Did you know that most people hit plateaus 2 or 3 times before they attain their ideal body weight?
I know it can be discouraging and you may feel like giving up. Especially when you are doing your best but you can’t see any improvements. If this has happened to you, know that it’s something very common.
So, what is a weight loss plateau? This basically means you are stuck at a certain weight for some time. Even though you are maintaining the same habits which helped you lose weight before.
In this article I will share how you can avoid plateaus and how to overcome it if you already hit one. It’s important to acknowledge that weight loss is a physical battle as much as it is mental. Having the right approach and mind set will help you persevere through any challenges.
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Why are weight loss plateaus so common?
There isn’t a pat answer to this, because our bodies are different and react to things differently. But there are some common causes of plateaus.
Read the reasons below and see if you identify with any of them.
Not getting enough sleep can slow weight loss and even cause weight gain.
Doing the same thing over and over
When we do the same thing repeatedly, our bodies get used to it and stops reacting to it. This applies to both exercise and nutrition.
Underestimating calorie intake
Often you will find that some folks are eating more than they think they are. The excess calories make it hard for you to lose weight.
Very high expectations
You may have very high expectations that can’t be achieved in a short period of time. Don’t expect to lose 15 pounds in a week, it’s not possible and it’s not healthy. At times you may be making progress but your expectations are too high you can’t see the small achievements.
So before you start beating yourself up the next time you hit a plateau here are some things you should know.
Observe your habits
The first thing you need to do is be realistic. Scrutinize everything you are doing and assess whether you have changed your habits. Are you still eating healthy foods? Are you exercising like you were before? Have you changed your habits?
The reason you need you should do this is because most folks don’t take time to analyze what stalled their weight loss. In most cases you’ll be able to identify a new habit or something you stopped doing. Maybe you are drinking wine more often or you aren’t training like before.
Don’t use the scale only, to track your progress.
The scale shouldn’t be the only thing you use to track your progress. Sometimes it will give you untrue results due to water retention. If you step on the scale frequently I’m sure you have realized that your weight fluctuates up and down. Therefore it’s also not advisable to take to weigh yourself every day. Do it once a week or once in every two weeks.
Measure your body fat percentage, you may not be seeing any progress on the scale but your body fat percentage is reducing.
Take pictures frequently and compare them as time goes by. This may help you identify some minor improvements which you may not have otherwise seen.
Your clothes are also another great way to know if there is any change on your waistline.
You lose weight faster at the beginning
More weight is lost at the beginning of a weight loss journey and as you progress the rate of weight loss goes down. So don’t expect the rate of weight loss to remain constant throughout. If you were losing 2lbs per week at the beginning, know that as your body fat reduces the rate of weight loss will reduce too. The lower your body fat is the harder it becomes to lose weight.
How to overcome a weight loss plateau
After you have established you have hit a weight loss plateau, it’s time to overcome it and keep losing weight.
Just a heads up this requires you to count calories, unless you can eyeball portions. Though I don’t advocate for calorie counting, do it in order to know exactly the number of calories you consume per day. Then after you know your portions stop it, it can be addictive.
Calorie cycling is when you consume different amounts of calories each day. Making changes on calorie intake will trick the body to get out of its routine.
As long as you maintain an overall calorie deficit, calorie cycling can be helpful. In fact calorie cycling feels more natural and it might be the only thing you need to overcome this mountain.
Vary exercises and do strength training
The idea behind overcoming a weight loss plateau is breaking habits which got you stuck. So if you have been doing the same exercises it’s time for some change. Do different and more intense exercises. If you have been doing cardio switch it up to strength training or interval training. This will boost your metabolism and increase fat burning.
To spice it up even more, you can increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts. If you have been doing 3 sets in every exercise make it 4, if you exercise 2 times a week make it three. This is a great way to boost muscle growth and fat loss.
If you don’t have time to exercise try to increase physical activities. Walk more and avoid sitting for too long. Be creative on how you can increase physical activity.
Change diet composition
Another approach that can do magic, is to change the composition of macros in your diet. You may want to increase the amount of proteins you eat in a day. But this actually varies from person to person, I would advise you try it yourself and see which diet composition brings results.
You should also eat nutrient dense foods and reduce the intake of processed foods.
Get enough sleep and reduce stress
Lack of enough sleep and high stress levels slows weight loss and can even cause weight gain. When you are stressed or tired it’s very easy to make bad food choices.
While it’s not easy to reduce stress try to avoid stressful situations.
Getting enough sleep will ensure that you are always on point and you’ll be make better decisions.
Many people encounter plateaus and they don’t know what to do, some even lose faith and quit. It’s not a reason to give up on your goals, just use these strategies and you’ll easily overcome this challenge. Maybe you just need to make some small adjustments.
The key to overcoming a plateau is breaking habits that led to you being stuck. Managing your expectations will also go a long way in attaining your weight loss goals.
Have you ever hit a plateau? I would like to hear about your experiences and how you handled it.