Losing weight again! 5:2 Plateau broken after 2 months

Well, I must have Friday brain because I simply couldn’t think of a decent title for today’s blog entry. Oh dear, I seem to have given it all away in a single line!

The dreaded plateau

If you look at my 5:2 weight loss charts you’ll see that for the last two months I’ve been on something of an frustrating wibbly wobbly journey between 66.8-67.3kg. Don’t ask me what that is in lbs, I’ve always weighed myself in kilos due to the old Dutch rule my dad taught me “Your ideal weight is your height, less 1 meter”, i.e. if you’re 1.64m tall then 64kg is ideal for you. Seems to hold true to some degree, or at least for me. Much of my adult life (when not hideously overweight) has been spent at around the 64-66kg mark which I can usually maintain at reasonably well.

My goal weight – at least the first of my goals – has been set at 65kg, a nice round number and hopefully a somewhat less round Moogie. It’s hardly surprising then that as I have neared this weight the losses have slowed down rather. Things weren’t helped by an indulgent holiday in May just prior to my birthday (along with which, of course, came more indulgence) when I didn’t fast at all and in fact probably consumed close to double my daily needs at a guess! I got home and decided not to weigh for at least a week so as not to shock myself. After a week of fasting I was still about 4lbs up on my pre-holiday weight, thankfully this came off relatively quickly but since then I have been on something of a plateau and starting to get a little annoyed with it. I’ve had brief plateaus before – a few weeks here and there but this was getting silly.

Excuses, excuses?

There seemed to be a reason each week that it wasn’t really changing or had gone up a teensy bit – a friend’s birthday, family occasions, that accidental but oh so delicious tub of chocolate fudge brownie Ben & Jerry’s… I checked my TDEE against what I was eating and realised I was probably more or less breaking even on my calories – not good for weight loss. My own stupid fault then?

Move it!

Okay, so that was the couple of weeks explained and I decided that rather than cutting back on my intake, I’d try to increase the calories I burned. Now, I’m a desk monkey by trade – I live on my arse most of the day and due to the atrocious weather in the early parts of this summer unfortunately this continued into the evening most days. Probably not wise! I read a little bit about NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – a fancy way of saying get off your bum once in a while and move about you lazy woman) and decided to give that a go. I set an alarm for every 20 minutes and when it went off I got up and moved around for a minute or two, or worked from a standing position (not so easy with a sitting down style desk) – it felt like it was doing something and for that weigh in I came down just a little bit. Unfortunately with a big project on for work it wasn’t going to be easy to keep stopping my development every 20 minutes every day so I decided to introduce a different form of exercise.

I invested in a folding exercise bike since space is a bit limited at home for something like that and began with it on the lowest setting for all of about 10 minutes a day. Over the next few weeks this setting increased a bit and the time spent on the bike was a minimum of 20 minutes, usually more and sometimes as many as 45 minutes depending on how engaging the TV I park it in front of was šŸ˜‰ I fully expected to only maintain for a couple of weeks as fat hopefully turned to muscle which we all know weighs more. Calories out were certainly higher than calories in and after a few weeks I was surprised that the scales still weren’t shifting on any permanent basis. Still the same half kilo fluctuation for a full 7 weigh ins, argh. I wish I hadn’t gone so mad on holiday, but the food was so good! You’d think that sitting in the boat in the middle of a lake in the pouring rain would be conducive to fasting, but believe you me this is far from the case. A packet of ‘boredom biscuits’ is essential in these circumstances, no nibbles from fish so instead we satisfy ourselves with nibbling biscuits. Sometimes crisps.

A normal experience?

During my time at the forum I have read various stories of plateaus lasting anything from a few weeks to a couple of months – and it seems in most cases they do resolve themselves with time. It’s as if the body just needs a bit of time to catch up with itself and register that it has a new ‘normal’ weight before it is willing to lose any more. I don’t know if there’s any scientific basis for this, but I’ve been trying to go with the theory that as long as I wasn’t overeating over the course of each week the weight would eventually start to come off again.

Diet mashup?

I toyed with the idea of mixing in some other diets as I know some members have used the Atkins ‘Attack Phase’ to kick start things or have tried adding in extra fasting days (4:3 instead of 5:2), low-carbing etc. – but none of these quite sat right with me. I love 5:2, I trust 5:2 – it has worked for me for the best part of the year and I had to trust that it would continue to do so. I didn’t want to have to try other diets, for me 5:2 isn’t a diet, it’s a way of life and I love it because I don’t feel like I’m restricted. I want to be able to depend on this way of eating to look after my weight in the long term without the need for restricting myself in other ways. I love carbs, that isn’t going to change and 5:2 for me means I don’t have to change that. Yes, I eat more veg & fruit now, more healthy choices in general but don’t you dare take away my potatoes, rice & pasta!

