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Weight: 186 – Pounds left to lose: 26

My favorite spot to bike as a kid was on Sugar Tree Rd. This was not because there were actual sugar trees lining the road. Sadly my neighborhood was not the model for the Candy Land board game, and there were no gingerbread houses owned by witches on my block. Sugar Tree Rd. was the destination for biking because it had a huge dip into a valley followed by a hill. I’d pedal fast and hard down the valley, picking up speed until I was almost flying like I had E.T. in my bike basket. The momentum would carry me at least halfway up the huge hill, but then gravity started to shove back against momentum and I’d have to start pedaling…and pedaling.. and OH MY GOD you’re going to have to pedal harder than that if you want to reach the top! I don’t care how short your legs are! Push harder!

Which is how weight loss seems to be. Those first 100 pounds just seemed to whoosh by. I could almost hear the air passing past my ears as they fell off. But now as I’m approaching the summit of my goals, I’ve got to pedal harder and harder and check to make sure I’m in the best gear. Nevermind that I still haven’t figured out what gear is best on my 10-speed bicycle over 10 years after I got it.

New muscle mass or not, I think I’m in a plateau here. It would be awesome to think I’ve gained 5 or 6 pounds of muscle in the past month. It would also be awesome if my cat started producing chocolate milk from his nipples. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. But my measurements haven’t changed and all my clothes still fit, so I don’t think I’ve gained any fat or if I have it’s unnoticeable.

So, it’s time to pedal a little harder and push myself more in my exercise. I’ve been reading about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) over on Marla’s site and started applying that to my running this week. After I warm-up, I do intervals where I spend 2 minutes running at a moderate pace and then 1 minute running like crazy, like crazier than Arkham Aylum’s track team. Repeat 5 times and then cool down. And wow, this is definitely a work-out. My heart rate got higher than it ever has before, though still within safe zones. I also felt strangely energized after running like that, like how I felt after running around the yard as a kid, heart racing and all alive.

I’m also going to be a bit careful with my dinner portions. Lately when I’ve been putting away extra food into the fridge I’ve been putting away some of it into my stomach too. I’ll scrape the couscous into the Tupperware and take two spoonfuls off the top, like a Mafia boss skimming profits. So, no more of that. We’ll see how this goes in the next couple weeks and if needed make adjustments accordingly. My brother’s wedding is in three and a half months and I’d really love to wear the size 10 dress I got for $2.50 at my Goodwill store shopping spree last month.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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dinah • April 28, 2007 at 10:06 am

Hi there!

I’ve been reading about HIT lately and I think I’m going to give a variation of it a try. I don’t think I’m quite ready for crazy running pace, but maybe I’m ready for kinda-sorta-crazy running. :)


psychsarah • April 28, 2007 at 10:08 am

Hey Pastaqueen,

You’re not alone in “plateau-land”. I’ve been stuck between 176 and 178 for months! I like your ideas about the interval training and not “skimming off the top”. I do the exact same thing when packing up my dinner! I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have maintained this weight for quite a while, which is a feat in and of itself. Keep up the hard work and thanks for always inspiring all your readers to work through the tough times in weight loss.


dg • April 28, 2007 at 10:45 am

PQ, i have always been in awe of your logical approach to all this weight loss shennanigans. you are so right about the first 100lb. arrrgh. and intervals are a fab addition so hope your plateau is pulverised soon :)


d • April 28, 2007 at 12:06 pm

I have a theory about plateaus that they help you reset one’s “fatness levels” so your body won’t cry out to regain above that level. Like, it tricks your body into thinking it’s “supposed” to be at plateau level so you won’t gain any weight.

That could be delusional tho.

My trainer says giving up all carbs for a few days will kill plateaus but I can’t bring myself to do it.


also • April 28, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Also, since you have a particular dress you wanna wear for wedding AND a digital camera, you could start taking, like, weekly photos of yourself squeezed into the dress and keeping them on your desktop to look at as motivation for the summer!!


Patty • April 28, 2007 at 12:55 pm

Interval training sounds like a great idea! Know what you mean by eating just a little more at dinner than I need. Not much, but just a little too much.

Good luck busting out of this plateau, I know you will do it.


Janice Bridge • April 28, 2007 at 1:25 pm

I, among many, am waiting for the photo of PQ in the killer dress at her brother’s wedding!!! My suggestion – should any one be so gauche as to inquire – is that you practice saying “two fifty’ with a small indrawn breath and smile. . . .and let the world put the decimal point where they want! After all you are going to be looking like a million dollars!!!


anonymous • April 28, 2007 at 4:43 pm

i sort of believe in the set point theory… that each person has a natural weight that their body wants to be at, and the body will try to stay at that weight to a certain point… of course vigorous exercise or dramatic underfeeding or overfeeding will make the body deviate from its set point… but… maybe you’ve just reached your natural set point?


starbird • April 28, 2007 at 5:19 pm

I agree with d – try a day or two with no carbs. That’s what I had to do just two days ago, when I had a sudden mysterious 3.5 lb overnight weight gain. Mysterious? Would staying up late quadrupling a bread recipe and mixing by hand (stress-induced water retention?) and earlier the same week cramming a dozen yogurt-covered pretzels into my face before I ‘realized’ what I was doing, have had anything to do with it?

