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You have been losing weight steadily for the last few weeks or even months but now the scales stopped moving at all or perhaps bounces around between two figures. If this sounds familiar, you’ve reached what’s known as reaching a dieting plateau.
The simple explanation of why this happens, is that your body has adapted and become used to your new lifestyle, whether that's your workout routine or your calorie intake. As a result, your metabolism slows down, so you burn less calories and of course, lose less weight or stop losing weight entirely.
To push past the plateau, you simply need to shake up your routine, below is a list of some of the changes you can make to get the scale moving again.
If you're over 15lbs away from your goal weight:
- Recalculate your calorie allowance, it could have changed since you last calculated it. This can be done using a simple site and app like MyFitnessPal, or by using this weight loss equation.
- Check, check and triple check that you are correctly calculating the calories you are eating. This requires food scales, if you're not already using them. Eye-balling portions never works, and over time you may be accidentally increasing your portion sizes without knowing. The killer foods for this are cereal, pasta, rice and meat; make sure you at least weigh these out.
- Are you drinking your calories? If you are, make sure you're including these in your calorie logging. Likewise with food, make sure you're measuring the correct amounts for shots of alcohol, as this really sneaks in the calories.
- When was the last time you changed up your workout? Try a new gym class, swim more lengths, increase your weights, or run further or faster. Remember: If it's stopped challenging you, it's stopped changing you.
- Drink more water an watch your sodium intake (keep it below 2000 mg), dehydration and a high sodium diet can cause water retention which can mask any weight loss you may have made.
- Eat more fibre, this will help you flush out your digestive system and er... 'empty yourself'. Yes, the number on the scale includes the weight of that as it sits in your digestive tract.
Check all of the above, if this fails to get the scale moving within a few weeks then prepare yourself for a radical suggestion: eat more. Yes, I know wrong this sounds, but go along with me on this. You're body needs fuel, to survive, to live, to kick butt. If you're not giving it enough fuel it will hold onto every single calorie you give it. To get it out of this state give it all the fuel it needs (but not too much) and then your metabolism will kick back in gear. As a result, you stop feeling tired and drained, you no longer need to eat like a bird, you'll kick butt in your workouts from the energy boost and you'll lose the last few lbs! Win win situation. For more information about increasing calories to lose more, check out the Facebook page of Eat More to Weight Less and read this book.
If you're just a few lbs away your goal weight:
Check that you are within the healthy weight range for your height, if you are, then chances are your body ha found it's happy weight and has decided for you that it would like to stay right here on the scale. This can be really annoying, especially if you're still not happy with your shape. If this is the case then add strength training to your workout schedule to shape and define your body. For more information about strength training and toning, see this book. Also, ditch the scale at this point and rely on the tape measure instead. You'll see inches melt off during strength training even if the scale doesn't budge.