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723660 tn?1247167111

Running out of ideas, need help!

I am male, 23 yrs old, 5'11" and 252 lbs.

I consume between 600 and 800 calories a day, take multivitamins and supplements including chromium and B-complex. A typical day for me involves two slim-fast meals and one turkey wrap with an apple for lunch.

cardiovascular exercise is painful for me--I usually go into a coughing fit that can last for hours after stopping, even from only a few minutes of stressing myself. Nevertheless, I try to run up and down stairs for at least 5 minutes before breakfast every day, and spend between 10-15 minutes a day doing sit-ups, divided between morning and evening.

I have a 9-5 job that is mostly sedentary, though often involves me being on my feet. Weekends I try to spend my extra time doing something active, but it's getting harder to afford it, so I'm looking at getting a weekend job.

I have stuck with this plan for a month. A month ago, I weighed 250 lbs -- 2 lbs less than I do now.

I have been trying to lose weight for years, and have tried all of the usual approaches, except for low-carb, because I can't afford the things I need to meet those dietary requirements. Even resorting to starving myself has only served to slow my weight-gain. The most I have ever lost was 3 lbs, by not eating at all for 3 days, which I quickly gained back as soon as I started eating again.

At this point it is becoming a serious health hazard for me, since I can't afford to provide my own medical insurance, and my physique is starting to depress me. I need new ideas for ways to lose weight--at least 70 lbs--and keep it off.
17 Responses
579258 tn?1250652943
Thank you for your heartfelt post and for being so honest and transparent with your situation.  It is in this manner that we can help each other and I truly urge you to stay connected with this community for continued information, support and encouragement.

While I can certainly empathize with your situation and can feel the urgency in your words, please allow me to share some information with you and know that I do so from having been there and in caring about those who are truly trying to find their way down this path to health and fitness.

Quite simply put, you are starving yourself and your body is in preservation mode.  Based on being male, 23 years old, 5'11" tall, 252 lbs and selecting a somewhat active lifestyle (moderate activity approximately 3 times a week), you need 2,650 calories to MAINTAIN your weight.  

It takes a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories to lose ONE pound.  So, if you were to lose 2 pounds a week, you can either cut calories or increase your activity level to burn additional calories.  Personally, I would suggest a combination of both.  Even if you went to 1,650 calories a day, you should begin to lose weight once your body realizes you are not starving.  One of the way to tell your body you are not starving is to exercise.

Here is a journal entry that helps to explain plateaus and how to get over them, http://www.medhelp.org/user_journals/show/40803  Yours, however, appears to be from starvation.  I know it sounds funny, but you will have to eat more in order to lose weight.  

You do not have to starve .. you can eat a moderate amount of food, not feel hungry most of the time and lose weight.

May I suggest you consider some of the following ...

Breakfast .. egg (in Pam), toast (with spray butter or dry) and 3 slices of turkey or beef bacon (already cooked -- about 70 calories) OR oatmeal with skim milk, cinnamon and artificial sweetener OR whole grain cereal (Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, Raisin Bran) and skim milk (this makes a protein).

Lunch .. Campbell's Select Soup, a lean chicken breast, a salad (watch the dressings .. Paul Neumann makes some great low calorie and tasty options), sushi, vegetables.

Dinner .. Grilled, roasted or boiled chicken, lean beef, turkey, pork or fish along with steamed or grilled vegetables (use olive oil - it's a good fat), and perhaps a small baked potato with spray butter.

Snacks .. (3 a day) .. a fresh fruit, low-fat reduced calorie yogurt, jello, 100-calorie popcorn, fresh vegetables, protein bar, protein drink, 5-6 crackers and skinny cheese, nuts (not many .. watch calories)

Then, try mixing up your exercise.  Do something different, don't let your body know or get used to your routine.  Try aerobics, Richard Simmons, walking (great way to build stamina), biking, swimming, stair steps, pilates (builds core) .. just anything that lets you MOVE.  Start someplace and do what you can .. do not overdo this.  Build a little day by day .. even just 30 seconds more than the day before.  

I have approximately 50 pounds remaining on my journey.  Having started at 330, I do know where you're at and what you are feeling.  Won't you consider making small goals .. 2-3 pounds at a time .. and make lots of small celebrations?  We'll be doing this throughout 2009 .. together .. as a group .. as teammates.  Just shout out when you need help and come here each day you can for continuing information, help, support and motivation.  

Very best wishes to you .. hope to hear how you're doing and to see you often!!!  WELCOME to the Weight Loss & Dieting Community!!!  

