6 ways to bust through your weight loss plateau
It happens to all of us at some point – the dreaded plateau!
Trust me when I say I know what it’s like. I remember thinking, “I’m NEVER going to lose this weight!” I was so fixated on the number on the scale, and that only kept me frustrated, discouraged, and worst of all STUCK. I finally took a step back and realised I needed to change my mindset and my focus if I ever wanted to move forward.
YES, I wanted to lose the weight I had gained, but more importantly, I wanted to be healthier and feel better, for good… which meant quick fixes were out and lifestyle changes were in!
There are many reasons for hitting a plateau or for getting off to a slow start. Everyone loses weight at a different rate and it’s easy to get discouraged.
The bottom line is that if you continue to keep your new healthy habits in place, you WILL see results. Most people get disheartened and give up too soon. “I just can’t lose weight” or “I’ll never reach my goal weight” are things we tell ourselves. But it’s not true…
If you can change your focus to being healthier, making better food choices and exercising smarter, you will benefit yourself so much more than if you obsess over the number on the scale (in fact, throw away your scale!). For example, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, have a high level of stress and are eating a fair share of processed foods, you’re going to struggle to drop kilos.
By addressing it from a ‘taking better care of yourself’ perspective, the rest tends to fall into place. Because while we can’t always control the number on the scale we CAN control how we take care of ourselves. In the long run, this is much more important for a healthy, happy life.
Here are 6 strategies that can help bust your plateau:
- Focus on eating the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods you can. Think ‘REAL’ food here, not foods with a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce. The more healthy, whole foods you eat (with plenty of protein and healthy fats), the less room you’ll have for higher calorie processed foods. When you give your body what it truly needs, you’ll have fewer cravings for empty calories and ‘junk food’ too.
- Reduce stress and get enough sleep. This is a big deal! When you’re under stress and/or you’re not getting enough sleep, the stress hormone cortisol is elevated, and this can hinder weight loss. When you’re tired, you’re also more likely to eat extra (studies show people consume up to 25% more calories when they’re exhausted). Do you notice how you reach for a quick energy fix when feeling drained? This usually comes in the form of sugary snacks and drinks and/or processed foods.
- Mix up your workouts. Adding resistance training is key if your goals involve reshaping your body. Avoid doing the same routine week after week. Our bodies adapt quickly to new stresses put on them, so switch things up for faster results. It’s good to change your routine every 30 days or so.
- Increase the time, frequency and/or intensity of your workouts. If you’ve stopped seeing results, it’s helpful to look at how often you’re exercising, as well as the length and intensity of your workouts. If you’ve been exercising 3 days a week, it’s probably time to bump it up to 4 or 5, OR to do longer workouts on the 3 or 4 days if appropriate. Also, check in with yourself: are you giving 100% to your exercise regime or are you just ‘showing up’? We all have “low effort” days and giving 70% is certainly better than nothing at all, but it helps to be aware…
Note: If you’re already tired and feeling run down, you’d be better off getting the rest you need. That way you can recharge and give more effort to your next workout.
- Food journal or tracking. I don’t believe in counting calories, but I do find it helpful to keep track of what you eat and when, so that you can evaluate your food intake and choices. A food diary (or appropriate app) is also key for determining what foods best serve your body AND it can reveal episodes of mindless or emotional eating – in other words, all the times we eat on automatic pilot or for reasons other than hunger. Of course, weight loss doesn’t only stall when we consume too many calories, but when we consume too little as well. Try playing with quantities and see what works. If you go too low, you’re going to lose muscle, which is NOT ideal as that will affect your metabolism negatively.
- Don’t skip meals. Clients of mine who skip breakfast and eat a small portion only for lunch find they start losing weight when they begin eating more regularly. This makes perfect sense as our bodies keep track and if you haven’t eaten enough by late afternoon, hunger will kick in (cue a frenzied 4pm binge!). Fuel your body regularly – three meals a day with two snacks if appropriate – and don’t wait until you’re too hungry to have something to eat.
Bonus Tip: Hydrate! Be sure to drink plenty of water every day. Water helps with digestion, elimination, metabolism and brain function. It is an important element of our overall health, and can be helpful for weight loss too.
Do the best you can for your health each day and you WILL see and feel changes. Be patient and just keep moving forward, one healthy choice at a time. Slow and steady is the way to go for long-term success so focus on progress, not perfection.
If you still don’t achieve results, consider seeing a physician, naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doctor as underlying conditions, such as hormonal imbalances, can hinder weight loss. There are emotional blocks to weight loss too. If you suspect a subconscious struggle, energy work such as Reiki can help, so can intuitive and mindful eating practices. Contact me for further details.
You’re worth it!
Disclaimer: The information provided is for general education purposes only and should not replace the advice provided by your health care practitioner. Always check with your health care provider before starting a new diet or exercise routine.