Tag Archives: real-life weight loss

HELP! Weight Loss Stopped and I Don’t Know Why.

I can’t begin to tell you how many of you I’ve had in my office literally sobbing your eyes out because you’re doing everything right and you were losing weight, but weight loss stopped.  It’s a horrible feeling to feel like you’re “failing” at weight loss. Things were going great – the pounds were steadily coming off and then all of a sudden everything stopped moving.  A few weeks went by and things kept not moving.  Eek!  This is when people  freak out.

I want you to take a deep breath, and relax.  You are doing awesome.  AWESOME. This is totally normal.  It’s just that your plan for how things are going to go and your body’s plan for how things are going to go are two really different things, and they have to be because your body’s number one priority is keeping you alive. Believe me, that’s a really good thing.

Losing weight is not just a matter of digesting a few fat cells for your body.  It’s a big deal!  Say you lose 15 pounds.  For the “average” person (arbitrarily picking 150 lbs as average) that’s 10% of their body weight.

Weight Loss Stopped – What Is Really Happening?

Take a look around your living room or your office or wherever you happen to be sitting right now and picture taking 1/10th (that’s 10%) of the stuff out.  So if there are 10 pictures on the wall, take out one.  If there are 10 pieces of furniture, take one out.  For every 10 books, decorative items, pillows, etc… take out one.  So, for everything in the room, for every 10 pieces of everything, one piece has to go. Seriously.  Once you’ve done that take a look around.  If your house is anything like mine, taking out 10% of everything makes it look like a gap-toothed jack-o-lantern.

After I take 10% of everything out of the room, then I have to take some time to re-organize.  I’ve got to move stuff around and sort through what’s left to make the room work again.  Your body has to do the exact same thing with weight loss – it’s got to re-organize.  So if weight loss stopped it’s probably because your body has a bigger priority at this moment.  Did you know every pound of extra fat has about a mile of extra blood vessels supplying it?  Eek! Your body has to do something with all of that too, because frankly in the grand scheme of things it’s more important to circulate your blood effectively than it is to meet your weight loss goals.

Weight loss stopped? It's because your body has to take the time to rearrange the furniture.

Weight loss stopped? It’s because your body has to take the time to rearrange the furniture. Looks good, right?

Losing weight isn’t a quick and easy process for your body – it’s actually tremendously hard work and takes a lot of shifting of hormones, blood vessels, musculoskeletal support, inflammatory levels and toxins.  Weight loss in real-life is different from what you see on TV and if you don’t remember about that then read through this to remind yourself. If you’re hitting a plateau in your weight loss, and weight loss stopped suddenly, that is completely okay.  In fact, it’s great!  It means that you have lost enough that your body needs to move stuff around so just let it happen and keep doing what you’re supposed to be doing.  The weight loss will start again – your body just needs to take a minute to collect itself.

So, It’s Normal That Weight Loss Stopped – How Long Until It’s A Problem?

If after 6 weeks you’re still stalled out, then talk to your practitioner or whoever you are working with to lose the weight. In that case there may be something blocking you like a hormone issue, a detox issue or a food sensitivity – if you aren’t familiar with weight loss blockers take a look at this. But seriously let your body have six weeks before you freak out and every day keep reminding yourself that your body is a beautiful thing that is doing it’s best every day to keep you alive.  Your body wants you to be happy and healthy and whole.  It’s changing everything in the background so that you can be healthy and wonderful and then move on to the next phase of weight loss.

The bottom line is: go easy on your body.  Go easy on yourself.  Breathe and let this whole process unfold the way it’s going to – it doesn’t have to look exactly like you thought it would for it to be going exactly right. Sure, weight loss stopped – now thank your body for it because it’s busy keeping you alive.  Your body is making sure your heart, lungs, hormones, neurotransmitters and everything else are keeping up with the process. Your body is taking care of a whole lot of stuff that keeps you moving on a daily basis and it’s really important to honor that process and allow your body a little room when it needs to reorganize the furniture.

Rapid weight loss might be a myth, but real weight loss can and does happen. It's just that there isn't a shortcut.

The Biggest Loser Rapid Weight Loss – Why Isn’t This Real Life?

