Weight and Body Issues

Updated on January 23, 2016
P.1. asks from Albany, CA
24 answers

So, last July, I posted a question about some quick weight loss before going on a trip that involved swimsuits. I got lots of great advice and ended up doing a low carb/no carb diet for 3 weeks and got where I wanted to before the trip. I knew it wasn't a long term solution, and I also knew that I would gain the waist/weight back (and I did). I didn't lose a big number of pounds, but my waist slimmed down enough that I was happy for the trip.

For my New Year's resolution, I decided to make a more permanent goal of weight loss and body toning/shaping. I knew that the low/no carb wasn't a good choice for a long term plan of action - instead focused on eating habits and toning my body. It has been 3 weeks and I am frustrated at my lack of progress. I wasn't expecting a miracle, but I was expecting to see something.

I used to skip breakfast and lunch, drink a ton of coffee, and other than occasionally running (which I generally do not do in the winter), really didn't exercise much. I have a desk job, so I am sedentary all day. Now, I eat a piece of fruit for breakfast, veggies for lunch, sometimes a piece of 10 grain toast with a bit of peanut butter for a snack, and for dinner I either adjust my meal to be healthier (like last night we had stir fry, I didn't have any rice, and left the sauce off my chicken and vegies) or I have a salad with fruit and chicken chunks on it and zero calorie dressing (just enough to taste it). I only allow after dinner snacks twice a week (this was a real issue for me before), and it is usually popcorn with no butter or a few slices of cheese. I drink 80 oz of water a day and have 6 oz coffee in the a.m. and 6 oz at 4:00 p.m. If I need extra caffeine, I have green tea. I exercise 4 - 5 times a day in small amounts. Squats, leg lifts, planking, lifting, etc. I try not to push too much because I don't want an injury - I just increase the number that I do each day (i.e., I started with 5 squats, 4 - 5 times a day, now I do 15 squats 4 - 5 times a day).

I have lost 1 pound. My weight isn't yo-yoing at all - it is exactly the same every morning, except at the 10 day point, I went down 1 pound. My clothing still fits about the same, so I am not dropping inches that I can see. I feel fine, but I didn't feel bad before I started this (except when I looked in the mirror). I'm not going to stop doing what I am doing - I know that eating better and getting some exercise is healthy for me, but I am just so disappointed that I am not seeing any results from my hard work . . . With special needs kids and a full time job, hitting the gym really isn't an option. Financially, a personal trainer is out of the question. In fact, it takes everything I have to slide these short workouts into my crazy schedule. I am not severely overweight at 5'7" and 145lbs (but I am top heavy), but I have a very small frame so 145lbs is more than is comfortable for me - plus I worry about next year when it is 150, and the next 155, etc. . . where will I be at 60 years old at this rate?


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answers from Norfolk on

If this stuff were easy there would be no obesity epidemic.
I'm still looking for something that works on a permanent basis for me.
If I'm on Adipex I can lose 10 lbs per month - and I've lost 60 lbs that way.
But as soon as I'm off it, I can eat less, walk more, do Everything I'm suppose to do - count EVERY calorie - and the weight comes back on - 10 lbs per month.
I think my metabolism was built for famine and I'm convinced simply SMELLING a brownie (not even eating it) will make me gain 5 lbs.
Being hypothyroid and menopausal seems to have made weight loss appear to be impossible for me.
It can be depressing sometimes.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It sounds counter productive, but you need to eat more to lose weight! I agree with most of the advice given below. Weight watchers is the best! If not, read up on a healthy balanced diet and do more cardio. Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

What jumped out at me immediately is that you have fruit in the morning and veggies for lunch. You have zero protein until you "sometimes" get some peanut butter for an afternoon snack. And you have very little in the way of healthy fats except for the PB.

So I don't know what's fueling your body from the morning until that mid-afternoon snack, but it's pretty much nothing. Yes, you get some chicken at night and a couple of pieces of cheese once in a while late in the day. So what's happening is that your metabolism has slowed down so much because your body thinks it is starving. It's an evolutionary response that got our ancestors through famine.

You've GOT to have protein (yogurt, for example, or a GOOD protein shake, not the garbage in the "health" aisle, but something balanced), and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, legumes, etc.). And much earlier in the day. If you had oatmeal with a handful of frozen berries (very nutritious because they are flash-frozen in season), or other fresh fruit on it, and some walnuts or almonds in it (and that doesn't mean to get flavored instant oatmeal in the package), and just 4 ounces of yogurt or a scrambled egg, you'd do a lot better. (I see the note below about making a big pot of oatmeal and leaving it overnight. Doesn't that cause food poisoning? Am I missing something there?)

