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When Your Bandwagon Stalls



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Frustrated by a weight loss plateau? You need a combination of patience and a plan to push through it.



It happens to everyone sooner or later. Your bandwagon stalls. You’ve been going great guns, fired up with enthusiasm, working that tool, doing all the right things, and losing weight. Then one day the weight loss stops. One day, two days, twenty days go by…you’re still stuck, and you’re wondering what happened. And because you’ve spent so many years failing at dieting, and being told that obesity is always the fault of the patient, you start to wonder what you are doing wrong. You even think, “Is my band broken?”

Chances are, you’re not doing anything wrong, and neither is your band. What’s happening is that your body is adjusting itself to the many changes that have happened during your weight loss.

The human body doesn’t know what you’re going to do next, be it climb a mountain or relax on the couch, so it has to continually adjust and readjust your metabolism to make the best use of the calories you take in. It looks at the history of what you’ve been eating and how much you’ve been burning off through physical activity and comes up with a forecast of what you’ll need to stay alive for the next week or so.

THIS MONTH’S WEIGHT LOSS FORECAST IS…

At work I’ve had to prepare sales forecasts for various jobs through the years. How many widgets will we sell in the month of April? How many defective widgets will be returned by unhappy customers who want a refund? Will all this income and outgo generate enough cash (in our case, energy) to cover the payroll and the equipment maintenance and the CEO’s country club membership? I once had a boss who joked that we might as well toss a deck of cards down a flight of stairs to come up with a prediction of which new product (represented, say, by the joker card) was going to be the best-seller. That suggestion didn’t go over big with the finance guys. Like us, they were trying to follow the rules, keep everything identified, counted and categorized. And like the bean-counters, we count our calories, carbs, fats, Proteins, liquids, solids, income, outgo, with faith that this accounting system will help us win the weight game.

Meanwhile, our bodies have a different agenda: survival. When we decrease our food intake and increase our physical activity, the body watches to see what will happen next. As our purposeful “starvation” continues, the body struggles to accommodate the changes we’re making. It makes some withdrawals of funds from our fat cells and fiddles with our metabolism to prevent an energy (calorie) shortage. Gradually it becomes acclimated to the new routine so that it’s making the best possible use of the few calories we’re consuming. It’s keeping us alive, but it’s also putting the brakes on weight loss. Eventually we find ourselves stalled on what seems like an endless weight loss plateau. And unless we change our routine and keep our bodies working hard to burn up the excess fat, we’re going to grow to hate the scenery on that plateau.

AND ON THE FLIP SIDE

I’ve suffered through countless weight loss plateaus but by varying my exercise, my total caloric intake, my liquid intake, my sleep, and so on, did manage to finally arrive at my goal weight. For the past few years, I’ve felt mighty smug that I finally got promoted to the Senior VP of Weight Management here at Chez Jean. Maintaining my goal weight +/- 5 pounds seemed effortless. But it didn’t last.

Turns out it was time for me to learn another lesson about my body’s fuel economy. When I had all the fill removed from my band to deal with some bad reflux, my eating didn’t go berserk. I didn’t pig out at Burger King, didn’t drown my sorrows in a nightly gallon of ice cream. I was definitely eating more because I was so much hungrier than before – perhaps 500 extra calories a day, which would amount to a weight gain of one pound a week. Imagine my dismay when I gained seven pounds in 2 weeks – the equivalent of an extra 1750 calories a day! There was a time when I could have overeaten that much without any effort at all, but as a WLS post-op, I’d have to work hard at eating that much extra food. I was flabbergasted. And frightened. Obesity was a mountain on my horizon again – far in the distance across my weight maintenance plateau - when I thought I’d left it far behind.

So at the end of a visit with my gastro-enterologist during that scary time, I asked him if my sudden and substantial weight gain was the equivalent of my body shouting, “Yahoo! We’re not starving anymore! Let’s get ready for the next starvation period by hanging on to every single calorie she takes in! Let’s store those calories in those fat cells that have been hanging around here with nothing to do! C’mon, troops, get to work!”

I’m pretty sure that’s not the way Dr. Nuako would have explained it, but he smiled, nodded, and said, “Oh, yes.”

I felt like I was facing the flip side of a weight loss plateau: I might be in a weight gain plateau. All I could do is keep on keeping on with exercise and healthy eating, enjoying some of the foods, like raw fruits and veggies, that had been harder for me to eat with a well-adjusted band.

PUZZLING OUT THE WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAU

So the good news was that my wonky metabolism following that complete unfill wasn’t my fault, but the bad news was that my metabolism wasn’t in a cooperative mood. I was going to have to start playing much closer attention to the details of weight loss and maintenance again. What a pain!

But hey! I’d already had a lot of practice at that. I had the tools – a little rusty maybe, but still in usable condition. I ended up regaining 30 pounds between that unfill and my revision to VSG, but I have a suspicion that without those weight tools, it could have been 60 pounds. And that’s one of the reasons that even today, bandless for 14 months now, I don’t regret my band surgery. The band helped me lose 90 pounds and learn a host of useful (if uncomfortable) things about myself, my behavior, my body, my lifestyle.

