We have all been there; working out religiously; eating like there is surplus of vegetables & they will take over the planet if you don’t consume them; losing weight, gaining strength & feeling like a rock star. Then, a little while into this awesome new lifestyle, you step on that scale AND nada. Not even ONE ounce is gone or even maybe you’ve gained a little.
You brush it off as a fluke, but in a week, you experience the same, frustrating outcome.
This, my friend, is called a Weight Loss Plateau.
So, what is a Weight Loss Plateau?
This is a point when the body stops responding to the nutrition &/or fitness program/routine it has been following. It can happen to anyone & happens to many; but do not fret! It is a sign that your body is doing what it is supposed to do, adapting, & with the right tools, it is easy to hop back on that weight-loss train.
All Aboard: Choo chooo!
Now, to figure out how to get that scale moving in the correct direction again, we need to look at factors that can affect your weight loss.
The factors to consider are:
A great way observe how all the above may be impacting your weight loss goals is to write an in-depth health journal for 1 week.
In this journal you will document everything & I mean EVERYTHING.
Everything going into your body & being done by/to your body is being logged (yes, that includes sex, that is a bonus healthy living point ;) ) :
Sleep habits: quantity, quality, dreams, restfulness, time went to bed, time you rise, how you feel when you wake, what you did prior to sleeping, etc.
Food consumed: all food logged, portion size (rough guesstimates based on hand size), energy before & after meals, bowel movements, acid reflux?, etc.
Liquids Intake: All liquid amounts, times of day, what you were feeling when drinking them, etc.
Exercise/Movement: Reps, sets, weight, duration, intensity, rest, perceived exertion, how you felt before, during & after, did you have sex with your partner?, etc.
Feeling/Emotions: General daily feelings, attitudes, stress levels, etc.
Now, I get it, this looks like a poop ton of work, but stick with it because the information you gather in just 7 days provides priceless tools to guide you back on track to the lean, muscle building, weight loss machine that you want to be.
By creating this log, you are setting yourself up for two possibilities:
That weight loss train starts right back up again! All Aboard! Yes, that’s right. Often we under or overestimate what we are eating, how we are sleeping, how much water we are drinking, how hard we are working out & how many cheat meals we have had. By simply taking a week to really focus in on & be honest about all these factors, you can restore the balance to your routine & create room for the weight loss to continue.
If this isn’t the case, well then now you have:
An amazing blueprint to work from & factors to tweak to get out of your plateau.
With your journal it becomes easy to see patterns:
Are you having a reactions to foods, like grogginess, tummy troubles, restlessness after eating? Is your gut health maybe not where it should be ie constipated or diarrhea? Are you eating too much? Too little? Are you not working out as much or as hard as you could? Are you working out too much? Is your water intake lower than you thought? Or alcohol intake higher?
By examining your journal & answering these questions & thinking about your routine, you can easily change things up to get your body to start responding again to the work you are putting into it.
Now, in the rare case that your journal turns out immaculate. You are feeling great, have amazing sleep habits, excellent eating habits, are drinking plenty of water, have a well balanced exercise routine & the scale still isn’t budging, then there are two things to consider:
Weight loss is not linear, so just because you started off losing X pounds per week does not mean you will continue to do so. In fact, the closer you get to your goal weight & the leaner your body becomes, the less cheat meals/days you can have (if any). It becomes increasingly difficult to lose weight because our bodies are A) efficient & B) programed to survive. So if you are extremely close to your goal weight, your margin of error narrows & your need to pay attention to the minute details of your nutrition, exercise & sleep are how you will achieve your goals.
Like I mentioned before, your body adapts, and due to this, you must consistently change to keep ahead of it. For example, when you lose weight, you are no longer burning as many calories as you did at your heavier weight. Thus, you need to adjust your total caloric intake (one fo my favorite ways to do this is via intermittent & supported fasting).
This is true for your workout routine as well. Your body will adapt to the exercises being performed, the volume (sets + reps) of your workout & the load (weight) being used. So you will need to vary those as well. Thankfully these variables are easy to tweak & only one really needs to be tweaked at a time to continue challenging your body.
Whatever your outcome is & tweaks you make, just keep in mind that plateaus are common & there are easy steps overcome them! Stay positive, keep on Doing The Do & know you are a rock star & are already ahead of the game by moving & nurturing your amazing body!