So you’ve been on a roll with this whole weight loss, new diet and exercise thing. You can’t wait to weigh in because you’ve worked your butt off in the gym and was on point with your diet. You step on the scale and all of a sudden all that excitement you just had turns to shame, confusion and frustration.
Before you throw in the towel and go back to your old unhealthy habits, let me introduce you to “the plateau.” Yes, it is a real thing. Now I am not making excuses for your stand still in weight loss, but if you were true to yourself and stayed on track, there are reasons why that scale might be stagnant.
So what is a plateau? It is a stretch of time where your weight loss slows down or halts. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs every time you put your body through change. What happens is when you start a new diet and exercise plan (or lifestyle change I like to call it), you’re consuming fewer calories than your body is used to, so your metabolism slows down to conserve calories. This typically will happen around the third or fourth week of your lifestyle change.
Most people will give up once they reach their plateau. I mean who wants to work hard and not see the scale go down, am I right?? But, you have to keep in mind that this is a normal occurrence and if you stick with your workouts and healthy eating you will start losing weight again.
I write this blog to encourage you to keep working hard and not give up. Here are a few tips to fight through this plateau you are experiencing. Just know that EVERYONE hits a plateau whatever your fitness level may be.
Change it up:
Our body’s response to change is adaptation. That is how we get stronger, better, faster and become more fit. Part of being fit is being able to adapt to any circumstance, so adaptation is not a bad thing at all. What we need to do is make adaptation chase us by switching it up every so often. This is why cross fit, P90 or military based workouts are successful because the movements are different every day. Your body never gets a chance to stop growing because you are always promoting more change. Same thing goes for a diet. Carb cycling and changing your caloric intake are the most successful ways of dieting because your body is always trying to adjust. So when you feel that you have hit a plateau, change it up. Switch up the type of workout you are doing. Cycle your calories to keep your metabolism burning full force. We are so afraid of change, but we have to learn to embrace it because change is a good thing and even greater things can come from it.
Pay less attention to the scale and more to how you feel:
You know when you go to the doctors for a second opinion? Well, we need to get a second opinion on our success other than the scale. Although the scale may say you’re not losing weight, you should check for other positive changes in your body. Are your pants a little looser? Is your stomach and arms stronger or more toned? Do you have more energy or improved mood? All these physical and mental changes are more important to focus on. The scale is just a number; don’t let the scale take the power of feeling great away from you.
We come in all shapes and sizes. If you are 200 pounds trying to lose weight, don’t compare yourself to someone who is 300 pounds trying to lose weight. The less weight you have to lose, the harder it is. It’s all about percentage of body weight. So if both people lost 2 % body weight, the 200 lb. person lost 4 lbs. and the 300 lb. person lost 6 lbs. Even though the 300 lb. person lost more weight, the overall weight loss is relative. Also, don’t compare yourself to people on TV shows like Extreme Weight loss. It is a completely different circumstance and unrealistic to compare yourself to their weight loss journey (but even they experience plateaus!) Focus on your journey and no one else’s.
Tomorrow is a new day:
We all have our bad days. We all grab the ice cream in the freezer and say screw it, I don’t care. It’s okay to have our down days. But guess what? Tomorrow is a new day and yesterday is in the past. Don’t let the mistakes you made yesterday affect you today. Every day we have a clean slate. It’s not the end of the world if we made a mistake. When you can accept the mistakes you’ve made and move on, that’s when success will follow.
Realize it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon:
You are in it for the long haul baby! This should be a permanent lifestyle change. It takes time to get where you want to be. Its not going to be easy either and treating it like a sprint will make it much harder for you. Embrace this lifestyle change; make it a part of your life. You don’t need to eat broccoli and dry chicken to lose weight; you just have to make the right choices. When you incorporate healthy changes into your life, it will become a part of you. I call it “the hook”, once you have made health a priority in your everyday life, there is no turning back.
So don’t get discouraged. I promise you if you stick with it you won’t regret it. It is a whole other world out there for you with endless possibilities. Having good health is the foundation of life, because without it we can’t enjoy life to our fullest potential. Don’t give in, don’t give up and keep fighting for YOU.