Professionals see it all the time: Someone sets a goal, changes their eating habits, starts working out and increasing their overall activity level, drinks more water and gets more sleep… Suddenly the pounds start coming off. It’s exciting, it’s relieving …but then it stops abruptly and the scale refuses to budge. Chances are most people who have attempted to lose a reasonable amount of weight – 10 pounds or more – have run in to this conundrum. The Weight Loss Plateau is an unfortunate reality of shedding unwanted pounds. “Although hitting a plateau is common, most people are surprised when it happens to them, for they believe that if they just maintained a reduced-calorie diet, they would continue to lose weight. The frustrating reality is that even well-planned weight-loss efforts often become stalled,” according to Mayo Clinic Staff.
Weight Loss Approach
The best approach to overcoming the Plateau is accepting it will happen and understanding what it is. When someone begins a new weight loss program it is common for them to see rapid results within the first few weeks. This is due to changes in metabolism, the body’s process of converting food and drink into energy. When activity level goes up or calorie consumption goes down, metabolism increases and results in more energy being burned and pounds being lost. But eventually the body adjusts to these changes, and when metabolism equalizes the body stops losing weight. Once this Plateau is reached, the original diet/exercise program will no longer generate the desired metabolic changes in the body and the person will have to further increase activity or decrease calorie consumption.
Although the Plateau is the last thing most dieters hope to encounter, there is hope: Simple adjustments to exercise regimes and diet programs often suffice as the jolt the body needs to start seeing results again. Implementing new tools can also be beneficial. For instance, many people begin to underestimate how much food they’re actually eating with a food diary.
Boredom is also a large cause of derailment as people tire of following the same routine every day. As dieters quickly learn, losing weight is both physical AND mental! Again, variation to the normal work out routine as well as a changes to repetitive food consumption can make a big difference.
Ultimately, the most successful people overcome the Plateau by mixing up their approach, including:
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Avoiding restaurants/rethinking choices while dining out
- Striving for low-fat lean protein sources
- Introducing new foods or exercises to stave off boredom and to “surprise” their system
- Sharing goals with friends and family to encourage support and accountability
Stay focused on the goal and eventually the scale will start to move again!