Most fitness enthusiasts will tell you that weight loss is a journey and not a destination. But for many of us, the chief motivation behind working out and eating healthy is to actually see those excess pounds drop from the scale. You’ve worked hard to commit to your diet and exercise habits, and are basking in your post-weight loss glory. And then, one day the scale doesn’t seem to budge despite you still strictly following your diet and exercise regime. This, my friend is what is known as a weight loss plateau, a period when weight loss stalls or grows painfully slow, even as you maintain the same routine. This is a very frustrating place to be at and can lead one to spiral back to their unhealthy ways of life.
The fact that there is no particular rhyme or rhythm to hitting the plateau makes it even worse as it can creep up after weeks of healthy progress, and often stay for weeks or even months. If you’re facing something similar, remember that it’s not going to last forever. Stick to your plans and implement these simple ways to conquer the mental and physical side-effects of the plateau.
Don’t trust your scales blindly
When it comes to short-term weight loss, the scale is not the right way to judge your progress since it cannot differentiate between water, fat and muscle mass. Fat loss is not linear When you start out, it’s common to lose weight rather quickly in your first few weeks, but a lot of that is just your water weight. After this initial period, it’s natural for the pounds to drop a little slower, as losing body mass is not as easy or fast. Meanwhile, remember that the weighing scale alone does not determine your fitness. You may not be losing pounds, because there is a chance that your fat content is being replaced by muscle weight which is great for the body’s long-term metabolism. To avoid killing your motivation, use the scales along with other methods to track your progress through different data points, such as measuring the girth of your chest, waist, arm size and taking into account your body-fat percentage. It is possible to be at the same weight, while losing inches off your waist and other areas as your body tones and tightens.
Mix up your workouts
If you are weeks and months into a workout plan, the initial luster of losing weight might wear off. This can lead you to not pushing yourself hard enough, missing out on the last rep or simply getting bored of your routine exercises. Adding a new mix of workouts will keep you motivated towards performing better. Another reason why you need to mix up your workouts is that over time, our bodies get more adept at handling a fixed workout, despite how challenging it may have seemed at first. Consequently, fewer calories are expelled while getting it done. A good plan is to shake things up a little: throw in a fair mix of intervals if you’re a runner; add some strength training to build more muscle, or maybe even scout out a new activity class, such as spinning or Zumba. Adding HIIT training once or twice a week is another great way to target body fat. Not only will a change break the monotony, but concentrating on a new routine will also help keep your mind off the plateau.
Re-evaluate your diet
Like your workouts, your body can quickly get efficient in digesting the same kind of foods, so it helps to add in some varieties now and then. It is noted that by upping your calorie intake, your body will also start using up the calories it has been hoarding as fats. Shock your body by eating larger portions of fiber and protein in your diet, as these not only fill you up but also take longer to digest which keeps your metabolism going longer. Include seasonal fruits and vegetables wherever possible, and check for hidden carbs and calories in refined and processed foods. Most importantly, do not skip breakfast or go without food for hours on end—it sends your body into starvation mode and store whatever fat it can. Keeping a food diary is a great way to monitor your food habits, timings and patterns, and is also a proven way to get successful results in weight loss.
Assess your lifestyle
The one thing that many people skip out is on sleep. Apart from your diet and physical activity, adequate recovery and rest are also an important part of maintaining weight loss. Lack of sleep leads to increased levels of stress and incidentally less time for our bodies to recover from any strenuous activity. If you’re not getting in enough sleep, your metabolism is likely to slow down despite the workouts. The same goes for irregular sleep patterns, which confuses your body clock and causes abrupt changes in your metabolic processes. Research recommends at least 7-8 hours of sound to maximize your weight loss efforts.
In addition, watch out for other irregularities in your daily life – extreme fatigue, anxiety, and work-related stress can often throw your goals off balance. Long-term weight loss is dependent on your overall health and well-being, and sometimes, hitting a plateau means taking a closer look at your lifestyle and making positive changes wherever necessary.