Anyway, that very day I had a hard-boiled egg for breakfast, 1/3 cup rice-tomato-veggie stew and 1/2 slice bread for lunch, and hard-boiled egg sandwich for dinner. That seemed to do it. This morning I’m back to my target weight that I’ve maintained for months now.

BTW, my bread is so nutritious I don’t consider it a carb. With looonnnng fermentation period (18 hours), high hydration (lots of water for a wet dough), and paper thin slices, carbs have practically disappeared. I put no fat, sweetener or eggs at all in the dough. Only ingredients are flour (bread, whole wheat, rye, oat and spelt), fresh yeast, salt and water. That’s it. Mmmmmm!


Janice Bridge • April 28, 2007 at 6:55 pm

Rapid weight jumps (and drops) are almost always related to water retention (or depletion). Our bodies can create fat cells, but our bodies NEVER delete fat cells. OHHHH NOOOO. . .those little beasties are always with us and can absorb and hold water as quickly as a sponge!!

Several activities will trigger fat cells to absorb and hold water. And if you have ever been obese you have LOTS of fat cells to participate in the process. . . .

Increased exercise level – message to fat cell is basically, “oh wow, get ready, we are going to have to sweat that that takes lots of water”. If you continue with the exercise level, your body adjusts to the actual amount of sweating you will be doing, and the fat cells will, after 3 – 5 days, decide to let go of the water and move on.

Increased carbohydrate consumption after a time of low carbs – the message is ‘Wow, we must be in the land of milk and honey. Absorb water now to get nice and plump so I have some place to store the excess calories.” The water retention time on this depends on how long you have been low carb, and how heavy the carb intake. If you catch it in the first couple of days and cut back on the carbs the flushing can happen quickly.

High stress – message “Oh crap life is getting pretty complex right now. I don’t know if I will exercise a lot, cry a bunch, or just sit down and eat – so fat cells get ready for anything.” Personally I am track this right now. I am not sure how long the stress fluids are going to be with me, but the stress has about 3 more weeks to run


PastaQueen • April 28, 2007 at 7:20 pm

anonymous – Every time I hit a plateau someone tells me what you’re saying, as if they are trying to let me down easy if I don’t ever get to goal. Or like we’re playing “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and they want me to leave with the $250K instead of trying for the $500K.

I know what I’m willing to do to manage my weight, how much time I’m willing to put in, how I am willing to eat, and how much I am willing to challenge myself. At this point, I’m willing to challenge myself more, to eventually lift heavier weights and to run farther and faster. I’m willing to try to cut back on food a bit more. If this results in weight loss, that would be stellar. If I end up weighing 185 for the rest of my life, I could be perfectly happy with that. However, I will not be happy until I know I’ve pushed myself as far as I’m willing to go. I have not reached that point yet.


anonymous • April 28, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Pasta Queen — i’m sorry; i didn’t intend to sound like i was telling you that you couldn’t reach your goal. you obviously have the dedication and drive to get yourself down to 160 if that’s what you want. i was writing this from the perspective of someone who has struggled in the past with anorexia; personally, i find comfort in the idea of a set point… but as this idea doesn’t seem comforting to you, i’m sorry i brought it up. thanks for responding though! (p.s. – sorry i’m anonymous; i don’t have a blog and am just a reader.)


Kimberly • April 29, 2007 at 12:42 am

I have been lurking around here for awhile now and um, I have to say that the chocolate milk out of the cat nipples thing was dang funny. I so needed that big laugh. :)


Chris H • April 29, 2007 at 1:43 am

That HIIT sounds real hard, I can only just jog for 4 minute intervals, let alone run like crazy! You are doing very well to be able to do that! Maybe I need a friggin big dog chasing me to get me to run…. or an ice cream on a stick dangled in front of me! Ahhh, another day maybe.


PastaQueen • April 29, 2007 at 8:45 am

anonymous – You don’t have to be sorry that you brought it up. I’m not out to squash other people’s opinions. I think the set point theory does have some validity, but I also know that I can push myself farther and lose at least another 10 pounds.


Sarah • April 29, 2007 at 9:03 am

Thanks for the HIIT info. I may try it out sometime just to shake up my oh-so-boring workouts.


kentuckienne • April 29, 2007 at 9:24 am

Do you also threaten to break the couscous’ kneecaps? :)


Betsy • April 29, 2007 at 9:44 am

I was interested in your discussion regarding “set points,” and I saw this article on-line: http://psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20000301-000017.html. It not only debunks the set-point theory, but also the theory that 95% of people who lose weight are destined to regain. Just thought it might be of interest . . .


yellow girl • April 29, 2007 at 1:04 pm

you ROCK, PQ!! you are inspiring way, way more people than you know. I was talking about your blog to my mom–I heard her intake of breath, when she heard you were DOING THIS and have been so successful. Keep up the good work, you WILL smash this plateau!!


a fellow pasta queen. 19 lbs. gone in part thanks to YOUR stellar example…


w • April 29, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Thanks to whoever posted the link to Psychology Today — their “food & diet” section has some intriguing articles!


bitchwhoblogs • April 29, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Hi there

I have hit a few plauteaus… I find interval training utterly great for shaking up my metabolism or whatever it is that gets me stuck. I still find it useful — most notably for the infamous 186-plauteau of 2006.

