Getting Off the Plateau

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you have experienced the plateau. Just the fact that you are now nodding your head shows that the plateau is simply a fact of weight loss. Therefore, it stands to reason, the plateau is not only normal but something to be expected. Not something to fear or dread. Just a stage you will pass through on your weight loss journey, on the way to greater health and happiness.

Yet, it is hideous. That goes without saying. When you are on a weight loss plan, you are focused and determined to change your body, your mindset, your lifestyle, absolutely everything. This demands energy, enthusiasm, and discipline. Just exerting the will power alone is exhausting. But watching the numbers on the scale finally go down makes it all worth it. Until those numbers stop dropping. Until that needle sticks. And all the hard work suddenly seems to be for naught.

So what should you do at this stage of the game? Throw in the towel? Binge on pizza and beer? Eat an entire chocolate cake? Cry uncontrollably in your bed for a week? (Okay, you know I am kidding here, right?)

While the above suggestions may sounds appealing, especially all that crying, they probably won't do anything to move you closer to your goal. (You could lose a few grams of water weight in tears, but that won't even show up on your #$%*ing scale.) So let's talk about some strategies for getting yourself off the dreaded plateau and back into the wondrous world of weight loss.

Step 1: Reread the posts I recently wrote called Daily Stuff and More Daily Stuff! These are the basics which you should be doing on a daily basis to get and stay healthy. Surprisingly, these are also the basics of losing and keeping off the weight. Yes, drinking more water, taking fish oil, sleeping enough, and moving around enough will all help with weight loss. Make sure you are staying on top of all your basic needs.

Step 2: Address the stress! Stress is the enemy of weight loss and the friend of belly fat! Make time to breathe deeply each and every day. Meditate. Go to yoga class. Take a warm bath. Light a lavender candle. Go to your happy place, physically or metaphorically. Whatever you can afford!

Step 3: Check your diet carefully. Make sure you are measuring your portions, even when you snack. (IF you snack!) Never engage in mindless chomping out of a bag or a box. Take a serving, put it on a plate, and consume it mindfully. Watch out for gateway foods that lead you into binges! Examples can include healthy foods as well as junk foods, such as nuts, chips, cereal, crackers, cookies, peanut butter (eaten with a spoon from the jar!) grapes, dried fruit, granola, guacamole. Some of these foods you might want to avoid completely. Others you might just need to limit and measure carefully.

Step 4: This one is counter-intuitive. Make sure you are eating ENOUGH and NOT exercising too much! You might think you should cut your calories even further and increase your workout time in order to leap off your plateau, but often the answer lies in the opposite direction. Your body will try to hang onto every calorie it receives if it thinks you are near to starving! And overtraining will also cause a halt to weight loss. Sometimes taking a day off, resting up, and relaxing can jumpstart your weightloss again.

Step 5: Assess your overall weight loss goal. Is it realistic? Is it HEALTHY? Of course we all want to look amazing in a bikini, but skeletal is just not very sexy. Keep in mind that if you are gaining strength through your workouts, you will also be gaining muscle mass. And this is a GREAT thing! Strong is the new skinny! But muscle does weigh more than fat. Is it possible that your plateau is actually a healthy weight for you?

If you're not quite there yet, don't give up. See Steps 1-4 and try to objectively evaluate how well you are accomplishing each. Remember that everyone who diets experiences the plateau. And everyone who sticks with it, eventually makes it past the plateau!