The zero calories dressing isn't helping you - it's probably got aspartame or other chemical sweetener in it. Substitute 1/2 tablespoon of good olive oil and some wine or cider vinegar, and throw in some herbs if you feel like it. And put a half of an avocado on it.

Put a few almonds on that salad, and have a bunch in your desk drawer - 12 whole almonds at 10 AM will make a huge difference for you.

There is NO reason for 80 ounces of water. If you're exercising a lot or just generally thirsty (and there's no underlying problem like diabetes), maybe it's okay. You're drinking some caffeine, which dehydrates you, sure, so maybe you think you are making that up. Even the 64 ounce (8 glasses, 8 ounces each) was a made-up amount that no nutritionists today can really find any evidence to support. I'm not saying not to drink water, but if you are getting the "I'm full" feeling and it's not from food, you may be deceiving yourself.

I think that's why you're not getting anywhere - your body has no fuel to burn, and fueling those large muscles is what makes a difference.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

What jumps out at me is that you're not eating enough protein. Use a free app like myfitnesspal to track what you eat for a few days and compare that to one of their recommended meal plans. You need to eat protein at every meal...add 2 hard-boiled eggs to your breakfast, some chicken or turkey (a good-quality deli turkey is fine) to your lunch, and dump the zero-calorie dressing and instead use a homemade vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt/pepper/garlic, dijon mustard, lemon juice or whatever else you like. Zero calorie = artificial sweeteners, which are horrible.

Also, you have to find ways to move more than you do. Sitting is the new smoking in terms of health risk. You can add a stepcounter app to your phone that will give you an idea of how much you're moving. If it's under 7,000 steps a day, that's a health risk. 10,000 steps a day or more is ideal but if you're sedentary now, try to get up to 7,000 a day and go from there.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Here's the one piece of advice I've learned over the years: its about your food choices more than anything else. Eat the best quality of food you can eat which mean no fast food, no prepackaged stuff, nothing marked fat free or reduced calorie. Fat free stuff usually is full of sugar and salt. Same with reduced calorie stuff.

For breakfast reach for a bowl of steel cut oatmeal. I make mine in big quantities by boiling water, adding the oats, bringing to boil for 1 minute, turning it off, covering and leaving overnight. In the morning I dish out a cup and microwave it putting the rest in a container in the fridge. That way the rest of the week I just scoop out a cup and microwave it. I add freeze dried apples, cinnamon, and a little brown sugar to mine before I heat it for breakfast.

Veggies for lunch is great but veggies with humus will give you the protein you need to feel full. Or a salad with cut up chicken or beans with just vinegar for the dressing. For dinner you take a plate and visually cut it into 4 quarters. 2 quarters should be veggies, i quarter your protein, and 1 quarter a starch.

While I think you are making smart choices I don't think you are eating enough food and your body is in the OMG I'm going to die because I'm not getting enough to eat.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

First, I think that only having 'healthy carbs' with no protein is doing a number on your body. You need all three-- carbs, proteins and fats to live. Your insulin needs to stay balanced for best results. At least, that's what worked for me in the past. I used the Zone diet as a good guideline for portions and making sure I was getting the servings of each, in proportion, that would ensure I was getting the nutrition my body needed.

Imagine putting a window into a wall with just glass and no frame to hold it in. Or putting gas in the car but no oil. Things just don't work without the whole picture being addressed.
I'm pointing this out because you say you are eating better, but from my perspective, you are starving your body of what it needs which is whole, balance meals. Small meals are fine. It's really about the proportions of each (carbs/fats/protein) in relationship to each other.

Aerobic activity is also important. Can you ask for a standing desk at work? Take the kids out for a walk? (they can scooter, you can walk) At home I have a bike desk which is basically an exercise bike with a platform which accommodates a laptop or can be used as a writing surface.

I'm also looking down the road with some of the same perspective as you have. I'm overweight right now and not exactly where I'd like to be. I eat well, walk everywhere, and get good exercise. I also think that some of this is hormones and while that's not an excuse not to take care of myself, it's also good to remember that I've seen friends struggle with this and it's nothing to beat myself up about. I want to feel good in my body-- that's the goal. Eating poorly balanced meals makes me feel worse and tired and grumpy.

Feed yourself, exercise yourself, with love and a goal of feeling good *today*.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I also think maybe you are not eating enough. Spark People is a website that is similar to Weight Watchers online. You can setup a daily diary of what you eat based on your goals. It shows how much carbs, protein, sugar, etc you need. It adds these items as you log in your meals. You can see what is missing. You can also see exercises for desk jobs and receive daily exercise emails. The exercises take about 10 min or less.

