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I'm terrible at this, help!

Howdy. I'm 38, and I've been doing MFP for years, off and on.

After having my kids (they're 16 and 13), I jumped from my normal size 12 (about 160 lbs):
shc1ngs3r5v1.jpg

To about 220 and a size 22:
epf7npt5oom6.jpg

I stayed there for a good long while, but then used MFP to drop back to 150 lbs in a size 10:
xfyj4zqu6wkl.jpg

However, I started new meds and got into a car wreck, and I slowly climbed back up to about 200 lbs and back to a size 20 (this picture was for a disability shoot, and showed all my meds at the time):
tq7sawn85ozs.jpg

When the pandemic started, I got back to MFP along with some med changes and some physical therapy, and I busted my *kitten* and got down to 129, and a size 2-4 (this is me in one leg of my old pants, back in January):
lu1l2ooszmf0.jpg

Here's the problem...I can't maintain for the life of me. I've climbed about 10 lbs since June, and while I've started being specific as hell again in every single thing I eat, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I have this set to "lose 2 lbs a week" in my goals section, and I walk at least 4 miles a day, averaging about 15,000 steps a day, with some push-ups/sit-ups/pull-ups/squats every day, and about 15 minutes of physical therapy... and it does work, if slowly (about .5 lbs a week) but I need to come in 100 or 200 calories under my daily allowance in order for that to happen. If I set this at "lose 1 lb a week" I gain, but very slowly, and setting it to maintenance means I gain quickly (like this last 5 months).

What am I missing?

Replies

  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 173 Member
    Ugh, I've been there. Literally.

    Similar top weight, same lowest weight, gain due to meds and injury, and a sluggish metabolism that would barely even lose a single pound a month eating 1200 calories per day average. I felt like I could gain if I just looked at food.

    I had always had no problem losing weight before just through eating consistently a certain way, but it felt like my metabolism was broken.

    My good news is that my neurologist recommended IF for nothing to do with weight loss, but for me, it has pretty much right away kick started my metabolism. I have notably more energy, where I was brutally lethargic, and the scale is moving again, still very slow, but much less frustrating.

    I'm not recommending IF for you, I have no idea if what works for me would work for you, but I'm hoping to encourage you that if you're system is a sluggish as mine was, there might be some minor adjustments you can make to get it revved back up and behaving more according to what you would expect.

    It's probably trial and error unfortunately, but I hope you are able to find a boost like I did. I really understand how frustrating it is. I was spinning my wheels for 2 years.

    Good luck figuring out how best to care for your body.
  • cmm7303
    cmm7303 Posts: 452 Member
    Xellercin wrote: »
    Ugh, I've been there. Literally.

    Similar top weight, same lowest weight, gain due to meds and injury, and a sluggish metabolism that would barely even lose a single pound a month eating 1200 calories per day average. I felt like I could gain if I just looked at food.

    I had always had no problem losing weight before just through eating consistently a certain way, but it felt like my metabolism was broken.

    My good news is that my neurologist recommended IF for nothing to do with weight loss, but for me, it has pretty much right away kick started my metabolism. I have notably more energy, where I was brutally lethargic, and the scale is moving again, still very slow, but much less frustrating.

    I'm not recommending IF for you, I have no idea if what works for me would work for you, but I'm hoping to encourage you that if you're system is a sluggish as mine was, there might be some minor adjustments you can make to get it revved back up and behaving more according to what you would expect.

    It's probably trial and error unfortunately, but I hope you are able to find a boost like I did. I really understand how frustrating it is. I was spinning my wheels for 2 years.

    Good luck figuring out how best to care for your body.

    Thanks!

    Yes, I do a 18/6 IF right now, with the exception of coffee in the morning and about 100 calories at 1:30 (because I have a med I need to take with food.

    As to the range of a few lbs, I think that's totally right...and I expected that. It's just creeping up, steadily, and I can't seem to keep it at the lower end of the spectrum. I just noticed when my clothes started fitting just a little tighter. Bleh.
  • cmm7303
    cmm7303 Posts: 452 Member
    First of all, your actual numbers are probably never going to align exactly with MFP - it's just using an average. So your actual knowledge and math about what you need to be eating to maintain is probably what you need to use to set your calorie goals. It sucks, but sometimes those numbers are overestimates.

