This One Goes Out To All the Fat Rolls Out There.

I have been at the same weight now for weeks. And while I know I don’t have a weight problem – my doctor isn’t worried, I haven’t been told I need to lose weight, I don’t have high cholesterol – I want to lose weight.

Last week, Sarah wrote a post that had me thinking. It was inspired by the fact that a few fellow bloggers kept disparaging themselves. (It’s more about her wonderful daughter; check it out if you have time.) Instead of thinking, “Everyone should learn how to love themselves just the way they are!” I was thinking something entirely different. If we are indeed unhappy with the way we look – our double chins, our extra fat rolls – why not change it? Instead of pointing out how unhappy we are about it, or tormenting ourselves for it, why not simply change it?

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

I want to change it. I don’t want to make any more excuses about my arms, my belly, or my chin. I simply want to change it. I want to disarm myself (pun intended), and take away all personal ammunition. And I am certain it’s going to be difficult. And I’m certain it’s going to be frustrating, but I also know that losing weight and feeling good about it is one of the best highs there is.

So, that’s my goal. But here’s the catch. I have hit a plateau. I read about the famous plateau. The last time I dieted (before being kicked off the wagon by one famous chef named Nico) I didn’t hit the plateau. At least, I didn’t notice it. This time, I fear that I have. And I know that the experts say it’s completely normal and temporary, but it is discouraging.

I have been following (at times an albeit a sloppy) version of the South Beach Diet for months now. After the initial extreme dieting phase, which I stayed on for nearly a month and lost 8 pounds, I hit a plateau. I have cheated here and there. I still don’t munch on white bread. I eat whole grains. I skip the rice. I skip the beer. And I skip the crackers, chips and honey roasted peanuts. I never, ever visit the vending machine at work. The good news is I don’t get heartburn anymore. That’s one awesome side-affect. But my weight isn’t moving south much anymore.

I have cheated. There were the mozzarella sticks (deep fried) I had while visiting the American Museum of Natural History. Oh, and there was that mini muffin I had at brunch. (Holy crap was that miniature muffin good. How they make something so small taste so large is beyond me. I am ( )close to becoming a mini muffin serial killer.)

I cheated last week and ordered a pizza and then on Monday, we ordered bean burritos from Bean! (Which I was kind of annoyed with because they forgot the large request for guacamole. And who in their right mind can eat ANYTHING Mexican without guacamole?) Oh, and I scarfed down about a cup of garlic mashed from Dumont as well. (You would have too. Don’t frown. Those things tastes like creamy mashed sex on a plate.)

OK, so maybe I have been cheating a little bit more than I would have liked. (It helps to write it down. Wow.) But I don’t eat candy. I no longer have sandwiches for lunch. I’ve been good! Or at least I think that I’ve been good. Everyone knows that booze holds a lot of calories. But besides a few glasses of wine over the weekend, I haven’t even been drinking much either.

I want higher rewards, you know? I want higher rewards like you’ve seen in the Citibank commercials. I feel as though I’ve been investing a lot of time and energy and I’m not getting much in return.

Arthur Agatston wrote that once you hit phase 3 (phase 2 if you’re not obese) the weight loss slows down substantially. What if I don’t want it to? Can I protest this plateau?

I’m writing today to find out any tricks of the trade. I’m also about to finally pull the trigger on the five-dollar weekly membership fee over on the South Beach Web site. Maybe I just need a support group. Maybe I need someone to kick my ass every time I want to eat a slice of pizza. Maybe I need to get by with a little help from my friends. Oh, I’ll get high with a little help from my friends. Who’s with me?

35 Comments

  1. I always find my weight drops when I am not thinking about it. It seems to me that when I’m focused so much on what I’m eating and how much of it, I think about food too much which makes me hungrier which makes me want to eat more. Then I get cranky if I deny myself something so I eat it and I inevitably put on a few pounds. But when I’ve accepted my weight and I go about my day eating food and not denying myself and getting out in the sunshine for some exercise, that’s when the weight drops.