I plan to get back on it and need to get busy myself.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

It sounds like you may not be consuming enough calories and your body could be in starvation mode and clinging to the fat.

I am not a fan of Weight Watchers but it is a structured program that provides accountability. For me, accountability is key.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

The biggest trick to losing weight is not starving and burning calories. You don't sound like you are eating a balanced diet and on top of that nothing you are doing gets your workout to a fat burning period. You need to get some books or website for a balance diet and at least 30 minutes a workout.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Buffalo on

I have actually lost weight without trying after changing my eating.
1. Protein bar for breakfast with coffee (at least 30 grams of protein)
2. salad for lunch with olive oil, balsamic vinegar salt, pepper, dijon mustard mixed into the vinegar
In addition to the salad, I have yogurt:
fat free plain yogurt (about a cup) with a handful of frozen blueberries and a handful of raw refrigerated walnuts and almonds (get them at your healthfood store) add liquid stevia to sweeten.
I drink iced green tea in the afternoon
3. dinner, I eat whatever I'm making for the family just eat normal portion
I walk 2 miles a day (that's it)
Somehow this as put me at 115 lbs (I'm only 5'1"), but it's the lowest I've weighed in 20 years - I've never been overweight, but I'm close to what I weighed in high school.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I would switch to a protein breakfast (like eggs) and protein lunch (like chicken, greens and veggies). I would make sure I'm getting a little healthy fat...avocado, olive oil. Make sure your body is not "starving" so that it holds onto fat. And for exercise are you using weights? I would switch it up with the exercise. Some days do cardio (bike ride 5 miles...work up to 10...work up to 20). Some days do weights. You have to do the weights correctly so you don't hurt yourself...but in my experience when I do this and am dealing with sore muscles and a burn...really push myself...I then start losing weight. Maybe you can find a "power up" kind of youtube exercise video to work out to? If my suggestions aren't to your taste just think of other ways you can push yourself with cardio and muscle strength. You sound really motivated...good job!! I'm impressed.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Your diet is very unhealthy. You are practically starving yourself during the day. You need to add protein to your breakfast (protein shake, eggs or left over meat from dinner etc) and lunch (add meet with your salad).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Your body has gone into starvation mode. This happened to me when I tried the SparkPeople free diet, which put me on only 1,200 calories (I'm the same height and weighed 10 lbs. more than you at the time). I was constantly hungry and battling the shakes with my hypoglycemia, and dropped nothing. I only started losing when I joined Weight Watchers and ate more. Counterintuitive, but I experienced it myself. You need to be eating enough to lose, but not starve.

If you're looking to lose weight, exercise isn't essential, but it can help you tone up and just feel better overall. I also have a special needs child and know what extra pressure that puts on life. I do go to a yoga sculpt class one night week and do exercise DVDs at least one day week (usually two), because that's all I can manage. I walk the dog every day. It sounds like you've found a way to make exercise work for you, so run with what you can fit into your day. But don't beat yourself up if it doesn't happen, because diet is what ultimately makes the biggest difference. (Think about it: Someone can run for an hour and burn lots of calories, but if you eat a burger, fries and shake afterward, you're not going to lose.)

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I suspect you may not be getting enough protein and/or you are not eating enough in general. If you don't have enough fuel for your increased activity your body will cling to reserves because it thinks food is scarce and it is trying to protect you.

Your BMI calculation says you're in the range of a healthy weight for your height. Since you don't have an abundance of excess to lose, any loss going forward is going to be gradual.

If by 'top heavy' you mean your bra size is large your diet may not have any measurable impact on that. A couple of my friends had surgical reductions because of this issue.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

i am 5'6" and 160 lbs and don't consider myself overweight. maybe your body is where it's supposed to be. work out and get strong and fit, eat well, leave it at that. forget the scale.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The amount of food you describe seems really small! I know it's counterintuitive, but you may not be eating enough.

You're eating one piece of fruit for breakfast, vegies for lunch, and a bare bones meat and vegie dinner. You're only getting protein once a day and no grains. Do you have time to meet with a nutritionist and get a workable plan going?

If not, my quick suggestions would be:
Add a cup of yogurt and whole grain toast to your breakfast along with your fruit to get your started.
Eat your bigger meal around lunch time. Maybe bring dinner leftovers and warm them up at work. Or pack a salad with chicken and fruit if that's something you like.
Keep eating dinner.
Avoid "low fat" or "no calorie" packaged foods. They are full of preservatives and your body has a hard time doing anything with them. Better to use a small amount of the real thing.

