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plateau

8/17 9:24:10

Question
Hello Dr. Manger,
I'm so confused about my body.  I work out all the time - at least 5 days a week -  and have been doing so since I was 14. My workouts include, running, rollerblading, free weights and yoga.  I am training for a marathon right now so I am running about 40 miles a week.  I am pretty strict about my diet.  Here is my schedule throughout the week to give you a better idea Monday - Friday I go to the gym every morning (before eating) and workout for at least an hour and half.  I would say two nights a week I go back to the gym for a group exercise class or do something else active (soccer, rolleblade, etc). My meals are as follows: chicken for breakfast,  a chicken or lean beef salad for lunch with no dressing, and dinner time I usually eat another salad.  Here's my vice - I drink a lot of diet soda, probably 4-5 cans a day, I find it keeps me full.  But, to balance I also drink a lot of water, at least 10  8 oz. glasses.  On the weekends, I may defer from this routine slightly, but my calories are always between 1200-1500 a day.  I take vitamins and avoid sugar.  What's my question, well I still have a prettty decent amount of fat around my abdomen and hips and I find that my body weight fluctuates very easily between 134 and 141.  Can you tell me what I'm doing wrong.   I would love to get down to 130 and stay there, but don't think it's possible for me to work out anymore or be any stricter on my diet - am I eating the wrong foods? Could I have a thyroid problem? Thank you for volunteering your advice on this subject - much appreciated.  

Answer
I would doubt a thyroid issue, though it is a remote possibility.  Easy to check with a blood test.  You're drinking an awful lot of fluids (diet soda and water).  I almost wonder if some of the weight is water.  Each liter/quart weighs 2 pounds.

As far as calories, you may be eating too few.  When the body is faced with a significant reduction in calories, often despite the increase in activity, it can go into a starvation mode where it tries to conserve energy, calories, and prevent losses.  With your running and routine, you may wish to increase your calories to 1800-2000 a day by adding lean protein and some complex carbs.

Finally, you may be eating a bit more than you anticipate.  I think we all tend to overestimate the amount of calories we use, and underestimate the calories we eat.  You can download a free calorie counter program from my website.  It may offer you a double check to make sure your calculations are accurate.

Download here:

http://www.smartcalorie.com/downloads.shtml

Good luck in the marathon.  I suspect as you train and increase your mileage, your excess fat will vanish.  Haven't seen too many overweight marathon runners!  
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