I seem to be getting weaker

Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
I started SL in mid October. I really want to lose some fat that I gained after having my daughter. I'm 45, 5 ft 2 and had a fair amount of muscle base to begin with. I gained a solid 10lbs since I had my daughter. After reading a lot, getting advice from Heybales (used his spreadsheet), looked at various calculators I try to eat 1200-1350 calories a day. Lately I have been eating my exercise calories because I am hungry. I'm always thinking about food. My lifts have been weak, so weak. Only my deadlift is progressing. I have deloaded my squats so many times to work on form and the 115lbs I did tonight felt ridiculously heavy. OHP, ugh. It goes up, it goes down. I failed at benching 70lbs, only got 4 reps and deloaded to 65-again.I'm not losing fat or getting stronger. What am I doing? I gained back the couple of inches I lost last month. My weight keeps going up and down the same lousy 3lbs. I feel like I am spinning my wheels. If I eat out one meal or have a nice dinner with wine, my daily calories are blown. Should I be eating more? Even less? Sorry for ranting. I'm feeling sorry for myself :-(


  • Fittreelol
    Fittreelol Posts: 2,535 Member
    I have thoughts on this, but I'm too tired to make them coherent atm. So I'll have to check back later. How much do you weigh, what do you want to weigh, what is your deficit (number or % )? Where are you measuring? How much did each measurement lose/gain? Are you taking progress pictures?
  • katro111
    katro111 Posts: 632 Member
    I'm feeling exactly the same today. Just wanted to let you know you're not alone; wish I had some good advice to give, though (and to follow for myself)!
  • Sumiblue
    Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
    I weigh 135 lbs. Ideally, I'd love to weigh 120 but would just be happy to lose the extra fluff on my hips, thighs, mid section. I realize with lifting my "ideal weight" may not be what I thought it was. I had lost 2 lbs after the last measurement recording and was hoping that I'd soon be out of the 130s but I'm back to 135 and my hips are back to 40" and my thighs are bigger. I'm using the MFP goals now but I guess my deficit is 10%.i have not taken progress photos because I know the photos will depress me. Pathetic but true. I do feel like I have more muscle than pre-SL. My thighs are definitely tighter but I can lose inches of fat still. I've lost a little of my belly but again,lots to lose. I have been doing SL 3x/wk and some kind of cardio (body weight Fitstar app or kettlebells) 2x/wk. it's more than I've worked out in years! Here are my last two measurement recordings. Like said above, since Feb 1 my hips have gone back to 40", my thighs are close to 23", waist is 30" again and nothing else changed.
    Sumiblue wrote: »
    Here goes:

    Jan. 2
    Height-5' 2"

    Rib cage-32"
    Bicep -12"
    Waist (at narrowest point)-30"
    Waist (at belly button)-32"
    Hips-40 (ugh!)
    Thigh -22"
    Calf -13"

    Body Fat %?? No idea, I can't get an accurate caliper reading by myself. I'd guess it's about 25%

    February 1

    Bust-35 (+1")
    Rib cage-31 (-1")
    Waist at narrowest-29"
    Waist at belly button-31"(-1")
    Hips-39.5 (-1")
    Thigh-21.5" (-.5")
    Calf-13.5 (+ .5)

    Total inches lost-2

    Weight-135 (-2lbs)
  • Sumiblue
    Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
    And thanks for your replies! Tomorrow I will look for my original measurements from Sept, pre SLs.
  • canadianlbs
    canadianlbs Posts: 5,199 Member
    i'm wondering . . . could the deadlifts be sucking up too much of your available resources? i'm not an expert of course, but they're supposedly a huge cns drain. and i know i have this kind of thing where when all my other lifts are discouraging me, i'll turn to the deadlifts because those are my go-to when i want a cheap victory.

    if it sounds possible, you could try intentionally capping your deadlift weight for a week or two, and see if there's any uptick on all of your other lifts.
  • Like Katro, I don't have much by way of advice. But I know the struggle, so am here for mostly for solidarity!

