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Chiara's Tips: Getting Through a Weight-Loss Plateau

Chiara's "After" Photo

Chiara Gravell had a sleeve gastrectomy at Penn Medicine with weight-loss surgeon Noel Williams, MD, in 2011. Since then, she’s lost more than 150 pounds, and has gone from being obese to completing triathlons. In this blog, she talks about stalls, plateaus and how she deals with them. 

One of the biggest complaints I had, and also hear from others right after surgery is, why am I not losing weight consistently? Why is the scale not moving?? 

Let’s face it, right after surgery the scale goes down a lot. It is FUN to get on the scale and watch it go down, and down and down…. However the scale will stop or stay the same or - heaven forbid - go up a pound or two for a day, or even a week. 

Weight loss after weight-loss surgery is not a consistent “3500 calories out equals one pound off the scale.” Well not at least immediately. It took me a long time to realize this. Intellectually, I understood. I mean just because I burned 3500 calories more than I took in my body would not release that weight immediately. I was like a petulant child, constantly watching the scale weighing myself daily and on some days more than once a day… I wanted it NOW. I’ve done 3500 calories worth of work, take it off NOW! Sort of like a baseball game I ran all four bases put up one point on the scoreboard! Unfortunately it does not work this way… at least it didn’t for me. 

How weight loss worked for me after weight-loss surgery

My weight loss went something like 30 pounds in the first month. That did not equate to one pound a day like I wanted, it was five pounds the first week, then two pounds a day for the next three days, then no pounds for 3 days, then 5lbs. As you can see it was crazy. My emotions went nutty. Happy, sad, frustrated, confused… it was all there, and all tied to what the scale said. I had to stop weighing every day. I started weighing myself only once a week. 

The second through six months the scale went down consistently however not the same amount. Lots of people wake up on weigh day and are two pounds down every week. I would go down, then stay the same, then go down. It is like my body would only release five pounds at a time and hold everything up… then release another five pounds. It was annoying and frustrating. I was eating what 500 to 750 calories a day and working out and I should be down!!! I am still obese… when am I going to be THIN??? 

That was my real question, when would I wake up and poof! See I was thin! The answer varies for everyone. For me it was 18 months before I “looked” like a “normal” weight person. 

Today I am over two years out of surgery and my body still does the holding on thing…. I recently broke a stall that had me in its grips for three months. YIPPEE!!! I was dancing around the bedroom very excited! 

How to get through a weight-loss plateau

The best advice I can give for a stall, is BACK AWAY FROM THE SCALE!

Do no weigh more than one time per week. If you weigh once a week you will pretty much every week go down a bit. Please if you have more than two weeks of the same weight or similar weight, then try weighing once per month. The scale can mess with my head. I needed to use it only as a tool to equate measurements for others. (ie. doctor’s offices, insurance companies… my hubby when he asks how much weight I've lost…) 

Other strategies that helped me during stalls: 

  • Take your measurements – This last stall , I released two inches from my hips and a half an inch from my waist.
  • See how your clothes fit – It is an oldie but goodie it will tell you if you are going up or down. If your clothes are lose you are going down.
  • Keep very good track of food - The app I use to track my food and exercise will show, yes, I have eaten fewer calories, I have burned more calories, and then if I am patient the weight will release when my body is ready.

The dreaded stall is a certainty after weight-loss surgery. How I dealt with it was totally up to me. I continually choose to use the scale as just one tool and be patient. (Well most days, lets face it I still want it NOW!!! But alas… I am an adult and need to learn to wait my turn. ☺)

About this Blog

Learn about bariatric surgery and get the support you need to continue on your weight-loss journey. We offer workouts, recipes and tips from Bariatric Surgery program team members, and stories from patients like you.

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