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The Dreaded Plateau (also: hi)

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    First off… hello 180d people. I’m Heather. I have been reading this site for like a year, but never commented ever because I have a severe lurking problem.
    Matt was helping me out last year, but I lost touch with him when I had to get one of my kidneys surgically removed while trying to simultaneously finish a semester of full-time school, and then couldn’t get anywhere following his guidelines over the first part of this year because it turns out I have celiac disease also (WTF seriously) and was, well, consuming pretty large quantities of wheat products in a religious attempt to RRARF my way to health so I guess it makes sense that my efforts seemed to be having the opposite intended effect.
    ANYWAY. My long-story-short before all this health drama is that I had been perpetually trying to eat as little food as humanly possible for the last 10ish years of my life (I’m 25 now), including variations on about every diet/nutrition fad in existence, and that had been working less and less well for me up until about a year ago when I finally had had enough and dedicated myself to re-entering the world of normal people where food was concerned.
    I’m now 3 months post celiac diagnosis and a gluten-free “high everything diet” has worked somewhat well at bringing my temps up from what they had been (and raising energy levels, turning my hands and feet back from ice cubes into usable appendages, etc), but now I feel like I’ve “plateaued” so to speak. I can’t seem to get my temps above 97.6ish in the mornings, and I’m still really sleepy much more often than I’d like, despite the fact that I backed out of a lot of stuff I had planned for this summer in order to take it as easy as possible and get back to a healthier state. And my feet still require slippers in my 75-degree house in the middle of summer like, most of the time, even though they HAVE gotten warmer than they were on average. I’m trying to feed myself whatever my body craves (obviously besides gluteny foods), not drink so much water, get in all the S’s….all the Matt Stone basics. Is this normal? Why is my shit taking so long to become optimal? Is there something I’ve forgotten? Do I need more protein or something? Any ideas?
    PS: Thank you, good sir or madam, for reading this very long post. You are a trooper.


    Hi Heather, great that you decided to post and I’m happy that you’ve figured out that you have celiac disease. My aunt and sister do. Do you feel better now that you’ve eliminated gluten?

    Regarding your plateau, 3 months isn’t that long in terms of recovery and your body may need a little bit longer due to celiac disease. Other things to look at are sleep and stress (which you may have mentioned in the Ss but just wanted to make sure). How’s your sleep? Are you getting at least 8 hours? For me it really helps to sleep in a dark as possible room. I got blackout blinds and velcrowed (sp?) them to the windows to block out sneaky light. Regarding cold feet, I keep mine covered as much as possible even though they are warming up so much. I bought a cozy pair of slippers and wear sneakers with no show socks most days. My temps are pretty good and I’m not sure if this has anything to do with it but I still do it.

    How’s your stress? Have you considered meditation or something similar?

    Also, are you exercising? For me, I took a break from exercise and in the beginning I really limited all activity and didn’t even take the dog on long walks. Now I have much more energy but am still not doing any formal exercise and I notice that if I am really active that I don’t feel that good. I love to exercise but I know that I can become more active later in my life (like next year or in a good few months).

    What are you eating by the way? Have you tried fooling around with your diet and seeing if certain things make your warmer than others? Or give you more energy? For me I know that eating something like chocolate chip pancakes or french toast with maple syrup will make me nice and warm and keep me full. I also now that adding lots of salt makes me warm. You could try not drinking water but drinking things with calories until your temps are up. In the beginning I just had small sips of things with calories. I really craved cold drinks so I drank cranberry juice with sparkling water, coconut water, milky milkshakes, and a natural cola. I would keep them in the fridge and then just have a sip or two.


    Wow! You’ve been through a lot in the last year with school, surgery, celiac etc. I know it’s hard, especially at a young age, but you need a big dose of patience. You are very possibly looking at at least a year more like two before feeling full recovery. By its very nature celiac disease causes malnutrition. Pair that with Ten years of eating like a bird and your other life stresses and I can be a pretty good guess of how you’ve been feeling. It sounds like you are on the right track with getting things sorted out. Just dealing with the celiac should make a big difference. I to have felt like I’ve stalled at times but five months into this and I’m still making progress and feeling improvements. I still don’t get temps above 98 until later in the day but I’m expecting a somewhat long recovery. I read some people on here that claim miraculous results in days or weeks. More power to them. I think most people that have had eating and digestion issues for years are going to take a bit longer.


    Severe lurking problem. Lol!!


