Sensible (numerical) weight loss plan, followed meticulously, seeming to not produce results after 16 weeks.
May 25, 2007 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Sensible (numerical) weight loss plan, followed meticulously, seeming to not produce results after 16 weeks. I'm still maintaining it just as consistently, but I'm starting to feel discouraged and somewhat lost. Inside are four potential problems. Which do you think are holding me back?

I'm now starting the 17th week of a simple weight loss plan, in which I've supposedly totaled a 77,300 calorie deficit -- i.e., a 22-lb. loss -- over the first 16 weeks. I don't weigh myself regularly, so I'm not measuring in numbers -- but subjectively, I don't think I feel a significant change in my body so far.

Using a form on the web, I found that as a young female, my weight (205, last measured about a month before this plan's start) and height (5'7") suggest my maintenance level if sedentary is c. 2160/day. For calculating my daily deficits, I decided to call this 2000. Could it be a lot lower? (Is there any way I could test my actual metabolism, that's free or nearly free for someone without health insurance?)

Rather than trying to track calories burned, I'm just keeping my daily calories to either 1300 if I did minimal activity such as a little walking; 1400 if medium activity such lots of walking & light exercise; or 1500 if heart-pounding exercise for 45 minutes straight. Fewer than 20% of my days so far have been the last category.

I'm eating what seems to be a very good diet, very consistently, but I'm not tracking carbs. Should I be? My diet is full of fresh produce and meets my RDA of protein & calcium, I drink 80 oz of water a day, and I eat small amounts across the day. (I'd say my calorie tracking is very accurate: I'm measuring carefully and I'm almost completely avoiding prepared foods for which I'd have to estimate calories.)

It's true that going from c. 205 to c. 185 wouldn't be a huge change, so I might just not feel it yet. (I don't think it's just a mental block; I certainly started out trusting this plan would work, although I'm losing a little faith at this point).

I've found many helpful mefi threads, but I would really appreciate any specific insights (especially since "ask your doctor" is not simple without insurance). I don't have consistent internet access, so the commonly-suggested online nutrition trackers wouldn't work work for me. I can't afford any social thing like Weight Watchers. I have no other obvious factors -- no medical conditions (to my knowledge), no medications, have never used hormonal birth control. This is not a significant diet change for my body (just a change in amounts and a reduction in fats/oils) and I've been about the same % overweight since childhood.

Finally, my disinterest in weighing myself daily might seem funny given how methodical I am about other things, but that's the way I want to go. (I might consider getting a scale if there's a strong consensus here that it's important.)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (41 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My guess is that you're not eating enough calories. Once you hit a certain "critical" level, your body fights to hang onto every bit of energy you give it (plus what it already has.)
posted by nekton at 7:25 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Daily weighing can be important. Have you weighed yourself lately? Are you guessing that you have lost 22 pounds? They say 10 lbs. is a dress size. Have you lost a dress size or two?

If you don't want to weigh, go by how your clothing fits. Or better yet, take body measurements.

If you haven't actually weighed yourself, I think you should start there, and then question your program.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:33 PM on May 25, 2007

I have a rule that I can't weigh myself more than once per week. In the past I got discouraged if I was not losing weight each day but now I really look forward to every Monday now that I'm losing some weight. It's a great motivator. Worth a shot...
posted by Octoparrot at 7:37 PM on May 25, 2007

Some non-expert, anecdotal thoughts:

1. Weighing myself every day has helped me. It can be discouraging when the weight sometimes goes back up, (there is considerable variation in a given week) but I think it's been a good way to keep my mind on the issue everyday, and thus to effect the decisions I make on that day. Seeing the numbers go down has also been a source of encouragement and has given me interim goals to shoot for. You may feel better about your progress so far if you look at the scale and see that the numbers have in fact gone done by a substantial amount; you'll (hopefully) find out that you can do it, and that if you keep going eventually you'll feel and look different. So it's something to keep in mind, though I realize some people don't like to do this.

My dad also swears by weighing himself daily. He's more interesting in maintaining, though.