    I believe what I was taught by a university prof that there is a set weight for most people and you may go up or down 10 lbs at different points of the year but your average weight, the weight you are meant to be, stays the same (barring anything extreme like pregnancy or gastric bypass surgery).

    You should enjoy where you’re at right now. In ten years you’ll look back and wish you had enjoyed your body more. You’re young and things are still, I’m assuming, holding up quite well. You’ll want this body in ten years. So enjoy it while you have it! Then, maybe, when you’re not thinking about it, you’ll lose a few pounds :)

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  2. Build some muscle mass. Not a lot, but work the big muscles of your chest, back and legs. They will not bulk you out, but it will add tone and definition, and increase your metabolism so that you burn more calories.

    You can do things like lat pull downs, rows, flies, chest presses etc and leg presses and leg curls. And since you’ll be working your back, work your chest/pecs too. Again, you’re not going to go super heavy so you won’t look muscle-y, but you’ll build some muscle, and that will make the fat burn off.

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  3. In fact, I’ll join you (virtually) … I think I’m going to go over to the gym this afternoon. My calendar is clear (for a change) and I’ve been avoiding it. If my employer is generous enough to provide a gym and trainer, I should take advantage of it.

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  4. I’m with Charlie. My advice is to forget about your weight. I’m not sure how much I weigh, and would probably be surprised to learn it’s higher than I would like in absolute terms, but I also realize it’s a meangingless number. Focus on what you can change: muscle mass. I believe that it’s easier to implement and notice a change in the shape of one’s arms than it is to implement and notice change on the scale.

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  5. parasol, you do speak the truth. I know that one day I will look back fondly on NOW. Thing is, I want to look back on it even more fondly. As long as I am still able – meaning, my knees and hips still work, etc – I might as well be as fit as I possibly can. Eventually, I know that will become more difficult for me.

    Charlie, let’s hit the gym! I wish I could hire you as a personal trainer. :]

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  6. I try to get michele on weights all the time, but she prefers to run. Running is fine, and it does lead to weight loss, but the body is a great pragmatist and gets rid of fuel-burning muscle before fat, unless that muscle is used. I’ve read a few articles showing that cardio alone reduces BMI much slower than light cardio and moderate weight training, and in some cases (with bodybuilders, for instance), it raises BMI by getting rid of muscle.

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  7. Tobyjoe, let’s make that happen. After speaking with Mike Ma, I am convinced. I’m totally ready for that, babydoll.

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  8. i was immediately interested in this post because my girl is going through (and has been for a while) a similar situation and it breaks my heart to see her so unhappy with the way she looks. First off, she’s beautiful. And in my opinion, she looks great but she feels differently.

    She has been unable to lose weight for some time now, despite eating healthy and exercising. She has hypothyroidism and went to see an endocrinologist but they said nothing doing there. To top it off, she had a lumbar laminectomy 3 years ago and has exacerbated it twice (once training for a marathon and once doing yard work). Is it possible that people’s bodies just change with time? Part of me believes that having watched her struggle to lose weight while doing all the things you’re supposed to. She was an all-american field hockey player so the girl knows exercise. She can still run 4 miles in a heartbeat and benchpress me, but she can’t drop 10 pounds these days. I think its unrealistic for her to expect her body to be able to drop weight today as it did 10 years ago. Sure, I know that there are people who can pick up a diet or an exercise regimen (or both) and drop 30 lbs in 6 months the hard way, but does that mean that anyone’s body can? Does anyone think that for certain people, they just become unable to metabolize the way they used to? I can attest to her eating habits and exercise, and personally I’m as baffled as she is at why she has been unsuccessful in losing any weight. I just want her to be happy, and while I’ve launched (and had moderate success with) a campaign for loving herself for the beautiful woman she is, I know she still has doubts when she looks in the mirror and that makes me sad.

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  9. Aimee, again, I have to say, I really enjoy your voice here. Don’t go!

    I tried a lot of different things prior finding the South Beach Diet. Nothing worked. Granted, I also enjoy drinking. Sometimes, I will drink half my daily calories in wine. (I have stopped that nonsense, for the record). I wasn’t willing to give up wine back then, but I did diet and I did it well. We tried the McDougal. I tried all forms of starvation even. I tried working out, doing nothing but yoga every day. I tried counting calories. Nothing seemed to work.