The reality

So, what have I done? Well, I’ve continued the exercise biking, no point in stopping now as I could certainly do with toning a bit now I’m near my goal. I’ve continued to eat well (and by well I don’t just mean healthy but also enjoying cakes, biscuits, takeaways etc.) and enjoy my food on my feed days. Maybe I’ve been a little more mindful of calories but if so it’s certainly not been a conscious effort. Truth be told if I kept a food diary I don’t think my noted intake would have changed drastically between the start of the plateau and now. Even in those more indulgent weeks with social occasions I tried to balance the intake as best I could.

Background

On average just prior to my holiday in May I was losing around 250g/half a pound a week – a noticeable slowdown from the prior half kilo/1lb losses but acceptable due to the minimal impact 5:2 has on my life compared with the daily grind of calorie restriction – for which suffering I would hope to enjoy greater weekly losses. In the few weeks leading up to the holiday I had started experimenting with liquid only (up to 50 calories in the form of a low calorie cuppa soup) fasts once or twice a week to try to increase the losses, although this didn’t seem to really make any difference (see my progress chart for April – note the couple of week plateau late March/early April was due to being poorly, coupled with wedding anniversary & hubby’s birthday celebrations!). On returning from holiday and all that overeating I found my next fast was much like my very first fast and couldn’t/didn’t want to stick to a liquid fast. Since then I haven’t bothered at all with liquid fasts and have gone back to 200-500 calories on my fasting days.

Fast forward… (‘fast’ – get it?!)

Imagine then my delight this morning when I weighed in to find I had lost an entire kilo compared with the same time last week. Just over 2lbs in a week! I can’t really explain it – any changes I’ve made in a bid to get through this plateau were started weeks ago, I’ve no idea why it would suddenly kick in now. I can only assume that it’s been nothing to do with them really but what I have gone through is a natural phase of adjustment after such a long time eating this way and when approaching my ‘usual’ weight. I can confirm that my water/body fat % has fluctuated as minimally as my weight, but today the fat has dropped noticeably.

Almost as pleasing as having broken through the plateau is the fact that I have now lost over 20kg on the 5:2 diet and shrunk down to around a size 12!

jeans1614b

 

Other 5:2 Diet Plateau-ers

I don’t seem to be alone in this prolonged plateau followed by a higher than average loss, others on the forum have reported the same (although some can put it down to changes they have made). Here are a few related topics if you’re interested:

Ā» Hooray! I’m off the Plateau!

Ā» Finally!!! 7 Week Plateau Blown Away

Ā» Off that loooooong 7-week plateau!!

Ā» Plateau broken….hopefully

Ā» Finally broke through Plateau !

…and one of the forum’s most popular topics, courtesy of Caroline:

Why do the scales show an increase when I’ve been so good?

 

Stuck?

So if you’re experiencing a 6 week+ plateau on 5:2, be patient and just give it a bit of time. If you want to feel like you’re doing something, check your TDEE just to be sure you’re not overeating and try to move a bit more if you can – it may just be enough to shake things up and get the weight loss going again! Try not to get frustrated, just keep reminding yourself that you are essentially maintaining your weight while still eating the foods you enjoy most of the time. Isn’t that in itself an achievement to be happy about? Give it a few more weeks and things may well get going again.

We’d love to hear about your 5:2 plateau experiences at the forum to improve our understanding of when and why they may occur and what can be done to help people break through them, if anything. It’s free to register at the forum and there are hundreds, nay – thousands, of friendly folks there to chat with about fasting and more.

 

20kgsugar

5:2 Blog Launch (time to get this show on the road!)

Well, I’ve had this domain for quite some time and didn’t get around to doing much with it.Ā I find myself answering more and more questions through Twitter, Facebook and the forum these days and while the latter are great, Twitter does somewhat limit the length of my replies and I can’t help but feel it would be nice to write a bit more.

So, hereĀ I am with my very first proper blog!

As you can see I’ve started to fill it out with some articles/answers about common 5:2 questions. I’ve got so much more planned but I may as well open this place to the public first or I’ll be sat at my desk for weeks writing everything up before anyone sees it.

So, what is Come Fast With Me?