2. My mother has struggled with her weight for many years, and says that she never loses weight unless she exercises, which for her means a walk around a lake (~3 mi) a few times a week. You say that <20% of your days have been category 3. How many have been category 2?
posted by epugachev at 7:42 PM on May 25, 2007

Weigh yourself at least weekly. It gives you an idea of your progress and gives you better information to work with.

First off, I am not going to say cut all carbs, but I will say stay away from overly processed ones. You were not specific about what you're eating in this category, so I'm just gonna say it - whole grains are the way to go. Also helps with fiber, which one certainly needs.

Secondly, work some low-fat dairy in there - I don't know if the hoo-hah about dairy in a diet is true, but I do seem to do better on weight loss or maintenance when I am eating some low fat yogurt or a couple of sticks of low fat string cheese a day.

Thirdly - If you need some "instant gratification" to give you some impetus, try the South Beach Diet (which really all you need is the one book, less than $10 paperback, to learn the principles of the diet). I did Weight Watchers, fell off the wagon, and was just too disheartened by that to really go on with it very well. SB is giving me the initial weightloss I need to motivate me to keep it up. It's tough in the first stage, but I just think that will make the rest of it easy. YMMV, etc.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:52 PM on May 25, 2007

How are you eating these calories? Are we talking one or two full meals or lots of small ones? (The latter is better.) Start eating at least breakfast and maybe a snack, even if you have to add a few calories to do it. Even a cup of yogurt in the morning (see, there's some dairy, too...) can help your metabolism get started off right for the day.
posted by SuperNova at 8:08 PM on May 25, 2007

How can you say the diet's not working if you're not weighing yourself? The scale is important. You might surprise yourself.

If you're not getting enough protein, your metabolism might be slowing. Tracking carbs isn't a big deal; counting calories takes care of that, but you need to hit protein minimums.
posted by commander_cool at 8:16 PM on May 25, 2007

One of the possibilities you didn't mention is that you might not actually be eating the calories you think you're eating. If you're 'eyeballing' your portion sizes, rather than weighing or measuring your food, you could be eating significantly more than you think. (This is ridiculously common - myself and several others in my weight watchers group were doing this without realising, and not losing weight.) Try spending a couple weeks weighing and measuring EVERYTHING until you can eyeball things pretty accurately.
posted by Kololo at 8:25 PM on May 25, 2007

"Have you weighed yourself lately? Are you guessing that you have lost 22 pounds? They say 10 lbs. is a dress size. Have you lost a dress size or two?"

i seem to be the exact build as the original poster, and i know for a fact that on me, a dress size is equal to over 20 pounds. it is extremely likely that she HAS lost weight but is not seeing any physical results because of this.

(for reference, in high school i went from a 275 pounds to 195 pounds, which only amounted to 4 dress sizes in 80 pounds -- a 22 to a 14. last year i gained back 20 pounds, but i was still a 14. just something to think about.)
posted by timory at 8:30 PM on May 25, 2007

I think the real problem here is that you are trying a numbers-based approach (calories, pounds, etc) without actually having an accurate way to chart or calculate those numbers. It's cool to not want to use a scale, but if so then you can't be so focused on pounds lost/gained, because you have no way to know what that figure is. Similarly, you don't have an accurate metabolism figure, and maybe aren't charting your intake very carefully (and you certainly aren't charting your exercise calorie consumption with any accuracy), so your theoretical caloric deficit is only that -- theoretical.

So I would say: if you don't want or can't use real and believable numbers to chart your process, and aren't comfortable with owning a scale, find another process that does make sense for you to use. Dress sizes, or measuring yourself at various points with a measuring tape, or setting fitness goals (eg time to walk or run a mile, laps swum, etc), are all possible without needing accurate caloric or metabolic information, and don't require you to buy or use a scale.