    Secondly, I think a lot of people miss that maintenance is always going to be a range, not a static number and not just because of fluid/scale fluctuations. All maintaining really means to me is that I gain and lose and gain and lose the same few pounds, over and over and over. The same reason 'if every day were like today' predictions when you close your diary aren't really exact apply. Ie: Days vary, in calorie output even with similar exercise, and the precise amount of calories you take in are going to change some just from margin of error and, well, life.

    All I can really say here, summing up, is use what your own math tells you and expect to have to do that 'small gain/small loss/small gain/small loss' thing fairly frequently. For me that's just what maintenance IS.

    Totally. I've started a different trick with the calories, but it just feels harder, almost, than when I'm really trying to lose weight.

    I'm trying to stay at the lower end of that range, and when I noticed my jeans were a little less comfy, I realized I'd gained and started trying to figure this out to see if I was missing anything.
  • cmm7303
    cmm7303 Posts: 452 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    My guess would be that if your weight trend is so far off from your expectations that your logging is probably significantly off.

    That can be "fixed" two different ways:
    Work harder to make food and exercise logging more accurate. (Making your diary public would make things a lot clearer.)
    Or
    Use consistency and your actual weight trend to adjust from where you are to where you need to be and don't fret about the apparent disparity.
    But there are outliers of course and some will be fairly extreme outliers, a bell curve if you want an image.

    Would strongly suggest when you get to your goal weight range next time you continue to monitor your weight vigilantly and set a hard upper boundary that triggers intervention before a slide become an avalanche. My maintenance range across the whole year is 7lbs wide and when I hit that upper red line I adjust my calorie balance accordingly.

    "and it does work, if slowly (about .5 lbs a week) but I need to come in 100 or 200 calories under my daily allowance in order for that to happen"
    You have a solution and a calorie goal right there - manually set your calorie goal to be whatever that number is that produces a steady rate of loss.

    I don't like to make my diary public, but I am scanning and weighing food out, and I can't figure that would be the cause of the issue. I've tried logging exercise by speed/time or by the info from Fitbit, and it seems to be pretty close to the same impact.

    My upper boundary was 10 lbs or when I noticed that the clothes fit differently, whichever came first. I just can't seem to figure out exactly that balance between gain and loss.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,071 Member
    cmm7303 wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    My guess would be that if your weight trend is so far off from your expectations that your logging is probably significantly off.

    That can be "fixed" two different ways:
    Work harder to make food and exercise logging more accurate. (Making your diary public would make things a lot clearer.)
    Or
    Use consistency and your actual weight trend to adjust from where you are to where you need to be and don't fret about the apparent disparity.
    But there are outliers of course and some will be fairly extreme outliers, a bell curve if you want an image.

    Would strongly suggest when you get to your goal weight range next time you continue to monitor your weight vigilantly and set a hard upper boundary that triggers intervention before a slide become an avalanche. My maintenance range across the whole year is 7lbs wide and when I hit that upper red line I adjust my calorie balance accordingly.

    "and it does work, if slowly (about .5 lbs a week) but I need to come in 100 or 200 calories under my daily allowance in order for that to happen"
    You have a solution and a calorie goal right there - manually set your calorie goal to be whatever that number is that produces a steady rate of loss.

    I don't like to make my diary public, but I am scanning and weighing food out, and I can't figure that would be the cause of the issue. I've tried logging exercise by speed/time or by the info from Fitbit, and it seems to be pretty close to the same impact.

    My upper boundary was 10 lbs or when I noticed that the clothes fit differently, whichever came first. I just can't seem to figure out exactly that balance between gain and loss.

    Re. the bold - I believe it's a good idea to work with your body's natural fluctuations rather than fight then.
    So a question for you....
    If for a month you ate at a consistent net calorie balance what would you expect your weight fluctuations to look like?

    Personally I tend to hop about a couple of pounds day to day but might have a jump of 5lbs after a big and salty meal (Chinese takeaway for example). Those things are normal for me and don't trigger any reaction beyond keeping an eye on the trend. That is maintenance for me, an ebb and flow not a flat line. I also have an annual drift of being at the heavier end of my range in winter and getting down to the lower end in Spring.