In part it will be a something of a journal of my 5:2 experiences including things I cook up, recipes and interesting 5:2 diet/Fast Diet articles I find, 5:2 news from the forum and especially the Progress Tracker stats which are proving to be quite interesting. I hope to answer some of the more common questions which are raised time and again as well as sharing any tips I pick up along the way.

I’ve been doing 5:2 for almost a year now and I wish I’d started this blog sooner – so much to write up still. I feel like I could write a book.

So, what’s coming next on Come Fast With Me?

Well, there are a few more common questions I need to write about as well as a few of my favourite Fast Day dinners to add. I want to get together a fairly comprehensive list of 5:2 dietĀ articles found in the online media and when I feel like it I may write what I think of them šŸ™‚ Next up I think will be an article about my top tips for newbies to the 5:2 fasting diet.

Why “Come Fast With Me”?

I was chatting with a friend who was thinking of trying 5:2 and she suggested to me that if we were both doing it, we could do ‘Come Dine With Me’ fasting nights where we try to make a tasty (maybe even fancy!) three course dinner within our fasting day 500 calorie allowance. I love that idea and I’ve already got some meal plans to perfect and add to the site. Fasting doesn’t have to be boring food or lonely either – fasting dinner parties could be the next big thing! I’d love to do a Come Fast With Me book but haven’t a clue how to get started and would need some suitable foodies on board to get enough recipes together. I thought something like that would be a fantastic way to raise more money for Foodbank. Now I’ve put the idea out there someone will probably steal it, but as long as the money goes to charity it’s all fine with me.

How I came to be on the 5:2 Diet

I’ve spent just about my whole life hating my body and trying to lose weight. I have almost always been on one diet or another – general healthy eating; cutting out the ‘bad’ things for months on end; SlimFast; Adios diet pills; Rosemary Conley; nothing but salad for dinner… I’ve never kept the weight off in the long term and throughout my adult life have varied between 56-86kg. I could never keep to any of those ways of eating in the long term, and being a self confessed lazy cow I’ve always avoided exercise. I could make the excuse of how difficult I found P.E. at school due to having asthma and not being diagnosed with it or given an inhaler until I was in my teens and that it put me off, but we all make too many excuses for why we got fat. I’m just lazy and I love my food.

I slimmed down to a size 8 when I found myself in a particularly stressful time with an overly controlling man but when the situation changed for the better I soon started to re-gain the weight I had worked so hard to lose. In hindsight having regained some of it was probably a good thing – my relationship with food was bordering on an anorexic way of eating and obsessing over my ‘10,000 or more steps a day’ plus exercise regime. Meeting my now-husband led me to relax and indulge in food again. I maintained at around 65kg for a few years but it slowly started to creep up. We got married almost 2 years ago and at that point I had ‘only’ hit around the 72kg mark – another stone. Christmas seemed to be the main problem, I’d overindulge and get used to it, eating too much for a couple of months after.

After the wedding I was so fed up of trying to control my weight (I lived on salads for about 4 months before the wedding to make sure I’d still fit in my dress!) that I decided not to care. I decided I was fat and that was just how I’d always be, so I may as well accept & enjoy it.

I enjoyed it a little too much, giving up on weighing – well the batteries in the scales had died anyway – and just buying bigger and bigger clothes. Last summer I had to buy something nice to wear for a meal out and it was while in the changing rooms I took a good look at myself and how I was bulging out of size 16 clothes. The thought of having to try on an 18 for the first time in my life was a major shock and I decided to get some batteries for the scales ASAP.

The scales were not kind to me. I took a guess at ‘just under 80kg’ and was devastated to step on and find myself almost a stone off the mark, 86kg. The most I’ve ever weighed. No wonder I couldn’t undress happily in front of hubby anymore and no wonder it felt like my backside was following me around.

Enough was enough, I decided to lose the weight.

So, I started doing everything I’d normally do to lose weight. Daily exercise, albeit on the old exercise bike for 30-40 minutes and a much healthier diet, less treats & snacks. Move more, eat less, eat healthier. That had always worked in my 20’s when I set my mind to it.

Over a couple of months doing this my weight varied between about 84-86kg. I’d lose a bit and then regain, nothing seemed to keep it off and whether I tried more exercise or less food it simply wouldn’t budge. I got quite low with this and due to a few other issues I’d been having I went to see the doc. I wondered if I might have a thyroid condition (several family members do) or perhaps be pre-diabetic. There had to be something which could explain the lack of weight loss. The doc did a dozen or more blood tests, and although no major conditions turned up (to my relief!) it did look as though I’d had a virus for some time and the doc thought this could explain why I couldn’t seem to shift the weight with what I had been doing. I decided just to let my body recover and to try the diet & exercise again once I was 100%.