In other words, I think that there is a lot of value in your current non-scale-centric approach, and you should continue it. But at the same time, I'd say that you should go further, and embrace that, and stop worrying about the pounds you aren't actually measuring, and the calories you aren't calculating, and instead find things that you are able to and want to measure, like your fitness, or your body changing shape. Let those goals and measurements guide your diet, your level of activity, and the other things that will need to change in order for you to meet your goals.
posted by Forktine at 8:30 PM on May 25, 2007

I think the cheapest way to figure out what your body is burning is to get a scale and weigh daily. My husband lost 25 lbs recently by counting calories, and since we tracked his weight, we could estimate what kind of calorie deficit there really was by the change. Now that he's lost what he wanted to, he's slowly bringing his calories up to a maintenence level and still watching the scale till he finds the maximum calories he can eat without gaining again. I don't know what you're using to track them now, but Fitday has a program you can buy (for about $30) that we've found really helpful (no internet access required beyond the initial download).

i seem to be the exact build as the original poster, and i know for a fact that on me, a dress size is equal to over 20 pounds. it is extremely likely that she HAS lost weight but is not seeing any physical results because of this.

Seconding this. It took me nearly 30 to actually go down a size. I didn't feel any different for much of it, which was frustrating. Keeping an eye on the scale was really the only thing that kept me going. The other thing was one pair of pants that I knew the fit of very well, so I could see the changes. Most of my clothes felt the same though.

Based on my own experience (similar build) the 1300-1500 range is good. I wouldn't go below that. Whether you decide to get a scale or not, I hope you can find something to measure your progress. Knowing where you are can help you stay motivated even when you don't feel the change.
posted by waterlily at 8:56 PM on May 25, 2007

My suggestion is that the answer is both A and B. Any non-supervised program will have margins of error in either direction. You're falling into this margin. You are expecting a bigger weight loss because of the caloric restrictions, and while you've probably lost a little weight, it's not as much as you expect, so there's a measure of sticker shock.

Moreover, because you are not exercising, you are not making the caloric restriction pay off as much as it could. Again, this is keeping you inside the margin of error.

I would not lower your calories below 2,000. But I would raise the level of activity significantly.
posted by frogan at 9:04 PM on May 25, 2007

You absolutely need exercise to get a real effect. However, unless you're really going at it and you're extremely overweight, you're not going to lose anywhere near 8 pounds a month. More like 3 or 4, and you have to consider that your weight fluctuates several pounds daily, and females also fluctuate on a somewhat monthly cycle.

The fastest way to see results is to cut way, way down on the carbs, and drink about a gallon of water a day. Fat isn't the enemy, but if you are going to eat fats, try to eat them with a much protein and as little carbs as possible. Likewise, eat carbs with a protein meal.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:26 PM on May 25, 2007

Instead of weighing, with all the psychological baggage, why not get friendly with your tape measure? Added bonus: muscle weighs more than fat, so if your exercise regime build up your muscle mass a little, your tape measure will show progress where the scales don't.

Also, slow is good. Slow is sustainable. For a lot of people, a pound a week is as good as they can ever do. Seriously, 22 pounds in 16 weeks is actually quite ambitious, especially since you don't seem to be going too hard on the exercise front. You may need to reevaluate your ideas about what realistic goals are.

As a matter of interest, can you monitor things like your blood pressure and your resting heart rate, or get lipid tests done? If you can, you should. You may be very pleasantly surprised at what this regime is doing for your health. My point is that there are other, invisible benefits that are totally worth it that you could be tracking too.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:32 PM on May 25, 2007

Are you confident about your portion sizes?

Increase the activity of your daily life. Park further away. Take stairs. Stay on your feet. It's amazing what adding a bit of extra movement can do to kick the body back into the program.

Good luck. As many of us know, it is not easy.
posted by peace_love_hope at 9:45 PM on May 25, 2007

I would not lower your calories below 2,000. But I would raise the level of activity significantly.

years of experience, as well as the weight loss study i'm currently participating in, have shown me that this is bad advice.

you MUST lower your calories SIGNIFICANTLY below 2000, or you will not see any results. try not to go under 1200, however (the study says 1000, but i find this to be kind of dangerous). exercise is great, and you should get more of it, especially muscle-building exercises so that you give your metabolism a boost. however, exercising a whole ton won't really help you very much. think about how easy it is to eat 500 calories in one sitting. now think about how hard it is to burn off that much in one "sitting".