    That said, with the amount you're working out, it sounds like your calories may be low, especially if you're not eating back the exercise burn.

    I put your stats into the TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) calculator at IIFYM (find it here), and it says your BMR is 1364 and your TDEE (for working out 4x / week, just to be conservative) is 1935!

    I know folks have mixed opinions about "starvation mode" but if you're not eating at at least your BMR, then (to me, at least) it would make sense that your body wouldn't want to give up even a tiny bit of weight and that your lifts would suffer.
  • Sumiblue
    Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
    Thanks for the input. I posted here because you guys are so supportive (unlike the main forums). I do have days where I don't meet 1300 net calories, but I try. IIFYM gives me a lot of calories & I worry it's inflated. Heybale's spreadsheet tells me my TDEE is quite a bit lower & I should eat at 1350. MFP tells me to eat 1200 to lose 1 lb/wk. I'd like to eat more but I'm afraid I'll just gain fat. I wish I had a Fitbit so I knew what I actually burned every day.
  • The struggle is real and I [we all] face it all the time.

    I have been following a lot of the threads in the ETP group. A recent one, from @Daisy253 really stood out to me. SideSteel posted a video response to her question regarding lack of progress and I think it was spot on. His advice basically was that progress shouldn't be measured in weeks or months, but rater in YEARS. I know this isn't the answer that any of us want to hear but probably closer to reality.

    For those of you who are interested the thread can be found here:

  • xcalygrl
    xcalygrl Posts: 1,897 Member
    I'm one of those that doesn't believe in starvation mode, but eating too few calories can seriously hinder your lifts (which you're experiencing). If you aren't able to progress, you won't see any changes.

    Having only a few pounds to lose, losing 1 pound/week is too aggressive. You should be aiming to lose 0.5 pounds per week. It seems slow, but the closer you are to goal, the slower you should go. 1) for sanity and 2) for LBM retention.

    I put your stats in this calculator (http://scoobysworkshop.com/calorie-calculator/#projectedweightloss) and got that you need about 1500-1650 to lose with your current workouts. And FitBits are great, but they only use an equation as well to figure out how much you burn each day. It's a nice figure to have, but it isn't 100% accurate.

    If I were you, I would work on netting at least 1300-1350 calories first. I would also probably experiment with a reverse diet to see if I could find my true maintenance calories. I would also consider doing a recomp instead of continuing trying to cut since your lifts are suffering. (This is all stuff I would consider if I were in your position, but it may not appeal to you at all.)
  • fothers365
    fothers365 Posts: 59 Member
    I use this tool for working out my bodyfat.


    I know none of them are entirely accurate but at least it shows you trends when you do it repeatedly. There are quite a few good calculators on their site.

    I would guess the same as the other you could probably eat more and feel a bit better and work on having a slower loss.

    I have put a thread up on the ETP group at the moment as I am not sure whether to switch to maintenance or a smaller deficit.
  • Sumiblue
    Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
    @fothers365‌ I read that thread and you definitely look like you could switch to maintenance/do a recomp. You look great! I still have a fair amount of fat to lose. When my body fat scale still worked it gave me a 26% bf reading. Heybale's spreadsheet gave me over 30% based on multiple site measurements. I'd been guessing around 26% based on my imperfect caliper reading. I do have some visible muscle, I guess they are noob gains. just not losing fat. I've got no problem taking this slowly as long as I see the fat going. Ok, off to change my goals and do some reading!
  • Sumiblue
    Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
    @ScientificExplorerGirl‌ , I appreciate your input. I did read that thread, too and watched SS's video. I don't think I have much in common with the poster, though. She is 4 inches taller than me and about 18lbs lighter. She says her body fat is 19%, which is pretty awesome. According to @fothers365‌ fat calculator,I'm at 34.5% BF. Primarily, I want to lose fat and keep my lifts progressing or at least staying steady, not sliding back like they are now. I could see where a taller, slim woman would need to take years to put on appreciable muscle. I hope it won't take years for me to shed some fat!
  • krokador
    krokador Posts: 1,794 Member
    Few questions here:
    1- Do you eat veggies and not log them? Because that makes a HUGE difference. I probably eat 250 cals of vegetables a day lately since my cut is so aggressive (I eat close to your numbers atm) and don't count them. But they help with extra carbs, fibers and micronutrients that fuel my workouts. But I don't consider them part of my daily macros. I don't think I've seen a lot on your diary
    2- Any vitamins or supplements you are not logging? Sometimes those make a difference too. If you're deficient in certain things it could lead to sluggishness and all that jazz
    3- Have you ever tried going slightly higher on the fat intake? When reducing cals I personally find it gives me more satiety to go lower carbs, higher fat (25/40/35 C/F/P is a decent ratio). Carbs don't fill me up. It's a personal thing, but you can't know if it works for you until you try it.

