Gaining and Losing The Same 5 Pounds

I have to believe that a lot of us have had this happen. You have a goal to lose a certain amount of weight, but instead of getting down to your goal weight, you lose five pounds and then gain it back. You lose the same five pounds and gain it back. Or you might lose 20 pounds, and then keep staying in the same five pound range for months, even though you still need to lose some more weight.

That should be in the dictionary under the definition of “frustration.”

This first happened to me after I got married and started gaining weight. I’d diet and lose a few pounds and then the next week they’d be back. Unfortunately, as I gained the “lost pounds” back I also added a few more pounds to them. So I’d start out at 175, lose down to 170 and then gain up to 180. It was a horrible cycle.

And then, of course, I gained 150 pounds total, which made those 5 pound problems seem very small, but just as frustrating. Even during the 14 months it took me to lose my 150 pounds I had period of time where I kept gaining and losing those same five pounds. Fortunately that time, I didn’t stay in the five pound yo-yo world for very long, and  went on to lose all my weight.

If you find yourself in the 5 pound yo-yo cycle, know that it doesn’t have to stay that way forever. In my own experience, and with helping a lot of other people, there can be several reasons for these yo-yo times within weight loss.

  • You have reached a balance point with your weight. You have stopped eating/burning enough calories to lose weight and are eating/burning maintenance calories.
  • You are becoming complacent. This isn’t bad, it happens to a lot of people – myself included. You’ve lost some weight and then find it hard to really keep things moving in the right direction.
  • You feel some fear. This is very common and not often acknowledged. I’ve seen this a lot and it usually occurs close to the mid-point of the journey. It did for me too.
  • You have stress in your life. I found that when things got stressful I would stop my forward progress and begin the mini yo-yo cycle. When the stress subsided often times the weight went on down.
  • You are purposefully maintaining for a while, even though you aren’t “done.” This is a good thing because this time gives you practice for lifetime maintenance.

To get off the mini yo-yo cycle you have to determine what is holding you in one place and change it. You may decide not to change it for a while, or you may not be able to change the circumstances. Whatever the case, understanding why you are where you are is very important to move forward.

Ever had a mini yo-yo time? What did you do? Diane

33 thoughts on “Gaining and Losing The Same 5 Pounds

  1. Susan says:

    Yes I have had a mini yo-yo time several times in my life most recently between 2004-5008 yep they can drag on for years or until your ready to figure out why the regain and maintence of the regain. Mine happened because I lost focus on maintaining my weight and then grief over my moms passing and then becoming complacecent at the new higher weight.
    What changed for me was I was finally ready to ramp up my workouts and I didn’t want to gain weight after my surgery being in menopause. Plus I had to really look at what I was eating/how much and adjust that as well. Now I am holding at 159 and my head wants to get down to 148 but I am scared of that number and holding myself back I think. Oh well I will move forward when I am “ready” in all aspects.
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Long Hot Summer Challenge Update =-.

  2. Pam says:

    Funny you mention this now, because I think I may be finally breaking such a cycle after nine months! Mine was a combination of many of the factors you mentioned…first I got complacent, then I practiced maintenance, then I got pregnant, then I miscarried (major stress). I think things have leveled out and now that I have buckled down, I think we might have some scale movement again!

    Thanks for all you do on here – I have something for you on my blog (one post down from the newest one)
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Quick One =-.

  3. Marcelle says:

    I had many yo-yo periods in my lifetime…so know what you talking about.
    I lost weight and didn’t go through any yo yo effect this time…but now it seems my body is doing that…
    gaining a few pounds and losing it…~ I want to lose about 4/6lbs but cant no matter what I do…so frustrating.
    But saying that I am happy with my current look a lot better than the fatter me.

  4. Diane says:

    Mini and maxi yo you times in my life with weight. Basic answer is do not give up, try something new ( newness of anything makes you more conscious of your actions in hopes that you will do it right) and know that sometimes there are deeper reasons you body “stalls”. There are times when your body simply needs to deal with other issues, and weight loss is not on it’s agenda. Rather than focus on the lack of progress or insanity on the scale, know that you are doing the best for your body at this time and the challenges would only be worse if you stopped trying. Health is the goal- not an arbitrary number created by some insurance company in the 1930’s
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..School’s out =-.

  5. Mbini says:

    I can remember how frustrated I was each time I heat a plateau or actually put on weight when I actually tried my best to lose it. It threw me back to my comfort eating and couch potato lifestyle.

    Glad I know better now.
    .-= Mbini´s last blog ..As my Life Moves On =-.

  6. South Beach Steve says:

    I have been through so many of these I could write a book. 🙂 I think, at least for me, the 5 pound yo-yos are typically when I lose focus on what I am doing. I don’t watch my food as consistently. I don’t exercise consistently. Thus, I lose and I gain.

