Off my ASS for …myself – Week 13

Starting weight: 186.4 lbs
Last week’s weight: 170.6 lbs
Current weight: 171.8
Weight loss this week: -1.2 lbs
Total weight loss: 14.6 lbs

Weight loss… Y U NO MAKE SENSE?!?!

I was so good this week! I worked out every day, I was at or under my calorie budget…but I gained weight. Blargh.

This is what we call a plateau, folks.

Oh well. I know if I keep it up, I’ll eventually break through it. Just annoying that this doesn’t follow some sort of rational pattern.

On an interesting side note, I’ve noticed I do much better if I set my calorie intake at the rate of 1.5 lbs lost per week rather than 2.0 lbs. 1300 cal is just too low, and so I’d fail almost every day – and when I was in the mindset of failing, I’d give up and overeat since I already went over my budget. But I can easily do 1600 and be full – and often times that positive attitude will make me go a little under. Woo psychology.


  1. jose says

    Well, if you worked out so much, maybe you’ve gained muscle and such gain exceeds fat loss in the overall weight.

  2. Wayne23 says

    I went from 207 to 170 by setting reasonable goals for diet and exercise, and you are absolutely right, if you eat too little you will fail. Took six months, but now, four months later, I’m doing great, feeling great, and I’ve lost another pound, even though I’ve relaxed my routines just a very small amount. Keep up the good work and don’t get frustrated by temporary setbacks.

  3. says

    You probably need to change your exercise regime up if you suspect plateau-ing. And if you haven’t exercised regularly, and start doing it intensively, you can actually build a little muscle from cardio (especially dancing).

  4. Greta Christina says

    It “makes sense” in that fluctuations of a pound or two are going to happen no matter how on- target your food intake and exercise are. And yes, plateaus happen, and are not a cause for worry. As long as your overall long-term arc is where you want it to be, you’re good.And I totally agree about having a sane calorie budget you can easily stay within, instead of a harsh one you’re struggling with.

  5. Xorthon says

    Its following an entirely reasonable pattern. Read: Why we get fat and what we can do about it. Keep in mind that native americans an other low tech hunter gather populations have no fat people. Its not because their always running for or as prey. it because the food they eat is high protein high fat, zero wheat, zero sugar, zero useless carb. If what you’re eating amounts to sugar in your body then the fat that you’re taking in is not being used as energy as it should be, it is transported to your tummy/ass etc for storage. If you reduce all carbs to leafy greens and lay off the bread, starches, and sugar, your Cardio will be more worthwhile and your body composition will change more rapidly. Since you’re doing DDR you neednt worry about muscle mass loss. You ARE gaining muscle with DDR. But muscular development is what sees the plateau, not body fat loss. Muscles get used to doing the same thing over and over. Food and Energy usage is NOT a Thermodynamics process, its an endocrinological (sp?) process. Add some more protein and do different kinds of exercise in addition to your DDR. You neednt go p90x on it. But stretching exercises of varying kinds can be cardio-rific.

  6. Xorthon says

    She is actually very undercaloried. she should be running 2300/day at least. The types of food need to change. no sugar, no alcohol (very unpleasant I know- just for a little while), no starches.

  7. Xorthon says

    sorry native americans before they were introduced to the Westnern Diet had no fat people. I live in NM, they’re just like anyone else now but didnt used to be.

  8. Andrew B. says

    I was just thinking about this this morning. It’s discouraging when you look at weight loss (or any other form of achievement) over a small time frame, because you don’t see any convincing evidence that you’ve made an effort. That’s why it’s good you’re keeping a record of your weight loss so far-it helps you visualize your progress, and the numbers don’t lie. That can be very reassuring. The discomfort from exercise (fatigue, aching) is immediate, and the payoff is distant. That’s why things like keeping records/charts are important.One of the difficult things about getting in shape (or accomplishing other objectives) is setting the right goals. I’ve agonized over how hard I should work out, how long, and how much I should expect to lose. But I’ve realized the most important thing is just getting in the habit of consistently doing what you need to do. That’s a major accomplishment right there! Once you’ve established a good habit/routine, THEN you can worry about losing weight.It’s the same thing for me with music. I’m not concerned with making real progress on my studies for now, just getting in the habit of consistent studying/practicing.It might sound weird coming from a stranger, but I think you should feel proud of yourself for working out to begin with. When most people try to “get in shape,” they tire themselves out quickly by setting unrealistic goals and give up. But by setting modest goals and focusing on consistent, regular exercise, you’re training the most important muscle of all: willpower.So keep it up, you’re doing great, and don’t be afraid to tell yourself that!