When I was back to normal I started the regime again, with little effect. It was around this time I spotted an article on the BBC News website about the forthcoming Horizon documentary. It sounded interesting and I made a note to watch it. I’m so glad I did, it has changed my life.

After watching the documentary I decided to try the 5:2 diet myself, despite the lack of human tests – I had nothing to lose, but weight! I opted for Mondays & Thursdays to allow me to fill up on a good roast on the Sunday evening and so my weekends would be free for social occasions. I started the first Thursday after the documentary and was really excited about it. I’m a very stubborn (or determined, depending on how you look at it :)) girl and that has made it easier for me to stick to going without food when I’ve decided to do so. My first fast day wasn’t very well planned, I had decided I’d be best having a larger lunch and a cuppa soup for dinner. Well the lunch was fine and filled me up, but by dinnertime was ravenous and the old cuppa soup I’d found in the cupboard did not taste right at all! I didn’t have much else in the house which would fit my remaining 100ish calories, so I opted for what was probably the tiniest bowl of cereal ever – perhaps a tablespoon? with a tinier splash of milk. Each flake was a banquet, eaten singly on the smallest spoon I could find. I wasn’t full, but I wasn’t starving and stuck with it the rest of the day. Being in the habit of weighing every day I hopped on the scales the next morning as was delighted to see I had lost some weight. I forget how much, I didn’t keep track of it early on. I couldn’t bear to write down the numbers which had been so shocking to me.

My subsequent fasts were much better planned, with lunch & dinners of around 250 cals each. Skipping breakfast was easy and I filled up on water most of the day. It seemed so easy, and although I kept restricting my calories on my feed days in the first couple of months, I soon learned that I didn’t need to. I couldn’t manage as much anyway and tended towards healthier choices, but was able to have treats and not only not gain weight but more importantly not feel guilty about it!

Within 3 weeks I had lost around half a stone and my family were starting to notice. After 6 weeks a stone was gone and I started to notice the loss was slowing down a bit. With hindsight it may just have been ‘that time of the month’ which seems to play with my weight a little. Nonetheless I decided a change was necessary and I opted to switch to having just 1 meal a day on my fasts, in the evening. I’d save enough calories for a low cal hot choc or slim-a-soup at lunchtime. This meant I’d be going around 24 hours with 0-40 cals, and it did indeed seem to give the loss a bit of a kick start again. By Christmas I’d made it back to my wedding weight and decided to keep fasting over the festive period, being that Christmas eating was usually my downfall.

Admittedly my Christmas fasts weren’t so strict – I didn’t stop eating after dinner the night before and I probably allowed myself more like 600-650 cals, including some chocolates during the day. In the first week I lost 1lb – I was amazed! In the second week, which involved far more indulgence in all the edible presents received, I regained most of that pound. But, overall I came out quarter of a pound less over Christmas than before. I didn’t feel like I’d missed out at all, I’d eaten like a pig most of the time and my fasting days actually seemed a welcome break from all the chocolate and fatty things.

The 5:2 diet made my jeans fall down!
My size 16 jeans were soon too big for me thanks to the 5:2 Diet!

It took me a few weeks to get back on track with my feed day eating – so many cakes & treats left from Christmas I was probably nearing 2500-3000 cals a day on feed days. The weight loss was slower but steady, around half a pound to a pound a week. I’ve now cut out that hot choc/soup from my fast days and have a 400-500 cal dinner instead. Usually my dinners are fairly normal looking in size content ā€“ chilli, bolognaise, lasagne, ratatouille, a light roast with loads of vegetables, chunky veg soup. I don’t really feel like it’s diet food, and I’ve not cut out carbs at all.

I still eat plenty of treats on my feed days, and we must average a takeaway or dinner out a few times a month, not to mention when we have friends over and I cook up a feast! The weight continues to come off at around a pound a week, some weeks I might stay the same and the next I might lose a little extra. I don’t mind it being slower now. I fell out of my size 16s months ago and my 14s are falling down now. I need to go jeans shopping soon to try some 12s! I’m smaller than I’ve been in years and yet eating all my favourite things. I feel so much better in myself – no restrictions, no guilt, continued loss. My flabby bits that used to catch on each other when I bent over have gone, my eczema is improved and my asthma is better in general. I sleep better than I have in years, and my skin looks great. Weight is coming off from places I want it to come off from – I’m not losing my boobs as much as usual!