Heartfelt ((Hugs))

723660 tn?1247167111
Thank you for your reply. I am well aware of the nominal dietary needs for someone of my size and BMI. I should note, however, that I have tried all of the usual methods before, starting with much smaller caloric deficits, and none of them seemed to do me any good. I've stayed on 3000 calorie diets, 2500, 2000, 1800, 1500, 1200 and so on, for steady periods, and still only gained weight, and typically gained faster than I am now. I've done research and tried to be smart about the way I approached my diet. Where I'm at now is essentially a last resort.

My body and metabolism simply does not respond to these usual methods, and rejects exercise. If I get 10 minutes of cardio, my body will force me to remain completely sedentary for hours in order to avoid completely debilitating hacking and coughing fits.

I wasn't always like this... when I was 14, I was only 80 lbs and physically fit... however, I was put on a number of subscription medications that caused me to gain over 100 lbs and lose all my stamina by 16, and even after coming off the medications at 17, I have not been able to exercise or stop gaining since.

I'm looking for ways to aggressively restructure my body's metabolism, because I think that's the only way at this point to see results and get back in shape.
579258 tn?1250652943
Would suggest a couple of things ..

First, you need to consult an endocrinologist to ascertain what is going on with your metabolism and what type of underlying disease process may be contributing to this issue.  Second, and with all due respect, in the absence of a disease process that an endocrinologist may help you find .. the caloric intake, minus the calories burned, equals your weight.

Would you be willing to document your calories, what you are eating, when you are eating it and what exercise you are doing?  I would be willing to help you and review this with you .. and I'm sure others from the community would do the same.

If you haven't tried it for a while, please give it some consideration once again .. as well as the appointment with the endocrinologist.

Very best wishes ..
723660 tn?1247167111
I'm not sure if I can afford it at this point, having no med insurance, but I'll look into it.

As for logging, sure, I'm willing to go that route again. Do you have any suggestions as to what tools or formats I should use for that? I have a hard time keeping things up to date throughout the day, especially when I don't always have the resources available to look up exact caloric measures.
Avatar universal
I have found the site www.nutritiondata.com to be of use in looking up the nutritive content of many foods. There are a number of free web sites that allow one to keep an online food journal and track consumption as well as exercise, if you wish.

You may have already tried this, but perhaps a program of brisk walking would burn more calories than the sit-ups and allow you to progress to cardiovascular fitness activities.
723660 tn?1247167111
Thanks. I've used ND before, though it's sometimes difficult to find specific information, it's good enough for generalized I suppose. I think I may just use google docs to itemize daily caloric intake, and the weight tracker here to track daily totals.

As of today I've officially turned my half-hour lunch break at work into laps around the complex... two walking, one jogging/running. It seemed about the best opportunity to introduce something with some regularity.
703362 tn?1427769928
Congrats!  Love that you use your lunch break.  That's what I do as well.  Especially if it is something that you know you can do with regularity, that is even better.  I think that you have great plans listed for tracking the calories.  We have an awesome exercise tracker here at MedHelp that we can use to track our exercise.  I personally like mine quite a bit.  I was thinking...have you ever tried strengthening bands?  They are pretty inexpensive...there are lots of strengthening exercises that you can do with them (you would be amazed how many), they are quite portable, so you can do most maneuvers just about anywhere.  They come in different strengths so that you can move up when one color/strength gets too easy for you.  And muscle burns more than fat, even while you are seated/at rest.  
649848 tn?1534637300
Hi and welcome to the community.  There are already some great ideas above. However, before going any further, I must say the following:

You said that you had been on meds earlier in life that caused the weight gain - maybe your inability to lose has something to do with whatever condition you had at that time.  I would strongly urge you to get medical attention to make sure that you don't have medical issues that are preventing you from losing weight.  Also, the stress placed on your body whenever you do any type of exercise (pain, coughing, etc) is rather concerning.  It really sounds as if you need a good work up on your heart and lungs to insure that there is no problem with either. I would suggest that you also get tested for thryoid problems, diabetes (or pre-diabetes or insulin resistance), adrenaline function, vitamin b-12 deficiency, etc.  The idea of going to an endocrinologist is a good one, but if you can't afford that, how about trying maybe a walk in clinic or something like that - it could be less expensive and they might be more likely to allow you to set up a payment plan, etc. In addition, most states/counties have public health clinics where treatment may be free, depending on your income and other circumstances - at any rate, it would be more affordable and because I deal some with one of those facilities at times in my job, I know that people who go there often get better treatment, referrals, etc than those of us who have insurance and have to choose our own doctors.  