  9. says

    There isn’t one right way to lose weight. And honestly, I rather stay at my current weigh forever than have to cut out sugar, alcohol, and starches.

  10. Washington Outsider says

    Hey – FYI, I started right when you did (you inspired me with the LoseIt app, actually), and I hit the same plateau at the same time. Creepy.I started at 165, down to 148.5, been stuck within this range for the last two weeks. Sucks.

  11. says

    I swear losing weight is easier for tall people. My first reaction to this was “you can eat 1300 calories a day and lose 2 pounds a week?! Not fair.” My BMR is so low because I’m so short that I have to work out 1-2 hours every day just to lose one pound a week on 1300 calories/day. And since it’s not particularly healthy to go below 1200 for extended periods of time, that’s pretty much the way I have to roll. So it’s taken me about 2 months to drop 7 pounds. (Though on the up-side, my size 8s are getting too big, as well!)

  12. Sidhe Unseelie says

    Well, how long are we talking about “plateau”-wise? Because 1lb can be water, hormones, a *single* meal out a day or so ago with more salt than you think, muscle rehab from a strenuous workout yesterday, etc etc etc. A plateau is more than a month of no movement on the scale with *truly* constant diet and exercise. I go down-down-up, down-down-up; it’s hormones and water retention. If my pattern is off it’s usually a high-sodium meal or a couple days of no exercise; not a big deal at all if the overall health plan is *snappy salute* on track on time on the march~

  13. says

    Not necessarily true. Calorie intake varies for each individual. Mine seems right at around 1700 calories per day in weight-loss mode.

  14. loreleion says

    Seriously, what’s the point of getting up if you can’t have an ice cream breakfast. ;)

  15. says

    Just wanted to take a moment to thank both Jen and Greta for inspiring me to lose some weight. Between Jen’s Off my ASS posts and Greta’s posts on her own diet I have been inspired to track what I eat and start some exercise (that and the recent realization that I’ve actually gained 15 pounds over the past couple of years. Prior to this I had been the same weight since I started college (13 years ago, and that wasn’t really a healthy weight to begin with,but it was stable).So far I haven’t quite gotten the exercise regular, and I often miss my calorie goals, but I’ve not missed a day of tracking my calories in three weeks, and I’m getting closer to making my weight loss calorie goal each day.Anyway, thanks to both of you for posting your own stories and inspiring me!

  16. Josh says

    Dunno if you’ve seen this or not, but I found it to be an interesting take on weight loss.… What has been useful for me out of it, actually, is the spreadsheet that is set up in there, which tracks your weight with a trend line instead of a simple day-to-day number, which makes it easier to see the overall, er, trends of your weight loss without getting stuck on the awkward day to day ups and downs.It’s worth a read, imo. :)

  17. says

    I’m only posting this apparently personal comment because you started it ;)Every time I see your “off my ass” posts, I think something along the lines of “It’s not the weight. Stop focusing on the weight. It’s fitness that matters. Focusing on what the scale says”. Tracking data appears to be part of your personality; it’s what helps make a good scientist. But it will wreck you. A personal trainer told my wife last year that obsessing over the scale only hinders your quest for fitness. Plus, if you first looked at this trainer, she looks a bit chubby, but she’s actually in damned good shape.Match your output to your intake and you’ll be fine. Regularity (not that kind, but that’s important, too) is the key. If you eat steady and exercise steady (not easy as a grad student), you’ll do fine. All that said, I was a fat kid in H.S. Then I got fit in the USCG. Then I got my first desk job in 2000 and got fat again. Now, I’ve been pretty fit for about eight years. I haven’t stepped on a scale but three or four times in those years. We don’t even own one. I’m not sure how much I even weigh but, my sit-up and push-up count is getting higher every workout.So, I feel weird talking about something so personal to someone I’ve read but, never met.

  18. says

    One week does not a plateau make. Trust me, I know from plateaus. Most likely it’s hormones — even if you’ve got your calories scaled for a 1.5 loss per week, you can retain 5 pounds of water (give or take… sometimes major “give” on that) at certain times, which would effectively camouflage any actual weight lost.Give it a week or two and see what the scale says. Mine usually goes into weight dumping overload for a couple of weeks after a spike like that. Totally freaks out the WW online weight tracker which then starts shrieking “Please slow down your weight loss!!!”You’re doing fine. It’ll all come out in the wash.