    If you are in the zone where, evened out over time, your weight change is around half a pound a week it's important that if you make adjustments, make small ones or your data gets clouded.
  • OP this is just a general comment as I am not good at giving detailed advice as some of the others who have posted have done.
    I just wonder whether your current weight is a sustainable one for you. Are you happy with the way your diet and activity is set up?
    Can you imagine doing what you do for the rest of your life?
    You’ve lost a lot weight and that’s a fantastic achievement. Perhaps your maintenance range needs to be a bit higher than currently.

    Sorry if this advice is vague and woolly
  • cmm7303
    cmm7303 Posts: 452 Member

    Thank you for the response. :)

    The activity is sustainable, mostly, as I walk a lot during my job and have found out how I can get more steps in even when the weather is terrible (there's a treadmill on my porch, now, and that does a lot when it's too wet or cold to walk to the store or to the park). I'm generally okay on how that balances out food-wise (except when I stay up later than I should, and then I get snack-y...while not really being hungry. I need to be more careful about that).

    As to where the weight sits, this whole "can't-maintain-but-am-either-losing-or-gaining" feeling was there in the 160s, too, so I don't know how much of it is related to any of that. What I do know is that I hurt waaay less at this size (I have a degenerative bone disorder) and can't imagine it being worthwhile to trade that for anything. If I can stay down here, I can have fewer injections and fewer days where I can't move (it seems), and I really do not want to have to go back to relying on a cane or a chair.

    Maybe I just need to shoot for a slightly lower goal and then it won't get terrible if I move 10 lbs up and then have to relose them every few months?

  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,473 Member

    There's no reason you have to make your range 10 lbs and lose every few months. That makes it a big thing/undertaking -- though I personally would be okay with it, but 5 or 6, maybe? Hit the top end of the range, tighten things up some, slowly lose, repeat.


    But as I said that's... basically my definition of what maintaining IS. I can't imagine it not bouncing around. I don't even have a good idea what my actual weight even is except the time around my actual period. So I get a once a month for a few days realistic check in and a whole lot of 'well, my pants fit' (or don't).

  • ahoy_m8
    ahoy_m8 Posts: 2,549 Member

    OP, I think you should give yourself a little more credit for knowing what you are doing. As others have said, maintenance IS regaining and re-losing the same x pounds over & over. 0.5lb/wk is perfect for someone in maintenance losing x lbs to stay in range. Whatever the calorie numbers are, it sounds like you’re doing it all right. Keep doing that until you’re at the bottom of your range, then add 250 calories/day.

    I agree with everyone else who says your own data is the best guide. It accounts for how you may differ from the model and how you personally count calories. Keep track of your data and press on.

  • vingogly
    vingogly Posts: 1,783 Member
    I've learned I'm not one of those who can internalize good habits and then rest on my laurels. I'll need to weigh myself, use MFP to track my input and activity, and focus on portion control for the rest of my life. I've done this by seeing my efforts as a permanent lifestyle change rather than a "diet".

    I'm using Apple Health on my iPhone, and have apps for intermittent fasting and weight trend tracking on my phone as well as the MFP app. All of them integrate with Apple Health -- and I have a wifi scale for doing my morning weigh-ins so the data automatically propagates to all the apps.

    Possibly my biggest realization is that I need to use these data to make sure I don't go more than 5 lbs over my current weight, and if I do, I need to work on getting the 5 lbs off to return to my goal weight by limiting daily caloric intake. Also, if this happens multiple times, I may need to change my baseline maintenance calorie level. I agree with the previous poster who said 10 lbs is too much for a trigger point. Same on the low end -- I'm at the right healthy weight for my age, and if I go more than 5 lbs below this point, I need to up my calories.
  • mtaratoot
    mtaratoot Posts: 7,262 Member
    What maintenance can look like:

    bfvbmtgw2ncl.png


    A little more than a year ago, after maintaining a couple years, and during COVID lockdown, I gained ten or fifteen and am finally getting back to where I think I should be. It's always a work in progress. There was one day in the last couple weeks my daily weight dropped six pounds in one day.

    np0agyf8mmag.png


    Today is all we have, so today is the day to get back on track or stay on track.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 22,371 Member
    I'm completely with @mtaratoot on this. To me, everything since early 2016 is "maintenance", even with some deliberate (needful) losing in there.