    Jdubs: Thanks for your encouragement! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only person who is not completely cured of my metabolic issues after four minutes of “eating the food” and what not.

    saisrice: I guess I haven’t put a huge amount of thought into which foods specifically warm me up more than others. I will try to keep track. Right now I’ve been just trying to make sure I give into whatever cravings I have; eating a lot of ice cream and potatoes currently, and putting so much salt on my food that anyone I might happen to be eating with looks sideways. It’s really hard to motivate myself to eat earlier in the day for whatever reason. When I force myself to anyway, it goes a long way towards making me warmer and helping with my sleep issues, but I suspect just from years of starving myself and not eating at all if possible, my body is just not used to being hungry until 10pm.
    As far as sleep, I have really bad insomnia but once I finally make it to sleep I have been going to great lengths to make sure I get as much of it as my body needs–scheduling things in the afternoons/evenings so I can wake up naturally. Trying really hard to convince my circadian rhythm that it’s a good idea to sleep at night and be awake in the morning, and eat food before 10pm!!!

    I feel like an absolute pile of crap whenever I try any proper exercise. Like I’m coming down with the flu or something, for several days afterward! So my gym membership languishes for long periods of time until I decide to try again and then regret it again. I do walk. Easy walking doesn’t hurt anything. But I’ve been astonished how hard it has been to try to maintain what the rest of the world would call a respectable activity level. Back when I was never eating and taking daily amphetamine pills I was super freaking active.

    I’ll try to be patient. I mostly just hope I will be able to MOVE more without the negative repercussions. Recovery is boring.

    mighty m

    I want to reinforce your theory about eating in the morning being a good idea. Getting into the habit of a big breakfast really helped me … what I did was fantasize the night before about what would be the most delicious and the anticipation of eating would motivate me come morning. Occasionally I still have to make a conscious effort to sit down at mealtimes instead of buzzing around manically … but often once I take the first bite, I find I’m hungrier than I thought.

    Also, anecdotally, it seems the appetite will entrain itself to regular mealtimes, so the real “forcing it” phase won’t last long, I bet.

    When I was eating semi-paleo, I also got really bad crashes from exercise. One of the things that turned me on to Matt’s blog was his description of being outpaced by a “potbellied fish biologist” when hiking — that was happening to me! All the senior citizens in their orthopedic shoes and hiking poles and even arthritic dogs were totally smoking me on the county park trails!

    Anyway, getting lots more food, especially carbs, will gradually give you energy to exercise. But remember to not overdo … there’s a lot of body-repair work that needs done, too.

    I can relate to the boredom you describe … last year I had a bad ankle tendinitis and it was really disabling for several months. Walking and standing were very painful. If you can walk without crashing, this is the best activity of all — if you can resist the temptation to overdo it. You can explore your town, go to museums, get out into nature, etc. Active stuff that’s also good for the brain.


    Mighty M, your post has convinced me to redouble my efforts to eat earlier in the day. I love the idea of fantasizing about breakfast at night. Going to try that!


    Hi Heather,

    Just want to say hang in there! I’m right there with you…years of damage takes a long time to heal, even though we want it NOW LOL. I’m celiac too, plus i have adrenal fatigue, hypothyroid, and multiple chemical sensitivity. I haven’t been able to work in two years. I ate like a bird (and a rabbit!) for most of my life on vegan and fruit diets before the big Crash.. then to zero carb paleo *trying* to recover my adrenals which only made things worse.

    The hardest part for me was accepting that I HAD to eat! I’ve always had bad issues with body dysmorphia so the idea of eating “unhealthy” food and gaining weight was insanity to me! When I started RRARFing 3 months ago I had not touched any type of sugar or carb aside from small bits of sweet potato in two years! I felt like a fat cow..but I immediately started to feel better after 2 weeks so I just gave in and ate the food.I gained about 8 pounds…I’m not happy about it but being frozen solid and confined to my bed was much was than a few extra pounds!

    I had alot of trouble getting past 97 in the morning, but this week I’m at 97.8 or 9 so that’s good progress. My feet are also always cold but my hands are way warmer and I don;t need a jacket in Florida anymore LOL.

    I do what Mighty M does, about having breakfast dreams. Plus I do alot of my own baking which also drives up my appetite. Cookies, muffins, scones, banana bread…all gluten free of course :) I find It’s way more rewarding and enjoyable to eat food you’ve made from scratch. plus the smells and textures tend to get the hunger going stronger.

    I can’t exercise either other than some light walking or gentle yoga. I was a hardcore athlete most of my life so being this “lazy” is really frustrating. I’ve had to do ALOT of mental reprogramming and de-stressing. When I go to the gym Agnes is running laps around me, but its ok. I just keep reminding myself that I didn’t get this way overnight, so I’m not going to be fixed over night.

