Losing Motivation with weight loss.
May 18, 2011 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I've been working out and seeing progress but everything seems to be like taking 2 steps forward and then 1 step back, making it hard for me right now to keep up the motivation. Just trying to figure out if I am doing anything wrong or if something could help.

To begin…After the end of a semester recently, I finished with a lot of stress and accomplished a lot academic wise. My weight was at a high of 260 lb, where a year and a half before that I was at a weight of 226 lbs. During that time there was a lot of stress and different things happening in my life, and I really don’t remember what happened with myself during that time but next thing I knew it I was at 260. Finally things were calming down and I decided to being getting back in shape. I am a 22 years old male about 5’6” where my goal is to get down around 200 lbs or 180 lbs, where I just have some simple goals I would like to meet like a military physical type test not trying to really get muscle and be a bodybuilder, at least not now. So 4 months later I ended up at a weight of around 230, again I don’t remember how it all really happened as I was just motivated. I started going to the gym 3 weeks straight just about none stop full body routine lifting, cardio. From there I stopped going to the gym regularly as I was working 35 hrs. a week in a grocery store stocking shelves lifting heavy boxes loading and unloading, so I was exhausted and was getting a good workout in itself. Then at one point I began getting the energy, thrive, and motivation to go to the gym and just work on cardio when I could. Did this for a while about 3 times a week and next thing you know it I was at 230. I had different motivation the first being the general health, the second being there was a girl and the third being that girl ended up with some other guy which fueled some fire.

Then the holidays and new year came and I was working more long shifts and wanted to avoid the gym crowds so stopped going to the gym. Ended up getting really sick with the flu for a week, got better but sustained a bad cough. Moved back to school end up with sickness induced asthma and ended up not being able to breathe good for 2 months. So 2 ½ months later, not going to the gym or doing much activity aside from 20 hrs a week work, and being lazy and eating crappy I end up at a weight of 250lbs. That alone had me depressed then I looked at myself in the mirror and just wondered what the hell happened how is that possible, even eating bad I never really exceeded 2500 calories in a day. I think a lot of the cause was all the medication I was on for about a month including steroids, prednisone for about 2-3 weeks. But yea depressed I started working out again losing a 1lb a week and got down to 243 lb. then as my schedule is horribly inconsistent I didn’t get a chance to go to the gym as much, 3 days a week instead of the normal 6. Ended up cheating more on foods, drinking sodas, after 40 days without it as I needed to study and get things done, along with beer to celebrate afterwards being in college lol. But after 2 weeks of that I ended up at 250 lbs once again like nothing. I figure a lot was just bloating and have been working out and feel a lot better and look better then when I was 260 and 250 before but the scale seems to be at a weight of 249. but I guess if I continue it will continue to go down and get back.

I've got the weight lifting down with plenty of compound exercises working all areas and making progress, was originally doing a 5 day routine working all the muscle groups. But with an inconsistent schedule i've switched to about 4 more intense workouts throughout, usually chest/triceps, back/biceps, and legs, shoulders usually a days rest between each group or some variation of it.

But long story short I am losing motivation. I don’t know if it is common to have the type of constant 2 steps forward 1 step back type of thing whenever I mess up for a week or two. The only thing constant with progress is the muscle growth. I am just afraid that if I take some time off nothing progresses. I don’t cheat bad, again defiantly never exceed 2500 calories a day, but I would say being in college that beer ends up being the gateway for a lot of foods and stuff. I am motivated to reach my goal but its annoying and slow at the moment day to day. When I got down to 230lbs. it was cake time flew by working out wasn’t a big task to do every day. Now it feels like I need to constantly work and work, and I do work at it but it gets tiring. I was content getting down to 243 within a 6 week but it seems like that all went away, as I started to do less.

Thanks in advanced.
posted by loser8008 to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How do you know you're not exceeding 2500 calories a day? Are you weighing and measuring your food, even when eating crappy? Nearly everyone underestimates their portion size and calorie intake, especially when overweight (this has been observed in study after study after study).

It sounds like the only reason you're going two steps forward, one step back is because you keep shooting yourself in the foot and slacking off. It's one thing to have a cheat day here and there, but you can't make progress if you go hard for a few months then slack off and return to old habits for a few months. You're also not going to make progress if you're regularly cheating. You have to learn to say no.

