with a stomach that has been surgically reduced. I really do need to focus on healthy eating and getting my protein in first. That I can do.

      I honestly never thought about the stress hormones. I really need to “chew” on that. I honestly don’t think I have the determination to only weigh myself once every ten days. I think right now I’m obsessed because the stall has continued for over a week. I swear, once I’ve adjusted and the weight has moved down again, I will cut back weighing myself to only twice a week. From there I’ll do my best to limit to once a week.

      I appreciate so much you and everyone else coming here with suggestions, sharing from your own experiences, and giving me pep talks.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  4. susan lindley says:

    I have heard 2 theories, not sure they are true, but when you lower Your calorie intake drastically your body wants to hold on to everything you take in for surviving purposes. It is said it goes back to when we were cave people and would go days without food due to scarcity of finding anything to eat.

    A thought, what seasonings are you using for cooking? Hidden salt, maybe you cant use salt causing little bit of fluctuation.
    enough of that, you are doing great, i wish i could be your walking buddy or swimming buddy, thats what i miss here. Celie and i call and motivate to move, but nothing like showing up at the door saying lets get moving. Keep writing, it must be theraputic in itself, and all your friends are great support and great ideas. One day at a time, you are changing every day, when you brush your teeth say outloud to yourself, i am winning, i am going to stay positive and laugh today!

  5. Beth Ciotta says:

    You’re doing great, M. And it sounds like your doing everything right. Stay the course. Stay on track. You WILL get past this stall!

  6. I have no real word of wisdom but I hope it helps to know that I am rooting (is that how you spell that?) for you!
    I would go for walks with you if I lived closer and tell you funny stories so you can be distracted. Lots and lots of people want you to succeed hang on girl! Every day is progress even if the scale does not know it.

  7. Mary Stella says:

    Lorie and Robena,

    I honestly never thought about the rapid early weight loss as a shock to the system. Thanks for that insight. I’m going to reflect on that some more.

    Lorie, 8-10 miles a day is nothing short of wonderful. Hopefully I’ll get to that point some day. Right now, I need to step it up. We have lots of great walking areas. I really need to make better use of them now before the swelter of summer.

    Thanks to you both!

  8. I’m having some thoughts here which may come out rather scattered and not helpful, but my impetus is to send you hugs and tell you how incredible I think you are (because I do) and how well I think you are doing (because I really, really do).

    Here goes in no particular order:
    on your eating plan, how do you make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need? I can see that you are getting protein but vitamins? minerals? trace elements? Your variety is so limited and your intake limited, that it makes me wonder about this one.
    Is it possible for you to give your scale to a friend and tell them to hold on to it despite any threats and bribes from you for a week? Ten days? To me it sounds like you have transferred your food obsession to obsessing over your weight loss. That is totally, totally understandable and would be kind of strange if you hadn’t, but I am just concerned that that kind of obsessing over weight isn’t mentally healthy.
    Which leads me to: although I’m no psychologist (I just play one on TV 😀 ) are you getting help working on the underlying issues that lead you to your disordered eating? Because the human psyche is a weird thing and if a coping mechanism is taken away it will find another one to use.

    I am amazed and astonished at the courage you have, not only to take this drastic and needed step to recover your health and well-being, but to share this difficult journey in public. There is so much shame associated with being overweight, Lord knows I have quite a load of shame about my weight, and I am awed at your honesty and courage.

    • Mary Stella says:

      Hi, Karen,

      You’re absolutely correct to wonder about the nutrients that I might be low on due to the small amount of food that I now eat. Vitamin supplementation is all part of the plan. I’m on a special bariatric multi-vitamin, calcium with vitamin D, and a B-12 pill every day. Prior to my next appointment with my surgeon at the end of the month, I’ll have my blood drawn for a complete screening, including vitamins, minerals, etc.

      To me it sounds like you have transferred your food obsession to obsessing over your weight loss.

      This really resonated. I don’t know whether I can give my scale to someone else to hold, but it does point out to me that I need to put the brakes on obsessing over the actual weight loss. Yes, I’m working with someone about the disorder. You’re right that mental and emotional help is also so important with the recovery process.

      Thank you for all of the supportive words. I’m glad you’re visiting and commenting on a regular basis. 🙂

      • Oh good. I was hoping I wasn’t being too intrusive or something. I’m so impressed with you and the incredible journey you are on and wanting you to achieve healthy success. 🙂

  9. robenagrant says:

    Hang in there, Mary. Just keep telling yourself you’re great, stay on track, and it will happen. We all hit plateaus no matter how much or how little weight we’re trying to lose. I think Lorie is right, your body needs to register the changes and get over the shock before it can drop more.

  10. Lorie says:

    You’ve lost so much weight already. I like to tell myself the reason for any stall is because your body is readjusting to your new weight. You’re shocking your system with each loss. Stepping up the exercise will help. There’s a track near my home and on good weather days I like to take long walks. It gives me time to think and reflect and plan. I’ll do 8-10 miles on a good day. And just like that I’ll see another loss. Sometimes I worry I’m losing the weight too fast. I’m afraid of this big change. This change that is so wonderful and rewarding.

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