Fitness and weight loss programs should come with the warning label ‘Beware of the Plateau’. Does this sound familiar? You have been working consistently and excited by your initial results. Then, something weird happens, it all seems to come to a grinding halt! But, it doesn’t make sense – you haven’t changed anything, you’re eating right most of the time, sticking to your exercise regime …so what’s happened? It’s called the weight loss plateau and is often the reason people give up.
Learn 7 ways to help you beat the weight loss plateau and get over the stall in your progress, so you can continue to move towards your goals.
1.Recognise what is happening
The first step to beat the weight loss plateau, is to recognise what is happening. Not only does your body become more efficient at working with what you feed it and how you move it, it also wants to ‘hold on’ to fat stores the closer you get to your ideal body weight. This is completely normal and is a built-in survival method. So don’t worry. It’s a good sign that you’ve been working hard. Your body has become used to the stresses you place your muscles under and the calorie intake you have been surviving on. The important thing to remember is don’t give up like many do. You can and will beat the weight loss plateau if you continue.
2. Beat the weight loss plateau with adequate rest and recovery
If we are completely honest, sleep is often the first thing to suffer in our busy lifestyles, right?! Rest and recovery is the time that your muscles reap the benefits of your hard work. They need to be fueled well and rested adequately to repair and grow. More muscle means more fat burning, so if you are not growing your muscles (and we mean lean muscles – it doesn’t have to be big bulky muscles) then your chances of continued weight loss and muscle improvement are reduced.
Tip – Work on getting sleep fit, go to bed 15 minutes earlier than you normally would and follow a calming bedtime routine.
3. Beat the weight loss plateau by mixing things up
Your body naturally aims to become efficient at the work you do, so you may need to give it a little jump start with alternate activities. If you constantly do cardio workouts at the same intensity and/or for the same time, then mix-it up and try throwing in some HIIT strength training or speed workouts. The same works for food too. If you have been on the same calorie intake for an extended period, try mixing it up or down to give your system something to think about. You can achieve this in a healthy way by including some more healthy fats, eg. Avocado, or lean protein.
Tip – Embrace variety – mix it up!
4. Beat the weight loss plateau with realistic expectations
Initial stages of fitness and weight loss are always a time of great results. This is because you may have a lot of fitness to gain or weight to lose and you are generally highly motivated. But, realistically you can’t continually lose weight forever, otherwise you would simply disappear! Everyone reaches a plateau. So in order to beat the weight loss plateau you may have to adjust your expectations as you continue on. Take into account your progress so far, what your goal is, how change happens and how much you’re following these tips.
Tip – Focus on small wins by setting mini goals each week or month that may help you work towards your big goal. For example, try a different workout, improve a challenging yoga pose, sleep better and so on. Either way, you’ll benefit from a sense of achievement.
5. Beat the weight loss plateau with a buddy
Often when you are on a roll and motivated to achieve your goal, everything seems to be working. You don’t need any external motivation, validation or accountability because you have it within. Unfortunately, that internal accountability is a finite resource. It becomes easier to skip a workout and indulge a few too many times when no one is helping you stay on track. And when that happens there’s no-one to keep you accountable. It’s why even Olympians have coaches and training partners. CEOs have executive coaches. Entrepreneurs have mentors and advisers. If you feel like your progress has stopped, maybe it’s time to have an accountability buddy. Find someone – whether it be a personal trainer, meeting a friend for a work out or a team to commit to. It’s proven that you are more likely to beat the weight loss plateau with someone in your corner.
6. Change your mode of measurement to beat the weight loss plateau
If you are using scales to determine your success, then you will often feel demoralised by the numbers that peer back at you, despite all your hard work. As time goes on, using scales alone to measure your success is not viable. Weight loss on the scales does not differentiate between fat, muscle and water. The amount you sweat or water you retain can have big impact on the numbers. Plus, you should be aware that fat is less dense than muscle, therefore seeming to weigh less. So you could make great progress and put on some lean muscle and then you weigh more on the scales and wonder what has happened?! All of these factors can make it appear as though you have reached a plateau, when really it is a redistribution of weight.
Tip – It’s not about the scales! Try taking regular comparison photos, taking body measurements, tracking your body fat percentage or simply using your favourite jeans as a fit guide.
7. Track what you do to beat the weight loss plateau
Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you and your reality is not as bad as you think. Often when you are rapidly improving, what you don’t realise is that you are actually setting a new ‘norm’ each week. You may ‘seem’ to be achieving less or remaining the same, but the reality is you are actually pushing harder and expecting more. Track your progress each day so you have an objective view of exactly what you are doing. Use it as proof to yourself that you are progressing!
There is a definite mix of things at play when it comes to hitting the dreaded plateau on the path to your goal. Whether you want to lose weight, get fitter or generally live a healthy lifestyle there will be a time where you need to beat the weight loss plateau. You can choose one or all seven tips to beat the weight loss plateau. The most important thing to remember though is to keep going! At Active8me, our programs are designed by experts bearing things like this in mind. Customised for YOU to specifically maximise YOUR results. So let us help you on your fitness and health journey as your success is our success!