Plateaus

Losing weight can be incredibly frustrating at times. One of the most frustrating aspects is something called a plateau. When you’re plateauing you’re basically staying at the same weight for an extended period of time. You’ll go up a little bit this week, and down a bit the next week and then right back up again the week after.

Plateauing can be very draining on your emotions, physical health, energy levels, motivation, and dedication. Plateaus are one of the primary contributors to people giving up on weight loss because they’re just that bad. Overcoming a plateau takes time, and “surviving” during that time is incredibly hard when dealing with all of the frustration and taxation that the plateau itself causes.

Right now Jenny and I are both dealing with plateaus right now, and you can tell that it’s really interfered with us a lot both in our actual weight loss as well as the blog. It’s a rough journey to make and we’re both doing our best to push through it right now. It sucks, but we’re going to make it through.

The weight loss journey is just like climbing a mountain. The more weight you have to lose, the taller your mountain is and the longer it’s going to take you to get there. Then again, the taller the mountain the greater the glory for reaching the top.

Take a look at the above picture of a mountain.

That mountain represents two things: your journey, and your waistline.

When you’re first starting out, you’re at the bottom looking at a great challenge ahead of you, and you’re not in the greatest shape. As you continue to climb higher and higher, you continue to lose weight and the progress you’ve made encourages you to keep going.

Now take a look at the picture at the very top of the plateaus.

What the flat top of that half-mountain represents is a lack of progress. In your effort to reach the top of the mountain peaks you’ve instead reached a patch of dirt and rock that’s at a slightly higher elevation than you were at when you first started. That’s where the frustration comes from and where many people say, “This is it? This is all I get for all that hard work? Screw this, I give up.”

But I didn’t write this post today to tell you how much plateaus suck (yes I did), I wrote this post to talk about some of the things that you do to overcome them. As Jenny and I are currently stuck on a plateau, I’m hoping that some of these tips can help us overcome them as well.

Below you’ll find lists of suggestions that I found at various sites online that talk about how to overcome weight loss plateaus. Below the lists I’ll summarize what those articles say and share some of my thoughts on what they had to say:

[Preserving Through Plateaus – via WeightWatchers.com]
1. Change your routine
2. Challenge yourself
3. Keep a food diary
4. Pump it up
5. Eat less
6. Organize your life
7. Have realistic expectations
8. See a trainer

[Dealing With Weight Loss Plateaus – via EveryDayHealth.com]
Exercise Tips
1. Variety
2. Intensity

Food Tips
1. Eat more
2. Reduce your sodium and DRINK LOTS OF WATER

[7 Ways to Pass Your Weight Loss Plateau – via Oprah.com]
1. Hang in there.
2. Avoid fuzzy math.
3. Put up some resistance.
4. Up your protein quotient.
5. Shake it up.
6. Recharge your drive:
7. Reconsider the skin you’re in:

[How to Deal With a Weight Loss Plateau – via WeightLoss.About.com]
1. Eat something “bad”.
2. Be honest… are you cheating?
3. But don’t be too hard on yourself!
4. Pump some iron.

Generally speaking, plateaus happen when your body has grown used to your new routine. Your metabolism slows down either because your body has entered survival mode or because it’s found the new norm and decided it no longer has to work hard to deal with the changes you made to your diet and exercise. In order to get your metabolism running again you need to shake things up, and that’s what these articles are telling us to do.

The first big trigger for metabolism activity is exercise. The more you move, the more your metabolism kicks in to burn off the calories you have stored in your body to provide you with the energy you need to accomplish the tasks at hand. You can do this either by increasing your exercise (or starting in the first place), or by changing up the exercises that you’re doing by either doing them differently or doing different exercises all together. One of the suggestions we saw a few weeks ago while watching The Biggest Loser was to do your exercise in reverse. For example, if you like to utilize a treadmill, try walking an equal distance backwards. Doing things backwards utilizes different muscles or works them in different ways which forces your metabolism to kick in to adjust to the strange, new activities.

Another suggestion you see in all of the articles is a change to how much you’re eating. Some of them suggest eating less, and others suggest eating more. In terms of Weight Watchers, I would say this applies most directly with your Weekly Points Allowance. If you usually avoid eating your weekly points, try eating half of your weekly allowance, if not all of them, for two to three weeks. If you’re used to eating all of your weekly points, then go two to three weeks eating only half of them or none at all.

Another common item is keeping honest records of what you’re eating. Tracking is one of the hardest habits for people to pick up and stick with when doing Weight Watchers, but your success with the plan is tied directly to how well you actually follow it. Track everything you eat, and do it as honestly and as accurately as you can.

Hopefully we can take some of these tips and overcome our own plateaus, and we hope that any of you who are in a similar situation might find this information useful as well.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. foodrefashionista
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 19:53:38

    Being at a plateau is really awful (and I love the photo as illustration.) And the tips are great…but I have one other suggestion: get your thyroid checked if the plateauing goes on for a long time. I’d been vacillating primarily between no weight loss and small weight gains for about 8 months while dieting and exercising. My WW leaders suggested everything under the sun. Complete exhaustion finally got me to the dr., and it now seems that my thyroid was slowly going berserk after 15 years of stability!

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Welcome to Château d’Plateau | The Chubby Couple

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