I cannot count the number of times I come across men and women who are thoroughly committed to their weight loss journey, have been doing brilliantly and suddenly they are upset and demotivated as they hit the infamous ‘weight loss plateau’! I agree that it can be very demoralising to find that the numbers on those scales have suddenly ground to a halt for seemingly no reason – but time and again, when we get down to the nitty gritty there is ALWAYS a reason! Here are three common explanations for that ‘plateau’. Next time you hit one, look carefully and see if you can identify with any one of these …
1. You can’t understand why your weight is staying the same when you’ve done twice the amount of exercise as last week!
There are lots of reasons why this can affect the numbers on scales (and why – seriously – you should ALWAYS rely more on body measurement rather than scales, which are never a good indicator of weekly weight loss). Firstly, if you’ve been exercising frequently and have now increased it, you may just be building up wonderful lean muscle fibres – what we’re all aiming to do. Think of this as ‘toning’. Now, fat does NOT turn into muscle, but muscle weighs more than fat – so if this week you’ve lost half a pound but your exercise is now really kicking in and you’re consistently ‘toning’ (building muscle) – then yes, the scales are not going to tell you anything that looks ‘right’!! Body measurements, however, WILL!
Another possible reason is that if you’re new(er) to exercise it may be that when you’ve doubled your exercise time you’ve also doubled your water intake. Yes – everyone’s always yelling ‘drink drink’ blah blah but actually it’s too easy to drink TOO MUCH! The body cannot cope with an overload of water. You need to hydrate BEFORE your exercise and then simply top up – not drink an extra 2 litres per day! Water weighs heavily, too – so check your wee!! If it’s transparent, you’re drinking too much and this WILL affect numbers on scales. It should be very pale – but not see-through!!
Lastly, exercise increases metabolism and makes you hungry. Double check those portion sizes. Very VERY often, when you increase your exercise, your appetite increases too – and with it the portion sizes start expanding. Maybe you’ve squeezed in an extra snack, an extra portion of pasta (because you have, after all, just worked twice as hard!) … Tiny increases in a day don’t matter – but if those meals are increasing just a little bit every day, you’ll find that in a week you’ve probably eaten 2000 calories extra … calories that you haven’t actually burned off. Result = not much going to show on the scales J
2. My food is spot on. Everything is healthy. How come my weight loss has stopped?
It’s fantastic that everything is healthy but chances are that if you’re struggling with weight you’ve been eating a lot that’s ‘unhealthy’ – or simply ‘a lot’ for quite some time now. The switch to healthy food can be very empowering and can make you feel great about yourself – never mind your body loving you for it. Beware the ‘healthy’ demons, though. It is VERY common to think that if something is super healthy then you can eat twice as much! Fruit is extremely healthy and certainly a better choice than a packet of biscuits but it IS still full of sugar (albeit of a healthier kind) – so eating loads of fruit is going to affect your weight loss. The same goes for ‘traps’ like sugar-free jelly, for example. It might be sugar-free but no, you can’t eat buckets of it. It still has calories!! Ditto for fat-free yogurts (you shouldn’t be eating these anyway) or diet drinks (absolute no-no if you’re trying to lose weight) (in fact, an absolute no-no if you’re trying to stay human, but I’ll leave that for another day haha). In short, just because it’s super healthy doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you like. It’s all about balance.
3. I’m following a plan, I’ve stuck rigidly to it, I haven’t changed a thing and suddenly my weight won’t budge L
The key here is the phrase ‘I haven’t changed a thing’. If this is your problem then it’s easily fixed. Your body is simply BORED BORED BORED. Have you got a routine of a smoothie for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, fruit for snack and meat/fish and veg for dinner? Sounds pretty good on the surface and compared to what you were eating prior to your weight loss efforts this is reasonable food day – but how long have you been sticking to this? Imagine waking up every day to listen to exactly the same radio programme, followed by exactly the same workout, then in the afternoon you find you’re watching the same film … over and over and over. How long would it take you to get bored? So why think that your body doesn’t react the same way? If it’s been getting a smoothie EVERY DAY, chances are it opens one eye, yawns and thinks ‘here comes the smoothie, any time now …’ and promptly goes back to sleep. Imagine if every morning (or at least every three) it is suddenly faced with a boiled egg – or porridge … Don’t you think it’ll suddenly wake up – and I mean ‘really’ wake up – eager to find out what it’s going to be using as fuel today? Yes, your body gets bored very easily. Make sure that you rotate at least three breakfasts and change up those lunches, dinners and types of snack (fruit one day, rice cakes and peanut butter another …) to ensure that your body is wide awake and properly fuelled so it can do all the work that you’re asking (eliminating fat, for example??)
Any of these ring any bells with you? Do please leave a comment below if you’ve found it helpful – or feel free to ask a question.