    The only diet I have yet to see change from is South Beach. I’m not trying to sound super preachy (I used to hate it when a previous boss of mine would tell us that the Atkins diet was the BEST DIET EVER!) I am not trying to do that.

    Has she met with a really good dietician? Perhaps someone can talk to her about her strengths, weaknesses, and what she wants to do and how much she wants to lose? I have been meaning to do this as well. Perhaps she’s not yet found the right diet and exercise regime yet?

    We all have things that work for us and not for others. I simply can’t live on just salads and I hated counting calories. South Beach made that a little easier for me. Some people like to count calories and get points. I have heard wonderful things about Weight Watchers as well. In fact, many people think that’s the ONLY diet that works. :]

    Most of all, I think she needs to be happy with herself. I totally understand how frustrating it is for you as well. Tobyjoe is always telling me how I look fine, etc. But in all honesty, if I don’t believe it, it doesn’t matter how often he tells me this.

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  10. p.s. your girl sounds like a wonderfully strong person. She sounds lucky to have you too.

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  11. I am disgusted with myself right now. I’ve actually lost some weight and am continuing to do so, and I’m feeling a lot better. It’s sad that a lot of my happiness is tied to my weight- but it is. I don’t want to be super skinny, I just want to get back to my “normal” size.

    By the way Pilates is killer for building lean muscle and flexibility. I highly recommend it.

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  12. pilates is good for making you want to kill instructors. they can take their torture methods back to abu ghraib. stupid skinny evil witches and their ‘exercise’ grumble grumble

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  13. It’s funny. Sometimes when I’m eating something sweet I find that I start making groaning noises because it’s THAT good. And then I will actually punch and kick the air or stomp my feet. (Toby, you’ve seen this in action. Weird, isn’t it?)

    I get the same sensation when someone is making me do pilates. hahaha

    I loved my old yoga instructor in DC named Kyra. She was raised quaker and is quite possibly the sweetest person I know, hands down. However, the 15th time she would say the word “Chaturanga” in her soothing sweet wonderful voice, I comtemplated punching her square in the nose. :]

    It’d be a punch of love, however. Oh, how I miss her.

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  14. YO! I am not in charge of your wagon.

    I promise to offer a more dietetic vacation menu. Mostly just because we’re broke. Corn, tomatoes and whatever we can pull out of the ocean.

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  15. No! Absolutely NOT! I am looking forward to ruining everything while on vacation. I simply CANNOT turn down your mac and cheese. Quite honestly… I don’t want to. :]

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  16. actually, the endocrinologist suggested she talk to someone about her metabolism after finding no issues with her thyroid medicine. unfortunately at the time, she was about to lose her insurance for her previous job and her new insurance didn’t take effect until two months later… so it never happened. Its exactly as you said, she has to be happy with herself no matter what I tell her. I just can’t stand to see her hit this wall repeatedly and feel as if she is a failure. However, she may never get back to a size 10, and I also think she needs to make peace with that. And she is. I just know she’d be happier if she could see results for her efforts.

    So south beach you say… one of her fellow teachers had success with that as well. i’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip :]

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  17. sarah was in yoga for a while several years ago… but her teacher was a nutjob hypochondriac so sarah would come home from class every night with a new malady, according to her teacher. i would then have to spend the next week assuring her that she did not have celiacs disease… that was a fun time… i would wince everytime she would walk out the door to class.

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  18. oh, that just sucks. Crazy yoga instructors are the worst and there are a lot of them! The good ones, however, are simply wonderful.

    Sounds like Sarah and Tobyjoe might want to get together and discuss various diseases they might have. (I kid because I love.)

