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Old 01-28-2013, 02:04 PM   #1
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Overcoming the Plateau, an intro and progress pics...

Hi y'all, I'm new. Looks like a great forum you have here and I hope I can both gain from the collective knowledge and support here and maybe eventually even help add to it...

I'm Drew, live in Memphis, TN. I'm originally from Jackson, MS. I've been low-carbing since September. I'm not following any specific plan. I just kind of came up with my own thing by understanding the principles, establishing a routine and staying with it. (Except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. A Southern man doesn't go down to Mama's house for the holidays and snack on pork rinds while all of that incredible food is being consumed, so I incurred a planned 3-5 pound setback...)

Anyway the reason I'm joining here at this stage is I'm hoping to get past a plateau, and I've probably gone as far as I can on my own without some guidance. I'm 33, 5'8" and 193 pounds. I started at 265 pounds this summer, where I'd been for a good while. By Thanksgiving I was at about 198 then I got back up to 203 briefly, then back to 195 by the end of the year. Here are my progress pics: http://i.imgur.com/7kIwC.jpg (It's probably about time for another one, as I've punched another hole in my belt since then and my arms are a little leaner, but that's close to where I stand now.)

I started January at 195 and I've only lost two pounds this month. I understand that I probably burned a lot more calories a lot more easily when I was carrying an additional 70 pounds around all the time, but I have increased my exercise quite a bit. I suppose I should tell you what I've been doing...

During the week:

*No breakfast (I've just never had a habit of eating breakfast. My breakfast has always been coffee and a cigarette)

*For lunch, I come home from work and have a whey protein shake with unsweetened almond milk. About 60g protein, about 2g carbs.

And then I wear my arms out with weights for about 15 minutes. Currently that means a set on each arm of 30 pound curls at 35-40 reps, then I lift the 30 pound dumbell over my head 25-30 times per arm, do another set of curls and then about 120-150 reps with those hand-squeezing devices, whatever they're called, until I can't do it anymore. Then back to work. I've gradually increased the weight and reps. This is a lot more than I could do when I got started.

*Dinner time - I eat what you'd probably call "induction phase" type food. Meat, cheese, some leafy greens. Mostly meat. I don't overeat but I eat until I'm full.

After that I usually go out and do my part-time mechanic work, turning wrenches from about 7pm to whenever I'm done, often pretty late. It can be strenuous, but sometimes not. It varies.

I also take a good multivitamin 3x daily as recommended, drink a ton of water, way too much coffee and I smoke. (I know, I know... One thing at a time. Let me deal with the weight first.)

That's what Monday through Friday looks like. During the weekends I don't always lift but I work a lot harder and tend to eat less.


I've been fat all my life and don't get me wrong, this is great. I feel better than I have since I was a kid. My hypertension is gone, I feel strong, I know I look better, but I've come this far and I feel like, why stop at 90%? What I'm hoping to do now is get some suggestions for modifying my routine so I can lose the rest of this extra fat. I don't really know if I'm stalled out, or if I'm still losing fat at a slower pace while building heavier muscle, but the scale is barely moving...

Thanks for any insight you can share.
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:08 PM   #2
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I guess I should also add - I seem to be one of those lucky folks for whom Ketostix are useless. I can't ever get more than a trace result, but surely I MUST be in ketosis to have lost that much so quickly, right?
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:16 PM   #3
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Wow! You're looking really great!

I hate to say this, because it's a drag, but I kinda think that a two pound loss per month is maybe par for the course at this point. You probably have lost more than two pounds of fat, as you can see that you're gaining muscle. I think if you just kept going as you are, you'd find that by the time summer rolls around you're going to have made a whole 'nother transformation.

The only thing I see that might be tweaked (though maybe it shouldn't be) is the amount of protein you're eating. I have no idea how much protein a man who's doing heavy work needs. You may be getting it just right, but you could check into that. If you're eating too much protein, it could slow the weight loss.
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:22 PM   #4
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Great job !! Love the pics ... such a big difference ! Love the one on the bike with your son...
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:30 PM   #5
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I think the common definition of a plateau is no loss of either pounds or inches for six weeks. So it doesn't sound as if you are in a real plateau but rather that the pace of your weight loss is slowing, which is to be expected when you get close to your ideal weight.

I wouldn't sweat it. Unless you get to a point at which you can't lose at all, I think it's probably best to just roll with it. Lots of us get stuck for a few weeks with small losses and gains and then have a bigger loss all at once. I personally believe that the body just decides to rest from time to time.

