It is unlikely that you will lose weight consistently (i.e., weight loss is not linear)

jemhh Posts: 14,273 Member
edited February 2015 in Health and Weight Loss
Here we are, in mid-February. A ton of MFPers started this year out on a new path, trying to become healthier and trying to lose weight. Great job! But now it's 6 or 7 weeks later and you are getting frustrated, maybe discouraged, because your weight loss has slowed down. It stinks, right? Who wants to restrict their calories, maybe sweat a bit more, and not see big progress on the scale? Nobody, right?

Well, I'm sorry to tell you, but you are being unreasonable. And I mean that in the nicest way so think of me as telling you this as we sit down to tea in a cozy little room with doilies and pretty teacups and maybe a white fluffy cat lounging on the rug. Unless you respond better to tough love, in which case you can imagine me walking up to you, smacking you upside the head and saying it. Whatever floats your boat.

But yeah, you are being unreasonable.

Why is that? It's because weight loss is not linear. That's the answer you'll see posted to the "I'm not losing any weight!" threads. But why? Why can't we see that number go down on the scale every time we weigh ourselves? Well, because there are a multitude of factors that can affect your weight at any given time. To name a few:
  • a difference in the conditions in which you are weighing yourself (time of day, clothed vs. naked, well-hydrated vs. hydrated, etc.)
  • what you've eaten recently (eating more carbs and/or sodium than usual will generally cause you to hold additional water weight)
  • hormonal fluctuations (women, especially, are prone to seeing water weight fluctuations due to their monthly menstrual cycles)
  • inaccuracies in measuring food, logging food, and calculating your daily caloric needs
  • inaccuracies in calculating your activity level (both exercise and non-exercise activity)

And the list goes on from there.

The bottom line is that it is highly unlikely that you are going to see your weight decrease at a consistent pace throughout your weight loss journey. Over the course of 2014, I lost 52 pounds. That averaged a pound a week. But did I actually lose a pound a week? Absolutely not. Looking at my weigh-ins, you can see weeks where I lost several pounds, a fraction of a pound, no pounds, and even where I gained weight. The overall trend, though, was downward.

So, getting back to you. You're stuck at a certain weight. Or you think you're stuck at that weight. Where do you go from here? Here are a few ideas:
  • Review your food and exercise diaries for inaccuracies.
  • Review your expectations for reasonableness. Most of us didn't gain our excess weight rapidly and shouldn't expect losing all of it to happen rapidly either.
  • Pick a goal or two other than weight loss. Maybe you want to be able to walk a mile without stopping or you want to be able to comfortably lift bags of mulch this spring. Whatever the goal, find a way to work toward it and then do just that.
  • Focus on fat loss rather than weight loss. Consider doing some sort of strength training and eating an appropriate level of protein in order to maintain as much muscle as possible while losing weight. This will give you another aspect of fitness to focus on and is may help you get closer to the physique goals that you may have.
  • Measure your progress by other means--use a tape measure to measure your waist, hip, thigh, etc. and then track the changes.

Most importantly, though...BE PATIENT. I know, it's hard to do. But most times in life the hard thing to do is worth it in the end and being patience builds character so you'll be stronger in the end.

Good luck, you all. I'm rooting for you :)


  • WickedPineapple
    WickedPineapple Posts: 701 Member
    *flower for you* :)
  • Tiernan1212
    Tiernan1212 Posts: 797 Member
    Great post!
  • Laurend224
    Laurend224 Posts: 1,781 Member
  • queenliz99
    queenliz99 Posts: 15,317 Member
    Awesome post!! Thank you :)
  • lizzocat
    lizzocat Posts: 356 Member
    This is great! I'm at 6 weeks and my weight loss hasn't stalled yet, but I feel like it can't possibly keep going perfectly downward, it has to stall at some point. This is a good read for a preemptive mind strike so I don't get discouraged
  • segacs
    segacs Posts: 4,599 Member
    @mods, can we nominate this post to be a sticky, please?
  • Great post! What is the best way to measure fat loss, do you just mean taking measurements?
  • tchell99
    tchell99 Posts: 434 Member
    segacs wrote: »
    @mods, can we nominate this post to be a sticky, please?