I feel happy and I feel like I could keep living this way forever. Never has a way of eating been so easy or so beneficial. Roll on next fast day – and next weigh day!

How The 5:2 Fast Diet Forum began with just a tweet…

Having been quite an early adopter of the 5:2 Diet (later to be known as The Fast Diet thanks to the book of the same name by Dr Mosley & Mimi Spencer) in August of 2012 I eventually started looking online for other likeminded souls. I guess my friends in real life were getting tired of hearing my evangelical babbling about the wonders of the 5:2 fasting method and I just wanted someone else who understood that I could talk with!

Towards the end of the year I discovered a number of Facebook groups about this amazing way of eating, some of which were more active than others. It was through these groups that I found out about Dr Mosley’s then forthcoming book and placed my pre-order right away. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive and to be able to share it around once I’d read it. Actually to this day it’s still out on loan.Ā Not that it matters, you really don’t need any books to do 5:2, all the info you need is out there free of charge (much of which can be found on the forum!).

With the launch of The Fast Diet book came an officialĀ website, minimal but something at least. Many of us on the Facebook groups had hoped for a forum as the now quite busy groups were getting harder and harder to follow due to the volume of posts – and important information was getting lost down the page all too quickly due to the nature of Facebook groups in general. A forum was needed in order to better organise the information and allow it to be found more easily.

Several of us tweeted the good Doctor about this need and his responses indicated that he didn’t intend or have the timeĀ to set up a forum. As a web developer myself with forum admin experience and some spare server space kicking around I offered my services. The two-word tweet I received in response would prove to be yet another life changer (the diet itself being the first of course!) for me from Dr Michael Mosley.

mm tweet

I tweeted him a simple message thanking him for the 5:2 diet and asking if I could set up a forum for my fellow 5:2 dieters. His response as you see above was simply a quoted reply with the words ‘DO PLEASE’ added. This can still be found on his Twitter timeline.

I immediately set about purchasing a suitable domain name and installing the forum softwareĀ – and thus The 5:2 Fast Diet Forum was born, so named to ensure both important keywords were covered and help us (hopefully!) be found by Google.

Members trickled in from the Facebook group and slowly but surely the forum grew. As I found myself with a bit of unexpected free time in the first couple of weeks of the forum’s existence, I decided to develop a ‘Weight Loss Progress Tracker’ to allow members to graph their 5:2 diet success and with the hope of learning a little more about the effectiveness of the diet. The system has seen much development since its launch, including forum-wide stats compiled on a regular basis which display graphically how different types of people are doing on The Fast Diet. The data can be filtered by things such as age group, starting BMI, gender, length of time on the diet and really does offer some interesting figures. New features such as graph trendlines and aĀ TDEE calculator are now much valued and well used features of the 5:2Ā DietĀ Progress Tracker.

In the first 6 monthsĀ the 5:2 diet forumĀ gained over 8,000 registered users with up to 200 browsing at any one time. The forum became so busy that before long it needed a more professional look, extra pages ofĀ information andĀ additional staffers. The server started to fall over, it was just too busy – at which point a VPS was set up and the site moved to its new, better equipped home.

We are now getting close to the 10,000 members mark, with around half of the members logging their 5:2 diet results on the Progress Tracker! When interest in the 5:2 diet/The Fast Diet peaked we were gaining around 70-100 new members a day. Even now we still have over 30 newbies join us every day and around 400-500 new posts too. That’s more than ten times as many posts per day as the next most popular Fast DietĀ forum šŸ˜‰

No doubt there will be more to add to this story as the forum continues to grow, but for now if you want to know more why not head over there yourself and take a look around? šŸ™‚

A new 5:2 Diet blog :)

Well, I’ve been doing the 5:2 diet for some 10 months now, and running a successful 5:2 Fasting Forum for almost half that time. It’s been a bit awkward setting up extra info pages on the forum site and so I thought I’d start a separate 5:2Ā site/blog for ease of updating & adding new pages – think of it as a sister site to the forum.

I’m not sure if I’ll be blogging here as such or just posting up interesting articles and static pages. We’ll see how this develops over time I guess!

Still a bit of tidying to do here, like replacing the default images and updating the footer text. I should try to sort out some kind of logo in the same vein as the 5:2 forum header too. All in good time! I doubt anyone’s even reading this as yet, being unfinished and not yet submitted to good old Google.