Schedule yourself one cheat day a week and be strict with yourself the rest of the week. Measure your intake. Be honest about the cheat day, it's not an opportunity to eat three pizzas and a carton of ice cream. Stick with this for an extended period of time. You'll see progress.
posted by Anonymous at 1:15 PM on May 18, 2011

The scale is a data point, but as you've learned, it doesn't tell the whole truth. I used to scoff at the whole "adding muscle weighs more" argument, but having just completed a body-fat challenge at my Y that used a scale that measured body fat and muscle, it really is a bigger difference than you think. We've all added a lot of muscle at the gym (yay!) as well as lost body fat - some haven't lost any "weight" at all, but they've gained 5 pounds of muscle and lost 5 pounds of fat (and you can see it).

Get back to the goal of being able to do a military physical test. The number doesn't matter - feeling good, being able to Do things, and liking the way you look are your real goals. Some people get rid of their scales, YMMV. But focus on fitness, not weight.

Stop thinking of the gym as an option. It's something you do as long as you can breathe. It's part of your life from here on out because it makes you feel healthier. Plan for your phical test, and always mix it up - sure, if you're doing a lot of lifting elsewhere, use the gym for cardio, yoga, and little muscle groups you don't otherwise get (rotator cuff, etc). If they have free classes or trainers, use them - the professionals know tricks you'll struggle to learn on your own.

Fuel your workouts. Always have pre- and post-workout snacks (15-30g of carbs, like half a banana before, carbs and protein like a little chocolate milk after). Use one of the Many online trackers (I used Daily Plate) to track your foods for a few days to be sure you're getting enough fiber and protein. Think about whether the food you're choosing is worthy of that workout. I try to limit splurges to weekends, or 2-3 splurges a week.

Lastly, I'm about your height and have been about the same weight. Yes, it's totally normal to yoyo some as you figure this stuff out. I'm almost 40, down in the 180s, and feel like I finally might be able to make it stick with some of the things I've listed above. My motivation is simply that being fit feels So. Much. Better. than not, and that being fit is So. Much. Easier. when I'm lighter. Good luck!
posted by ldthomps at 1:23 PM on May 18, 2011

It sounds like you're doing fine at the gym, and it sounds like you know you're cheating on your diet. So, which one of those do you think is causing the problem?

Start counting your calories. You say "beer ends up being the gateway for a lot of foods and stuff", but I'd argue that you shouldn't even be drinking beer if you're trying to lose weight - 1 or 2 a month won't tip the scales much, but are you drinking more than that? Don't drink your calories.

Stick with a healthy diet until you reach your goal. A lot of Crossfitters like Paleo or The Zone diet, so maybe you could look at doing one of those (the zone diet seems a little easier to maintain long-term, in my opinion).

You've lost weight before, so you can do it again. Don't sabotage yourself by eating badly - no matter how stressful things get - implement a "no excuses" policy. You're at a birthday and they offer you some cake? Sorry, you can't do it. A farewell party for a friend? Stick with water instead of beer. Maybe you've got a ton of school work - still make the time to have a healthy meal. You can make a quick and healthy meal.

Once you reach your target weight you can probably play with your diet a bit, but remember this is a lifestyle adjustment, not a temporary change.

Good luck.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:17 PM on May 18, 2011

Someone already asked about calorie counting. I was working out 3 times a week (bootcamp style classes) for 2 years, but it wasn't until I actually started *tracking* what I was eating that I started to see results (I have lost almost 20 lbs in 4 months).

I have used the online site http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ to do my calorie counting, and while it's not perfect it really helps you get a good basis for how much goes into what. Also, there are many knowledgeable people on the forums that can help you refine your workouts diet. Just because you're eating a certain number of calories doesn't mean that you're eating optimal (best times of the day, protein vs. fat. vs. carbs). Also, sodium is a killer.

