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Hack My Weight Loss Stall (23 y.o. female)

by (279)
Updated about 12 hours ago
Created May 21, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Background: I am 23 and have been paleo for about a year and a half. I'm 5'4 and 140 pounds, have an hourglass figure and carry almost all of my extra weight pronouncedly in my lower stomach.

My highest weight was 170 when I was 16, and lost 30 pounds when I went to college, mainly living on salads, whole wheat sandwiches, alcohol and frozen yogurt. I also suffered from bulimia toward the end of high school and beginning of college (and have been fully recovered for years), but was only losing weight when I wasn't in a bulimic period.

My health has improved and all stomachaches are gone since starting paleo, but I have not lost any weight, and have been stuck at 140 pounds since that initial 30 pound loss five-ish years ago. I've been taking body measurements as well, and those aren't changing either.

I've tried very very low carb and moderate carb, and have even been doing Lyle McDonald's take on PSMF (protein-sparing modified fast) for the last week with no weight loss. I've seen two (paleo) nutritionists and have tracked my food religiously, and they both were kind of stumped by my lack of weight loss. The most recent one eventually concluded that my body has a hard set point and I would just have to wait and see if I could slowly coax it down. She thought I would do better on higher carb, so I was doing:

1/2 cup sweet potato or parsnip at breakfast 1/3 cup at lunch maybe 1/4 cup at dinner plus an apple, along with my usual 5 oz protein, 1 tbsp. added fat and veggies

I did that for close to seven weeks with no progress. I just can't imagine that all of those carbs would help me lose weight though, which is why I've been trying PSMF, though that's not working either. I'm tempted to try the potato diet to see if I can jus break through this apparent set point.

I do light exercise - lots of walking, some HIIT and yoga. I've tested my blood glucose levels and they are excellent, never getting higher than 110 and often staying under 100 post-prandial.

This is a long-winded way of saying I would love your thoughts as to why I can't seem to lose ANY weight, or suggestions as to how I should move forward. I definitely have this visceral fat to lose, and it's unhealthy for me to be holding it all in my gut.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 2:21 PM

(PS I should add that making these changes helped me feel less hungry and tired, enabling me to take walks and feel full at the end of the day. I never am hungry - and they say if you feel hungry, that's the sign of a bad diet)

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 2:20 PM

I also really like their other recommendations - 10 minutes of activity when first getting up - a light jog or walk, and to set circadian rhythms, and that important for losing weight is being well nourished and not restricting calories below 1200-1300 per day. good luck! their site perfecthealthdiet.com is great.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Of course, if your body temp is 98.6 (people's rarely seems to be), it could be something else... But it seems like you have to treat any infection you might have which is likely causing the hypothyroidism (and according to perfect health diet, we all have infections or pathogens - normal part of your gut!). So you have to get the gut in good order with paleo-type - beef, seafood, vegetables, and make kim-chi, eat starches, have sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:52 PM

You can work with a doctor to treat symptoms, not numbers... Dr. Kharrazian also has book that may be helpful, "My numbers are normal why do I still have hypothyroid symptoms"

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:52 PM

I knew I wasn't deficient in iodine and selenium, so my adrenals and thyroid needed help.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:51 PM

http://www.drrind.com/therapies/metabolic-temperature-graph

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:51 PM

I got my body temp to about 97.9-98.2 and the variation from one time to the next, plus my fatigue, led me to think my adrenal needed help. dr. rind also has info about this - if your temps vary, it's adrenals. if they're low and don't vary - it's thyroid. if they're low and vary, it's adrenals and thyroid that need help.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:49 PM

From all my research (bganimalpharm, chris kresser, stop the thyroid madness), your adrenals have to be in good shape for your thryoid to heal. oftentimes hypothyroid can be caused by too little carbs (see Perfect Health Diet posts tagged thyroid), an infection leading to gut dybsiosis which causes hypothyroidism, insufficiency in selenium (in brazil nuts - but not always in good amounts, can vary wildly) or beef kidneys or some seafood (again, varies), and deficiency in iodine (milk, some seafood, etc.) and Se and I in food also depends on the area where you live).

