Have you been putting hours into the gym and making progress? You've mostly stuck to your diet, did your cardio, lifted weights... But your progress has stalled.
If you've ever had a weight loss plateau, it can be devastating.
Things seem to be working perfectly until now.
So what do you do?
First, I'd recommend checking out our 6 tips for eating healthy on a budget article. This will help you free up some cash and lower stress levels around the house.
If you're not sure if progress is slowing down or if you really have hit a plateau, let's go over exactly what a plateau is and how you can bust through it.
What is a weight loss plateau?
A weight loss plateau, but more specifically a fat loss plateau, is when you have no decrease in body weight for three to four weeks. You've been making great strides towards your fitness goals, but now this.
Look, hitting a plateau happens and is extremely common to anyone losing weight. This is where those who are dedicated and will keep on going will keep progressing towards their goals, while others will stop and eventually gain the weight back.
The first thing I'd like to talk about is water weight. If you've ever wondered why some people drop a lot of weight relatively fast, they are burning off their muscle glycogen and their body is starting to remove the excess water.
If you've ever tried a yo-yo diet to lose 20 pounds fast and wondered why you've ballooned back up after, this is why.
Common Causes of a Weight Loss Plateau
While there could be medical or other reasons why you've stopped losing weight, here are some of the most common causes for a weight loss plateau.
If you've ever pinched an extra bit of cheese on your food, snacked on the croutons while your dinner has cooked, or put an extra dollop of sour cream on your baked potato without accounting for it, these are called creeping calories.
While any of the above is okay to do, you need to account for those calories. For instance, an extra tablespoon of sour cream costs you about 120 calories. If you continue to do this for a month for three times a week, you've added an extra 1,440 calories to your intake.
Take into account everything you eat so you can properly track your intake.
Thoughtless or Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is when you use food as comfort for any stress or emotional times. I'm guilty of it and working on that as we speak.
What's better than eating some chips at night watching a movie? What about watching YouTube and snacking on some crackers? Thoughtless eating is simply that, you are eating just to eat.
You've finally finished your movie and now the whole bag of chips is gone. Do you account for that?
Eating foods you love and enjoying a balanced lifestyle is the name of the game, so keep track of the calories you do eat if you think you are hitting a plateau.
A Mile Today Doesn't Equal a Mile in 6 Months
Remember when you first hopped on a treadmill how much it sucked? After a few months, your speed has increased and you are able to last a lot longer right?
The more efficient your body is at doing an activity, the fewer calories it will burn.
This is why progressively overloading by increasing the weight, the time, the speed, or intensity is needed to keep inching closer to your goals.
Getting Closer to Your 'Ideal Weight' Makes Losing Those Last Few Pounds Harder
If you are 100 pounds overweight, losing the first 60 will be easier than losing the last 40. It's a plain and simple truth.
This is a long-term commitment, are you able to uphold that?
Bodyweight vs Body Fat
Bodyweight is how much you weigh, including your bones, muscles, and organs. Body fat is simply that, the fat on your body.
As you exercise, you're going to build muscle. This makes it seem like you are "losing weight" slower. In reality, you may maintain the same weight but burning fat off at the same time.
So How Do You Bust Through Your Weight Loss Plateau?
First off, congratulations on the weight loss. Let's get you through this plateau so you can make some more progress.
Never Give Up!
Like I said earlier, everyone hits a weight loss plateau eventually. What you do after is what counts.
Have faith in the process and keep going. It gets better as you go.
Reassess Your Habits
Swaying from what has been working is easy to do. That extra 1440 calories I told you about is a small sample of things I've personally done without realizing.
It takes burning 3500 calories more than you've eaten to lose a pound. Eating 3500 calories more than you burn makes you gain a pound.
If you've consistently swayed from your plans without accounting for those differences, this could be why you are stalling.
Quit being lazy and do what you know is right if you want results.
Cut More Calories from Your Diet
If you've been slowly decreasing your caloric intake and can drop another 200 calories from your diet. Give it a couple of weeks, write down everything you eat, and see how it works.
If you've been running an extremely low caloric intake (starving) you may have slowed down your metabolism. In this case, refer to the next tip.
Add More Activity
Adding more activity to your days will start burning more calories.
You can add more activity easily into your day by parking at the back of the parking lot, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking a few laps around the store.
This all adds up to a significant amount of extra activity, especially if you are lazy like I am.
Look, I'm still not where I want to be physically, but I've learned a lot of things along the way. I started my weight loss journey at 370 pounds and one year later I managed to drop 115 pounds. I hit a plateau and I started spiraling, wondering why I started this in the first place.
I gave up and started back to my old habits, the emotional eating, and absolutely no activity. Since then I've gained more than I'd like to admit back, and I've also lost 80 pounds.
The best advice I can give you is to not give up, quit being so hard on yourself, and learn to live a little. Utilize the 80/20 rule with bad foods, eating 80% healthy, 20% whatever, and enjoy life.
These small changes make a huge impact in the way your body will look and feel months down the road, even though they are insignificant changes. Keep going, you'll never make it if you don't.