Anyway, I was stuck on my 169-170 for a bit of time there and started breaking up my runs into more intervals – 8 minutes fast, 1 minute walk, 8 minute jog or soft sand for 45 minutes or so OR 8 slow run, 2 fast run, 1 minute walk… Anyway, I find that changing up the intensity is great and I find changing up the surface and the elevation helps too. Any one routine seems to get me a bit stuck even if its a varied routine within a week… somehow changing the intensity in each cardio workout has helped me the most…

Good luck…


Charlotte • April 29, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Hey, PQ, I am such a big fan of your writing and your quest…I love that you are starting to shift from losing weight to getting fierce & fit. Along those lines, you might be interested in an article by Alwyn Cosgrove on “the hierarchy of fat loss.” Not sure if AC has crossed your radar, he’s a person al trainer in remission from 2 bouts w/ lymphoma and a big proponent of HIIT and circuit weight training. Here’s the link: http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1526539

(Yes it is on a website called “Testosterone Nation.” Barf. But it’s still a good article.)


Lose Weight With Me • April 30, 2007 at 7:45 am

Picking up the intensity of your workouts will help bust a plateau, as will adding a 20 minute walk in the evening, or cycling your calorie intake by 500 calories or so.

Be patient and you’ll break right on through.




Lily • April 30, 2007 at 10:19 am

Great analogy with the hill. I’ve also noticed that it’s easier in the beginning, and as you go on it gets a lot harder. For me, I usually drop out when the pounds stop descending. It’s wonderful that you have such a positive attitude!

It makes sense. If the pounds stop falling, then increase the intensity of your workout.

I’ve heard about HIIT before. I should look into it.


Heather • April 30, 2007 at 10:54 am

Pasta Queen,

You and I are basically at the same weight level, and I also have a wedding to go to, but in June. Again, I also have a size 10 dress I would like to fit in. What size are you now at your current weight?


PastaQueen • April 30, 2007 at 11:11 am

Heather – I haven’t gone dress shopping lately, but I suspect I am a size 12. I can just squeeze into the size 10 right now, but forget about sitting down in it. It’s also so tight it shows off my front pooch, which isn’t what I’d call attractive :) I’m 5’9″ to give you a sense of proportion.


Heather • April 30, 2007 at 11:53 am

Sounds just like me, lol. I can get it done up but it’s so tight I have to walk in baby steps. Well good luck to us. Hoping you post a picture of it when you do the final try on. Good luck! And congrats, again on your accomplishments.


G.G. • April 30, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Have you thought about going back to Phase I of the SB Diet again, maybe for a week? Might give you a jump-start.

Wonder if getting a massage would help your body release excess fluids, if that’s what’s going on? Even if it doesn’t help, it’s not like it would be a waste of time of money . . . .

Good luck!


Cris • April 30, 2007 at 1:32 pm

If anyone can break through a plateau, I think it’s you! You’ve done an amazing job so far and will continue to do so. I’ve been finding it helpful to look back at how much I’ve progressed since I first began my most sincere attempt at weight loss & internal transformation. Damn, it’s been a crazy road, filled with potholes, open manholes, nosy assholes…

Anyway, it’s always so amazing to look back at who I was at the beginning of my adventures in body sculpting. I’ve still got about 100 pounds left to lose, but you know what? Screw thinking about the future! I’m chipping away at those pounds like nobody’s business and that puts a smile on my face. All I need to care about is what I’m doing for my health today. I can do anything I want in the next 24 hours! When I remind myself of such things– well, it’s like you said– E.T. suddenly appears, swaddled in his creepy little white sheet, saying “Ell iiii ooott”- and sends me flying towards the next weight loss.

You’ll get there! I’ve no doubt about it!


Shrinkingmom • April 30, 2007 at 2:56 pm

I know how you feel! I lost 55 pounds in a blink. But the last twenty are just lingering, annoying me, daring me to give up. (As if!)


Marla • April 30, 2007 at 5:16 pm

I second the mention of Cosgrove’s “Hierarchy of Fat Loss,” and I also second the barfability of Testosterone Nation. The name says it all, but at least you’re warned from the beginning…

There are too many good resources there to skip because of the frequent attitudes, so just put on your blinders and find the good stuff.


Kat • September 24, 2008 at 9:04 pm

Your Batman reference makes me love you even more (besides the obvious: you being an inspiration and all). Batman has always (and by always I mean, for the entire 18 years of my life…yes…even straight out of the womb) been my hero and my most favourite superhero. And you even wrote this before the whole “Dark Knight” craze.

I love your blog! I bet you could guess that, anyway, considering I’ve been spending the past 2 weeks reading and commenting on your archives. There are a few times I’ve laughed out loud in the computer lab at my university and have gotten some weird stares. Thank you!


Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog at JennetteFulda.com.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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