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:47 PM

what's your body temperature by the way? It sounds like you're definitely hypothyroid. Just my 2 cents - I think I was too - sitting around 96.9-97.2F about 1.5 years ago. I started eating mussels at least once a week, more seaweed, and supplementing iodine per the perfect health diet - 225 mcg per day, and 200 mcg of selenium once per week. As well as eating 1/3 lb beef liver per week, dark chocolate, starches, etc. all the stuff they recommend since I'm sure you need zinc, copper, Mg, boron, vitamin C, b-vitamins, etc. to be in good order for your thyroid to function well.

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · June 12, 2013 at 3:52 PM

I have peeling nails, sensitivity to cold, abnormal menstrual cycles, difficulty losing weight. I do have a hunch that I'm just slightly hypothyroid, despite what my doctor says. However, even if I am, there's not much I can do about it, right? My doctor isn't particularly friendly to self-diagnosis. She told me to exercise more and eat less if I want to lose weight. I almost punched her.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 11, 2013 at 4:00 PM

i guess the only one is difficulty losing weight despite reduced food intake?

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 11, 2013 at 4:00 PM

http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-hypothyroidism Fatigue Weakness Weight gain or difficulty losing weight (despite reduced food intake) Coarse, dry hair and dry skin Hair loss Sensitivity to cold Muscle cramps and aches Constipation Depression Irritability Memory loss Abnormal menstrual cycles Decreased libido Slowed speech (severe cases) Jaundice (severe cases) Increase in tongue size (severe cases

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 11, 2013 at 3:58 PM

yeah...the ranges for "normal" will vary quite a bit from person to person. you can be hypothyroid with a TSH of 2.1 (or even 0.6 for that matter). If I were you I might do some simple checks like body temperature (is it close to 98.6F?), asking if you have any symptoms of hypothyroid.

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · June 09, 2013 at 4:54 AM

My TSH ended up being 2.1, which is normal. I did find out that my Vitamin D level is low. It's 24.

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Thanks for the excellent answer. You know, I dont know my TSH, but I was just a bit hypothyroid in high school (cold hands and feet, lost my period) so they put me on meds for a while. Eventually it seemed to right itself and I went off of them and haven't thought much about it since. I still do suffer from cold hands and feet though. I'll email my doc about getting my TSH levels checked.

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5792 · May 21, 2013 at 8:59 PM

I would say that makes sense. There is absolutely no other reason I can think of why I wouldn't have lost more by now. Or perhaps those of us whose bodies have a high setpoint are more prone to eating disorders to begin with.

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Thank you so much for your answer, though I'm not thrilled to see another E.D. woman having similar troubles. My acupuncturist is convinced that a history of bulimia is what is keeping my body holding on so tight at this weight. She says she thinks a history of E.D., even well in the past, can have little-understood effects on health/weight/fertility.

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 6:07 PM

You took the words right out of my mouth, Bean! Paleo is wonderful, but I'm very sad to admit to myself that it's obviously just not the weight loss key that I figured it would be. Olympic weight lifting, right on!

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Thanks for yoru response, Ryan! That's basically what I've been doing on PSMF for the last week with no success, though I do indulge in some decaf coffee and stevia/erythritol-sweetened beverages sometimes..

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Thanks for yoru response, Ryan! That's basically what I've been doing on PSMF with basically no success so far, though I do indulge in some decaf coffee and stevia/erythritol-sweetened beverages sometimes..

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6 Answers

4f12a06aee26f64e432762495302ec9d
1
292 · May 21, 2013 at 3:29 PM

I would recommend drinking only water, eating lots of brocolli and carrots with clean unprocessed meats high in protein such as turkey and chicken breasts and try to walk for at least an hour a day! I would also take a good vitamin d supplement and an omega 3 fish oil supplement. Where possible sprint just for a few minutes a few times a week too...

I did exactly this and lost 2 and a half stone in around 7 weeks!

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Thanks for yoru response, Ryan! That's basically what I've been doing on PSMF with basically no success so far, though I do indulge in some decaf coffee and stevia/erythritol-sweetened beverages sometimes..

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Thanks for yoru response, Ryan! That's basically what I've been doing on PSMF for the last week with no success, though I do indulge in some decaf coffee and stevia/erythritol-sweetened beverages sometimes..

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
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1601 · May 21, 2013 at 9:03 PM

Hi Hailstorm, what is your TSH? apparently, and I have to look for the citation for this study, stalling 15-20 lbs above your ideal weight can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can be caused by iodine and selenium deficiencies, gut dysbiosis, perhaps anemia (which you shouldn't have), wheat, etc.