You've lost a tremendous amount of weight in a very short time and look terrific. Whatever you have left to lose is really just tweaking. Don't forget to enjoy your amazing accomplishment!
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:33 PM   #6
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I think that working with weights is going to have the scale not moving down as fast, but you will get smaller...the scale just won't show it because muscle is more dense than fat. take a waist measurement or use your belt as a guide...your waist measurement will go down even if the weight on the scale doesn't...and are you getting enough calories for a guy...doesn't seem like it...but if you are not hungry then don't worry.
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:42 PM   #7
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I'd echo the previous poster's words. How much more do you have to lose? I know you say you're not an a particular plan but your menu sounds very Atkins-esque to me and he recommended losing the last 10 to 15 pounds very slowly.

In addition you have been gaining muscle so while the weight loss has slowed, your body shape is changing for the better. Do you only do arm focused weights? It might be a good idea to mix it up so you work all areas of your body (including legs, so many men forget about legs lol).

Also it occured to me that perhaps you are not eating enough. A protein shake and one evening meal doesn't seem like enough food to me for a physically active man. Do you track your food intake? Any idea of average daily calories/micronutrients?

But also, you look amazing. Your success is inspirational and you should be really proud. I too have a son and I am determined to get this weight off so I can run around with him. By all means, keep pushing forwards and focus on your ultimate goals but do take a moment every now and then to reflect on how far you have come.

Keep it up and you will get to where you want to be, I am sure of it.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:11 PM   #8
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Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, everyone... Alright then, maybe it is just a pace thing. I'll keep up exactly what I've been doing for a few more weeks then see where I'm at. Until I actually started writing that first post and looked at the pics again, I was thinking I hadn't lost any inches this month either but clearly I have. This tells me the pics are a good idea, because it's hard to rely on just the scale when it doesn't move much. I can clearly see a difference between the last pic in that series and today


Quote:
Originally Posted by lterry913 View Post
are you getting enough calories for a guy...doesn't seem like it...
I don't know, good question. Dinner is generally not what I'd call small, although it's nothing like what it used to be. A typical dinner might be about 2/3-1lb of meat, usually steak, a couple ounces of sharp cheddar or jack, and a small salad or a serving of green beans, broccoli, etc... Sometimes I'll vary that up, like stuff a couple of bell peppers with steak and cheese, mushrooms. Fajitas without the tortillas, stuff like that.


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The only thing I see that might be tweaked (though maybe it shouldn't be) is the amount of protein you're eating. I have no idea how much protein a man who's doing heavy work needs. You may be getting it just right, but you could check into that. If you're eating too much protein, it could slow the weight loss.
Too much protein, you say... That hadn't crossed my mind at all. I did a low carb diet once before, maybe 12 years ago and I lost a lot of weight, but I lost muscle too. I noticed I was getting weak so I stopped. I'd rather be fat and strong, I reasoned... So I figured this time I'd try to fight the muscle loss by eating a lot of protein and lifting weights. To my surprise that worked out better than I expected. Gorilla arms weren't really my goal, I just wanted to maintain my strength, but I do believe I've gained some muscle mass in the process.

But maybe I am eating too much protein? I don't know. In the interest of being scientific, changing only one variable at a time, I'll hold off on trying less protein for now, but if I do decide I need to make changes I will try that first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber_Baby View Post
How much more do you have to lose?
Good question. All the BMI charts and calculators and whatnot still say I'm overweight, just this side of obese even. I don't care about that though, clearly they don't take composition into account. Right now, all I care about losing at this point is the fat around my midsection and thighs. And I'm not sure how much of that is really fat anymore and how much is more of a "deflation" effect. Whatever it is I'd really like to lose it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber_Baby View Post
Do you only do arm focused weights? It might be a good idea to mix it up so you work all areas of your body (including legs, so many men forget about legs lol).
Yes. I should be working my legs also because those are the largest muscles and they can burn calories very fast. (My exercise routine is based on how much I can do in a minimal amount of time, because I knew that would be the only way I could commit to doing it daily.) I intend to start doing dead lifts and/or squats, lunges, etc. but I just don't have enough weights. I have seriously considered trying to rig up something with car parts...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber_Baby View Post
Also it occured to me that perhaps you are not eating enough. A protein shake and one evening meal doesn't seem like enough food to me for a physically active man. Do you track your food intake? Any idea of average daily calories/micronutrients?
I don't count calories so I don't know, but I did just describe a typical dinner, so whatever that amounts to... I also snack some. Pork rinds, cheese... I feel ok for whatever that's worth.