  19. says

    Yup. And what each person eats can make a difference as well. I find for myself I tend to lose weight if I cut back on carbs and eat more protein. It also helps for me to take a bit of protein as the first bite of my meal.

  20. Emma C. says

    Actually, while I agree with a good bit pf what you’ve said, energy use is both based on endocrine processes AND thermodynamics. How much each type of process factors in depends on you as an individual, but in either case if you expend more calories than you absorb, you lose weight. That is the thermodynamic part. Endocrinology matters in so far as it can change the amount of energy you expend in your daily metabolic processes as well as the energy absorbed from whatever food you eat.

  21. Emma C. says

    Jen – As one commenter already said, both you and Greta have really inspired me, and I’m so grateful! I was wondering, though, when you say 1600 calories/day, is that the total you eat, or the net total after taking exercise into account? I know that calorie limits will be different for everyone, but since you are getting such awesome results (way to go, btw!) I was curious. Thanks!

  22. Jedipsychologist says

    Okay, you said in your census post that you want non-commenters to comment more often, so here I am. Basically, yeah: Behavioral Psychology. Goals need to be challenging, but attainable. Too low, and you slack off and make the work expand to fill the allotted time. Too high and you give up all together. So, you’re totally doing it right. ^_^

  23. Hlkolaya says

    After seeing post after post like this I’m considering no longer subscribing just because I’m tired of the body hate. Eating healthy? Great! exercising? fantastic! counting calories and using deprivation so that you can be thinner instead of just focusing on being healthy and happy? Disappointing at best. All of the times you write about feminism.. and yet you’re jumping right into diet culture. I’m so very very disappointed.

  24. Samsoneffect says

    New commenter here. I did something similar to this a couple summers ago and managed to knock off about 25 pounds in four months (from 174 to 151), and yeah, you do have to shuffle things up a bit, and watch the proportions in which you get your calories. I was mixing a bunch of different cardio stuff with strength training, and the strength training can go a long way. Don’t be afraid of weights!Also, you’re a scientist so I assume you’re probably doing this but I’ll ask anyway; are you measuring at the same time in the same condition every week? When I did my weekly weigh-in, it was always first thing sunday morning, for the most consistency and least variability in the results from eating. Also same clothing configuration as well (that’s maybe a bit overkill on consistency, but it made sense for me).Hope I help you out down the road!

  25. says

    Also, I should point out, I’m a 5’8″/172 cm, and then-24-year-old male. I’m now 26. YMMV, but it should still translate regardless of male/female/other to some degree.Different name, but same guy as above.

  26. says

    Um…so, since when has eating *less* while exercising and eating better food been “diet culture”? I’m not depriving myself of anything – I’m becoming healthier. If you want to leave because you can’t get that, see ya!

  27. says

    My experience suggests that even when you’re long-term weight stable, day-t0-day variations of up to 1kg are not that unusual. So being up 1.2 lbs could be random variation.

  28. says

    Hi, I’ve been following your blog for a little while. And I work at the UW! But anyway, you are doing the right thing. I’ve been using the LoseIt app again (after Weight Watchers – quit because of the cost). I’ve also been listening to – a couple of skeptical guys who are losing weight. one or two weeks isn’t much of a plateau. just hang in there and keep doing what you are doing. And I’m going to the IMA three times a week starting tomorrow. Good Luck!

  29. says

    I’ve found that ultimately, the fit of your clothes is a better indicator of weight loss than weight itself. There are far too many variables- water weight, full/empty stomach. But if you’re seeing some difference and feeling better, you’re on the right track.

  30. says

    I am guessing the cause is water retention this time. Why don’t you put all the data up and plot a graph like you did last time?

  31. katsudon says

    I’ve learned not to sweat a week of weight gain. I’ve been aiming for losing a pound a week, and I seem to have this bizarre two week cycle where one week, I’m up two pounds, and the next week I’m down four. It all evens out in the end, I suppose. Maybe it’s the fun girl thing known as water retention, or who knows. I don’t know how much exercise you’ve been getting to do. As a grad student, I’ve found what works for me is actually doing a regular fitness class… I’ve signed up for one at the student rec, and I also do kung fu 2-3 times per week. But having a set, scheduled time where I kind of “have to” go exercise, where there’s a teacher or classmates involved that will be all sad-face if I miss has really helped me block the time out in my schedule and make it happen. Because otherwise I’d be all, “Well, I’m just too busy/I think I’m going to sleep early/I just have way too much work to do/Boo I’m tired because being a grad student is hard” and then I wouldn’t go. XD

  32. A-M says

    Even if Jen (or any woman) did suffer from a mild case of body image dissatisfaction (I assume that’s what you so scathingly refer to when you write about ‘using deprivation so that you can be thinner’), how does that stop her from being a feminist? I’d love to lose 15-20lb so that my BMI would be healthy, but also for aesthetic reasons. Does that mean my views on feminism no longer count? That’s a pretty oppressive point of view.