I feel like a broken record with all of my responses on this site sometimes, but until you know what causes obesity, how can you know how to fix it? It's pretty clear that sometimes controlling your appetite and eating little, combined with moving more, isn't necessarily the solution.

Might I direct you here:

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2011/02/perfect-health-diet-weight-loss-version/

The Three Keys for Weight Loss The three keys for an effective and healthy weight loss diet, as I see it, are:

1.Elimination of food toxins. Food toxins are the primary cause of obesity and you can’t expect to cure a condition by causing it!

2.Perfect nourishment. The diet should be as nourishing as possible. The dieter should be in the “plateau range” of every nutrient – vitamins, minerals, organic molecules, carbs, protein, and fats.

3.Calorie restriction. You have to be in energy deficit to lose weight.

Even though you're eating paleo, you might be malnourished or undernourished on, for example, choline - in egg yolks, iodine, selenium (beef kidneys, beef in general), copper (unless you eat 1/4 lb of beef liver per week it's likely), perhaps potassium, calcium, etc.

If you know your TSH, let us know...

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Thanks for the excellent answer. You know, I dont know my TSH, but I was just a bit hypothyroid in high school (cold hands and feet, lost my period) so they put me on meds for a while. Eventually it seemed to right itself and I went off of them and haven't thought much about it since. I still do suffer from cold hands and feet though. I'll email my doc about getting my TSH levels checked.

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · June 09, 2013 at 4:54 AM

My TSH ended up being 2.1, which is normal. I did find out that my Vitamin D level is low. It's 24.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:47 PM

what's your body temperature by the way? It sounds like you're definitely hypothyroid. Just my 2 cents - I think I was too - sitting around 96.9-97.2F about 1.5 years ago. I started eating mussels at least once a week, more seaweed, and supplementing iodine per the perfect health diet - 225 mcg per day, and 200 mcg of selenium once per week. As well as eating 1/3 lb beef liver per week, dark chocolate, starches, etc. all the stuff they recommend since I'm sure you need zinc, copper, Mg, boron, vitamin C, b-vitamins, etc. to be in good order for your thyroid to function well.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:52 PM

You can work with a doctor to treat symptoms, not numbers... Dr. Kharrazian also has book that may be helpful, "My numbers are normal why do I still have hypothyroid symptoms"

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 11, 2013 at 4:00 PM

http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-hypothyroidism Fatigue Weakness Weight gain or difficulty losing weight (despite reduced food intake) Coarse, dry hair and dry skin Hair loss Sensitivity to cold Muscle cramps and aches Constipation Depression Irritability Memory loss Abnormal menstrual cycles Decreased libido Slowed speech (severe cases) Jaundice (severe cases) Increase in tongue size (severe cases

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:52 PM

I knew I wasn't deficient in iodine and selenium, so my adrenals and thyroid needed help.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 2:21 PM

(PS I should add that making these changes helped me feel less hungry and tired, enabling me to take walks and feel full at the end of the day. I never am hungry - and they say if you feel hungry, that's the sign of a bad diet)

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 11, 2013 at 4:00 PM

i guess the only one is difficulty losing weight despite reduced food intake?

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 11, 2013 at 3:58 PM

yeah...the ranges for "normal" will vary quite a bit from person to person. you can be hypothyroid with a TSH of 2.1 (or even 0.6 for that matter). If I were you I might do some simple checks like body temperature (is it close to 98.6F?), asking if you have any symptoms of hypothyroid.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 2:20 PM

I also really like their other recommendations - 10 minutes of activity when first getting up - a light jog or walk, and to set circadian rhythms, and that important for losing weight is being well nourished and not restricting calories below 1200-1300 per day. good luck! their site perfecthealthdiet.com is great.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:49 PM

From all my research (bganimalpharm, chris kresser, stop the thyroid madness), your adrenals have to be in good shape for your thryoid to heal. oftentimes hypothyroid can be caused by too little carbs (see Perfect Health Diet posts tagged thyroid), an infection leading to gut dybsiosis which causes hypothyroidism, insufficiency in selenium (in brazil nuts - but not always in good amounts, can vary wildly) or beef kidneys or some seafood (again, varies), and deficiency in iodine (milk, some seafood, etc.) and Se and I in food also depends on the area where you live).

