It’s happened to the best of us.
For weeks you’ve been true to your program – eating clean, getting in your workout, staying hydrated & getting your sleep on. Every week that you step on the scale, you see the pay-off for all of your hard work. Then one day, without so much as a warning, the number on the scale stops moving in its customary downward direction!
‘No Problem’ – you think to yourself, that first time – ‘… at least it’s not a gain…’
But in the weeks to follow, the pounds of fat that once seem to effortlessly fall off are clinging on like a stubborn mule. You do a personal inventory of reasons that could be contributing to the sabotaging of your success…. again, you come up short with viable reasons for this stall…. arrrghhh!!
You knew that this day would come. You’ve read about, you’ve even overheard locker room conversations about it. But when it happens, there is still the questions of ‘why me?’, ‘why now?’, ‘why the hell does this happen?’, and ‘how the hell do I get past this!?’.
According to the folks at the Mayo Clinic –
“A plateau occurs because your metabolism — the process of burning calories for energy — slows as you lose muscle. You burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight even doing the same activities. Your weight-loss efforts result in a new equilibrium with your now slower metabolism.
At this new equilibrium, calories eaten equals calories expended. This means that to lose more weight, you need to increase activity or decrease the calories you eat. Using the same approach that worked initially may maintain your weight loss, but it won’t lead to more weight loss”
If you’re at a plateau, you may have lost all of the weight you will, given the number of calories you’re eating each day and the time you spend exercising. At this point, you need to ask yourself if you’re satisfied with your current weight – in which case you move on to the maintenance phase of your journey or if you want to lose more – in which case you’ll need to adjust your weight-loss program.
If you’re committed to losing more weight, before you throw your hands up and throw in the proverbial towel, here are 5 Down & Dirty Strategies to try for getting past the plateau:
#1 Reassess your habits.
Review your past food and activity records. Make sure that you haven’t loosened the rules, letting yourself get by with larger portions or less exercise. Calorie Creep (a.k.a. – eating more calories than you think) combined with decreased metabolism (from the weight loss) almost always results in a plateau.
#2 Re-evaluate Your Calorie Intake
As you lose weight, not only does it become harder to lose, but your metabolism decreases. – the good news is that your metabolism is supposed to decrease as you lose weight. Because at your new leaner weight you have less body mass. Less body mass = Lower energy requirement to support your smaller frame. A general rule of thumb, when looking at caloric intake is, for every 10-15 lb you lose (especially if you have a lot of weight to lose), you can reevaluate the amount of calories needed to continue on your weight lost journey.
#3 Rev up your workouts
If you want to maintain the results you have, changing things up in your work out is awesome! But not if you want to maximize your results in a muscle building, or fat loss program. Continuity in your exercise program is more important than switching things up. Continuity allows you to track your improvements in your strength and fitness levels – making adjustments to your workouts. Think outside the gym. Increase your general physical activity throughout the day by walking more and using your car less, or try doing more yard work or vigorous spring cleaning.
#4 Get a Good Night Sleep
The people at Fitday sums it up this way:
“Sleep is a crucial factor in losing weight. Sleep suppresses your appetite and raises your metabolism, while allowing your body to rest and recover. Sleep affects the levels of several hormones in your body. Two hormones that play an important role in stimulating and suppressing your appetite are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is produced by your body’s fat cells and is responsible for suppressing hunger. Ghrelin is released by your stomach, and stimulates your appetite. Lack of sleep lowers the levels of leptin in your blood and heightens the levels of ghrelin, which results in an increase of appetite. The reverse is also true: getting enough sleep decreases hunger and will therefore help you lose weight.So aside from leading an active lifestyle and maintaining a balanced diet, you should also make sure that you get enough sleep to carry you through your day”.
As you continue on your journey to reach your ideal weight, keep in mind that changing your body into a lean, mean fit machine is the destination. Find as much enjoyment in the journey, despite its setbacks. Revel in the small successes that seem to be overlooked – the stronger and fitter you, your vanishing waistline, making healthier food choices, to name a few. Learn to appreciate and focus on these changes, while continuing to work your healthy lifestyle changes, and your plateau will become well-earned fodder for your blog.