Then, relax. Your body will tell you when you're at the healthy weight it wants. If you start to lose then hit another plateau, that may be your right weight.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I would eat more earlier in the day. A better breakfast for sure. And a bigger lunch. With a variety of foods - carbs are ok if you eat with a protein. It's when you don't eat with protein that they get absorbed really quickly and we crash and burn.

Just eat the higher fiber grainy ones. They fill you up. Keep you going. And help you lose weight (by keeping you full). That and water.

I eat fruits and vegetables for snacks. Not meals. That with some protein keeps me going.

Water to drink before meals - or with meals. So you are eating from hunger, not just to fill up.

I eat in evening too. Keeps my sugars up through the night. Helps me sleep.

I have to do aerobic activity to lose weight. Even just to keep it off, I have to walk. I do toning which helps but that just strengthens me mostly. It does help build stamina and muscle mass which helps, but being active in moderation (work way up) will burn calories.

Eat more maybe. When I cut back I gain. My body just hangs on to those calories like there's no tomorrow.

Maybe your body is happy where it is. Then the toning can really help just to shape you into a physique you're more comfortable with. Good luck :) and keep us posted! Maybe aim at health over weight/body so you don't get too discouraged.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

In order to lose weight calories burned must be more than calories taken in, period. It's simple math. All the experts agree there is no other way to lose weight. Exercise is certainly good for your body and your heart, and can make you toned and help you feel and look better but unless you are working out a LOT you're not going to lose much weight.
Also, you need to get off the instant gratification train.
It's been THREE WEEKS and you want results??? It's taken me almost 18 months to lose 20 pounds. Simply from cutting portion sizes and making healthier choices, MOST of the time.
Honestly you don't sound overweight to me but that's your own issue not mine. I'm 47, almost 5.5 and weigh about 160, and I like what I see in the mirror, dressed or not. I'm having the best sex of my life and feel way more confident and powerful than I did when I was a 135 pound twenty something.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

If you under consume your body will do the opposite and start trying to maintain as much fat as possible. I would suggest talking with a nutritionist. Mine told me that we should never fall below 1200-1500 calories a day if we don't want to stall weight loss.

IF you really want to see toning you need to strength train. Building muscle not only makes you look more tone and smaller, but it also helps you burn more calories even when you are at rest. I understand you can not get to a gym but strength training can be done at home with a simple set of hand weights, or even just using your own body weight. Best of luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Would fidget-cising work for you? Ie you do squats as you unload the groceries, curls as you fold the laundry etc. it adds that bit of extra exercise without eating into your time.

Btw I second the eating more and eating more healthily.

F. B.



answers from San Francisco on

Probably part of the reason you're not losing much is that you're not heavy to begin with. I'm your height and 10 lbs. heavier than you and no one thinks I need to lose weight. I'm guessing that you might be putting on muscle, which is heavier than fat.

I agree that your diet sounds lacking in protein.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Please know that you need to eat to feed your body. It truly doesn't sound like you're eating enough to trigger your metabolism to kick in....I am not saying that right. If you eat enough to feed your body you're going to eat at least a thousand calories per day. Nothing sugar free or oil free or anything like that.

Perhaps you can go to sparkpeople.com and fill in the foods you're eating so you can see if they have any suggestions.

There are other sites out there too that might work better.

One last thing, if you're muscular or building muscle you might gain weight. Size, inches, etc...are more important. If you weigh 140 and wear a size 6 then you're not overweight, you're solid. If you are a 16 and weigh 120 then you need to exercise and get toned up.



answers from Miami on

I think that you aren't eating enough. Instead, go on Weight Watchers. You can do it online. Your body thinks you're starving it, and that's why you aren't losing any weight.



answers from Washington DC on

Your body is holding on to what you have because it thinks you are starving yourself. One way of eating that helps me is the DASH Diet. It is actually for high blood pressure, but I refer to it because it is just a healthy way to eat for any of us. There is a book that explains it well--the Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution. There is a website out there that ranks diets -U. S. News or something like that, and DASH is a good one. It is a way of eating that you can maintain. Look at the book reviews on Amazon and see what you think.

According to what I have learned you might want to try eating a little more and more often, and well-balanced. Add some protein to your meals. That one piece of fruit you are starting your day with is giving you a jolt of sugar and then a crash. Add a little protein and whole grain and that would help level out your blood sugar. And then a few hours later have some light cheese and carrots or celery and pb, and a couple hours later a nice salad with tons of veggies and some chicken for lunch, and so on........

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