Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau

Aug 10, 2020

First, for the bad news, weight loss plateaus are normal and will likely happen at least once throughout your journey. Now, for the good news, they can be overcome! Let’s first dive into why these occur and then we will discuss how to get past them.

I commonly hear things like “I was doing really well with my weight loss and then it just stopped” or “I haven’t changed anything and I am making good food choices, but the scale won’t move.” This is all very normal. The fact is that when you start losing weight initially, it is more rapid because you tend to lose water weight first. This is because your body releases glycogen stores, which is a type of carbohydrate. Glycogen is made partly of water, so the rapid weight loss that you typically see initially comes from mostly water. As you continue to lose weight, your metabolism slows because you are burning fat and muscle. As your weight decreases, your body’s need for calories decreases as well.

Unfortunately, this is where most people give up. However, this is the time that you need to dig deep and re-evaluate your lifestyle. Below are the recommended steps to help you overcome a plateau:

  1. Evaluate your calorie intake. If you are using an app or recording in a food journal, look through and calculate your averages. Look to see if some things have slipped and if you might be consuming more calories than you thought. If you aren’t tracking, this is the time to start. We often tend to eat more calories than we think, especially when we feel like we are making good food choices. Remember, there are no “free” foods. Everything counts and you can overeat anything, even fruit and vegetables.
  2. Increase the intensity of your workouts. Exercise has so many benefits, but you have to push yourself. If you are doing the same exercise routine that you were doing before you lost weight, you likely need to increase the intensity of your workouts. If you are not exercising, this is the time to start.
  3. Find more ways to be active outside of planned exercise. Consider using a fitness tracker to count your steps. Make a daily step goal for yourself and try to meet it. Once you start meeting it regularly, start increasing it. This is a great time to get your family involved in going to the park, going for a walk, playing tennis, etc. Make it fun for everyone.
  4. DON’T GIVE UP! You have come this far and you don’t want to go backwards. Be thankful for the weight that you have lost and continue to fight to lose more in order to reach your goal. Remember to set realistic goals for yourself.
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