So you’re chugging along with your workouts and feeling a sense of accomplishment. This time it’s going to be different, I mean after all, my wedding day is lurking out there and I will stop at nothing to look fabulous.
And then, it happens. Those exciting and encouraging results plateau. It almost seems like there’s no way to avoid the inevitable plateau that seems to be smack dab in the middle of every weight loss journey.
Have you ever gotten to that place where your weight loss efforts suddenly seem futile? You can’t seem to lose another ounce no matter how much you’re exercising or how well you’re eating. Talk about frustration!
The notorious diet plateau is in truth fairly common, and it’s a real thief because it steals the opportunity for better health from people who think when they hit the plateau, their weight loss progress is over.
In fact, some people have heard so much about the diet plateau, they don’t even bother to try. No wonder it’s one of the major reasons many weight loss programs fail.
But in those famous words of the NASA space program, “failure is not an option!” This is your wedding, and that means, plateau schmateau — you’re going to smash through it this time.
Nothing is impossible – not even in the challenging world of weight loss. Like most challenges, it’s a matter of understanding what you’re up against and then using the right course of defense.
What is a plateau and why does it happen?
The human body is quite clever. Its ability to naturally balance the energy you generate with the energy you use means the less food you eat the slower your body burns calories.
The result is often increased hunger and less energy, which makes it tricky to continue eating well and keeping active. Without exercise, we tend to get lazy and fall back to our old eating habits.
Although plateaus are common, they can often be avoided by lowering calorie intake slowly to just a bit less than the amount recommended. In other words, if your body requires 1,400 calories a day to maintain its weight, and 1,200 calories a day to lose weight, it’s not a good idea to lower it past 1,200 calories.
People who cut back an additional 500 or more calories thinking they will lose weight faster are more likely to hit a plateau and find it increasingly difficult to maintain lean muscle.
Body mass vs body fat
Muscle burns fat. In fact, lean body mass can use up to eight times the amount of calories as body fat. So, when we lose a certain amount of lean muscle tissue, our metabolism slows down and active fat loss seems to stop. This is where some people begin starving themselves and eventually give up, thinking that if the pounds and ounces aren’t coming off, they aren’t accomplishing anything. In reality, their body is just getting ready for the next step.
At this point, it’s crucial to continue eating nutritious, weight-loss-supportive foods and take a high quality multivitamin. This is the time to rigidly maintain a workout program that includes 20 to 30 minutes high intensity cardio intervals accompanied by resistance training a minimum of three times a week.
Keep your body on its toes
As you lose weight, it takes fewer calories to move. Resistance training requires the body to burn calories to repair muscle and when the body equalizes the exercise rate, fewer calories get burned. There is a decrease in the amount of energy the body uses as well.
Be sure your body doesn’t grow accustomed to the exercise plan you’re following. Change the intensity, type, frequency and even the time of day you normally exercise.
Give it a break
Just like eating too little is counterproductive, training too much may cause a decrease in the calories burned. If this happens, it’s actually best to give your body a break from its exercise routine.
At least every three months, or sooner, if you feel you’ve reached a plateau, take a few days off. It’s like recalibrating a scale or a re-booting your computer. But don’t take an attitude vacation. Keep eating nutritiously and when you start exercising again, start slow and begin with a different type of workout.
Adapt your lifestyle to the new you
An efficient body burns fewer calories because of higher cardiopulmonary efficiency. It thrives on fewer, but more efficient calories when consistently challenged. This is exactly what you want to accomplish at this stage of your weight loss program so remind yourself that you’re right where you want to be. Keep in mind you want to boost your metabolism, but not by cutting too many calories.
Here are some ways to accomplish that:
- Be Consistent.
Do moderate exercises of multiple form five or six days a week rather than an occasional body pounding. This will help maintain momentum.
- Stay Away From The Scale
It’s easy to become obsessed by the numbers on the scale and that’s really not what you’re looking for if you’re shooting for good overall health. Instead, focus on inches lost, how lean you are getting, and how you feel. You want the percentage of body fat to decrease over time. My favorite way to measure progress is by trying on a particular pair of jeans that fit snugly when you started.
- Eat often, Eat Small
Eating healthy nutritious foods five times each day instead of three large meals gives your metabolism a regular booster shot.
Be sure to keep these tips at the front of your thinking. They should help you to take charge and break any barriers holding you back. Now, push past those pesky plateaus. It’s just a matter of putting these ideas into action. You have this incredible window of opportunity to be super-extra-uber motivated because of your upcoming wedding, so there’s no stopping you from the success you are determined to get, no if’s and’s or but’s about it.