Rapid weight loss is what everyone seems to want and expect from themselves, in spite of the fact that it never seems to actually happen. Don’t you love TV shows where people go from morbid obesity to a relatively normal weight, losing what amounts to a couple of small children within a year?  It gives hope that you can probably shed that extra 15 lbs in a week.  Two at most, right? If those people on the television can lose 300 pounds in a year then surely 15 lbs in a week is reasonable. Except that in real life it doesn’t ever happen and the sad part is that it’s really easy to fall into the trap of beating yourself up about that.

Why Doesn’t Rapid Weight Loss Happen In Real Life?

Please be gentle with yourself – it’s not that you’re not strong enough or not dedicated enough, or sacrificing enough.  It’s not happening because it’s darn near impossible. When you lose weight the first weight you lose is water.  If you’re starting out at 450 lbs then there really are 20 lbs of extra water hanging around to lose in the first week.  If you’re starting out at 250 lbs, all of your extra water is probably 8-10 pounds.  If you only need to lose 15 pounds then maybe there’s only four or five pounds of water weight. It’s a whole different ball game. Of course you can lose the water weight quickly – just take the most inflammatory foods out of your diet. Lose the grains and dairy and processed foods and usually those pounds will drop off. But after that? Things turn real.

Rapid weight loss might be a myth, but real weight loss can and does happen.  It's just that there isn't a shortcut.

Rapid weight loss might be a myth, but real weight loss can and does happen. It’s just that there isn’t a shortcut.

There is a common misconception that fat weight doesn’t do anything, but research has shown that the fat in your body plays an important role in hormone balance or imbalance, toxin processing and storage and metabolic weight.  When you go for serious weight loss you are asking your body to re-distribute those tasks to other tissues. That means detoxifying and eliminating the toxins stored in the fat tissue you’re trying to lose, re-adjusting your hormone balance (usually for the better, but it’s still a slow process) and changing your basic resting metabolism. Not to mention that for every pound of fat you lose your body needs to re-organize, eliminate or reabsorb A MILE of blood vessels.  Whaaaa??? Literally a mile of blood vessels are necessary to properly feed and circulate each pound of fat and your body has to deal with that each time you gain or lose fat. Rapid weight loss sounds do-able but rapid elimination of a mile of blood vessels?  Not so much.

The obvious complexity of fat tissue! Image by Philipp E. Scherer  Touchstone Diabetes Center, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, published by NatureMedicine.

The obvious complexity of fat tissue! Image by Philipp E. Scherer
Touchstone Diabetes Center, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, published by NatureMedicine.

The Unreality of Reality TV Weight Loss

I am in no way trying to minimize the accomplishments of the people who go on reality TV and actually do the hard work to lose weight and keep it off. Just remember that most of the people on TV reality weight loss shows are going from 6000 calorie all fast-food diets with absolutely no activity to 1500 calorie diets (usually cooked by someone else) with personal trainers pushing them around for hours of every day.  Even if it’s possible for you to quit your job and devote your life to weight loss, it’s probably not possible to also pay a personal trainer, motivational coach and personal chef.  It’s just not real life – which of course is what makes it fun to watch on TV.

Real Life Weight Loss vs. The Rapid Weight Loss Dream

Today all I want you to know is that real-life weight loss is different than “reality TV” weight loss. It happens in fits and starts, there are pauses in progress.  Some weeks you might lose two pounds and some weeks you might not see the scale move at all. In fact, six weeks might go by where you’re doing everything right and the numbers on the scale aren’t changing.  That is totally normal.  It’s so easy to get discouraged and to be aiming for the numbers without paying any attention to how you feel, how your clothes are fitting or the tremendous amount of work your body is doing in that six weeks to normalize and re-adjust to this new you.

Even if you’re only losing two pounds a month, you’re still losing weight and getting healthier and making positive change.  The best part is you’re learning the behaviors as you lose to help you keep the weight off for the long run.  Just be gentle with yourself, be forgiving that you have to work in weight loss as a side activity and not as your whole purpose in life.  That isn’t a bad thing. Rapid weight loss isn’t real life and setting that as your expectation just sets you up for failure. Celebrate every progress and take time to admire how much hard work your body is doing in the times that the number on the scale isn’t changing.  It really is a big deal.  Your body is an amazing tool and an amazing gift – sometimes it benefits from a little appreciation as well.