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Stuck with fat loss
I am pretty active at the moment (3-5 days of cardio + strength training). I eat healthy (I think): 5 sizable portions; carbs from vegetables + fruits + fibre + protein (lean meat).
However, I've not been making any progress with my fat loss for several months now. I've tried several plateau-busting tips by changing my routines (higher/lower intensity, eating more/less, new exercises) over a period of 3-4 months, but nothing has changed. My body-fat-% is still unchanged (I need to lose at least another 3-5% to be in the "normal" range).
I've considered a calorie-deficit diet. But I'm already eating small meals (just enough to give me enough energy for the day). Besides, if I have to stick to the new food portions for the rest of my life in order to keep the fat away, I would rather be obese.
At this point, I can't help but think that I'm going up against my genes. I know this is a lame excuse, but I've been keeping at this for the past 3-4 months with no change to my fat-%. If anything, I have been getting bulkier (because of my strength training), which I hate. My skeletal frame is big enough. With the additional muscles, my body just looks out of proportion. Heck, I'm even getting sick more often since I started to "eat healthy and go to the gym", compared to when I was obese.
I would appreciate it if anyone can give me some advice/suggestions. I know this post sounds like a rant (it is!), but I'm just trying to get some pent-up frustration off my chest.
Thanks for reading (and understanding)!
P.s. I would like to note that before this plateau, I WAS making great progress. My stamina/endurance level has increased, my blood pressure came down to normal, I was building muscles (which toned my body) and losing fat (went from 40" down to 34"). Even my family couldn't recognise me when I went back to visit them. :)
Mon. Aug 16, 10:23am
The thing that sticks out for me is " I eat healthy (I think): 5 sizable portions; carbs from vegetables + fruits + fibre + protein (lean meat)."
If you're eating 5 meals a day, they should be smaller and not 'sizeable' is my thought. That was always my mistake, anyway: 5 small meals became 3 big meals and 2 small meals. Personally, I found that the eating 5 small meals did not work for me, but eating three big ones and two small snacks (as in one piece of fruit or 1/2 a serving of nuts) worked quite well for me. And by 'big' I mean a lot of veggies with smaller amounts of whole grains and protein.
Are you logging what you eat? And are you being honest with yourself about portion size? I've generally found that this is where I've fallen down. I conveniently 'forget' the handful of M&Ms or that I had several handfuls of a friend's popcorn at the movies. Also - maybe take a look at what you are drinking? It's easy to drink more calories than you expect.
Last thought: are you working on this weight loss with a doctor? Or figuring out your body fat content on your own? If you are not working with a medical professional on this, it may be good to consult with one to see if you do indeed need to go that extra 3% - 5% (and to get some suggestions on how) or if you are where you need to be already.
Monday, August 16, 2010, 10:37 AM
By 5 sizable portions, I mean 3 meals (2 fruits of breakfast, 1 fruit for snack, veges and meat for lunch, muesli bar and bread for pre-workout snack, and again veges and meat for dinner). I don't really count calories, but my lunch is about the size of a normal-to-small tupperware/lunchbox, whereas my dinner portion fits in my palm (375ml tupperware/lunch box).
As for logging, I eat the exact same thing everyday (down to the same broccoli and cauliflower) and portion size, using my tupperware/lunch box. If it helps, I can list exactly everything that goes into every meal I eat.
Finally, as for drinks, I NEVER drink anything other than water. I'm not a fan of sweet stuff (had problem when I started eating fruits. Too sweet), and usually makes me more thirsty. I keep a 2 litre water bottle at work/home. The only other beverage I drink is low fat milk (combined with my protein shake in the morning and after workout)
Lastly, I'm not working with a doctor. I am however, working with a personal trainer. My body fat content was calculated using calipers from various parts of my body (e.g, the part beneath the shoulder blade). Obviously, different parts of my body stores different percentage of fat, so I was generalising.