    Also, if you've been that low for a while, you might want to up your calories for a week or two just to give your body a chance. Dat brain adjusts things according to supply and demands after a while, so with less fuel it will give you less output. Diet breaks can benefit you!
  • Sumiblue
    Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
    I do eat vegetables and do log them. The last couple of days I tried to stick to a more paleo template. I know veggies are allowed, I just got lazy about prepping and cooking veggies. A few weeks ago I was eating 2 fresh salads a day with protein. I did lose a little weight but I got so bored with my food. I cook a lot so vegetables are in my meals-like soups, casseroles, even meatballs, which I had yesterday. I plan to have more vegetables in my meals today. I don't really do supplements, other than whey isolate protein in my breakfast smoothie. I have no problem with fat. I usually aim for my protein amt goal and if I go over on fat I don't sweat it. I may need to redo my macro numbers, though.
  • AbsoluteTara79
    AbsoluteTara79 Posts: 266 Member
    I think as long as you're in a deficit, you're going to sacrifice on performance to some degree. You are shorter and weigh less than me, but your deficit seems pretty substantial.

    You might consider posting in E/T/P - I posted there and got some great feedback from SS that I've integrated into my February plan. I'll re-assess come 3/1 on how I did with the tweaks.

    I read through several of the threads there to get an idea of what info would be needed and I got a pretty rapid, concise, response because I just provided complete detail so there wasn't a need for a lot of back/forth.

    good luck!

  • Sumiblue
    Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
    @AbsoluteTara79‌ I may do that, thanks. I was going to but I know I will get hammered for my crappy logging recently.I tried on an old bikini just to see how I look. I can see some ab definition (under layer of fat) where I didn't have any months ago. Pre-pregnancy I had a flat stomach & some ab definition. My stomach skin is kind of jiggly & loose now. I think I am gaining muscle & it's pushing out the fat. Recently, I tried on some clothes & thought I looked pretty good! I just don't know why all of my numbers are stagnant if I look better in clothes, & I can see some new muscle definition. I think I will makes sure my calorie goal is met, I bumped it up a bit. I will try to get the fats & veggies in. I need to log better, too. Thanks for all the advice!
  • threnjen
    threnjen Posts: 687 Member
    You should 100% be eating your exercise calories. I'm 5'1" and eat 1300 only on a day where I don't exercise. Any lifting, exercise etc I eat more. Some days that is only 200 more, but some days it is up to 600 more.

    I'm not as far on my lifts as you but I am expecting to find a point where I stall out due to lifting at a deficit. There is only so much our bodies can push to get stronger when we are purposely not fueling ourselves. I think the stall is normal and expected. I think this is where you evaluate if you are ok lifting at this weight for a while, as you continue to lose fat. If it's important to you to increase your weights, you will really just need to start eating more.

    Do you weigh your food? What kinds of things do you eat? How much protein do you eat? Would you mind if we looked at your diary?