    3yy2aaycpb4t.png

    In normal BMI range, in a weight zone that's reasonably healthy for my specific individual body, the whole time? Check.
    Blood lipids and blood pressure in normal range, and that sort of thing, the whole time? Check.
    Same mostly size 6 clothes fit, avoiding the clothes shopping I hate so much, the whole time? Check.

    Maintenance . . . or close enough. 🤷‍♀️

    Before 2016, I was class 1 obese with high blood pressure, high cholesterol/triglycerides, other health issues that probably my weight contributed to, plus-sized clothes, etc. I'd been overweight to obese for around 30 years. I actually consider the last 6+ years and example of "reasonably good at maintenance".

    OP, the chief thing I'd suggest is one others have mentioned: Use your own history data to estimate calorie needs, don't just trust MFP's or some other calculator's estimate. Those estimates are the best starting point for people, but with a month or two of solid logging data, our own data is a better basis for estimates. MFP's estimate is 25-30% off, for me. While that's rare, it's not that unusual for it to be a bit off, enough to make difference, cumulatively, over a span of time.
  • jshug00
    jshug00 Posts: 7 Member
    IMO, you have fallen victim to "The Biggest Loser Syndrome" also known as calories in - calories out (CICO). There is a very simple reason all the contestants on Biggest Loser gain the weight back. CICO does NOT work over the long term!

    Calorie restriction and daily eating will guarantee the body downregulates your glucose metabolism. If you never go more than 24 hours without food, then your body is rarely if ever operating on a ketone metabolism. This is why the weight always comes back because each time you stop the program, your glucose metabolism returns to normal and the weight comes back. Extended fasting and eating FULL meals (when you eat) does not cause a downregulation in glucose metabolism; therefore, the body does not upregulate your metabolism when the fast is over and you start eating again. Instead of forcing your glucose metabolism up and down in an endless cycle, the body switches from glucose metabolism to primarily ketone metabolism and back to glucose when you eat again.

    I strongly recommend looking into intermittent and extended fasting. Due to your health issues, you should find a doctor who understands that fasting is NOT starving and there are many health benefits when fasting is done properly. You can maintain a CICO lifestyle for many years and still be insulin resistant (IR), and IR is the primary driver of many metabolic conditions people suffer from today (Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, kidney failure, fatty liver disease, arteriosclerosis, among others). Think of all of the health conditions that are common now, but were rare in the 60's. Almost every single one of those health conditions is the result of IR.

    I cannot say if any of your conditions would be improved by extended fasting and carrier-mediated autophagy (typically occurs sometime past 72 hours of fasting), but there is a good chance some of your conditions will alleviate and some might go away (especially those that are a result of IR or some other inflammatory response).

    PS. Even in the USA in 2021, most medical schools do not teach doctors about the benefits of autophagy and most doctors are taught that fasting = starvation, so be prepared to search for the right doctor.
  • 88olds
    88olds Posts: 3,999 Member
    Don’t go to pieces over the calculators and gadgets. They are based on averages and statistics. We can’t really know how many calories we use unless hooked up in a lab.
    Every day people are in distress on these boards because the numbers put out by the calculators don’t work. But the entire calorie counting project just isn’t exact. No matter how hard we try to make it exact, our bodies aren’t machines. The calculators are giving us starting points, not answers. Trust your own experience.

    Maybe ask yourself how you want to live and see how that matches up with your weight. A program we can’t live with isn’t a good program.
  • Beautyofdreams
    Beautyofdreams Posts: 834 Member
    I take over 13 medication's each day. After significant weight loss, several of my medications needed to be increased. This included my thyroid medication. If you haven’t had labs drawn in a while, you might want to have them checked.

    As for IF, have lived my entire life eating 16:8 and was obese until started calorie counting. If intermittent fasting is beneficial to you then more power to you. Just made no difference for me.