Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Confusing the Milestone for the Finish Line: The 100 Lb Barrier

How I feel trying to get under 280 lbs

There are certainly worse things than plateaus when dieting. Like putting all the weight back on, for example (I am a seasoned expert in that regard). But plateaus can be extremely disheartening. I’ve been stuck at roughly the 100 lbs lost mark for the past few months. I still have at least 65 lbs to go. I don’t know that I can honestly call it a plateau, however, because to me a plateau is when I’m doing everything right and the weight still won’t come off. And I most definitely have not been doing everything right lately.

The first five months, when I was consistently dropping about 5 lbs per week, I gave myself one cheat day per month, and that was enough to keep me going and keep me on track the rest of the month. But I’ve been slipping more than that lately. A lot more, as it turns out. I have lots of great excuses as to why I’m justified in cheating, and some of them are pretty convincing (at least to me).

It was the holidays. Work has been stressful. I’ve been traveling a lot. I’ve got deadlines. Etc. etc. etc. I have to remind myself that other people have similar (and likely, far worse) problems yet they are able to deal with them without turning to food. I need to find alternative coping mechanisms. I’m open to suggestions.

As I’ve struggled to understand the reasons why I hit plateaus, it occurred to me that perhaps it’s because I spent so much time obsessing about the 100 lbs lost milestone that it inadvertently became the finish line. I never looked beyond it. Somewhere along the line I lost sight of my actual goal weight.

I’ve noticed a pattern throughout my life whenever I’ve lost a significant amount of weight: I always hit plateaus at big milestones; 25 lbs lost, 10% of my bodyweight, whenever I enter a new “decade” (meaning going from say, my 360s down to my 350s) or a new “century” (dropping from my 300s down into the 200s).

Since I started at 390, I hit a massive brick wall right as I was about to drop under 300 lbs and was stuck there for weeks. I had been dropping about 5-6 lbs per week, every week, for five months straight. Then I got down to 300.8. The next day, 300.6. Then 300.2. Then 301.2. Then 300.6. I just couldn’t break through the barrier.

I was doing everything right, but my body simply wouldn’t respond. But I muscled through it with grit and determination, and finally got down to 299.8. I quickly dropped another 9 lbs, but then got stuck around 290 because that represented my 100 lbs lost milestone. After a couple of weeks I somehow managed to break through it and I got all the way down to 277, but then the holidays hit, and I bounced right back up to 292 between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I’ve been yo-yoing between 100-110 lbs lost ever since, the better part of four months now.

Leading up to this, I was losing almost 5 lbs per week, every week, for about 20 weeks straight. That is, until I got to 98 lbs lost. And then, for no reason, the weight loss ground to halt. I hadn’t altered my eating or exercise habits at all. I was still operating at a deficit of roughly 2200 calories per day, which should have equaled about 4.5 lb weight loss for the week. But the scale just wouldn’t budge. Same thing the next week.

It seems to me a physiological impossibility that I could have calorie deficit of over 30,000 calories over a two week span and not lose an ounce, but that’s exactly what happened. To say it was discouraging would be an understatement. 

Although it seems to be in absolute defiance of both physiology and mathematics, my body simply refused to give up the weight. How is that even possible? I have nothing to back this up with, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s purely psychosomatic. It’s my brain telling my body not to release the weight. Why? Because for whatever reason it doesn’t want to give up the weight, or it’s afraid to, or something. But it’s moments like that when I hear health gurus or naturally thin people saying it’s all about calories in/calories out, or that fat people are just lazy, that I am sorely tempted to punch them squarely in the face.

I practically starve myself and exercise my brains out, with absolutely no measurable result. And unfortunately, that’s when I break, and that’s when I want to give up.

Fortunately, however, I’ve been able to pick myself back up quickly enough that I’ve been basically maintaining my weight rather than backsliding. But I realize it’s not a sustainable model. I’m either strictly on my diet or I’m binge eating; there is no moderation.

I’m happy to report that I just started seeing a new therapist that specializes in eating disorders this past Monday and I’m optimistic he can help me work through my donut demons (as an aside, Donut Demons would be an awesome name for a food truck).

I have no intention of giving up, but I’m not too proud to admit that am in need of some encouragement here. Feel free to comment below.


  1. Hang in there, Mark! You are truly an inspiration!

  2. Keep trying, don't give up. Things may be hard but you can do it!!