All that said, I might also suggest that you try ***********.com for tracking exercise and food intake, calories, etc.  In addition to that, you might try checking out your cable TV if you have it as a lot of cable companies have a channel dedicated to exercise.  There are also web sites from which you can get exercise information, which exercises to do for cardio, strenghth, etc, along with how to do them, # of reps and most have different levels of difficulty, so you start out with the easier version and as you gain more strength and stamina move up to the more difficult ones.  In addition, you can always go to your local department store and get inexpensive work out dvd's.  I'm sure I often sound like a broken record to some in the community, but it wouldn't be a post from me if I didn't recommend yoga, which might be particularly useful for you, because of its low impact on the body.  Yoga stresses breathing and aligning your body properly, proper balance, etc which may be a big help with your cardiovascular problem.  It also stretches and strenthens all your muscles, but particularly your core muscles.  

I've read that Slim Fast is an excellent diet plan and for most people generally works quite well.  I've used their replacement meals myself on occasion and generally keep a few cans in the fridge for a quick meal on the go; however, I don't think it should be relied on for extended periods.  It can also be quite expensive.  

You say you "have been trying to lose weight for years, and have tried all of the usual approaches, except for low-carb, because I can't afford the things I need to meet those dietary requirements".  I might like to say that your body needs all of the various food groups; therefore cutting out one of the groups is not beneficial.  You don't need a special budget to get a good diet.  Rather than buying items processed with white flour, sugar, rice etc why not try the whole wheat versions?  Try stevia in place of sugar.  Try brown rice in place of white. Baked potato or sweet potato instead of french fries or chips. Your body really needs complex carbs, rather than simple carbs like sugar and other highly processed foods.  Try fresh, or steamed veggies in place of the Slim Fast.  You can do a web search for "good for you" food that have the complex carbs, which also takes your body longer to break down.  Make sure you get plenty of protein and fiber (complex carb) as it takes the body longer to break those down so you stay fuller longer.  

It seems that you are eating the same thing every day and maybe your body is getting used to that also.  I would agree with Ranae that you would need more calories, but also that you need different type of calories.  Same goes for exercise - your body becomes accustomed to the same movements every day and your exercise is no longer a challenge.  Mix it up so your body doesn't know what's coming next and has to work a bit harder.  

Last but certainly not least - please do make arrangements to see a medical professional to be evaluated for all the issues you have.  Your problem could be relatively simple to solve, but you won't know without a medical work up.  

Again, welcome and do stay with us in the community.  
579258 tn?1250652943
NoLeafClover - WoWWW .. just look at all this support and the suggestions you are receiving .. genuine care, concern, knowledge, support and friendship abound here!  Hope you feel the warmth from the members and community; we're thrilled you are here.

To add to Barb's post, I am also familiar with some of the free clinics that are available in my area.  In Iowa there is a 2-1-1 program (you dial 2-1-1 on your phone) and it is paid for through the United Way.  They refer people to free clinics around the city that are staffed with caring physicians who dedicate their time to caring for those who do not have insurance.  While they probably do not have the ability to do a lot of tests, they can see you and share their opinion and determine if there is any immediate concern.  We also have county hospitals to assist and various qualifications for assistance based on income levels.  May I suggest you check with your local United Way or county hospital for some assistance.

I also share in Lucinda's congratuations for your choice to implement exercise during half your lunch time.  Great choice!

Bob_D - Tried to send you a message and note and hope you will accept this public invitation to join us.  The information you shared is most helpful and couldn't agree with you more regarding the benefits of brisk walking.  Hope you might consider joining the WL&D community and posting here as often as you feel comfortable; seems you share many interests that may be mutually beneficial with you and the community.  In addition, we share the same interest in health care policy and would love to talk about that some time.

Lucinda - Thanks for your input on the strengthening bands and wonder if you might care to gather some information and do a post on them.  It is something I forget about and it could be truly beneficial for the community.  One of the best exercises I ever did was one involving bands.  Also, thanks for reminding us all of our exercise trackers.  Mine is certainly going to get much more use this year with concerted effort on increased exercise.

Barb - What care and concern you continue to show the members of this community and you have a great depth of knowledge.  Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts in detail; it is an honor to read your post.  May I also suggest that you consider a post regarding yoga, the benefits and perhaps how to get started?  It is something I've been interested in ... yet haven't pursued much.  From what you were describing .. truly believe this could enhance the lives of the community members for 2009.

You guys are F a N t A s T i C !!!
723660 tn?1247167111
Thanks all for the support and guidance.


I used to have something along those lines, actually, but seem to have misplaced it somewhere in the last couple moves. I may look into getting some more, though I'm not really sure where I should be looking to acquire them... they seem like a good solution for strength building exercises in my downtime or while multitasking, on the phone, watching the news, movies, etc... may even give me an excuse to do those activities and enjoy myself more often!


I believe the meds themselves are at fault for long-term changes to my health primarily... Most of them were psychotropics I was put on in order to counteract the side-effects of other drugs I was on due to a faulty diagnosis of ADD. Since being off the drugs, I have in fact had a full health appraisal at Mayo Clinic, where I was essentially told I didn't have any diseases or other chronic conditions. The drugs along the way to this end, however, induced severe side effects ranging from loss of appetite, rapid weight-gain, lethargy, hormonal imbalance, manic-depressive cycles and others... while I recovered from these side-effects within a few months after coming off them, my metabolism has been way out of whack ever since.

