The Dreaded Plateau:

Strategies to jump start stalled weight loss efforts

It happens to everyone – at some point along the weight loss journey the scale stops moving downward. It can be a time of great frustration and is often the point where people give up on themselves and return to poor eating habits. Understanding what can cause a plateau and learning strategies to move past it can allow everyone to survive what can be the toughest place to be when losing weight.
Plateaus can occur for a number of reason. Without going into much detail, here are some common causes:

The body is adjusting to a new weight and biological “reorganization” is causing a temporary lapse in progress.

You have become lax on your eating and exercise habits.

Consistent consumption of excess salt (or dehydration) is causing water retention.

You have been eating too little, and your metabolism has slowed, despite exercise.

First off, if it has only been a couple of weeks, PMS or bodily adaptation may be occurring. Take circumference measurements and if female, wait until your menstrual cycle has completed before coming to any conclusions.
If the scale still will not budge and you have not lost inches, try the following:

  • Keep a food and exercise diary. Maybe there are things slipping in that are halting progress, or perhaps you are not working as hard with your activity routine.
  • Shake things up a bit! Vary your fitness regime by adding a new activity or increasing the intensity of what you are currently doing.
  • Vary your food intake by trying to change the ratio of carbs/fat/protein for a week or two. This can “shock” the system into action, but may not be the right choice for everyone. Attempt this only under supervision of a nutrition professional.
  • Avoid extra salt and try increasing your water intake.
  • Measure out your food to ensure you are guesstimating correctly.
  • Eat every 2-3 hours to boost your metabolic rate and stabilize your blood sugar
  • If you have been too restrictive, slowly begin to add calories to your diet to boost your metabolism. Believe it or not, eating more can sometimes cause you to lose weight!
  • Get enough sleep! Sleep deprivation is a notorious saboteur.

Also, take a look at your expectations of yourself. Perhaps this time in your life is more stressful and less structured than last month. If this is the case, it may not be reasonable to expect yourself to continue to lose a pound or two a week. If this is the case, congratulate yourself on avoiding weight gain and just work to maintain your weight until life becomes a bit more manageable.
If you have tried these ideas and are still not seeing results, enlisting the help of a professional may be what you need. A nutrition consultant has a trained eye and can find saboteurs that may have gone unnoticed and a personal trainer may be able to up the ante and give you variation, stimulation, and tips to utilize your workout program to the fullest.

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