Horrible Time Losing Weight


I am a woman who is 5'2" tall and I weigh 138 pounds. Don't currently know my body fat percentage.

I have been having the most HORRIBLE time trying to lose weight. When I was 19-20 I lost 60 lbs. and even went down to a slim 125 lbs at one point.  

I have slowly climbed up to 138 lbs. over the last couple years, which is frustrating because I have no idea how that could have happened. I am very healthy and know all about good nutrition. etc.

My long-term goal is to get down to 120 lbs which I believe is normal for my BMI range. My short-term goal is to lose at least 10 pounds.

I was wondering if it was possible for you to tell me how many calories I need a day, and how much exercise I should be doing a week? I have tried everything and I think I have hit a severe plateau.  

I am off the birth control pill and have been tested negative for hypothyroidism. I HAVE NO IDEA what is wrong with me. I am a 5'2" tall, 138 pound female so I figure it should be fairly easy to lose weight, please help.

Answer By:

Jason Spencer, CSCS

Jason Spencer Online Personal Training


From the sounds of everything you've expressed through your contact form, there's no doubt that you have good knowledge of fitness and have been going down the right path to this point for the most part...

Also, it is great that the thyroid checks out ok. That gives me just that much more confidence that we can definitely pinpoint our efforts directly to your bodies balance of calories consumed to calories burned...

You are absolutely right that you've hit a definite plateau and although very frustrating, for you this can most certainly be countered by going right to the source.

That is revving that metabolism of yours up to operate just as effectively as it did to allow you to lose that initial 60 lbs. You did wonderfully for yourself in doing that! But, the plateau effect you experienced and then gaining back that 13 lbs, is a direct result of the fact that your body just finally readjusted itself to the healthier habits you had started to keep.

There is no doubt that the significant decrease in weight gaining calories combined with the increase in calorie burning through your exercise had put your body in a state where it needed to scramble for calories to take...

During that great 60 lb loss it was taking its calories from your already stored body fat, which is perfect and exactly what we want!! This is what we call a "shock" or "alarm" phase. Where the body is put in a calorie deficit because of the improved nutrition and increased calorie burning due to the exercise, and is forced to use your body fat for the extra energy it needs...

However, an extended period of time employing the same, or similar methods and techniques results in your body no longer seeing your new activity as "shocking". It is now used to the new calorie load and physical activity you've been giving it and has learned to just make due.

So, you've really just rode that great progress out as long as you could and are now in significant need of your own readjustment :-) To get that last 18 lbs you need you got to do the same thing to your body that you did to it back at 185lbs....

You got to put it back in that shock phase and force it to rev its metabolism back up. This has to be done by continuing to eat well, but more importantly at this point it needs to be done by stimulating higher calorie burn through an altering of your exercise habits.

There's only so much less or better you could be eating. Especially if you have been doing great in that aspect already for all this time. So the effective way to go at this point now is to manipulate certain details of your workouts to cause slightly higher intensities, while eating to support the powerful metabolism that this new exercise intensity will create...

So in a nutshell this is what is absolutely necessary for you... I know it will help you as I've seen it with many other people and clients of mine.

I think you already have the work ethic due to the fact that you've come this far ;-) Now it's just time for a little change of direction and step ups in certain areas. I would love to hear more about exactly how you've been eating and what you've been doing exercise wise, and for how long a period of time have you been at these particular habits consistently.

This would all give me much more power to guide you as I'll know exactly what needs to be changed or bumped up, and what not so much... You'll need a little structure to the concept I've just laid out, that I would be more than happy to provide to you if i could. But, you're good to go at this point at least knowing where to focus your thoughts!

It has been a pleasure answering your fitness concern. Good luck, hope my answer was helpful! Check out some of my other Q&A on the site for further assistance with some of your fitness questions and concerns.

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