Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
QUESTION: In the past six months I have made some significant changes to my lifestyle. In the past, I would eat three large meals a day (muffins, bagels, burgers, beer and tacos etc.) and never worked out. Now, I'm eating whole grains, fruit, veggies, salads, low-fat cheese, chicken, fish and turkey. I'm also working out 4 to 5 days a week, running about 30 minutes and walking my dog at least 15 minutes a day on top of that. I haven't lost any weight, and I’m feeling very defeated. What gives? —Chelsea
DEAR CHELSEA: Wow. Maybe you need a new scale—it certainly sounds like you’re doing everything right. You didn’t say how much you have to lose, which does affect the speed at which you lose weight. But regardless—after six months of healthy eating and exercise, you should see some results on the scale. To get to the bottom of this metabolic mystery, start by keeping a food journal for a week. Record what you’re eating, and how much—be as precise as you can. It may be that while you’re eating all the right things, you’re eating too much for the amount of activity you’re doing. You probably should be eating 1200-1500 calories a day with the activity you describe to achieve a modest weight loss. With the info from your food journal, you can figure out whether you need to cut calories or amp up your exercise program to achieve the weight loss you want.
Now—if your food journal shows that your calories are in the weight loss range, you may want to see your doctor to find out if there’s an underlying reason why you aren’t losing weight. Large numbers of women have thyroid disorders or other conditions that make it harder to lose weight. If your doctor doesn’t find any medical reason for your inability to lose, ask him or her for advice. If you have a condition like prediabetes or hypertension, you may qualify for physical therapy or nutritional counseling at low or no cost. Take advantage of such professional help to get on a program that will lead you to success.