As for my activity level, I know it sounds like a lot because I do all the wrench work on weekends and evenings in addition to my 8-5 job, but the 8-5 job is not particularly strenuous most of the time. I'm a network admin.
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:00 PM   #9
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It does sound like a lot of protein even with your workouts. Protein shake (60g), 2/3# meat dinner, cheese, pork rinds and snack cheese.

Generically speaking you should probably be in the range of 1.5-2.0 grams per (ideal) kg. The formula is (weight/2.2)*1.5.

For example, if an appropriate weight for you is 160 then (160/2.2)*1.5 = ~110 grams of protein with (160/2.2)*2.0 = 145 grams.

60g for the shake, 90g for the 2/3lb meat, 35g for 2oz bag rinds, 12g for 2oz cheese. Ballpark of about 200g of protein.

For 160 pounds that works out to [200/(160/2.2)] about 2.75g/kg.

The problem with eating too much protein (in the context of LC) is that the body needs to deal with it in a non-storage way. That is, overeating protein isn't beneficial and has significant drawbacks. Protein is insulinogenic - it produces a mild insulin response - and insulin is a fat saver. Excess protein can/will be converted to glucose which also produces an insulin response.

"but I have increased my exercise quite a bit"

Too much exercise is counterproductive to weight loss without serious attention to diet detail. Even then it isn't complimentary but an obstacle to overcome . Scale back to what you were doing (or even a little less) to when you were losing. Don't exercise every day.

Your menu looks really, really low fat. LC is not a low fat way of eating. Unless you are eating a whole lot of pork rinds I'd say you are almost certainly too low on calories.

A generic way to calculate *maintenance* calories is (weight/2.2)*35. For you that'd be (160/2.2)*35 = 2500. So at 160 you'd eat about 2500 calories a day to stay 160.

Too much of a calorie deficit fights fat loss. And very low calorie eating tends to force your body to lose lean body mass.

I understand your casual approach and I salute you. If you'd like you can read the intro to our NK thread. Just ignore the stuff that is too much hassle for you.

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Old 01-28-2013, 04:03 PM   #10
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Right now, all I care about losing at this point is the fat around my midsection
I'm a bit taller than you but we started at the same weight and I have the exact same issue with belly fat. It is very annoying.
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:14 PM   #11
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And, congrats on the progress so far!
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:28 PM   #12
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Definitely something to consider, thanks... I don't know if 160 is a good target for my frame though. I got down just about that far 12 years ago and felt weak and scrawny. At that point I actually made an effort to gain some back. Whatever it takes to lose this belly flab though... If that means losing down to 160, as long as I don't lose any muscle I'll go for it.


Side question... Has anyone else experienced the people around you being dubious of your methods when you have made a change like this? I had people asking if I was sick, then I was accused of having a drug problem, then asked whether I had surgery and finally whether I was abusing steroids. Why is "diet and exercise" just not a plausible enough answer? It's kind of a downer knowing there are people who just assume I'm a meth addict now because they didn't ask or didn't believe my answer.
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:52 PM   #13
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Oh I forgot to mention, regarding fat intake... I consider bacon a condiment. I'm definitely not limiting that.
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:59 PM   #14
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I don't think that height/weight charts are much more than rough guides. For 5'8" with a large frame the range is 152-172. So that is where I got the 160 from. If you bump it to 170 the numbers I threw out don't change much.

With your work outs it is probably too low for you once you've shed more body fat.

If your insurance will pay for it you might see about getting a DEXA scan. Then you'll know how much of you is pure lard.

You gotta admit that being as fat as we were and losing so much so quickly with seeming effortlessness will raise an eyebrow for anyone that doesn't know the joys of LC.

One thing I noticed about myself is that my face is dramatically thinner than it was when I was fat. If you look at my DL photo I look like I am holding my breath and puffing out my cheeks. With your working out and loss of BF on your arms it is a dramatically different look too.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:05 PM   #15
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Oh I forgot to mention, regarding fat intake... I consider bacon a condiment. I'm definitely not limiting that.
Hmmm.

A lot of bacon and a lot of pork rinds means over calorie and over protein heh.

