A weight loss plateau has to be one of the most frustrating, discouraging things in the world. Even worse than trying to recreate a beautiful Pinterest recipe or craft, which you know will ultimately end up on Pinterest Fail. Accept it.
While a stall or plateau can make you want to throw in the towel and say “WHY EVEN TRY ANYMOOOOREEE?!!!”…let’s try to keep a few things in mind:
- Why did you start? Is it enough to keep you from quitting? Don’t be a quitter. Those guys are no fun.
- What was your ultimate goal? Are you trying to reach a specific weight because someone held a gun to your head and told you to? Or do you want to be healthy?
- Exercise and eating well should be a lifestyle change, not a short term fix so you fit in those jeans.
- A successful journey rarely travels in a straight line. There are bound to be curves, detours, hills and valleys. Don’t sit down in the middle of the road just because the path you’re on isn’t a direct one with the most scenic route and Ryan Gosling cheering you on all the way.
Although…that would make it oh so satisfying.
Ok, back to reality. Ryan Gosling may not “Hey Girl” to you as you sweat away those calories, but you can look at some different reasons for why you may not be progressing to try to get things moving again:
- Look at what you’re eating. And I don’t mean watch the cupcake as it enters your mouth. Really – WHAT are you eating? Are the foods clean? Are you drinking more soda or juice or coffee than water? Are you snacking on food that your kids leave behind? (We all do it, trust me.) Did you have one, two, five, or ten cheats last week? If you aren’t consistently fueling your body with proper nutrition, you probably won’t reach your goals.
- In addition to WHAT you’re eating, how MUCH are you eating? We all know that eating too much will cause you to gain weight, but also eating too LITTLE will make you gain weight. Seriously! It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes increasing your calories will actually let your body know it isn’t starving and it will go back to burning fat again instead of holding onto it like a 2 year old with a death grip on his new toy.
- Your macros may be out of balance. By that, I mean that your body works best when it has a proper balance of carbs, proteins, and fats. There are 50 bajillion diets out there, and I honestly don’t recommend ANY of them except portion control. Again – that doesn’t mean limit what you eat to the point that you are starving, but it does mean you should eat the proper foods in proportion to each other. Pair complex carbs with protein. Don’t avoid healthy fats. Eat foods from EVERY group. If you need help with portion control and knowing how much of each type of food to eat, the 21 Day Fix or the Portion Control program is perfect to help with that.
- Drink more water. You should aim for half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 oz of water. If you’re 200 pounds, drink 100 oz. Get it? Simple math. When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys can’t function properly, so the body turns to the liver for help. Because the liver is working so hard, what you consume is stored rather than burned off. Also, if you don’t drink enough water, your poop isn’t going to exit quite as much as it should. Not only will you feel bad, but you will hold onto that weight. Not fun. Drink water and poop it out.
- You don’t have the right vitamins and minerals to make your body work properly. Did you know vitamin deficiencies will cause you to not lose weight? Yeah, the girl who had super low levels of B12 and D3 can tell you firsthand. At the very least, make sure you take a good multivitamin daily. If you can, ask your doctor to check your labs to make sure you aren’t deficient in one area or another. And of course I’m going to recommend Shakeology daily, because it’s what has helped me to raise my B12 levels to a healthy range so I was able to stop my weekly injections. (Did you know Shakeology was clinically proven to lower A1C levels and cholesterol too? True story.)
- Moving beyond nutrition…you may need to alter your workouts. If you’ve been doing the same types of exercise for a while, your body may have gotten used to it. Try something different and see how your body responds to a new challenge.
- Lift heavy. Many people think that cardio is what they need to burn fat and get skinny. While you rarely see many overweight Kenyan marathoners, cardio isn’t the most efficient way to lose weight and reshape your body. Strength training will actually skyrocket your metabolism and help you to burn fat even AFTER your workout is over. Want more bang for your buck? Lift weights with very little recovery time between sets, so that your heart rate stays elevated even while you strength train. And YES, women need to lift heavy weights. NO, women won’t get bulky without actually TRYING to get bulky. Get over that fear.
- Sleep. Relax. Take a day off. Do NOT work out every single day. Your body builds muscle and repairs when you sleep. Aim for at least one day per week with no workout.
- Be patient. Your thighs weren’t built in a day, and they aren’t going to look like Giselle’s in a day either. Sometimes your body stalls just as it is preparing to start dropping weight again. It takes time and consistency. Don’t quit, don’t give up, and don’t let your mind get in the way. Even the 21 Day Fix isn’t a 21 day FIX. It’s 21 days to build a habit so that you end up living a healthier lifestyle. No quick fixes here, people. Hold your horses, change is gonna happen.
One final note…I often have clients and challengers who are in my private support groups who worry that they’ve been exercising for a week or two or five and they haven’t lost any weight. I know it concerns them, but that in itself doesn’t immediately raise red flags for me.
Here’s why: Weight by itself does NOT tell your story. A better indicator of progress would be inches, pictures, how your clothes fit, how you feel, how much energy you have, and your medical records (cholesterol, blood sugar, etc). It’s possible to drop more than one dress size but actually GAIN weight because muscle is more dense than fat! It takes up less room, so your body is getting smaller and tighter, but your weight is increasing. The scale can be beneficial in some ways, but in some ways it can derail your progress by making you stress unnecessarily.
Also, if you are working hard and exercising to the point that your muscles are getting sore (DOMS), your body is most likely holding on to water while it repairs your muscles! Again – that can appear to be weight gain but it isn’t like you just packed on 5 pounds of fat overnight. Keep pushing forward and it will work itself out in the long run. I promise.
A great article I stumbled across recently is here, and is one that I recommend to everyone. If you want my help with meal planning, tweaking your exercise program, or figuring out what is going to work best for you – contact me! The contact tab up there is full of ways you can find me, or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you!
***Disclaimer – I am not a nutritionist/dietician/doctor, and I am not in any way trained to diagnose or treat medical problems. I am a personal trainer and coach who is only sharing knowledge and experiences that I have gained from research, my own fitness journey, and that of my clients/challengers. If you have serious difficulties with weight loss that isn’t receptive to proper nutrition or exercise, please seek the advice of a medical professional. You may have a hormonal imbalance or other health condition that is interfering with your metabolism and ability to reach a healthy weight.***