Overcoming the Weight Loss Plateau

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Extracted from TheBettyLife, one of the girls whom inspired me to exercise to lose weight.
So your working out every day, you are watching your calorie intake and eating the healthiest things you can find. You are doing everything you can to lose weight, but the scales just ain’t budging. Sound familiar? You have hit a weight loss plateau.

At the beginning of your weight loss journey the pounds will drop of the quickest, mainly because there is a lot of fat to go! Your lifestyle has changed from sedentary to active so your body responds to this dramatic change by burning off your excess fat stores. Likewise, if you cut out the junk food you are not making any more fat. Win win.

However, as time progresses, your body is getting comfortable with this new routine, and it is finding ways to become more efficient. It is getting accustomed to the daily calories in verses the calories out, and during workouts fewer calories are burnt each time. This is when we hit a plateau.

Hitting a plateau is not always a bad thing. Your body has lost a lot of weight and taking time to readjust to this can be beneficial. It can teach you the importance of maintenance, as this is probably the hardest part of losing weight and keeping the weight off. As long as your weight doesn’t fluctuate, staying at the same weight for a few months will not hinder your weight loss in the long run.

How to overcome the plateau ?

Mix things up! I have learnt this from experience. During October 2010 I challenged myself to see how many miles I could run and how running affected my fitness levels. In 3 weeks I had covered 78.4 miles, sweated buckets, but unfortunately no weight loss was achieved. This was me hitting a plateau. Every day on the treadmill, my body was becoming better at what I was putting it through. Yes my fitness levels improved and I could run for miles, but weight loss wise this was not beneficial.

At the time I could comfortably run for 30 minutes at 10 mph, but stick me on an exercise bike and I would struggle.

After the month was up I stepped away from the treadmill and I added in a variety of different workouts. Swimming, exercise bike, stepper, yoga… This to me was a challenge, as new muscle groups were being used – it awakens your body again as it does when you first begin to lose weight.

Are you eating too much? At the end of the day calories are calories. Of course, healthy calories are far more beneficial and less damaging to the body than those calories with added saturated fat, salt and sugars. However, to achieve weight loss a calorie deficit needs to be reached. To lose one pound you need to burn 3,500 calories. Impossible in a day, but over a week or so it is possible to burn 7,000 calories (and not eat them again!) to lose 2 pounds.

Eating too much food in general will cause minimum weight loss. Check your potion sizes, half your plate should be vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 carbs. Opt for fruit and nuts as healthy snacks.

Are you eating enough? If you are not eating enough calories per day, you will have little energy to workout efficiently. If we stop eating, our bodies go into ‘starvation mode’ – which is where it stores as much fat as possible in order to survive. Eating a good healthy breakfast will kick-start your metabolism and ensure that you are burning calories throughout the entire day. Eating regularly also helps, try to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few healthy snacks in between.

Keep a food diary. If there was a secret to weight loss. This would be it. When I decided to lose weight, the only thing that kept me on track and accountable for everything I did was a food diary. www.livestrong.com has a great web-based version with every food imaginable on there. I religiously recorded my food in take along with my calories burnt for the first five or six months to get an idea of my eating habits. It was a great motivator for me as if I ate that chocolate bar, I would need to tell livestrong. After a while you realise how many calories are in certain foods, the foods you cannot eat as often, and the foods to stay well clear of.

Resistance Training. I hate doing weights at the gym. So I simply avoided them. To me they were a struggle and I saw no purpose in them, as I didn’t want beefy arms or massive legs. However, this attitude was wrong. Weights don’t beef you up unless you do them every single day and you lift ridiculously heavy ones.

Using weights is the quickest way to change the shape of your body. Incorpating a weights routine into your workout is highly recommended for weight loss. It tones your muscles, makes you appear slimmer and firmer, and muscles burn more calories than fat alone. They are hard, you will sweat, but it is the best way to boost weight loss for noticable results.

I use weights at home with Davina DVD’s – Body Buff is my new favourite. I would also recommend her Super Body Workout as there is a section called Super Sculpt which really works. On top of that swimming is a form of gentle resistance training, as well as yoga and pilates. All of these will tone up your entire body.

Don’t be discouraged. Finally, if you have hit the plateau, you can view it as a good thing. You do not have that much weight left to lose. You are losing it slow and sensibly which will mean it will stay off. All exercise you are doing is improving your fitness levels and keeping you fit and healthy. Keep it up!

Oh anyway, i personally think MyFitnessPal is better than LiveStrong, so you guys can go play around with the various journals and decide for yourself (:

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