I remember back in October 2011 (I think) when I started doing LC high fat I ate a ton of bacon one day to get my fat macro to about 90% (along with all the other stuff I'd eaten). Then I looked down at my calories for the day and it was around 4000 lol.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:46 PM   #16
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One thing I noticed about myself is that my face is dramatically thinner than it was when I was fat. If you look at my DL photo I look like I am holding my breath and puffing out my cheeks. With your working out and loss of BF on your arms it is a dramatically different look too.
Dude you're right about the face, that is by far the most striking difference. I remember looking in the mirror one day and saying, "What the hell? Is that... A cheekbone?" I didn't expect it. I also didn't expect to drop a shoe size. Didn't really think that happened.

...So, I just took another pic and compared it to the one from earlier this month. There are only two pounds' difference between these two pictures. I was a bit frustrated about the scale not moving, but maybe I should try to take exactly the same picture at least once a month to see why's really happening, 'cause I've got no other real way to monitor it. Wish those stupid Ketostix worked for me.

January 9: http://i.imgur.com/n5CZTL4.jpg

January 28: http://imgur.com/cNKGfqL.jpg
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:07 PM   #17
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I also just wanna say, this forum is awesome. I've been reading a lot, and I think it was a mistake going at this alone for so long. It's been working, but I like to cook, and I've really missed the variety I used to get, the creative meals I used to cook... There are SO MANY ingredients and ways of using them mentioned here that I never thought to try. I can't wait to try some of the recipes I've seen so far and to start coming up with my own!
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Old 01-29-2013, 05:42 AM   #18
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Dude you're right about the face, that is by far the most striking difference. I remember looking in the mirror one day and saying, "What the hell? Is that... A cheekbone?" I didn't expect it. I also didn't expect to drop a shoe size. Didn't really think that happened.

...So, I just took another pic and compared it to the one from earlier this month. There are only two pounds' difference between these two pictures. I was a bit frustrated about the scale not moving, but maybe I should try to take exactly the same picture at least once a month to see why's really happening, 'cause I've got no other real way to monitor it. Wish those stupid Ketostix worked for me.

January 9: http://i.imgur.com/n5CZTL4.jpg

January 28: http://imgur.com/cNKGfqL.jpg
lol! Right?? I hadn't noticed that at all until someone remarked about how much my face had changed (well she said sunken in) and I looked in the mirror I was shocked too. Sunken in is relative because it was formerly poofed out.

Oh, hey you do have a way to tell other than the scale. Get a tape measure and measure yourself. It is far more revealing than the scale. When I started NK back in September I measured about a 4" loss around my belly over a few weeks time but only 7 or 8 pounds (or something like that) on the scale.

Huge difference between the two photos. Great job on working out
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:16 AM   #19
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Nope, definitely not stalled anymore... 186 this morning.
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:47 AM   #20
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Yeah, that seems to be the way it works for a lot of people when you get closer to goal. I can see why people get anxious and fall off the wagon. You lose weight at a pretty regular clip and then all of a sudden the pace changes to fits and starts. The goal weight is a pretty arbitrary number anyway and now that I know this is a normal thing and I'll keep losing I'm relaxing about it.

Congrats on the loss!
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:24 PM   #21
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Yeah, that seems to be the way it works for a lot of people when you get closer to goal. I can see why people get anxious and fall off the wagon. You lose weight at a pretty regular clip and then all of a sudden the pace changes to fits and starts. The goal weight is a pretty arbitrary number anyway and now that I know this is a normal thing and I'll keep losing I'm relaxing about it.

Congrats on the loss!
Yeah, it's just not as easy to make the scale go down as it is at first, for a lot of reasons, especially when I'm trying to take away from one area and add to another. I'm relying on pictures more than the scale lately, and there's noticeable difference between two pics less than a week apart, so even if I don't go down in weight I know I'm still on track.

I really should start considering what my "goal" weight really is, now that I'm within six pounds of the abitrary number I picked. I think six pounds from now I'll still have some fat that I want to get rid of, so maybe I'll keep going. Then I can just maintain and hope my skin catches up with me in a year or two.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:54 PM   #22
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Broke my last stall by stopping all eating after 6pm. Only drink water or diet tea only after 6pm. I've dropped another 20lbs with this and very lo-carb diet. My breakfast consists of 24-30oz coffee with coconut creme concentrate, HWC, unsweetened cocoa and a little irish creme, (small shot). Then I only eat a fairly large afternoon meal. Stopping all eating before bed has really helped me but I don't exercise anything like you.
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