    When I feel like I’m not getting any better, I think of how far I’ve come compared to the reality of how many years I actually felt like crap but was compensating by staying hopped up on caffeine. I’ve actually come a long way in a short time, and I’m sure you have too!

    Hope this helps :)

    mighty m

    This paragraph really took me back:
    @Shannon: “When I feel like I’m not getting any better, I think of how far I’ve come compared to the reality of how many years I actually felt like crap but was compensating by staying hopped up on caffeine. I’ve actually come a long way in a short time, and I’m sure you have too!”

    Wow! It’s like I had amnesia and forgot. For several years, I was absolutely reliant on coffee, usually 2-4 cups per day, and I kind of nursed it like an IV drip. Never thought anything of it because doing that is so common!! Since I really started eating, it interests me very little. I’ll have a sip or two for taste, but that’s it. Now stuff like chocolate milk is much more appealing, haha.

    Steven e

    I know that if I don’t eat breakfast, or if I only eat lightly, like some fruit or something, I usually can’t get, or keep, my temperatures up. I often take Matts advice to eat some small calorie dense snack first thing in the morning to give myself a push in the right direction, then eat a good sized breakfast within an hour or so of that. Sounds like you’ve been literally starving yourself for 10 years. Think of all the rebuilding your body must have ahead of it. Probably going to take more than 4 minutes. I think the breakfast thing is really going to help you based on my experience with eating/not eating it. Honestly, I feel like I’m in a plateau too. The sleep/stress factors are probably my problem, but I’m still above 98 almost all of every day, just goes back down when I lay down at night.


    As an experienced chronic dieter, I know it has taken a toll on my body. Eating for heat, and following Matt’s advice is great, but it was impossible to get my temps high enough without medication. You may have a problem with your thyroid gland. Eating for heat wasn’t enough for me; and I am on dessicated thyroid (Armour) to get my temps up.

    I would absolutely encourage you to find a doctor who will prescribe natural thyroid – because that way you know they will depend upon more tests than just the TSH. (there are ways to find a good doctor in your area- don’t stand for someone who only does a TSH!).

    Your thyroid is your master gland- it’s about more than just your weight; you entire health is dependent upon it.
    Feel free to contact me if you want more information. And absolutely do stress reduction – that will go a long way to helping!

    mighty m

    @Heather … how have you been doing since your original post? Eat that breakfast! :)

    How do you know when to seek thyroid medication? How much time do you think you can give non-medication methods like restorative eating, sleep, stress, others?

    If you feel like answering, I’ll give you my stats for context: 37yo woman, btw. When I was inadvertently eating low-carb and low-calorie (had tried paleo ways to remedy health problem, of course it made it worse), I had the whole panel done, and was borderline low in T3, with elevated reverse-T3. At that point, I was eating less than 2000 calories per day, plus exercise. Yikes! But sadly didn’t know any better. I suspect I might have been borderline low even before the terrible paleo phase, due to overwork, undersleep, overcaffeination and inconsistent eating (… and in fact, that combo of factors was probably the root of the health concerns in the first place). Tested just TSH and T3 when I had upped calories through lots of buttered potatoes, but hadn’t yet put back diary, grains & sugar — improvement in both, but not ideal. In June (3 months ago), I disavowed all that mess and began eating without restriction: my suppressed appetite returned with a vengeance and I experienced extreme hunger, quickly gaining weight and many health improvements. These improvements include energy, sleep, strength and endurance [despite limited exercise], sexual, intellectual. Have not tested thyroid yet since starting “the big eat.” Since I’m doing a lot better, I’m inclined to give non-med methods at least a year to work … does that seem wise?

    Naturally, I would love to recover without medication. But, in your opinion, … how do you know if/when you need supplemental/replacement thyroid hormone?


    It sounds like you are doing all the right things. If you have health coverage, I encourage you to get a thyroid panel, and make sure they test for anti-bodies. You may have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I’ve found that many women who have chronically deprived themselves of food, blamed or are ashamed of their body, may have unknowingly created this condition. I am a firm believer in Mind/Body medicine.

    In the meantime, work on stress relief, such as mindful yoga, and mindful eating. Do volunteer work to help others that will make you feel good about yourself. Focus on making yourself happy! Spend time listening to calming music, and stay away from negative self-judment. I bet you’ll start feeling a difference. And if it’s doesn’t result in a change in your temps, at least you’ll feel better about yourself.

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