(this information is backed by a gaggle of dieticians i've been dealing with lately, so i swear i'm not just pulling this out of my butt)

but seriously. i think you're right on with the calorie intake, if you're counting accurately. i would be absolutely shocked if you were able to lose any significant amount of weight eating more than 1600 daily, though.
posted by timory at 10:51 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sensible (numerical) weight loss plan

I don't weigh myself regularly, so I'm not measuring in numbers

Just weigh yourself, your subjective opinion might be wrong. Switch from pounds to kilograms if it makes you feel better to look at the scale. You don't have good data for evaluating your progress - track some other measure of progress if you don't want to track weight.
posted by yohko at 11:04 PM on May 25, 2007

This sounds like a very sensible plan: I would certainly not abandon it in favour of anything faddy.

The most likely of the options that you mention seems to be D. In my experience of weight loss it's very very hard to get a true idea of your progress intuitively: some days you can feel very fat, some days very thin, without any real change happening. Even whether your clothes fit has a subjective element.

Another option that you don't mention is "E" that your calorie consumption calculations are wrong. You haven't said how you're doing it, but if you're not already, try documenting it very strictly for a couple of weeks. Keep a food diary listing all the calories, don't forget drinks, weigh the foods that you're eating at home.

Regarding weighing, as you know your weight tends to fluctuate randomly by a couple of pounds, and go up and down over the course of the day. So, daily weighing is pretty pointless unless you're averaging it over the course of a longer period and going by that average.

I would say monthly weighing is a better option. Weigh yourself at the same time of day to minimize daily changes (first thing in the morning is probably when it's lowest). Weekly is OK if you can resign yourself to the weight occasionally randomly going up between weeks.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:57 AM on May 26, 2007

Perhaps because I have done the same exact-counting thing, to me there doesn't seem to be any debate that the *calories* are being measured -- so carefully that she is "almost completely avoiding prepared foods for which I'd have to estimate calories." That's commitment... if you're giving up prepared foods you otherwise would eat solely because you wouldn't be able to measure their calories as accurately as other foods. So logically, we have to assume she's doing the "calculate by exact weights and volumes" thing, if she made the statement that only prepared foods can't be measured accurately (because you can't know all their components or individually measure them).

That is the part I hate most but it must be done if you are really committing to "counting calories" -- because it's impossible to know what oils/fats/nasties are in even healthy-looking prepared foods that don't list their calories!

So she is not "guessing" about the calories, she is reporting that if her daily calorie need did happen to be 2000 exactly, that carefully measured calorie consumption would have numerically (since 1 lb = 3500 cals) translated to a theoretical loss of 22 lbs.

Well, I think B is definite and A is likely. What if your actual baseline need happened to be 1800/day. Then the deficit would be 54,900 (77,300 minus 22,400), or a theoretical loss of a little over 15 lbs -- less than 7.5% of a 205 body weight. I bet you could lose that much especially over 16 weeks and not "feel" it yet.
posted by sparrows at 1:27 AM on May 26, 2007

So, daily weighing is pretty pointless unless you're averaging it over the course of a longer period and going by that average.

If you're that way inclined, or you have a friend who is, by all means set up a spreadsheet in Excel or Openoffice or whatever that produces a graph of your rolling average weight. A one week rolling average is probably enough to smooth out those little humps and bumps.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:08 AM on May 26, 2007

Perhaps you have miscalculated the amount of calories you burn on a daily rate without exercise (your basal metabolic rate). If you have, then your calorie deficit calculation will also be off. Further, if you are not exercising on a regular basis, as you cut calorie intake, your BMR will shift downwards somewhat to compensate for the loss in calories -- this means that what you thought was, say, a 200 calorie daily deficit when you started your programme is in fact now only a 50 calorie daily deficit, even though your eating habits have remained consistent. This is the reason that most diets fail in the absence of exercise, and is also the reason why most people put back on the weight quickly when they stop the diets.

So, to effectively lose weight you really (in addition to your diet programme, which sounds pretty solid) need daily exercise in the form of walking for an hour or so (to work? to school?), and additional "proper" exercise at a gym 3 or 4 times a week.

Oh, and buy a scale and/or body fat monitor. Use it daily and keep a written chart.
posted by modernnomad at 4:26 AM on May 26, 2007

My metabolism slows down when I restrict calories. So I get low energy, but no weight loss. To lose weight, I have to incorporation resistance training and cardio. In total I work out about 6 hours a week, split between resistance and cardio. Good luck.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:17 AM on May 26, 2007

please don't listen to whomever it was who suggested 1300-1500 calories per day. no nutritionist worth their salt-substitute would ever recommend you go that low. 2000 is a reasonable target (i was always told that ten calories per pound you weigh is a reasonable goal for healthy weight loss--now, if you've lost fifteen pounds and you just don't know it because you haven't weighed yourself, it may be time to readjust slightly).
posted by wreckingball at 6:51 AM on May 26, 2007

I'm not sure what you're talking about, wreckingball. General advice for weight loss is 500 calories below your base, which will give you a pound a week, and 2000 calories is a pretty normal base. If you ate 2000 calories, you wouldn't lose any weight at all.

As an example, WeightWatchers allows you 27 points for a 200 lb person trying to lose weight. It's roughly 50 calories to the point, so that's 1350 calories per day.
posted by smackfu at 7:38 AM on May 26, 2007

I think I'd aim for 1500 calories at the minimum, 1700-2000 would probably be better. I'd also make sure to exercise (cardio) at least three times a week for 20-30 minutes. In addition, strength training will help a lot. Don't worry, you won't bulk up.

Many small meals is better than few large meals - avoid white flour, and sugar (in its many guises) - stick with whole grains. Eats lots of vegetables and fruit.

I usually recommend yoga in these threads too, because I found it had a big effect when I was looking to lose some weight.

Good luck! You didn't gain the weight over two months, so it's not likely you'll lose it that quickly - but if you stick with it, it'll happen.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:38 AM on May 26, 2007

If you are eating under 1500 calories a day it is no wonder you are not losing weight - your body is going into starvation mode. I've been to a nutritionist and was told the following - to keep my weight stable I should eat about 2100 calories a day. To lose weight I should eat about 1800 calories a day (and obviously exercise more). FWIW I'm 27, female, 5'1" and about 125 now and the 1800 cals. a day works pretty well, I tend not to feel hungry. She went by the food guidelines at; I got the 1800 cals. by filling out my info and checking "sedentary" for lifestyle.

Also, when exercising, the nutritionist also told me to do that super-gradually - not to go up more than 10% a week. So if you start off by walking 20 minutes five days a week, that's 100 mins. total for the week. The next week you'd split it by 110 mins., so maybe 22 mins. every day. And so forth. If you start exercing hard right away, it's too much and your body continues to hold onto the fat.
posted by sutel at 7:39 AM on May 26, 2007

As others have said, you've gotta play with numbers if you're doing a numbers based diet. You're playing with variables! All weight loss really is is changing an equation.
If you haven't read The Hacker's Diet, I recommend it. To pinpoint, this page illustrates why weighing and tracking your weight every day can clearly show trends. If you keep notes about what you eat, you can cross-reference this information back to see what caused it. That is, if you're really wanting to "hack" your eating habits.
posted by Meagan at 7:41 AM on May 26, 2007

The Hacker's Diet, rather.
posted by Meagan at 7:42 AM on May 26, 2007

To lose weight I should eat about 1800 calories a day (and obviously exercise more).

Actually, I think the mypyramid site is giving 1800 calories as a maintenance level. They're not giving you a diet plan to lose weight... just to be healthy.

(Because honestly, you're tiny, and 1800 calories is like 4 Big Macs per day.)
posted by smackfu at 7:49 AM on May 26, 2007

Although I just noticed that if you put an overweight weight into the mypyramid site, it does suggest two options: a maintenance level and a diet level (which is only a 200 calorie deficit).
posted by smackfu at 7:52 AM on May 26, 2007

If you were consistently gaining weight, even if only a little, you are adjusting to the calorie loss required to stop gaining, as well as the calorie loss to begin losing weight. Keep that in mind when it gets difficult to maintain your diet.

The No S Diet is low key and kind of fun. Well worth a look.

