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I haven't talked a lot about this, but I want to share one of my most difficult trials with THM to date: I got stuck in a weight loss stall. I went ONE YEAR without losing a pound! I had my thyroid tested, and all was well. I had my hormones tested, and those were a little off but got back on track with supplements. I was under extreme, extreme stress (which is thankfully improving now), and I think my body just didn't want to let go of the weight. But oddly enough, even after five years on the Trim Healthy Mama Plan, and even though I should have known better, the one thing that I didn't try to break through the stall was a THM Fuel Cycle.
What is a Fuel Cycle?
A Trim Healthy Mama Fuel Cycle is a pattern of meals put together by the Trim Healthy Mama authors, Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison, in the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book. They recommend that you try a Fuel Cycle if you haven't lost any weight after several months of following the Trim Healthy Mama plan.
For two weeks, you'll eat specific types of foods on specific days. It sounds more daunting than it actually is, and there is plenty of variety!
As a THM “veteran”, I know I should have tried a Fuel Cycle sooner. I'd done them before with great success. But this time, my inability to lose weight seemed to be instilling feelings of defeat before I'd even get started. I kept wondering why I should even try. The negative self-talk got to be too much for me! I'm generally a fairly positive person and it felt so out of character, but I was just SO DISCOURAGED that I wanted to quit altogether. Every time I'd think of doing a Fuel Cycle, I'd immediately follow that thought with, “What's the point? I won't lose any weight anyway.” Cue the tiny violins, please.
Finally (finally!) I decided I'd had enough. I figured that I was sick of my attitude and that I would start a THM Fuel Cycle just to prove to myself that I could. I put together a menu (I'll share that with you below), spent about 45 minutes of prep time in the kitchen, and started my Fuel Cycle.
What I Learned from the Fuel Cycle:
I often get a little too confident in my experience with Trim Healthy Mama. For the entirety of last year I really thought I was sticking to the plan 100%. I was still enjoying the benefits of a great immune system, zero migraines, and great sleep, so I thought those were signs that the plan was still working for me even if I wasn't losing weight.
I was so wrong.
Go ahead and laugh at me – I laughed at myself! After years of following THM, a Fuel Cycle quickly showed me some big mistakes I'd been making with Trim Healthy Mama:
- I wasn't being as strict with the 3 hour rule as I thought. There were at least four times during the Fuel Cycle that I found myself going for mindless munchies when I should have just waited. I was kind of shocked at myself – I thought I had that one down!
- I wasn't separating my fuels as carefully as I should. For example, I'd put a teaspoon of coconut oil in my coffee to eat with my E breakfast (which is totally fine and totally allowed), but then I'd catch myself putting a teaspoon of butter on my sprouted toast, too. That means I was taking myself into crossover territory by forgetting to limit my fats! That's just one example – I caught myself doing that SO many times I couldn't believe it!
- When I put together my menu and got to the Fuel Pull days, I realized that I hadn't had a Fuel Pull meal in about six months. Or maybe more. I had somehow completely forgotten Fuel Pulls in my day-to-day THM meals.
- I learned that I've been eating far, FAR too few E meals. I need those healthy carbs! I think my body has been undernourished and ill-equipped to deal with extra stress because I was so severely limiting carbs. Since the Fuel Cycle I've hit a sweet spot of six E meals per week to keep my metabolism going and my weight dropping.
Weight Loss in My 14-Day Fuel Cycle:
Here's what my Fuel Cycle weight loss looked like. Please don't feel that you need to weigh yourself every day, and please don't compare your numbers to mine! I tracked this because I wanted to see how I was feeling each day and which fuel type my body was responding to the best, but I found it very interesting that my weight fluctuations included weight gain, but ultimately resulted in weight loss.
Day One: Down .5 lb
Day Two: Back up .5 lb
Day Three: Down 1 lb.
Day Four: Down 1 lb.
Day Five: No change
Day Six: No Change
Day Seven: No Change
Day Eight: Down 1 lb.
Day Nine: No Change
Day Ten: No Change
Day Eleven: Down 2 lbs.
Day Twelve: Back up 1 lb.
Day Thirteen: No Change
Day Fourteen: No Change
Results After the Fuel Cycle
I look at those numbers after a year of nothing, and I'm SO thankful for them…but that's not even the best part. The best part is that it's been two months since I finished the Fuel Cycle and I've lost another eight pounds while freestyling with Trim Healthy Mama. Of course there's no guarantee of weight loss with any plan (I think this is where I'm supposed to say “results may vary”, right?), but I can definitely see how the THM Fuel Cycle made a HUGE difference for me and not only corrected my metabolism to some degree, but also corrected my way of thinking and bad habits I'd fallen into.
Starting Your Fuel Cycle
If you want to try a THM Fuel Cycle, I have to recommend that you read chapter 24 in the Trim Healthy Mama Plan. Please make sure you've been using the plan long enough to “qualify”, and make sure you understand how the Fuel Cycle works before you jump in!
Below you'll find my THM Fuel Cycle Menu and Shopping List. It's just one week that you'll repeat for week 2 (I've done many fuel cycles and repeating the same menu has been a lifesaver each time! It just simplifies everything and helps me save time and money).
These files and downloads take up a lot of space on my server, so I have an additional (free!) Mini Prep Cooking Session that will help you get ready for your Fuel Cycle! You can sign up in the box at the bottom of this post, and I'll send the Mini Cooking Session straight to your inbox. The Mini Cooking Session includes one page of pre-ahead instructions that explain how you can make five staples for your THM Fuel Cycle week in just 45 minutes. These are great items to prep anytime for THM, and don't necessarily need to be for a Fuel Cycle!
Here are the tools and staples mentioned in your download packet that I used for this Fuel Cycle:
I use these stackable egg inserts for my Instant Pot to make a bunch of easily peeled hardboiled eggs at once! I add one cup of water and set the Instant Pot to “Manual” for five minutes. After they've cooked for five minutes I let the steam release on its own for five minutes, then I add them to an ice water bath for 5 minutes.
Click here to download the Fuel Cycle Printable Packet, and scroll to the bottom to get the free Mini Cooking Session Instructions:Fuel Cycle Printable Packet
You can sign up below to grab your printable prep-ahead instructions – I hope this is super helpful for you!
Other helpful Fuel Cycle Resources:
Free Fuel Cycle Prep Ahead Instructions:
Sign up here for your free prep-ahead instructions! I'll walk you through making five THM Fuel Cycle staples in about 45 minutes. 🙂