Monday, August 16, 2010, 10:57 AM
Just wanted to add some more about my meal portions:
While I don't count calories, my food portion sizes have actually been fined tuned over a period of months. Any more, and I would be bloated; any less, and I would tiring out while on the treadmill. Any more carbs, and I would be sugar-crashing; any less and I wouldn't have enough energy to complete my circuit.
Personally, I like this routine, as it takes the guesswork out of preparing my meals. However, if I do get bored (maybe 1-2 times a month), I simply swap the veges/fruits/meat that I'm having, and perhaps throw in a serving of yogurt.
Monday, August 16, 2010, 11:07 AM
Chew, you are making huge headway. Congratulations!
The body fat / muscle ratio thing is not exact. And who really knows what is healthy for a given person. There are all kinds of techniques to measure this but in the end, if you are seeing marked changes in your stamina and fitness and things are fitting nicely THAT is what you need to focus on.
The trainer may be using this as a way to keep you in the loop for training. If you come up short in that equation, they can sell you on the idea for much more training.
Look at the big picture. You are doing great.
Monday, August 16, 2010, 11:17 AM
Thanks for the complement!
While it may be in my trainer's best interest to keep my in the loop, I'm actually quite thankful for her help. Without her help and motivation, I would have given up 2 weeks after I joined the gym (my first EVER gym session took me 2 weeks to recover. I think she called it dom or something).
I know I've made some achievements (improved stamina and strength) and I'm thankful for that. It's just that, I want to keep improving, and hence, set new sights on having a "normal" fat-%, as well as great looking body. But like I said, I'm starting to think that I'm running up against my genes (my mom and grandma are short and "large-boned", and so am I. Have been obese before puberty).
I'm just wondering if my new goal is nothing but a pipe dream.
Any advice/recommendation/suggestions on what I could do or try? Or is anyone else having the same problem as I am?
Monday, August 16, 2010, 11:41 AM
I think I may have forgotten to ask the question which I REALLY wanted to ask (DOH! was too preoccupied ranting):
As I've said, I'm trying to get rid of the last few % of fat. I've heard people call this the "hardest few pounds to lose", and I can certainly see why. I've read that the only way to lose this is through a calorie-restricted diet and cardio. Since I'm already doing HIIT cardio, I'm guessing that the calorie-thing is my only other option.
What I would like to know is, if I were to lose the fat using a calorie-restricted diet, will I regain the fat once I stop the diet? In other words, do I have to stick with the diet in order to maintain the fat loss? If not, what do I have to do to keep the fat away? Build even more muscles? Or do I have to change my lifestyle?
Monday, August 16, 2010, 11:54 AM
You seem to have mastered maintenance at your current weight, and that's really all you'll be doing once you get to your goal weight - adding back a few more calories to maintain your new, lower weight.
Restricting calories doesn't have to mean you go crazy and barely eat. It simply means that, to lose weight, you're eating less than you are now. It doesn't have to look drastically different than what you're doing now, just less than what you're doing now, which seems to be maintaining your weight just fine.
Once you're at your goal weight, then you can gradually add back calories a hundred or so at a time until you're back to a place of maintenance.
Monday, August 16, 2010, 2:19 PM
Are you eating enough protein? Eating enough calories? If you're building muscle, your metabolism is probably speeding up. It might need to be fed a little more. Just a thought.
Also, are you doing as much high intensity cardio as you can? Best way to burn fat is to run it off.
Bottom line is... I'm impressed by your outstanding success.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 10:09 PM
The amount of food you have been eating (in conjunction with your exercise level) has brought you to this current weight at which you have stabalized. As long as nothing changes, your weight will remain at this level. Eat less for a while and your body will stabalize at a lower weight. If you change either of the variables (food and/or exercise) your weight will make a corresponding change.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 11:23 PM
You could try cutting back your food a little and adding a little more exercise. It sounds like you work out hard, but if you didn't want to restrict calories much that would be something you could think about.
Thursday, August 19, 2010, 1:22 PM
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