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Obesity and Weight Management

Plateau Stage

05/10/2004

Question:

I was ill with hyperthiroidism with Gravies Disease almost 8 years ago while carrying my third child. About 2/3 years into the illness and treatment (to no avail). I elected to have a total thyroidectomy. After some mishaps that I can not disclose at this time. The doctors were able to get my medication within a good range for me to start to loose weight. Because of my job I had to loose about 57 pounds in 36 weeks with a 29 week extension. I had tried alot of different weightloss plans and programs and supplements along with a crazy 500 a day calorie intake and working out 7 days a week on average 2/3 times a day. Of course my weightloss was sparatic. Then I was told about the wonderful results that walking could bring with the proper diet and toning regiman. Well, I did it and still do, walk for one hour in the morning maintaining 118 HR. And I walk/run for cardio for 45 min.-1 hour at lunchtime. I eat about 800-1K cal. per day and I drink between 1/4-1/2 gal. of water. No sweats, no added salt, nothing white, no caffine, no soda, no fried foods. Just good healthy eating. But now I have 1 & 1/2 months to loose 25 pounds or 5% body fat or I will loose my job. But I am coming out of a plateau stage (which only lasted two weeks). So, my question. Do you think I can loose that amount of weight continuing on the healthy living path? And how much weight equates to the percentage of body fat. My job measures my abs and adds the measurement of my hips and subtracts my neck curcumfirance to obtain my BF. What else could you suggest that I do? More cardio a change in diet? Help. Thank you. And have a very blessed day.

Answer:

It sounds like you are doing everything you should be doing. You have approached weight loss as a lifestyle change that involves a sensible change in eating habits and are doing appropriate physical activity. And weight loss is still occurring now that you have passed the plateau. However, losing 25 more pounds in the remaining 6 weeks is not realistic. To make sure that you are losing body fat instead of muscle and water it is best to not lose more than 1 or 2 pounds per week, which means that 12-15 pounds might be the best you could do by following your current healthy regimen.

In looking at the number of weeks you have already been trying to lose weight and how much you have lost, it looks like you may have triggered a `starvation` mode in your body where your body gives up fat and pounds `begrudgingly.` You may be able to stimulate continued weight loss by changing your balance of calories in and calories out. Increase calorie intake a little (maybe 100 calories), but increase your physical activity to burn an extra 100 - 200 calories. This could be in the form of weight training every other day which helps you maintain or increase your lean body mass and thereby decrease the proportion of you that is fat. If you push yourself to lose weight faster than 2 pounds each week you may be successful loosing weight but not body fat, and the weight loss is less apt to be permanent.

" . . how much weight equates to the percentage of body fat.`? It varies with your level of fitness. It is possible to be a normal weight for your height but `overfat.` Conversely, it is possible to appear overweight but have a very low body fat level. This happens frequently among football players. Athletic females can have a body fat level between 10 and 20%. An acceptable(healthy) body fat level for women who are not athletes is 20-25%. (Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 2nd edition, Roberta Duyff)

PS. If you are truly eating 800-1000 calories per day you aren`t getting all the nutrients you need. It is extremely difficult to get everything you need when you are eating less than 1600 calories. You should probably be taking a multi-vitamin supplement.

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Response by:

Sharron   Coplin, MS, RD, LD Sharron Coplin, MS, RD, LD
Former Lecturer
Food & Nutrition
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University