The dreaded fat loss plateau.

(Warning: long post ahead.)


This has never happened to me before. The dreaded fat loss plateau. I’ve been stuck at the same weight for two weeks.

I know: at least I’m not gaining weight, right? Yes, for that I am grateful. And yes, possibly there is some body-composition changing going on. I can definitely tell a difference in my muscles, so maybe I have lost a little fat and gained a little muscle, and the net result has been a flatline on the weight loss graph.

But I still have a lot of fat to lose.

Now, for those of you who have not known me as long as others readers on here (such as my wife, my brother, Mark, and Morris), I am no stranger to the weight loss game. I was what they call, generously, a “chubby child.” I already tended that way before I was seven: then I developed synovitis in my right hip which kept me off my feet (on crutches) for a whole year. A whole year without any physical activity to speak of tends to make a slightly overweight person something more than slightly overweight, and so there I was and there I remained for the rest of my childhood and, worse still, for all of my high school years. It was a vicious cycle. I had gained weight from being so inactive, and then I remained inactive because I was overweight and therefore quite clumsy and oafish. All attempts at sports were laughable to say the least. The only things I was any good at were academics and music, two things which don’t necessarily help one become more fit. Unless one studies the science of weight loss, which I should have, but didn’t.

It was hell. High school is a roller coaster as is, but high school as a fat kid is worse.

College was a little better. I majored in music, so there were a bunch of people around me who had common interests and who had fun doing the things I enjoyed doing too. Still, I knew I was in terrible shape, and I hated the way I looked and felt. I hit my peak weight in my sophomore year of college, at 235. I looked like a 50 year old man: bloated and tired. One day, I caught a glimpse of myself, side view, in a full-length mirror. I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans. I was disgusted by what I saw. I had to do something.

That something happened to me: at the end of my sophomore year, I was cast as Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance at SU. This gave my self-confidence a huge boost, and I believe it changed things for the better for me.? The production would be in November of the next school year. Early that next fall (junior year), just as rehearsals for Pirates were getting underway, I came down with one of those viruses that just makes you want to die. I had a high fever and did not want to eat anything for a week. I forced myself to drink water so I wouldn’t become dehydrated, but I did not eat. By the end of the week, of course, my stomach had shrunk, and I determined that I would not stretch it out again. I didn’t stop eating, but I quit when I was full : what a revolutionary concept!

That fall I was busy: rehearsing, building sets, more rehearsing. And something else was happening: I was losing weight, like crazy. I was also eating, like crazy. I was paying attention to what I ate, but not really to how much I was eating, other than that I would eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full. By the time the production opened in November of that year, I had gone from a 42 waist to a 38, and from 235 pounds to 190 (which is where I am now). By the end of that school year, I had a 34 waist and weighed 165 pounds. By the end of the next year I weighed 155. I stayed that way through college and into my first year of seminary.

By the time I had finished seminary, I had fallen into bad habits. I was not eating right. I was drinking about 6 cups of coffee a day. My weight was only 175–certainly not bad for someone 6’3″, but my body composition was terrible. I had almost no muscle mass to speak of, and even though my weight, according to the books, was good for my height, I had far too much fat on my body.

The summer after seminary, I once again determined to get it right. I cut out caffeine, refined grains (anything white) and sugar. I felt a lot better, and I lost from my weight of 175 down to 155 again. I was running and working out too. I took this lifestyle change with me to grad school, where I met my wife. When we married I was 145 and had a 32-inch waist. But even though that was the best shape I’d ever been in, I still wasn’t “finished.” I still had too much body fat and not enough muscle. I still had the “love handles” that I had never lost. I had lost weight, a couple of times, but I had not lost the fat that I should have lost: it was a combination of fat and lean tissue, mostly the latter, I’m afraid.

This time I’m trying to do it right: I’m exercising to make those muscles fight for themselves! I’m not on a fad diet like Atkins or South Beach: I’m eating sensibly. And I feel much better.

But I need to get unstuck! It’s been two weeks now at 190! I need to move past this. Anyone else been there? What did you do to get off the dime?


About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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10 Responses to The dreaded fat loss plateau.

  1. ashley says:

    How many times a day are you eating? For whatever it might be worth, I’ve found that little meals frequently have definitely helped going from 168 to 125 and staying that way. A salad plate five times a day rather than a dinner plate three times a day has been helpful to me. I am proud of your exercising and healthy eating! You are to be admired. Heaven only knows that you have much more on your plate besides food! BTW, I am due to go pick up some more venison. Want any more nitrate-free, non-artificially enhanced, extremely lean meat to help in your efforts?

  2. RevJATB says:

    Certainly! Our supplies have dwindled to one package of ground deer, a small package of cutlets, and a small roast. It has been SO NICE to have that extra-lean meat!

  3. Mark says:

    To get myself over a hump, I make sure that I write down everything. If it goes in my mouth, I write it down. I record the calories, fat, fiber, and sodium. If that still doesn’t work, I will then weigh and measure everything. If that doesn’t work I motivate myself by sitting in the car in front of Old Country Buffet to watch the people waddle out. Hmm, That might be a good place for me to eat lunch today:)

  4. PaulB says:

    Mark- take a quick look at recently announced John McCain supporter, John Hagee. There’s some motivation for you. He looks like the girl who nabbed the Willie Wonka chewing gum and swelled up like a giant blueberry.

  5. RevJATB says:

    At least Willy Wonka could have that girl taken to the squeezing room and squeeze all the juice out of her. I don’t think that would work for Hagee.

    Besides that, he’s just a NUT!

  6. RevJATB says:

    Mark, if you have a slice of Aunt Gene’s Cream Cheese Pound Cake, is that pretty much a day’s worth of calories?

  7. cancerman says:

    I lost almost 20 pounds when I got married. The difference between fast food and Chef’s cooking. The only other time I’ve lost meaningful weight was after surgery. I regained that while on chemotherapy.

    Now I eat 3 large meals a day plus snacks and excercise a lot.

  8. Mark says:

    I dunno John. U think that it would be a sin for John Hagee to have his juices squeezed?

    I have never figured points on the pound cake, but if you have to ask you can’t afford it.

    Many months ago I was at the OCB (Old Country Buffet). There was a family that came in that seriously looked like they were what would happen if you crossed Star Wars Aliens with the characters from The Hills Have Eyes. I commented to my friends, “I bet George Lucas is hacked that he can’t imagine characters that look like that. ” The mother actually broke a chair, and this was after they had to switch tables because they couldn’t fit in the booths. The daughter ate a plate of bacon (10+ pieces) topped with gravy. The father had an eye that kept twitching, and the son looked to have a humongous hump on his back. They were all wearing their Sunday finest fleece. I fasted the rest of the day.

  9. cancerman says:

    I think now would be an appropriate time for a post some of your favorite foods.

  10. Pastor Bankson, This is really inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

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