  7. Laura Jane says:

    I’ve definitely been in the yo-yo cycle many, many times. I’ve been in my current yo-yo cycle with about 8 lbs for the past 6 months! I think I’ve seriously lost and regained this same 5-8 lbs at least six times in the past six months. It’s so frustrating because I work just as hard to lose 5 lbs six times as I would to just lose 30 pounds, but with no results! I know that my problem is that I keep getting “off plan” primarily due to frustration and lack of confidence. But at least I know what the problem is and I’m really working hard to combat it and get out of this yo-yo cycle.
    .-= Laura Jane´s last blog ..Quick Update =-.

  8. John says:

    I’ve started eating more this week as my weight loss had seemed to stall and I was wanting to eat when I wasn’t even hungry. If you work out a lot like I do and don’t eat enough you can stall your loss. Just 2 days into eating more I’m down 2 more pounds!

  9. Carla says:

    I find this happens when I get a bit tired of focusing on losing weight so much. Sometimes you need a break before you are ready to start losing again. As long as it’s a short break and doesn’t cause any backsliding!
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..My lungs are getting stronger! =-.

  10. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Important post Diane. I really have not done this per se but my biggest challenge in regards to that 5 pounds was/is perimenopause. The hormone changes as we age create havoc & the weight wants to come on. I got right to trying to figure out what I needed to do to stop any continuing gain!
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Exercises & Form Help =-.

  11. Emergefit says:

    Twenty pounds — 80 pounds 150 pounds; those should all be priorities. I argue daily, and will do so here, that if a person is focused in losing 5 pounds, and it does not happen within 6 months, walk away — let it go — own it, and accept them as your 5 pounds.

    Five pounds is not a difference maker in health or well being, and though some will make the argument that it is, they will have a hard time supporting with multiple, consistent scientific data.

    For those who obsess on those 5 pounds; I suggest their priorities are way out of whack.
    .-= Emergefit´s last blog ..The Rainbow Music Hall, Jim Henson, And Thoughts On Hard Work… =-.

    • Diane says:

      Hey Roy! I was really talking about a plateau of five pounds amidst a larger weight loss – not the last five pounds. I totally agree on not obessessing over the last five or ten. If those are too hard to lose and maintain, just let them go. But if you are trying to lose 50 pounds and have only lost 15 and get stuck in the gain/loss cycle or plateau, then perhaps some changes need to be made.

  12. Larkspur says:

    Are you talking to me? 🙂 That describes my situation perfectly– I’ve been batting around the same 5 lbs for six months. My problems are 1 and 2 on your list. Pretty sure what’s causing it– handful of chocolate chips here, bite of this or that there that I don’t really register. I’m not trying as hard as I should be so I’m not too frustrated. Yet. Trying to decide how much more in the way of permanent cuts/changes I feel comfortable making.
    .-= Larkspur´s last blog ..Tennis is Fun =-.

  13. Dr. J says:

    I feel all of your suggestions are spot on, Diane, with regards to evaluating being stuck in a weight range. I tend to feel that the bottom line becomes how much effort you want to put into reaching that lower weight and staying there long enough to where it is a lifestyle, not a struggle.
    .-= Dr. J´s last blog ..Yes, You Can Quit Smoking and Lose Weight =-.

  14. Rhonda says:

    I am there! It’s a little discouraging, okay a lot to see how many people (in the comments) that have been there for so long 6 months +. Ugh, I don’t want that to be me!
    I blogged about you and this post today. Thanks for inspiring me.
    .-= Rhonda´s last blog ..Honest and Open =-.

  15. Stacy says:

    I’m stuck right now, too, but I know why. I am at the low end of the range right now, but give me two days and I could be on the high end! I know it is partly due to just womanly hormones and cycles, but not getting any lower is fully due to eating and my lack of exercising. All my fault!
    .-= Stacy´s last blog ..A few little hats =-.

  16. Deniz says:

    You are spot on about understanding what’s happening and why.

    Mini yo-yos (and plateaus) happen to me when I forget myself. When I lose motivation I slack off on the exercise routine and allow myself a treat or two or three… and those pesky lbs begin to find me again.

    It usually takes a little while for the penny to drop, but once it has, I take a good look at myself and then I prescribe a swift kick in the pants. Usually I seem to get back on track.
    .-= Deniz´s last blog ..The old, old story =-.

  17. Taryl says:

    I have had a few mini yoyo’s, but most of it was due to getting lax on my eating due to laziness or holidays. It wasn’t really frustrating because I knew why it was happening, you know? But I definitely yoyo’d back in October of last year and around the time I got back from the several trips I took this year.
    .-= Taryl´s last blog ..The Chart. =-.

  18. Jenn@slim-shoppin says:

    I think everyone goes through those spurts.

    I worked for weight watchers and weighed people in and I can’t tell you how many times the same people would lose one week, only to gain it back the next and then lose, then gain! I always felt bad because they were paying money and not getting the results.

