You’re stuck at the same weight, now what?


If this sounds like you then you may need to reset your metabolism.  The human body is a well-designed, amazing & complicated machine.  Many systems work together to help you maintain a stable weight.  But, when your metabolism slows down, you may feel tired and those extra pounds just seem to pile on.  According to the American Council on Exercise, a slow metabolism can be the result of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition or lack of sleep.

Calories are important to track, but they are only one part of the equation.  In order to lose weight consistently you need to make sure that your metabolism is running at top speed.

One factor that influences metabolism is your set point.  Think of your set point like a thermostat for your body. When you are home, you set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature and expect your heating or air conditioning system to respond to outside conditions and maintain your home at that temperature. By the same token, your set point raises or lowers your appetite and metabolism — the rate at which your body burns calories — in response to how much you eat.  If you consistently eat less than you body needs your system will slow down.  After a while, you have a gap between the calories you eat and those you use up in exercise, your body’s regulation system will adjust your set point upward. Your body then settles in to maintain that higher weight. This is why it’s so hard to the weight back off.

When you start to lose weight, your body’s metabolic alarm goes off. It tells your body — which strives for stability, or status quo — that you are not eating as much as usual. In turn, your body demands more food. It’s a stubborn survival mechanism that is not reprogrammed easily.  You may be tempted by the lure of crash diets.  Don’t get me wrong, they work, but only for a little while.  Your body will think that it is starving of much needed nutrients and as a result your metabolism will slow down so that it can make the best use of the resources available.

As long as your set point remains elevated, you will have intense cravings every time your body senses that you are not eating enough to maintain your present weight.

Thankfully, there are some ways you can kick your body back in gear and reset your metabolism, giving you more energy to do the things you enjoy and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Know your numbers

  1. How many calories do you burn for your gender, age, body composition and activity level?
  2. How many calories do you consume/burn in a day?

To lose a pound you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories.

Avoid temptations

Those hunger alarms make it very difficult for overweight people to lose weight, and even harder for them to keep it off. Your body is fighting to hold on to whatever excess fat it has become accustomed to, and it does its best to replace any weight you lose. This is where you need to stick to your plan and avoid temptations.  Don’t give in to those strong cravings.  Your body needs time to readjust its settings.

Temptation can be an early warning sign that you need support. We all have moments when we can be around our favorite foods and stick to our program. But, there are times when we just sit right down and give in. Think of that craving as the first step toward actually eating the off-limits treats; think of it as the signal to call for help and reach out to someone that will support you before you start to feel like heading for the treats.

If you feel tempted, STOP! 

Stop Sign

Stop Sign (Photo credit: ladybeames)

STOP is an acronym for a four-step process that you can use to good benefit.

S — Stop!
Visualize a stop sign and hear the word “stop.” Immediately stop whatever it is you’re doing.

T — Take a deep breath.
This creates time for you recognize and look at the temptation you’re faced with, and take steps to avoid it.

O — Observe your situation, yourself, and the options you have.
Analyze what’s going on. How are you feeling? What do you want? What do you need? In your observation, use the HALT analysis. Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? That’s because we often react automatically, sometimes inappropriately. The only good reason to eat is true hunger. If there’s something else tempting you, then eating is not the answer, plain and simple.

P — Plan your correct action.
You’ve got choices, so what are they? What’s really important to you? What actions will help you move toward what matters, toward an appropriate response, and away from the temptation and reactionary eating.

Go ahead and let yourself hear whatever voices inside you are suggesting that you abandon or sabotage your healthy intentions, and pause long enough to acknowledge and respond to those voices. A good response might be, “Thanks for sharing, now move along.”

Then shift the focus away from food by doing something else: Sit quietly for five minutes and let your attention rest on your breathing; phone a friend; review a list of your motivations for getting healthy (you have made that list by now, haven’t you?) or take a walk.

Guess what?  You need to encourage yourself as you would a friend or loved one. Sometimes we are so critical of ourselves and say things about our bodies that we would never say to another person.  We’re often too willing to let ourselves fail without offering the support we would give to even a casual pal. Remember that sometimes, if you’re not hearing what you need to hear, it might be because you’re not saying it yourself.

The more often you use the STOP method to manage cravings, the more easily and effectively you’ll be able to resist temptations and overcome your body’s natural tendency to push you back to your set point.

This does get easier the more you do it, but it takes practice. After a while you get good at it, and it just becomes a habit.

Here are some things to remember:

  1. Don’t skip breakfast. Your metabolism slows during sleep. The sooner you eat the quicker the metabolism restarts.
  2. Drink 8 glasses of iced water a day. It will make your metabolism speed up to warm itself.
  1. Eat a minimum of six (and up to eight) times per day. These feedings will consist of snacks and main meals.
  2. Make lists of your favorite protein and carbohydrate foods. You should have at least five different protein foods and ten different carbohydrate foods to choose from that include vegetables and fruits.
  3. Each meal should ideally consist of 60 percent carbohydrates (from grains, vegetables, and fruits), 30 percent protein, and 10 percent fat.
  4. Eat only one serving of each food and one plateful for the entire meal. Never have a second serving.
  5. Never skip meals or snacks between meals.
  1. Have an apple. They are full of fiber and pectin that help you feel full and provides slow, steady energy for a longer period of time.
  2. Have a chili pepper. Spicy foods can increase your core temperature and your metabolism


  • American Council on Exercise Personal Trainers Manual, Cedric X. Bryant; 2003
  • 100 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism; Cynthia Phillips, et al.; 2009

About anitakellam

Wife-Mom-Health Care Provider-Fitness Junky- Gluten/Dairy Free Foody, Aspiring Techno Geek My name Dr. Anita Kellam, DNP, FNP-C. I am a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and maintain a practice in rural Montana. When I was a kid I was a competitive swimmer and even swam at the master's level until I had my first child. I have spent the past 15 years pursuing my professional degrees, raising 3 children and devoting myself to my family. Over the years I saw the pounds slowly creeping up. Once I completed my doctoral degree I made the decision to improve my health and fitness. Beachbody has provided excellent tools that helped me turn my house into a gym. It has been an amazing resource to help me achieve my goals and I am addicted to the products. I would love to help others on their journey to be in the best shape of their lives no matter what age or fitness level. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or like me on my webpage

4 Responses to “You’re stuck at the same weight, now what?”

  1. Great post! I always bring an apple to work for an afternoon snack.


  1. The Next Big Thing | Losing {parts of} Myself - March 1, 2012

    […] You’re stuck at the same weight, now what? ( […]

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