What is a weight loss plateau (and how to break through it)
No matter where you are on your weight loss journey, there's a good chance that you will hit a plateau at some point along the way. Weight loss plateaus are a common frustration during weight loss and happen to almost everyone at some point during their journey.
What's important to remember is that hitting a plateau doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. And it certainly doesn't mean you should give up.
What is a weight loss plateau?
A weight loss plateau is when you stop seeing results on the scale despite continuing healthy habits that previously helped you lose weight. In many cases, the weight comes off much easier at first, but at some point, almost everyone will see some type of plateau.
Why is this happening?
It would be nice to have a definitive answer as to why plateaus happen. There are a lot of theories but even researchers have not been able to determine the real reasons beyond easy explanations such as not eating properly or losing weight too quickly.
If you are losing weight in a slow and sustainable way (1-2 lbs. per week) and sticking to a healthy balanced diet, then you should not allow a plateau to deter you. It could simply be that your body needs to adjust to what is known as the 'metabolic set point,'.
Scientific evidence has shown that once you lose 5-10% of your body weight, you may experience a 'set point' plateau. Essentially, your body is adapting to the changes brought on by your new, healthier lifestyle. Thankfully, there are some easy things you can do to break through your plateau.
7 things you can do to overcome a weight loss plateau in a healthy way1. Assess your eating habits:
It may seem like you're doing the same thing that you did when you initially lost weight, but as you start to feel comfortable with what you are doing, you may find that you are not following your plan as closely as you were originally. A good way to track this is to keep a weekly food journal. You can do longer if you wish, but a week is a good rule of thumb. It keeps you honest about what you are eating and allows you to look back at what you ate to see if certain foods might be affecting your loss.
Another thing journaling allows you to see is if you are eating enough. Although it might seem counterintuitive, not eating enough can stall weight loss. It's important that you fuel your body so that it has the energy it needs to get you through the day AND burn fat.
If you have not added exercise to your routine, a plateau is the perfect time to do so. Adding in some type of activity, even if it is just a 15-minute walk, will help kick-start weight loss again.
If you are currently exercising weekly, take a week off. Although it may sound strange, too much exercise or exercise that is too intense can cause stress and may slow weight loss. When you go back to working out, change up your regimen. If you have been focusing only on cardio, add some weight training. If you have only been doing weights, add some cardio. Add in some yoga or gentle stretching, or even try the AeroTrainer by GOLO. Alternating your exercises will make it easier to break through the plateau.
3. Switch up your meals:
If you are eating the same foods or meals each week, it's time to mix it up. When you consume the same foods over a long period of time without much variety, you may miss out on certain important nutrients for overall health. Furthermore, a recent study shows that increasing the variety of healthy foods may help improve weight loss. So, give your body some different nutrients to process that it isn't used to, and you may be surprised how quickly you overcome your plateau.
4. Increase your daily activity level:
Daily activity goes beyond regular exercise. There are plenty of non-traditional ways to sneak extra activity into your day, like taking the stairs and finding ways to get in a few walks during the day. Try walking to ask a colleague a question rather than sending an email a few times per day. Or set a timer and get up every hour and take a lap around the office or house if you work from home. If you start to think about it, you can easily add in some extra movement each day, and this might be just what it takes to help you start losing weight once again.
5. Drink more water:
Water can help suppress your appetite between meals and may also help stimulate your metabolism. If you are exercising more, then drinking water is especially important. This is because when muscle cells are dehydrated, they break down protein (aka muscle) more quickly and build muscle more slowly, so your workouts are much less effective.
6. Reduce your stress and stay positive:
If you're feeling stressed, whether it's because your weight loss journey has stalled or for any other reason, take some time for yourself to decompress. Stress can increase your cortisol levels, which makes it harder to lose the extra weight around your belly. So, taking time to de-stress is very important for overall weight loss success. In a recent study, participants in a weight loss trial who added stress management practices to their weekly routine lost more weight than other participants.
Stress management can be as simple as not being so hard on yourself but can also include daily affirmations, meditation, or even yoga. If you feel stressed each time you weigh in, think about reducing the number of times you weigh yourself. GOLO suggests that you weigh and measure your waist once a week but if even that is stressful, try using other techniques such as trying on a certain pair of pants each week to see how they fit.
If your stress is caused by other factors, take some time to examine them to see how you can make changes to help reduce the amount of stress you feel. Many times our stress is caused by our own expectations. Remember to give yourself some grace. You deserve it just like the others in your life. If you cant remove the stress completely, try things like time-management, goal setting and even something as simple as a break in the middle of the day to stretch and breathe.
Take time to focus on YOU and remember how far you have come. Keeping a positive attitude will help you accomplish almost anything in life. Believing that you can reach your goals does help you achieve them.
7. Try the Reset 7 from GOLO:
GOLO's Reset 7 is a one-week jump-start that can be used at the beginning of your weight loss journey. But it is also a great way to help you break through a weight loss plateau.
The Reset 7 plan servings and portions are the same as the regular GOLO for Life Plan, except with a more limited menu. It's designed to temporarily remove foods that are harder for the body to digest or tolerate. When you eliminate these foods and then add them back into your diet slowly, you are able to easily identify the ones that might have been slowing down your weight loss.
Following the Reset 7 will also help reaffirm how to properly portion meals and how to create delicious and healthy GOLO meals based on your GOLO for Life Smart Card.
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