    I think the most positive part though to be honest, is at least most of us keep trying again! So that’s good!
    .-= Jenn@slim-shoppin´s last blog ..Nutrition + Exercise is the key + kale chips? =-.

  19. Tony the Pink Panda says:

    Did you write this post just for me Diane? Aww, that’s so sweet of you! lol jk.

    Seriously, I’ve been stuck at 170 for like two months. I’ve been changing it up, TRYING EVERYTHING to get over this plateau. Changing workouts, taking a week off, upping my calories, lowering my calories, eating at maintenance, severely cutting calories, upping my protein, upping my carbs, upping my fat. You name it, I’ve tried it. The only thing I haven’t tried is bulking, which is looking like the only option if I don’t get over this wall very soon.
    .-= Tony the Pink Panda´s last blog ..I Am Like a Vampire =-.

  20. Leah says:

    Had or having? hhmm… Currently ‘having’ a 5-lb yo-yo time.

    The last time I got stuck (about 10 lbs ago) I had to take a serious look at what I was eating and change. I added more fruits and veggies in and started losing again.

    I’m currently working on what I need to change to keep a steady loss. Of course, I had a stressful month of May, so I’m thinking my less-stressful summer should makes things start moving in the right direction again.

    Thanks for the hints. 🙂
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..Two Small Victories! =-.

  21. Shawnee says:

    Can I say this and not sound crazy? I think I love you! You’re my new favorite blogger. Every post I’ve read these last few days seems to touch my personally. I am currently yo-yoing. I know I need to eat fewer calories. I only eat about 1600-1700 a day. When I do eat fewer I starve (or feel like it). I hate feeling hungry. I am an emotional/stress eater and I am not sure how to cute those calories without feeling empty.
    .-= Shawnee´s last blog ..Kardea Bars: Review and Giveaway! =-.

  22. Miz says:

    I love the notion of purposefully maintaining as it seemed to work so very well with my clients…when they’d do it 🙂
    maintaining isnt sexy—but when they would lose and stop for a bit and work to maintain I found that their overall loss lasted.

    .-= Miz´s last blog ..Companies MizFit loves: Oiselle Running. =-.

  23. LovesCatsinCA says:

    Hi, Diane.

    I’d like to suggest that sometimes one only SEEMS to be losing the same 5 pounds. From day to day, my weight fluctuates in a 2 pound range. (I’m not talking during the day which depends on hydration and what I eat–I mean, weighing myself in undies/flimsy nightwear first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom). Exception–Miss Flow.

    So it looks like I’m going up and down, up and down if I look at it over a two week period. But since I use a computer instead of a manual food diary nowadays, I realized that the two pounds now are four pounds lighter at both the top and bottom than the two pound range I fluctuated in, three months ago.

    Now this isn’t a huge difference, and I’m actually at a healthy weight for my height (although I’ll confess it would be nice to lose another 5 pounds of midlife ribcage/midriff/belly fat purely aesthetically) but I thought I’d point out that sometimes you don’t realize you’ve lost weight over time if it’s a small amount. In my case, the difference between my weight then and my weight now isn’t really a size difference–but I feel better in more form fitting clothing.

    Additionally, I’m realistic about holidays and vacations and although I don’t see them as licenses to pig out, I generally up my daily maintenance calorie allotment around 20% while on vacation so I don’t feel deprived, and feel I can easily adjust my weight after if I gain a pound or two–and likewise over the holidays, I’ll give myself one small indulgence allowance a day while there are so much holiday treat foods floating around…. I did gain around 3 pounds between Thanksgiving and January 1st this year but they came back off easily enough. I actually think that a bit of weight cycling is kind of normal–even when I was young and skinny in high school and averaged 95 pounds, I weighed something like 93 in the summer and 97 right after the holidays…

    I’d also like to point out that the “maintaining for a while even though you’re not done” idea is not only valid for practicing maintenance, it is really helpful in keeping weight off longterm because your body adjusts to a lower weight as “normal” and a new caloric intake as non-dieting. I lost what I did very slowly, and rested in the middle to let my body adjust, twice. In order to weigh 20% less than I started at, I’ve had to up my activity/walking levels and eat around 75-80% of my original daily caloric intake. That’s not dieting–that’s maintenance. So someone with more pounds to lose might end up gradually having to halve the daily calories eventually–an awful prospect if one tried to do it suddenly, but something really do-able if one lost no more than 10% of one’s current weight at once, rested for a few months and then went back to weight loss…

    It’s really about lifestyle change and the longterm. And I TOTALLY think food diaries are a great way to keep yourself honest. I got lazy after a while writing down what I ate and gained a few pounds over the winter. Doing it electronically on a smartphone or ipod (there are “apps” for iphones and android out there) helps keep one’s intake in check–AND really helps to analyze things like fat intake, or saturated fat, or sugars if those are concerns too! (It’s also FUN.)

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