What about you? How can you get your weight loss going again and avoid regain? So many factors can affect your weight that sorting out the reason(s) for your weight loss plateau can make you dizzy even if you’re not a natural blonde like me. To help you assess what’s going on and what might need to be changed, I created a Weight Loss Plateau Checklist. To access the checklist in Google Docs, click here: https://docs.google....emtSYjJLRnVGTFE

The checklist includes a long list of questions about you and your behavior, with answers and suggestions for each question. I can’t claim that it will give you the key to escaping that plateau, but it should give you some food for thought and perhaps some ideas to try. Use that to come up with a plan to deal with the plateau, and work that plan for at least a month to give your body a chance to get with the new program.

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Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been hitting my never-ending plateau on and off for the past 3 months and loved the check list. Although I have been frustrated, I know I can beat this plateau and get back on that bandwagon.

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great article jean. very informative and def a direct hit.

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Why did you revise to VSG?

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I just read that you revised...what happened?

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Thank you Jean, enjoyed your article.,

I had my port replacement surgery in March 2013. The new port allowed restriction for me at only 1cc. I am not familar why the older port I was able to hold 2cc vs only 1cc. Nevertheless, I have restriction and feel I am in the 'Green Zone'.

I work out regularly, eat less, feel great but no real weight lost shown in the scales.

Is there something wrong with my mebtabolism? I eat healthy but still do not like eating meat, I know I need the Protein but I just do not like it. I try small dishes but become bored after one day servings. Then I alleviate it all together!! My diet has been mainly Beans, lentils, rice variations and salads. I also had low Iron almost all my life. I am drinking more Water, and hope the scales would display my efforts. Any advice to a struggling new smaller port patient. Thanks in advance!

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Thank you Jean, enjoyed your article.,

I had my port replacement surgery in March 2013. The new port allowed restriction for me at only 1cc. I am not familar why the older port I was able to hold 2cc vs only 1cc. Nevertheless, I have restriction and feel I am in the 'Green Zone'.

I work out regularly, eat less, feel great but no real weight lost shown in the scales.

Is there something wrong with my mebtabolism? I eat healthy but still do not like eating meat, I know I need the Protein but I just do not like it. I try small dishes but become bored after one day servings. Then I alleviate it all together!! My diet has been mainly Beans, lentils, rice variations and salads. I also had low Iron almost all my life. I am drinking more Water, and hope the scales would display my efforts. Any advice to a struggling new smaller port patient. Thanks in advance!

I think you need to talk to your dietitian about it, but it sounds to me like you really need to work harder at getting in more Protein. It doesn't have to be animal protein, though that would help bring up your Iron levels. Have you tried fish, shellfish, tofu, seitan, tempeh, etc? As for your metabolism - I think there are ways to test that, including checking your thyroid function.

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Why did you revise to VSG?

I just read that you revised...what happened?

It's a long story. I wrote about it in a blog post here:

http://jean-onthebandwagon.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-lot-of-people-especially-those.html

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Jean, you posted somewhere else that your band slipped. I am confused :blink: Totally different reasonings from the blog you posted. Also this on OH:

"My situation reminds me of the speech that Dr. Mitchell Roslin gave at last year's ASMBS conference, in which he pointed out that the band creates a high-pressure system that can eventually lead to motility problems. It baffles me that this could happen to someone like me - a very careful eater who wasn't overeating. I suppose it's possible that it was developing very slowly and didn't start causing symptoms until it reached a critical point."

Sounds to me these are general band problems, not a case of 20+ years of hidden issues.

or, did your band slip?

or, 20+years of silent reflux?

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Jean, you posted somewhere else that your band slipped. I am confused :blink: Totally different reasonings from the blog you posted. Also this on OH:

"My situation reminds me of the speech that Dr. Mitchell Roslin gave at last year's ASMBS conference, in which he pointed out that the band creates a high-pressure system that can eventually lead to motility problems. It baffles me that this could happen to someone like me - a very careful eater who wasn't overeating. I suppose it's possible that it was developing very slowly and didn't start causing symptoms until it reached a critical point."

Sounds to me these are general band problems, not a case of 20+ years of hidden issues.

or, did your band slip?

or, 20+years of silent reflux?

My band slipped in June 2009, when I was about 21 mos post-op. The blog post whose link I posted on this thread has nothing to do with that.

The damage from decades of reflux was diagnosed in January/February 2012, when I was 4-1/2 yrs post-op. My surgeon and gastro doc agreed that my band was aggravating the situation. My band was removed in April 2012 and I revised to VSG in August 2012. The blog post whose link I posted on this thread describes my 2012 experience.

The OH post you quoted sounds familiar but I don't remember when I posted it. Probably in the spring of 2012, at which I point I may not have had all the test results and gastro consults done and was therefore not in possession of all the facts. I'm flattered because you must have done quite a bit of digging to find it. Or you've been saving it all this time, waiting for the opportunity to quiz me about it.

Anyway, I'm sorry if I confused you. Yes, my band slipped, and yes, I had damage from 20+ years of reflux, and yes, I had general band problems related to reflux.

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Another great article Jean!! Thanks. Btw my wife is starting on her own journey and is now reading Bandwagon and loves it. We call it the Band Bible. :-)

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By now, you know I love your articles.

Keep'em coming!!!!!

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great post (:

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