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  19. Sarah and I both obviously have evilgirlfriendosis

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  20. i don’t know if this helps but,i feel most people put too much dependence on a “diet.” it’s too much pressure and creates an adversarial condition that makes us crave the need to cheat. in the words of my grandma RIP, she always said, 1. “get outside and get off your butt.” and 2. “when you’re hungry, eat! just don’t eat too much”. she was not more than 105 pounds. the difference is that her only scheduled meal was sunday at around 4 when the family came over for dinner. the rest of the week, if she got hungry, she’d make a cheese sandwich (or whatever) and usually eat half…..just enough to curb the hunger, she’d go back to work and two hours later she’d be hungry again and she’d eat the other half. she felt “us young kids” were in too much of a hurry. we ate too fast and too much in one sitting. she also said, “never wait until 12:00(lunch hour) if you’re hungry at 11, when you wait until you’re really starving at noon, you tend to eat more than you have to,” well at least i do!!!!! i don’t know how grandma’s method works in todays world, especially with appartment living in a city, but i think it could be done.

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  21. Oh, I think a lot of people definitely eat at the very last minute. They wait until they are too hungry, for sure. Couple that habit with eating REALLY fast as many of us are totally guilty of, and you’re kinda screwing yourself.

    The nice thing about the South Beach Diet (sorry, I simply must go there) is it’s designed to lower cravings. He goes into how eating certain foods makes you hungry. If you eat a lot of complex sugars, they will cause you to be hungry in just a few hours. Basically, your blood sugar goes up really high, you eat sugar, it drops again, you eat more to make it rise… you get the point.

    That said, the first few weeks of the diet is to help curb that chemically. You’re actually changing your blood sugar.

    After that, your cravings drop substantially and you are rewarded with more energy. While I imagine it would be hard to follow 100 percent for someone who is used to eating a certain way, it does pay off in such a short time.

    Thing is, and this is my downfall, it’s kinda like quitting smoking. If you have one, you might fall off completely. For example, I had pizza the other night after a long time without. Now, I’m cutting corners left and right.

    OK, I sound preachy. I am sorry.

    Find what works best for you, and do it. That’s my motto. :] Just like what Greg’s grandma said.

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  22. tobyjoe, that’s one of those growths you have to have surgically removed, right??

    i’ve heard its very very painful… :]

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  23. Those of us with some experience with addiction and its treatment know this behavior as “chipping.” You feel like you can handle just a little of the poison, so you chip a little here and there. It’s part chemical and part psychological. Before you know it, you’re hopelessly regressed.

    But there is a big difference between food and things like booze, coke, gambling, or tobacco. We need to keep eating.

    I lost a ton of weight when I took ADD medication, primarily because without it I would eat to satisfy a mental craving for stimulation. Once I get started eating something I enjoy, I get into a feedback loop where I want more and MORE! Once I was on the meds, I didn’t need to eat the WHOLE bag of chips. I could stop with a modest portion.

    While I’ve been able to overcome and control a lot of the manifestations of ADD since I went off my meds (inexplicable anxiety, sleeplessness, inability to focus at work, etc), my food abuse has come back with a vengeance. I’ve been thinking about the South Beach diet, but I dread that two weeks of shock, and I fear that the ensuing grouchiness would destroy my household.

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  24. i don’t know anything about the south beach thing but it sounds interesting. the blood sugar aspect alone makes me think! i’ve read that things the body is allergic to , the body craves. for diabetics, this is sugars and simple carbos. i’m allergic to wheat germ and many bread products so i crave them. i’m planning on going to a food allergist to find out what else i’m allergic to……my guess is……popsicles, asparagus on the grill, wedding soup, hot-honey-garlic chicken wings, steak salads, and oranges! do they talk about any of these in the south beach diet book?

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  25. Charlie, if you do go that way, please let me know. I have ways to make those first few weeks easier. Especially if you’re not super overweight and instead just want to lose 10 – 20 pounds.

    I also have a shitload of great sweets recipes. :]

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  26. The two weeks weren’t tough for me. None of it was, really, except that it’s hard to find breakfast that fits since I don’t like eggs.

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  27. I have to lose more :[

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  28. That’s true. For someone who doesn’t like eggs, it’s a bit harder. I would start off my day with an omlette or scrambled eggs. Sometimes, I would eat some of that fake sausage. (YOu can use Turkey bacon, too.) It usually gets me through until lunch.