    You're pretty strong at the weights you are lifting, so I'm a bit uncertain why you feel you aren't getting stronger. Did you start on the bar in Oct? Because that is some amazing progress IMO.
  • It seems like you're just not eating enough. Perhaps one lb per week is too aggressive, especially since you have little to lose and are more concerned with body composition than scale weight. Your BMR is 1280 according to IIFYM and TDEE is 1666 so if you take 15% off, you should be eating around 1400. It's a small difference but it might help you feel better. Another option could be a diet break where you eat at maintenance for a little while to get yourself back to normal.

    Lifting progression will be slower and will likely stall on a deficit but if you're feeling hungry, lethargic, and down, something isn't right. The body is signaling that it is stressed and stress can raise cortisol which can stall weight loss and mask fat loss.

    I hope you can figure out what's going on and get feeling better soon. It sucks being in a rut like that but it will pass.
  • Fittreelol
    Fittreelol Posts: 2,535 Member
    Okay so here's some thoughts about food/weight/measurements.

    Food: Standard forum advice: make sure you are weighing solids, measuring liquids. If you are in a deficit you will lose weight, so you might be underestimating calories or

    Weight: you might be losing weight, but it's being masked by fluid from muscle repair, "pump" from work out, hormones, salt, wine, aliens. 3 lbs is pretty insignificant. This week alone I've varied 4 lbs, and I'm losing currently.

    Measurements: From what I can see you HAVE lost inches, but are focusing on hips and waist. There could be variance due to: measuring error, constipation, hormones, salt, wine, aliens, muscle repair, and/or pump.

    Lifting issues: You seem to have made quite a bit of progress you started with the bar right? It is absolutely possible to continue to make progress while in a deficit. It might be a little slower than eating at maintenance or a surplus, but it can and does happen with a lot of regularity. The reason you get stronger when not in a bulk is because you teach your brain to recruit more muscle fibers during an activity. Which also means the biggest enemy of gainz is you (general you) doubting your ability to lift a weight. You're also so new to lifting that you probably don't have a solid and very consistent technique which usually takes years to develop. So if your squat stance is a little wider or a little narrower, or you touch down a little differently on bench, or you wander away from your shins during DL. All of those things are going to take away from how much you can lift that day. Not to mention time of day, hydration, hormones, glycogen levels etc. that can also affect how lifting is going.

    TLDR you seem to be on the right track be patient, and ask in ETP if you have specific intake questions. They are pretty good at that.
  • DawnEmbers
    DawnEmbers Posts: 2,451 Member
    edited February 2015
    Sumiblue wrote: »
    Thanks for the input. I posted here because you guys are so supportive (unlike the main forums). I do have days where I don't meet 1300 net calories, but I try. IIFYM gives me a lot of calories & I worry it's inflated. Heybale's spreadsheet tells me my TDEE is quite a bit lower & I should eat at 1350. MFP tells me to eat 1200 to lose 1 lb/wk. I'd like to eat more but I'm afraid I'll just gain fat. I wish I had a Fitbit so I knew what I actually burned every day.

    I see you have gotten some great feedback here and just wanted to add a couple of things. I know the feeling on the net and the question of TDEE. I sometimes get less than the 1350 MFP recommends, have bad days where it's just lucky I made it over 1000. Yet the TDEE things I've looked at and the BMR ones put the MFP number as oo low for me. I'm going to try and up my daily to a 1500 minimum and just watch how things go over weeks. I do have a fitbit, but it's just the pedometer so the calories burned are an estimate just like the ons on the site, so I don't have it linked to MFP. It's good motivation to keep me moving but that's about it.

    And from what I've seen mentioned and found thus far in the years of reading about weight loss on different sites, skin does take a while to respond during this process. I know I will probably have some loose skin in a while because going from obese to not can lend to that and time will tell what will happen overall. The stomach in particular is a common spot for the skin issues (especially post pregnancy too, though I am still hoping to get to that point some day) and will take time as well, and may not be as tight as before.

    But overall, sounds like you have some ideas of where to go from here and we'll cheer you on too. :wink: