Thursday, June 18, 2009

Peaks, valleys, and plateaus

195 pounds
I talked to my friend Tracey today—the same friend who originally convinced me to try to lose a little weight—and I was thrilled to tell her that I've lost three pounds in the last two weeks.

If you've been following my blog since March, you know that I lost a few pounds almost immediately because I was sick and then I lost a few more pounds pretty quickly after that by simply making sure I exercised every day for an hour. As a result, I went from 203 to 195 pounds in a matter of a weeks. But a week after that, my weight started to creep back up and pretty soon I leveled off at around 197 or 198 pounds, which is where I've stayed until two weeks ago when I started chipping away at those three pounds. 

Except for the fact that I was sharing my weight with the world every time I wrote a blog entry, I wasn't really concerned by this increase. I know from experience that fluctuations are normal and to be expected, and I think it's crucial that we all understand this and not beat ourselves to a bloody pulp over a few measly pounds. 

Whenever anyone starts any kind of weight-loss program, it is common to see a sudden drop in the number on the scale, a quick return on the investment, but that drop is often followed by a slight increase as our bodies adjust to our new lifestyle. 

This is the time when most people start acting a little crazy. They've already cut a few hundred calories from their diet and seen results, and when the weight loss slows or, worse yet, completely stops, they get desperate and start cutting even more calories, usually to the point of being unhealthy.  In the long run, this approach can never work because inevitably it means that the dieter is getting fewer calories than needed, thus causing her stomach to shrink and her body to store fat. 

What's important is that we don't get frustrated by these small changes or the fact that we can be working very hard at being healthy without seeing results for sometimes extended periods of time. The bottom line is it's far more important to be living in a healthy manner than it is to fit into a size six skirt. 

Plateaus can also seem like reasons for alarm, and they shouldn't be either. Just like fluctuations, plateaus are normal and are sometimes a sign that you may not need to lose as much weight as you think you need to lose (ask your doctor to be sure), or simply that you need to vary your routine a bit. 

Even though I was not put off by these fluctuations or the plateau I had settled into, I was still more committed than ever to losing weight and trying new ways to do so without dieting. I was also completely committed to this blog and making good on its inherent promise.  

When I talked to Tracey earlier today and told her I had lost three pounds in the past two weeks, she immediately asked me how I'd done it. I told her I really believe it was the additional exercise I've added to my daily routine that has allowed me to break through this plateau. I mentioned in my last post that I've added fun activities like riding the swings and playing frisbee to my exercise regime, but what I neglected to point out is that, like I used to when I was a kid, I've spread these activities out so that it now feels like I'm exercising all day long.  

In fact, over the past week, I have exercised two to four times a day every single day! Sometimes I can only squeeze in ten minutes; other times I burn through a grueling 80-minute workout. But I'm really shooting for that 90-120 minutes of daily intermittent exercise I talked about in my Returning to Childhood post. And I'm honestly loving it. As I said in my last post, I feel more alive and energetic than ever before. 


  1. Congratulations! The weight loss is exciting, although I think your whole attitude toward exercise is a bigger deal.

    You've inspired me, actually! I've stopped obsessively weighing myself and I've been trying to find fun ways to get exercise other than hitting the treadmill. I've been taking the dog on long walks in the neighborhoods and really enjoying it.

  2. Love that idea, Em! Sometimes I think I should get a dog just for that reason, but then I remember what happened to my last dog who only lasted 36 hours in our house. Let's face it—I'll never be a parent!

    I also completely agree with you that the attitude is more important than the number on the scale.

    Let me know if you ever want to write a guest blog post, okay?