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · June 12, 2013 at 3:52 PM

I have peeling nails, sensitivity to cold, abnormal menstrual cycles, difficulty losing weight. I do have a hunch that I'm just slightly hypothyroid, despite what my doctor says. However, even if I am, there's not much I can do about it, right? My doctor isn't particularly friendly to self-diagnosis. She told me to exercise more and eat less if I want to lose weight. I almost punched her.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:51 PM

http://www.drrind.com/therapies/metabolic-temperature-graph

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Of course, if your body temp is 98.6 (people's rarely seems to be), it could be something else... But it seems like you have to treat any infection you might have which is likely causing the hypothyroidism (and according to perfect health diet, we all have infections or pathogens - normal part of your gut!). So you have to get the gut in good order with paleo-type - beef, seafood, vegetables, and make kim-chi, eat starches, have sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals.

8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a
1601 · June 13, 2013 at 1:51 PM

I got my body temp to about 97.9-98.2 and the variation from one time to the next, plus my fatigue, led me to think my adrenal needed help. dr. rind also has info about this - if your temps vary, it's adrenals. if they're low and don't vary - it's thyroid. if they're low and vary, it's adrenals and thyroid that need help.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3
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5792 · May 21, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Same thing here. Here's my weight loss hack question: http://paleohacks.com/questions/172942/hack-my-weight-loss-stall#axzz2Tx60fTyj

I'm a 38 yo female, 5'5" and 160. Size 10 pants, size 8 in some brands. When I was really skinny and bulimic 20 years ago I weighed 115 and the same size 8/10 pants.... wth??? I've been stalled at this weight for 3 years, almost 100% paleo, after an initial 30 lb weight loss the first two months.

Crossfit has definitely changed my body comp over the last 9 months. And the truth is, no one believes my weight is 160. Apparently I am very DENSE. I do want to be thinner, less jiggly. But after a few years of railing against it, I've realized my best option is long slow change through converting fat to muscle.

I've tried everything I can find on how to break a setpoint, with no success. This summer I'm going to start doing the Sprint 8 protocol with swimming and see what happens. No great hopes there, but at least I love swimming! I am also going to have a body fat test done, and plan to go back every 6 months. I'm hoping to see some progress there, which would make me happy, even if they scale didn't move.

This is not a paleo/crossfit issue either. I've dealt with this setpoint my whole life. At one point I was running 30-40 miles a week, eating very low cal, and lost 5 lb in 6 months. I said screw it, I'd rather not run and be 5 lb heavier!

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Thank you so much for your answer, though I'm not thrilled to see another E.D. woman having similar troubles. My acupuncturist is convinced that a history of bulimia is what is keeping my body holding on so tight at this weight. She says she thinks a history of E.D., even well in the past, can have little-understood effects on health/weight/fertility.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3
5792 · May 21, 2013 at 8:59 PM

I would say that makes sense. There is absolutely no other reason I can think of why I wouldn't have lost more by now. Or perhaps those of us whose bodies have a high setpoint are more prone to eating disorders to begin with.

Ac04066a888a3f0b66f9a2935a6117c3
0
315 · May 21, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Hi Hailstorm,

I (27 y.o. female) seem to have a pretty similar problem to yours as I too find my body refuses to lose weight despite following everyone's advice. I feel great on Paleo but would not consider it a weight loss tool for myself. This past fall, I started olympic weight lifting three times week with a friend and have seen the most results from that. I was a bit nervous to start as I really did not want to bulk up but I have honestly only seen very pleasing results with my middle section shrinking. Good luck!

7c09a44d334ef8a8c7c2644b0b7e1383
279 · May 21, 2013 at 6:07 PM

You took the words right out of my mouth, Bean! Paleo is wonderful, but I'm very sad to admit to myself that it's obviously just not the weight loss key that I figured it would be. Olympic weight lifting, right on!

4f12a06aee26f64e432762495302ec9d
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292 · May 21, 2013 at 3:38 PM

I would just stick completely too no sugar, only water and lean meat!

There are some great videos on youtube called "yo elliott"...if you type that in there is one on there about losing weight/fat and he gives some great advice also :)

367fbf6687b81766dc287fdd84d417ff
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-2 · May 25, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Pre-packaged meals can work very well for some people. Consuming food items abundant with complex carbohydrates will be an effective technique for managing insulin levels. Understand that eating 100 excess calories per day can lead to a 10-pound weight gain in a calendar year.

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