Weight loss plateaus are every dieter’s nightmare. One minute you are on a roll and the pounds are literally falling off. You are feeling on top of the world, you are looking good and you begin to gather confidence in the fact that you have conquered this whole weight management problem.
Then all of a sudden you stop losing. You can’t figure out what’s wrong. You are carefully sticking to the plan, you are exercising regularly, but you haven’t lost weight in over a month. What happens when we encounter one of these weight loss plateaus?
When you hit a plateau, the first thing to do is pat yourself on the back. You are not gaining right? Your body has found a groove. If you are not gaining weight and you are not losing weight then your calorie intake for this weight is exactly right. That’s important information.
Plateaus can be deceiving. Even though your weight might not have changed for several days or weeks, what happens next is key. Whether you lose a pound or gain a pound determines what your next move should be.
If you gain
All weight loss plateaus eventually break. You may have held the exact same weight for several weeks and then all of a sudden you wake up 3 pounds heavier! Don’t despair. This simply means that while you actually thought you were on a level plateau, your calorie intake was very slightly above what your body was using. This is normal if you have been losing weight consistently previously.
Eventually you were bound to hit the point where calories in equal calories used. If you have gained weight, all you have to do is shave off a hundred calories or so from what you were eating, and pump up your exercise routine by adding two or more workouts of 20 minutes each (walking is good, more strenuous exercise is better) and you will start to lose again.
If you lose
If, after a period of maintaining, you start to lose again, you may have been under your required calorie intake by only a very small amount of calories. Eventually you save enough calories to lose a pound of weight. This is not really a weight loss plateau, so much as a dramatic slowing down of your weight loss. If you continue to eat the same amount and exercise the same amount, you will hit the plateau again.
Only by reducing calories, even by a few each day, and increasing your exercise, even by 2 x 10 or 20 minute intervals each week, you will continue to lose at a slow pace. To lose at a faster pace you will need to make more dramatic changes to your calorie intake or your exercise program.
Weight loss plateaus are annoying because they tend to hit right when we think we were on a roll. But it is not an indication that you are doing anything wrong. Think about it logically – we gain when we are eating too much, we lose when we are eating too little.
So a plateau simply means we are eating the right amount for the weight we are at. Managing a plateau, and learning how to kick your weight loss back into motion, is good practice for a later time when you will have reached your weight loss goal and don’t wish to gain the weight back. So stay positive, keep working and you will overcome.