It sounds like you yo-yo between working your butt off and then going through a down and out period. A diet, or a change in eating habits has to be sustainable, and if you deprive yourself of everything tasty that you love, you won't sustain it. Let yourself have a bad day, every now and then (still track it though), just don't go overboard. Maybe have the fries at lunch one day (but make sure dinner is low key). It's a treat, not an every day thing. You SHOULD still enjoy life ;) I've found that after months of tracking what I've eaten I can make better choices at restaurants when I do go out (hanging out with friends etc).

In terms of motivation, tracking my calories is almost like a game. I also have a heart rate monitor, and it's fun to track my workout burn at the same time. Also, find other like-minded people that share the same goals. Join a class, sniff around on forums, sucker someone into doing P90X with you. People are a huge motivation.
posted by groovesquirrel at 2:50 PM on May 18, 2011

Response by poster: I have been watching what I eat to an extent. In general i haven't really ate any fast food within a couple of months, so everything I've been eating has in general been store bought, where i could see the nutrition values. But some of stuff i cheated with from time to time have been like eating a whole frozen pizza, drinking empty calories such as soda and beer, and a few other sweets lately as i have been having trouble with the sugar cravings.

The thing is i don't want to really diet so hard, i want to have more of a lifestyle change. So i stopped buying and eating certain foods like chips, ice cream, cookies, soda, fast food, red fatty meats. And the beer, like i said i am in college and still like to have fun and go out on the weekends. But i haven't been drinking to much probably only a couple of beers on the weekends but as i said with other people not on diets at night after going out where they just like to go out and eat.

I also have no problem going to the gym, i love going and lifting weights and seeing the progress, cardio has been getting a bit boring now that I've been going for 2 months straight. I just find it aggravating not seeing progress and i am just starting to lose motivation of the goals i want.

It's only been lately the past 2 weeks that i've really noticed but i guess i am still on track.
posted by loser8008 at 6:30 PM on May 18, 2011

Just keep in mind that diet is the biggest factor in losing weight. Just look at the calories in a soda and then the amount of exercise it takes to burn it off - every time you're thinking of, think do I want to do the StairMaster for x number of minutes just to have this soda. If you didn't when you you started, take some measurements now - you might be losing inches but not a lot of weight. Especially if you're working out a fair bit.

Looking back at your previous questions, it looks like I said more or less the same thing to you in 2009.

I'm giving you advice that would work for me, and for me I need to cut something out completely, because I don't do well without making a definitive stance on something. If I say "I'm going to cut back on soda", I'll still have a few now and again. If I say "I'm going to stop drinking soda until I reach my target weight of xxx lbs" I'm more successful. For you, you might do better with a cheat day, but I don't think that would work for me.

I'm glad you're going for a lifestyle change instead of dieting. Just keep in mind that the results may be slower, but hopefully they'll last longer. You've put a lot of effort into your fitness - put the same effort into what you're eating. Maybe what you're doing is working, it's just not at the pace you'd like - if the scale is still going down, carry on and just be patient - you didn't gain the weight in a couple of months, so chances are you won't lose it that quickly either.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:06 PM on May 18, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks it wasn't till a few weeks ago that I looked back on things and trying to figure out how I got to the point I am at now from 2 years ago when i was trying to do the same thing. I was making good progress with limited resources then so much stuff started happening in my life a little while after that sending me through a lot of stress and depression, with numerous car troubles, tons of family health issues and still working and going to school, it turned out to be an extremely hard time in my life thus far where i think that I combated with it in unhealthy ways.

Now I have a lot more resources, car and gym access, and I am more educated on different aspects. I feel better everyday and the results are probably slower than i would like. Just aggravated lately looking at the scale sometimes. Also with my inconsistent schedule I just feel occupied to figure out what I should do, just starting to loss focus at times.
posted by loser8008 at 8:59 PM on May 18, 2011

At your weight/height, losing weight is 80% diet. You could not go to the gym for three months, clean the diet up, and lose 30 pounds.

I'm not saying it easy, but there it is. Cut your carbs to 30-40 grams a day, and watch the weight fall off. Working out will only speed up the process.

Also, if this is very hard, ONE day a week you can load up on carbs and "cheat" where cheating just superloads your with carbs that don't actually hurt you, as you've been so carb-deprived.
posted by irishcoffee at 9:30 PM on May 18, 2011

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