First of all, do not despair!
I can understand that your motivation can be flagging a bit. You are not alone in this battle. I am here to help you and explain what may be the cause of your current weight plateau and how to overcome it. The are dozens of factors that influence your body weight; it´s not an exact science yet.
Before going further, I am pleased to give you straight-away great news: if you ate properly, healthily, consumed the agreed daily calorie amount, and still hit a plateau, you are doing a good job!
Your body is resisting and trying to maintain the optimum (according to him) fat percentage in your body. After this temporary resistance, the body will eventually give up and you will be able to bypass the plateau.
I recall one summer where I took the concept of dieting to its limits: I almost stopped eating (felt hungry as hell all day long) to just lose weight fast. Well, I jumped on the scale and took a quick frightening look on the LED-display of that pharmacy’s scale.
At first blush, I thought to have misread. Then, I wanted to start crying. I don’t remember what was the reading, but way worse than expected. I gained kilos, rather than dropping them.
I felt a mix of sadness, loneliness, loss of hope, powerless and only God knows what other shitty feelings crossed my heart.
OK, enough politics…let’s get started.
First things first: please do not talk about this weight-loss plateau issue with anyone. Don’t do it, because it could worsen the situation.
Maintain discretion even with your friends and close family members.
Most of them have no idea of how weight management works. If you look out for emotional support and answers in your friends, , they could do more harm than good to you. Of course, in good faith.
To avoid all this trouble, just keep it for yourself and read my blog :).
No, seriously: externalizing your negative feelings is most of the time not beneficial. Focus rather on understanding why it happened and how to deal with it.
Body’s self-defense mechanism
When you lose weight, your body isn’t that happy at all. He has a mechanism of auto-preservation and self-defense. That said, if you lose a tad amount of fat, he usually won’t object and everything is fine.
It starts getting noticeably complicated, if the weight-loss ratio is too steep.
An alarm bell rings inside the body and the silent fat deposit guardian wakes up and puts on hold all of your award-winning plans.
He doesn’t want you to get thinner and sexier, because his job is the exact opposite: keeping a high amount of fat reserves, just in case…
This auto-preservation mechanism originated from the neanderthal era, where higher fat reserves could mean the difference between life and death. During those tough times, it was difficult to hunt for food and fattier folks had a higher chance of survival.
Since then, things have changed a bit.
Now, you don’t need to go out hunting any more, and chances of starvation are also quite low (albeit depends on what part of the world you are living in).
Cutting short: the body still thinks we live in that era and just doesn’t want you to look awesome and be thinner.
After some time (which varies from person to person), the fat storage guardian drops the reins and you keep getting closer to your weight loss target.
So, what’s the bottom line? Just keep in mind about this self-defense mechanism of your body.
Keep a record of consumed calories
As you move closer to your ideal weight, you will learn also that the thinner you get, the more precision is required by you. That said, it’s crucial to count always the consumed calories, because we tend to underestimate the daily calories intakes.
For instance, let’s suppose you weigh yourself, got a whoppy number on the scale and now you are wondering why all this happened AND you haven’t kept a log of the consumed daily calories.
Now, you are in big trouble, because you can’t analyze and review properly your nutritional habits and, therefore, check if you ate too much or not.
Losing weight is a mere game of numbers: it’s solely the difference between what goes in your mouth and what’s burned.
Forget all myths living on the web. Be realistic and logical.
On the other hand, if you tracked down your consumed calories, you can calculate your daily calorie deficit. If there was one, you are on the right side. If not, you know the answer…you must eat less or do some sport.
Never fully trust a scale
As said, there are tons of variables that influence your weight, so go easy with yourself if results are not as wished.
I lost once 4 kilos in 1 week and my daily calorie deficit was only 1100 calories, which means 7700 calories in one week, thus 1-kilo loss (1 kilo equals approximately 7700 calories).
I also recommend buying a fat loss monitor and track periodically both values: body weight and body fat percentage.
Also, always remember that shoes and clothes can weight a lot, even more than 1 kilo.
For this reason, try to step on the scale naked. I bought a small body scale for myself, so I can use it everywhere I go.
Last but not least: try to weigh yourself on the same day, time, condition to obtain the most accurate data. I recommend once a week, in the morning, naked and before breakfast.
How to reduce plateaus
Walk on tiptoes when the fat storage guardian is closeby. 🙂
Translated: reduce the daily calorie intake gradually, don’t be in a rush.
If your calorie deficit is too abrupt, you wake up the guardian and he activates immediately the plateau barriers.
Move forward gradually…100 calories per month fit more than the bill. Your outcomes will be smoother and more predictable.
Tracking your weight-loss improvements by just relying on a scale is a risky business indeed. Your weight is highly susceptible to a slew of variables; you can’t even count them for how many they are.
Thus, if you hit a plateau, don’t be saddened, and focus on coming up with a realistic and personalized action plan.
Start tracking your calories, in case you are not already doing it. Keep a positive attitude and postpone your next weight measurement by 1 month or more, to not hamper your weight-loss journey.
I recommend weighing yourself every week, but in case of weight plateau it’s better to increase the time between single measurements. Weight can heavily swing between short periods.
Lastly, be realistic and resign to the fact that every one of us will not drop under a certain weight. Ok, I rephrase the last sentence: it’s possible, but not in the long run because it’s too difficult to keep that body weight.
Direct your attention on your weight loss target and try to find your strategies to handle this plateau, by being flexible in the approach.
Every one of us is different so shall be the solutions.
Reaching a plateau, most of the time is a good sign. It means you are doing progress. Never forget that good results in weight management require sustained efforts over a longer period and careful planning.