So I have been on this plateau since last November. It's hardly my first, and I'm not going into a tizzy about it. But with this plateau, I have tried just about everything you could possibly try to do to break a plateau. I tried eating more, I tried eating less. I tried upping my exercise intensity, I tried upping my exercise duration, I tried adding in intervals. I even tried a little bit of strength training. Nothing works. I have no Idea if my metabolism is totally messed up or if I'm missing something obvious. I had my thyroid and blood sugar levels checked. Everything okay there, even better than at my last checkup two years ago. I DID lose a pants size, however, and it's pretty clear that things have shifted and changed a bit around my hips and butt, but I'm still a tiny bit annoyed that that darn scale won't budge.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I came across a clinical study conducted at the German Sport University Cologne for which participants were being recruited. The brief summary in lay language reads: "It is the aim of this clinical study to investigate the influence of therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC) which consist of dietary changes induced by meal replacement or of changes in dietary and physical activity behaviour. It has been shown that both types are able to improve body composition and metabolic regulations as well as items of weight balance significantly. As a result of the trial the effectiveness of the tested meal replacement product on regulation in weight and metabolic control as well as application safety should be confirmed."
On a whim I applied for participation. I wasn't to keen about trying some meal replacement shake, but I thought someone would probably take a look at what's going on with my metabolism, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a try. Also, participants were to be divided into a group that was to be given the meal replacement plus instructions for lifestyle changes in dietary and activity behaviour, and a second group that was just receiving these instructions, minus the meal replacement. It turned out I just barely met the inclusion criteria (my waist circumference and BMI were not far away from the lower end) and I was accepted to take part in the study. I ended up in the second group and am quite happy with not having to take any meal replacement shakes. I got a heap of "TLC" instructions (nothing of which I wasn't already familiar with from SP) and a heap of electronic equipment, including a pedometer and a body composition scale.
So now there have been a few surprises using that scale. First of all, you know that cliché excuse "I'm not overweight, I just have heavy bones"? Hah. It turns out I have heavy bones. Average bone mass for women is 1.8 – 2.5 kilograms (4 – 5.5 lbs). My bone mass is 3 kilograms (6.6 lbs). But yeah, that's only a pound and I'm still 10 lbs heavier than I'd like to be. Next, it turns out my fat percentage ("adipose content") is healthy for a woman my age. Oookay. I did a little research and found out that those household body composition scales like the one I was fitted out with only measure the composition of your lower body half (a weak electric signal travels up one leg and down the other), while professional bioelectric impedance analysis devices (like the one they used at the German Sport University) measure both your upper and lower body composition. So I guess when I go for my next check-in I'll have to ask if their results correspond with mine, or if mine might be faulty because my scale doesn't take into account my visceral fat?!
My muscle content is pretty much at the lower end of what is normal for a woman, so I see some serious strength training efforts in my future. I know that every pound of muscle can burn an additional 50 calories a day, if used regularly (it's a myth that a pound of muscle burns an additional 50 calories even when at rest, you DO have to use it), so I'll try to get the best I can out of that nifty little scale while I have it, and try to improve my body composition. So be prepared to read occasional updates whenever I have some news.
Enough for tonight! I'm falling asleep writing. Have a happy weekend, my friends!