As for the pain from working out, it's been an issue ever since as well, although the severity of it has been significantly amplified since a mycoplasma infection that put me down for 6 weeks following a rejected bacterial meningitis vaccination I received a year ago... the correlation there is definitely something I want answers about, but they've been hard to come by.

I'm looking into medical assistance in my area, though I haven't found much that doesn't seem like a trap. I'll continue looking, and see what I can find as soon as more time becomes available.

I'm planning on altering my diet again now, moving in the direction of more green vegetables, beans, lettuce, and proteins like tuna and salmon... it just becomes a problem that these foods are much less affordable than simple carbohydrates, starches and sugars.


Thanks again, and yes, I will start looking into where I can find help. It just disappoints me that with all of my own hard work I can't afford to help myself. I've always tended to reject any form of charity, as I try to be as independent and self-supporting as possible.

Also it's not half my lunch break, it's all of it. I only get half-hour lunches, and can't leave the premises during them... but nothing says I can't run around on them! when I get my breaks and even if I take them at all tends to vary from day to day, but at least if I make an effort to take advantage of them, my boss can't say no.

I've noticed I'm becoming fatigued a lot faster now that I've increased my daily exercise... especially muscle fatigue. I know that mixing up muscle groups from day to day should help alleviate this, but at the same time, does anyone have any suggestions for how I can improve stamina enough to keep with my daily run?
579258 tn?1250652943
Hi Sweetie ... First, am soooo glad you are engaged with the community and hopefully you will find it helpful in the days to come.

Second, I find myself in a similar position.  After having supported myself and paying into the system all my life, I find myself having gone through 3 down-sizing where businesses have been relocated or sent overseas.  It is difficult and furstrating to not be able to have or afford insurance.  It is a sign of the times and I am glad you are going to look into what is available.  We paid in for a long time for those who find themselves in our shoes; it just happens to be us right now.

Finally, here's some ideas on how to improve your stamina ..

(1) Eat more calories
(2) Eat a carb (like an apple or banana) before you exercise for quick energy
(3) Eat protein after your workout (like a small chicken breast or a "true" protein bar.
(4) Remember to REST a minimum of 2 days per week to allow your muscles to regenerate.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.  Best wishes ..

649848 tn?1534637300
I'm glad that you are going to try to alter your diet somewhat because you really do need more calories and a large variety of foods.  Please compare prices carefully. I don't know where you live, but in the store where I shop, I can buy a head of lettuce for about $0.79, a couple of tomatoes for around $2.00, fresh green beans for around $0.79/lb.  On the other hand, a bag of chips is usually $3.49, a loaf of white bread is 1.69 (about the same as whole grain), a bag of cookies is around $2.99.  A 6-pack of Slim Fast is usually around $6.99 and if you have 2/day, that's only enough for 3 days.  Although organic veggies may be best, most of the time, I don't spend the extra $ for them.  Also, don't forget eggs as they are a good source of protein without a lot of calories and usually aren't too spendy.  Usually on the weekend, I hard boil 6-8 eggs, then I have them handy for a quick breakfast or snack.  

I eat a lot of apples since they are filling and not terribly expensive.  Don't forget the freeer section - frozen veggies are just as good as fresh and you can often get them on sale.  Also watch the sale papers and shop where you get the best prices.  If you shop carefully, I believe that you can eat healthy for the same or slightly more than you spend now.  

Regarding free health care - I'm sorry that you see it as charity.  I've paid taxes for many years and I'd certainly rather see someone like you who is working and trying to take care of yourself make use of the system than someone who simply makes a living off the system.  I will stick with what I said earlier - you need to get checked out again before you commence a vigorous exercise regimen.  

As far as exercise that might help improve your stamina - I'm going to stick with the yoga idea.  Because it focuses on breathing and balance and works all the muscles, it will help strengthen your whole body slowly but steadily.  Each pose is held for a bit, and it's very low impact (at least the type I do is).  I worry that a daily run might be too strenuous for you until you get your muscles built up and can exercise without pain, coughing ,etc; therefore,  I will take the liberty of suggesting that rather than run daily, you start out at walk, and gradually increase your speed as you find your endurance becoming greater.  Don't believe the old saying "No pain, no gain".  If you are in pain during exercise, you are either not using correct form or are trying to do too much.  

Hope I was able to help some.  See you again soon.  

It's very unfortunate that you have the after effects of all those earlier drugs - has anyone mentioned if there is a way to counteract them?  
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649848 tn?1534637300
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