  33. says

    What’s wrong with wanting to be attractive and doing it in a healthy way? Maybe our culture finds being overweight unattractive for good reason: it’s linked to a variety of health problems. And feminists do plenty of things that make them more attractive (conventionally) that are neutral, health-wise, or even unhealthy! Many feminists wear makeup; is that engaging in “makeup culture”? Many feminists shave their legs and underarms; is that engaging in “hair removal culture”? And that could be considered “body hate,” for sure! Like Totz the Plaid said, I support anything a woman can do to feel better about herself, especially if it’s a health-positive change.

  34. says

    In episode 291 of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe (http://www.theskepticsguide.or… they interviewed a man named Jeff Ainslee who has a podcast called Fat 2 Fit Radio ( Jeff’s approach was very commonsense, and Steve Novella agreed with just about everything he said. (Always a good sign when it comes to medical issues, in my opinion.) I see that they have a recent episode of F2FR titled “Fat 2 Fit #121 – Running and Weight Loss Plateaus.” (

  35. says

    you are a student – is it free for students? i’m staff i have to pay, but it’s the cheapest health club i’ve ever belonged to. keep up what ever you are doing – i have a friend whose lost 85 lbs by moving more and eating less… she’s much healthier happier and feels better. **Just because we’re feminists doesn’t mean we don’t want to look good, feel good and be fit.

  36. says

    It’s “free” in the sense that I’m already paying for it in my student fee, so I might as well go use it, haha

  37. says

    I must admit that Hlkolaya has a point. I recently started to read more about body image and fat acceptance, and the background behind her criticism is as follows: Many fat accpetance activists think that society puts a lot of pressure on women to be thin. Which is wrong, because your weight does NOT necessarily say something about your health. A lot of it is summarized here: idea is that putting too much thought about how we look and what we eat draws a lot of attention from much more important topics (e.g. equal wages). What Hlkolaya calls “diet culture” is seen EVERYWHERE in magazines, on TV etc. So I can understand that she’s a bit disappointed to see what fat acceptance activists call “fat talk” here, too.If you take a look at this site: may even be shocked to see real women’s bodies. We are so used to photoshopped ideals that most of us can’t even appreciate the beauty of normal bodies anymore (it also took me some looks at that page before I could see that also non-ideal persons can look absolutely beautiful).this video almost made my cry:

    Dear Jen, as far as I see you had no health problems because of your weight. Now you changed your lifestyle and lost some weight but just in this post you are disappointed that you didn’t loose any more weight although you were “good”. I am also a bit sorry that this topic bothers you so much, I’d feel much better for you if I would read stuff like “yay, I worked out every day this week and feel so much more awake and energetic”. Do you know what I mean?BUT, and that’s the really great BUT (and my critique on Hlkolaya’s comment): No matter what you do with your body, it’s your body and it’s really wrong to say “oh, you diet, so you’re doing feminism WRONG”. Plus, it’s your blog and you damn should write there whatever YOU want.I personally am totally convinced that feminism is about doing what WE WANT, no matter WHY we want it (but maybe I only say that because I am also not exactly good at accepting my physical appearance. Plus I love using make-up and I love fashion, AND I’m married. Duh, at least I am an engineer, so I hope it kind of equals out ;-)). I really wish you to feel GOOD about your body and about yourself, no matter HOW you reach that goal.

  38. says

    I second that. The Hacker’s Diet is a great explanation of how weight loss proceeds, and why you should expect variation. The trick is allowing for that variation, using things like the spreadsheet they supply. I use the app “Libra” by Daniel Cachapa on my android.

  39. Nattybug says

    Jen, my hubs and I are both doing the lifestyle change to get healthy. I’ve been following you on twitter and find you to be an inspiration as an atheist and for weight loss. You are hilarious and I enjoy your blogs when I get the chance to read them. Keep up the great work! ~ Nattybug

  40. Azkyroth says

    On that note, I have a wonderful, delicious, reasonably easy, mostly cost-effective Greek-derived casserole recipe…which is fucking full of, and derives much of its deliciousness from, cheese.How much is it worth to you for me to not share it? ;)

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