Hang in there, eat healthy, exercise a little more, and aim for lifestyle change in addition to the weight loss. You want to get it off, keep it off, and be healthy. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 8:02 AM on May 26, 2007

1. Weight yourself! 22lbs in 16 weeks is a slow (sensibly so) controlled weight loss plan. Because its slow, you wont notice much difference - you should notice your clothes fit better

2. You dont give your age so its hard to give any accurate advice - my email's in my profile if you want me to run your numbers.
Also, different online calculators will give you different figures - and can vary by up to about 1k calories - which did you use? Some are designed for athletes/body builders and increase the count to fit a more muscular body, some also go a little lower but they're much less dangerous to your weight loss efforts.
However, having looked at your numbers, your calories are a little on the low side. Unless your frame is small in size I would recommend increasing to at least 1400 per day and making the rest of the defecit up through excercise.

3. Theres no such thing as too many carbs (within your calorie limit) - theres the wrong type of carbs but what you eat has little effect on weight loss if you keep to your daily calories - it does however effect how you feel, simple carbs will give you lots of energy all at once and then leave you tired and hungry, complex carbs and high fibre foods release the energy more slowly, meaning you stay full for longer and have steadier energy levels

4. Whilst excercise is highly beneficial for your fitness and general health and wellbeing its not strictly necessary for weight loss. If you've got the time and you can manage it then go for it - theres no reason not to excercise if your body can do it

5. If you are eating the right amount of calories and you really havent lost any weight then you need to see a doctor, theres no such thing as a metabolism test, per se. But a doctor will be able to test you for an underactive thyroid or other medical conditions that could affect your ability to lose weight.

All this is ofcourse speculation until you've weighed yourself.
posted by missmagenta at 8:07 AM on May 26, 2007

You need to eat less. There is a point that you will lose weight, but you need to weigh yourself to know where that is. It could be 1300 cal/day. It could be less. All the talk about the basal metabolic rate is fine and good, but those people have nice fired up metabolisms. I need to eat no more than 1200 cal/day to lose weight. I know I'm not in starvation mode because I've got the energy to work out 4 days/week, with weight lifting and cardio and everything. And I'm 5'7" and about 165. It sucks to be a sluggish female, but there are many of us out there.
posted by apostrophe at 8:28 AM on May 26, 2007

You're not in "starvation mode", ignore anyone that says that. You aren't eating very much which might be is lowering your metabolism but unless you have a thyroid condition I very much doubt it is lowered enough for you to not be losing any weight.
As everyone else has said, D is probably right, you need a scale. But can I caution you that losing weight by eating very few calories and doing very little exercise (especially resistance exercise) is going to make your life that much harder when you go to maintain that loss? As a 205-lb woman you have a certain amount of base muscle needed to carry around that weight. If you just eat very little with no exercise you will lose a lot of that base muscle (along with fat). You really don't want to end up having to eat 1300 calories/day to maintain your weight loss (or, well, I think that would suck anyway). You can buy one of those resistance tubes at your local target/wal-mart for pretty cheap and there are a bunch of decent exercises you can do with that if you want something simple to start with.
Finally, Theres no such thing as too many carbs (within your calorie limit) is simply not true. You need to get a balance of macronutrients. Some fat is absolutely necessary. But more to the point, eating too little protein can also contribute to the whole losing your base muscle problem I mentioned above. For many people, eating too little protein also makes them incredibly hungry.
posted by ch1x0r at 9:19 AM on May 26, 2007

Well yes ofcourse, if your diet is entirely made up of carbs - at that point it would be too much but the amount of protein and fat required in your diet is way less than most people eat.

Its almost impossible to become protein deficient as most complex carbs contain some protein (and fat), your particular need is around 50 grams of protein per day - that is not to say that you cant have more but if you're getting that amount, you'll be doing fine. Same goes for fat, unless you're purposefully cutting out all fat, you'll probably be getting enough.
posted by missmagenta at 9:48 AM on May 26, 2007

Lots of good advice here.

First off, it really is not just about numbers, or "calories in, calories out." Humans are complex organisms and each person is different. But you can't go wrong with a well-balanced diet. This means that your plate should be 1/2 veggies and fruits, 1/4 carbs (preferably whole grains) and 1/4 protein.

But I do think the scale is important. For years I was scale-avoidant as well, and would try to lose weight wihtout weighing myself. But goals and benchmarks are important.

I have found Weight Watchers to be enormously useful. I would even suggest doing it for just a month or so to get you started, because they have lots of helpful tips, etc. They also give you a daily calorie target, based on your weight, age, and activity level. If you really can't afford it, then there are lots of good places online to get the info, and online communities for support.

