I guess this really isn’t exclusive to Weight Watchers, but one of the problems that comes up is when you either stop losing weight, or it slows down considerably. I have gone through it, and in some ways am going through it right now, but I wanted to share with you my theory on why this happens… and specifically in what I’m doing with Weight Watchers.
In the first month weight drops off pretty quick. You are losing a lot of water weight (which is a good thing – you don’t want your body retaining that water), and you naturally lose weight as you begin taking in fewer calories.
Then, the second and third months hit, and you may go days or weeks only losing 1 or 2 pounds, or none at all. I have a theory on why this is. Again, I’m not a doctor or have all the medical terms… but I think I know what I’m talking about with this theory.
I believe your body doesn’t naturally want to lose weight. It wants to survive. I know that there were days when I was easily eating 3500-4500 calories in a day, but 2500-3000 was probably more the normal range. Your body adjusts to that amount. Your body is working to survive, burning off as many calories as possible. What my body couldn’t burn off, it stored as fat.
The opposite then becomes true when you cut your calories. That is one of the great things about the Weight Watchers Points Plus system. It adjusts the number of points, and thus the calories, as you continue to lose weight. Since I began, it has gone down from 57 to 54 points per day, and I’m sure it will be less when I lose more weight.
When I cut my food intake and was doing 56 or 57 points per day, I was eating less calories and I lost weight in that first month. BUT, my body wants to survive. So, it stops burning so many calories because there are less coming in. The body wants to conserve energy, and tries to find a balance between what you are taking in and what it needs to survive.
That is one of the reasons I think people on Weight Watchers feel tired. Their body is slowing down to conserve energy to balance what is being taken in. Therefore, it becomes harder to lose weight because you are fighting against your body’s natural instinct to survive.
So, what do you do? Well, just doing Weight Watchers points is not enough. You might slowly but surely lose a pound or two, but that gets VERY discouraging… and, if you’re like me, you can only take so many weeks of not losing weight, sticking with the plan, until it’s time to give up. Let me give you what I think are the two best ways to keep losing weight:
First, I gotta exercise. My metabolism had gotten very, very slow and low. I have found that it takes a long, long, very long time to begin building up your metabolism again through exercise. But, I have to exercise.
I need to force my body to burn more calories than it wants to in order to survive. If my body needs 2000 calories a day to survive, and I am eating 2000 calories, I will not lose much weight. I can begin eating less than 2000 calories, but my body will soon adjust to survive. So, I need to increase the number of calories my body needs as fuel than what I am eating. And, the way that happens is through exercise.
By walking, doing Bowflex, hiking, treadmills, health clubs, or whatever, I can increase what my body needs to 2200 or 2300 calories a day. As I continue to exercise, I can increase my metabolism and even take that number higher. As an extreme example, think of Michael Phelps in the Olympics. He is constantly eating 8,000 – 12,000 calories a day because his body is burning that many a day to keep up with his training and competition. When he is not competing, I am sure he eats a lot less, otherwise he would balloon up like I had.
So, if I am only eating 2000 calories a day (or 54 Weight Watcher points), but my body needs 2300 for that day, my body will then take stored fat and convert it into the energy it needs (something I learned on the Atkins diet). Therefore, I can lose weight again.
Second, I need to use my Weekly Weight Watcher Points too. One of the popular weight loss informercials a couple years ago was the Skinny Switch Diet. It was a low carb-type diet, but it allowed 2 meals or 2 foods a week that were anything – ice cream, pizza, cookies, cake, or whatever. The purpose of this was to “trick” your body that you had extra calories, carbohydrates, fatty, etc. coming in. So, rather than your body continuing to try and adjust to the decreasing amount of carbohydrates coming in, because of this high carb snack or meal, it kind of “resets” your body’s instinct to survive.
I think the same thing can be said of the extra Weekly Weight Watcher Points we get. I get 49 points per week. I may not use all of them. I may not use any of them. Or, I may blow it wide open and use them all in one day (54+49 points = a lot of food in one day). What this does is it can “reset” your body’s natural instinct to survive, tricking it into thinking you have more calories coming in again. It can help keep your body from ever adjusting downward in order to survive… at least a little bit.
So, there you go. My theory is 3 parts:
- Stick with the Weight Watchers Plus Points System. It works. It’s proven.
- Exercise to increase metabolism and burn more calories in a day than my body needs, thus losing weight
- Splurge now and then to keep my body from being too predictable and routine.