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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I've stopped losing weight. Now what?

Ask Kaye: Why has my weight loss stopped when I still have weight to lose?

This question typically comes up when a patient has achieved about 60 percent of their targeted weight loss. Occasionally at this point, usually nine to twelve months post-op, a patient’s weight loss may stop, and perhaps even a few pounds will creep back.

If you are asking this question then it is imperative you take some very private time and be brutally honest with yourself. Are you following the four rules; eating protein, drinking water, exercising and not snacking? Review the rules to help pinpoint a defeating behavior. Chances are you will be able to identify the behavior that may be the cause of your weight loss plateau.

One woman I know said she hit a plateau when she reached 205 pounds (down 95 pounds). She told me she had dieted successfully before, but had never been able to break the 200-pound barrier. But as she did some critical self-searching, she learned she was derailing her efforts by snacking throughout the day. After her hard cooked egg for breakfast she was eating as many as six full graham crackers mid-morning, her protein for lunch, a bag of air-popped popcorn in the afternoon, a piece of toast when she got home from work, dinner, then a late night snack of sugar free frozen yogurt. When she was brutally honest with herself, she realized she was afraid of succeeding and reaching her goal weight of 150 pounds, but she was also afraid of not reaching that goal! She was allowing fearful emotions to control her eating behavior.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, please disconcertingly evaluate your behavior. If you identify behaviors that could be derailing your weight loss then use some of that self-discipline you have already proven so powerful and go back to the basics. You still have your tiny tummy; use it as the tool it is intended to be to control and limit your caloric intake. Try this for a week – I bet you break away from the plateau and begin losing again.

I am happy to report that this woman conquered her emotional eating and has maintained a healthy 145 pounds for over two years!

If your weight loss remains stalled after an honest self-evaluation and a return to stellar behavior then perhaps its time to re-evaluate your goal weight. Maybe your body has reached an appropriate weight. If however, you have a long way to go before reaching your goal weight, and you have taken the steps described above yet still experience a plateau, then it is appropriate to call your bariatric professional for guidance.

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