    The only thing that is a little weird for the first two weeks is you can’t eat fruit. That all has to do with the blood sugar thing. After the first few weeks, however, you can eat it again. People are usually scared off by this. They think, “Why the hell can’t I eat healthy fruit?!” But it’s not forever and it totally has to do with chemistry and not saying it’s bad (like Atkins does.)

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  29. Let’s do it together. I need to lose 25. 20 would be nice, but I would like to be at my most fit by the time I get preggers. IF i get preggers. :]

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  30. I gotta say, I’m suspicious of any “diet”. I have never “needed” to lose weight so maybe I should just shut the hell up but I think a more simple method is better. I read “French Women Don’t Get Fat” on vacation.
    It is not a great book but except for the fact that you get really sick of hearing how great French women are, it has some good points. She does have an initial phase that is a bit more strict but the best part is that you write down everything you eat for 3 weeks. Basically you are suposed to identify your “poisons” Then you figure out which of those things you can’t live without and how to eat them less. The biggest things are excercise. Drink a lot of water. don’t let yourself get too hungry. Always sit to eat your meal and take time to eat it. When you have a “poison” really enjoy it and focus on it. Learn to compensate for high calorie foods. Always eat quality.
    Well, sounds good anyway

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  31. sian, got some spare metabolism? You’re so damn purty and fit, I’d admire you and your looks.

    Also, french women might be skinny, but they smoke using other dead people’s faces!

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  32. That is true, the French part.
    I don’t know that I would say i’m fit. I do still smoke and there are hopefully many years left for me to get fat! I guess the best part about the annoying women’s book was that it is basically common sense but stuff that we so often don’t do.
    Maybe more so in America than other places.
    We don’t walk a lot. WE don’t take the time to really look at what we eat. We don’t allow ourselves the time to have real meals or teach ourselves to eat slowly. Mostly I just think that if a person loves chocolate cake they should get to eat it! I know that if I wanted to lose weight, trying to not eat things I think are fabulous probably wouldn’t work.

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  33. I take it you like chocolate cake?

    My weakness is salt. I freaking LOVE mozerella sticks, mashed taters, french fries (FRENCH!), and pizza. While I do have a sweet tooth from time to time, I can live without it for the most part. If it were THAT easy, I’d be A-OK.

    If I ate slower, I think I’d not gain as much. But I eat so fast. Before I know it, I’m stuffed and my plate is empty.

    Damn food for being so good!

    P.S. when I smoked, i was thinner. That’s for sure. I didn’t eat nearly as much and often.

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  34. I recently decided I need to lose weight and I’m meeting with a dietician to revamp my diet. I’ve never actually dieted and still abhor the idea, but just working out is not cutting it. There is no way I will ever make it very far if I couldn’t incorporate foods I love (Cheese and Potatoes, I’m looking at you). One idea she had that I’ve really stuck to is to bring premeasured snacks to work. I’m going to snack, so I might as well bring something healthy.

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  35. Dear Mi, are you mad, you tiny thing? There’s no way you can lose 20-25 lbs, you’d disappear! You need movement, not heavy duty weight loss.
    With 1/2 century of weight issues, I have found that diets and the concept of diets, don’t work. esp that nasty South Beach diet.
    I could gladly live on bread, produce and all of the exalted butterfat products, but eating is for health as well as indulgence and it’s for life.
    Fresh food that’s minimally processed,nothing fried lots of produce and water. In fact, eat foods with lots of water, it’s more filling and probably more nutritious. The essential element is lots of exercise, daily, and it don’t make no never mind what kind it is. Walk everywhere, for instance. When I got ill, I had to cut 90% of my activity but I ate about 40% less. I gained over 15 lbs!
    Eating slower does not make you thinner, trust me. I allow myself little treats weekly, say on the weekend, or otherwise I would die from denial and longing.
    Also, and this is VITAL: when on vacation or if it is your birthday, all calories consumed are null and void. I thought everyone knew this. We will see you Sat and we will talk! And consume carbohydrates. BB

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