Also, I would suggest, if you haven't already, cutting out as many processed foods as you can. That includes things that have been made artificially low-fat, like low-fat cheese. Small portions of full-fat cheese, or an organic egg (maybe scrambled with veggies) for breakfast are important for satiation. Satiation is key to losing weight healthily.

Good luck!
posted by lunasol at 10:20 AM on May 26, 2007

D is by far the most likely possibility. Chatting about this is probably a waste of time. Start measuring (arms, hips, waist, neck, etc) and weighing on a weekly basis, and stay rigorous with the calories. Doing this more than once or maybe twice a week seems unhelpful.

If you are showing no change over a few weeks, drop the calories and/or increase exercise (and maybe consider caffeine + ephedrine). It's that simple. As with any experiment, if you can't measure your results, you can't judge success or failure.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:54 AM on May 26, 2007

I don't understand the aversion to the scale - if you're trying to lose weight - weighing yourself is important so you know how you're doing. Not only that, but body perceptions are funny things. I've lost a lot, but sometimes I still "feel" fat. The scale is a bit of reality that reminds me, "Oh yeah. I'm not that heavy anymore."

I personally like to weigh every day, to keep a focus. (I need to go buy a better scale though - I'd suggest purchasing one that is as accurate as possible. Mine fluctuates up to 3 pounds, and it can be frustrating).

I lost with the Weight Watchers points system. It demystified the "how much can I eat" question. I know you said you can't afford a program, but you wouldn't really have to join in order to try it out. You could just go to the first meeting, get a points slider, figure out how much you're supposed to eat, and then start counting. Not all calories are created equal. (Even if two foods have equal caloric content - one with more fiber and less fat can have less points than one with more fat and less fiber).

But even if you don't try that, the scale has helped me. I'd try that out and see what you think.
posted by eleyna at 11:08 AM on May 26, 2007

I understood the OP to say that, using this method in theory she SHOULD have lost 22 pounds by now, not that she actually did (or, doesn't know b/c she doesn't weigh herself). Is that incorrect?
posted by tristeza at 7:27 PM on May 26, 2007

Here's a response from the question asker:
OP here, responding via mathowie. Thank you so much for all the replies!

Yes, I am exactly counting, by physical measurement, every calorie in every ingredient I eat (I don't estimate portions in any way, except on the rare occasions when I eat something prepared that doesn't come with nutrition data and I have to guess the amounts of each ingredient in it). I don't claim I've lost 22 lbs but rather that there would theoretically have been a 22-lb loss, over these 16 weeks, if my body had burned an average of 2000 calories a day. (In other words, subtracting the 146,700 calories I actually consumed, from the 224,000 calories I would have burned if I did burn 2000/day, resulting in a 77,300 calorie deficit which would equal 22 lbs lost.) I was quoted 2160/day by the online calculator and I rounded that down to 2000, in part because of the basic logic issue as mentioned by modernnomad (that the deficit won't stay the same across any period that includes weight loss... or muscle building for that matter).

I'll be keeping my current plan going, with the exception of increasing the exercise level (will be doing the 45-solid-minute exercise block on at least 40% of days during the second 16 weeks), and sticking with the same 1300/1400/1500 daily limit based on which of the three exercise levels I achieved that day. (I arrived at these numbers after some experimentation with lower levels during the first few weeks; for me 1300/1400/1500 are the lowest levels that feel happily-sustainable [that never result in hunger or tiredness, given an excellent produce-filled diet].)

I'll report again via mathowie in September, at the end of the 32nd week. I know, that update will just be useful for people landing here via Google sometime in the future, so for now I'll say I appreciate all the interest in my question and it was extremely encouraging. What I've realized in writing this question and seeing the responses is that I don't need metrics to keep going, just human confirmation that my plan is okay and there's nothing wrong except probably too little exercise (which I already was thinking, and just needed to say out loud to help myself admit). I now have the same good feeling about this plan as I had when I started. (In other words, the hive mind succeeds again!)
posted by mathowie at 7:15 AM on May 27, 2007

It's September now, so I have my fingers crossed that the original poster will check back in and let us know what happened.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2007

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