Everyone has a healthy weight range - and you're no different. Let's say you've been working at getting into that zone for months, and up until now, have made great progress. The weight was coming off...then it stopped. You suddenly hit a weight loss plateau and nothing you do seems to make the scale move. In fact, you're starting to feel like weight gain could be possible.
Before you panic, get frustrated or throw in the towel - take a breath. Hitting a weight loss plateau is not a sign that you're doing something wrong. In fact, it's pretty normal and happens to the best of us.
Pushing Through A Weight Loss Plateau
Think of your body as a machine with a built-in thermostat of sorts that is in tune with your body weight. The closer you get to the weight your body interprets as "ideal," the slower the weight will come off. On the other had, the further you are from your ideal weight, the faster weight comes off. Much of this is due to underlying inflammation, water retention, and other factors that, when addressed, make weight loss an easy thing to accomplish.
It's important to remember that your body's interpretation of what's ideal for you, and your interpretation of what's ideal for your could be two very different things...and pounds apart from one another.
Before I jump into what you can do to get over the hump of a plateau, remember that weight loss and fat loss are two totally different things. It's entirely possible to be a size 6 and 150 pounds. At the same time, it's also entirely possible to be a size 12 and 150 pounds. The difference is the smaller size likely has much more muscle than the larger size. If you had to choose between the two, where would you rather be?
The bottom line: the number you see on the scale is not the holy grail to health and happiness.
Factors That Affect the Speed of Weight Loss
Your healthy weight range depends on a lot of factors, including height, bone frame, gender, etc. Generally speaking, the smaller your bone frame, the lower your ideal body weight; the larger your bone frame, the higher your ideal body weight.
But there are other factors, too, that affect our ability to lose weight extending beyond what we eat and how much we exercise.
Hormones, stress, climate change (going from cold to very humid weather), salty food, or too much time on your feet are often found to be the culprit of those uncomfortable few pounds that are typically evident around the ankles (or should I say cankles?), fingers or cheeks.
Inflammation is also a big culprit of weight gain, and the inability to lose weight. In fact, if you have inflammation, it will be very, very difficult to lose weight. If you address inflammation through eating an anti-inflammatory diet, your chances of achieving weight loss and pushing through a weight loss plateau will be much, much easier...and long-lasting!
All of that aside, there is a big difference between a little fluid retention that comes and goes and a stubborn weight loss plateau that has you stalled well above a healthier weight. Whether it's ten pounds or 100, weight loss plateaus are extremely common - and very frustrating. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to jump-starting your metabolism, there are a few things that can be done to help rev up a slow-burning internal furnace.
1. Change Your Workout
I don't mean make a change from running 30 minutes on the treadmill to striding 30 minutes on the elliptical, I mean throw your body for a loop.
- If you're normally a cardio person with a few weights peppered in toward the end of a workout, shift things around entirely. Make the focus of your workout strength-training, then finish with some cardio.
- Try interval training. Nearly every one of my workouts in The Belly Burn Plan is interval-based. Interval training has a proven track record of burning fat like nothing else.
- If all you do is high-intensity workouts, try an ashtanga or vinyasa yoga class. If you're not up for joining a club or studio to take a class, there are plenty of free classes online. One of my favorites is this Travis Elliot class. If you've never taken one, you'll be surprised by just how challenging it is. Commit to this for a few weeks.
- If you normally do a high-rep/low weight routine, reverse that. Go for a higher weight/lower rep workout. Sometimes all you need to do is add a few pounds of weight to really notice a difference.
- On the other hand, if you've been working out nonstop and your body is fatigued, give exercise a rest for up to one week (with the exception of easy walks). Sometimes, especially when we experience high levels of stress, hard exercise is the last thing we need.
2. Change Your Diet
Often times when people try to lose weight, the first macronutrient that goes out the window is fat. Sometimes this is good - particularly for bad fats, but don't be so quick to eliminate all fats. If you do, I promise you will hurt your body more than help it. Some people need more fat than others...but we all need fat. Generally speaking, when people are on very low-fat diets, a big chunk of their calories comes from carbohydrates, which your body then breaks down to sugar - which then gets stored as fat. After all, your body needs fat, so if you're not eating any, your body WILL store fat in places you'll probably find as less-than-desirable.
- Eat eggs, avocados, or raw nuts as a snack, or as part of a healthy meal.
- Add healthy oils, like coconut, olive, or even butter to meals that are naturally fat-free.
- Pair healthy fats with protein and watch the starchy carbs morning, noon, and night.
If you've got healthy fats in your diet already, then it could be something hormonal happening. I created a couple of meal plans for people who have pear-shaped bodies (weight through the hips/thighs) and for people who have apple-shaped bodies (weight through the belly area). This could be all you need to get your body back on track through anti-inflammatory, hormone-friendly foods!
As ordinary and boring as it sounds, sleep is like food and a master regulator of the hormones that are big players in weight management. A 2010 University of Chicago study looked at two groups of people, both on a low-calorie diet. One group slept 5.5 hours a night, and another group slept 8.5 hours a night. Interestingly enough, both groups lost the same amount of weight (7 pounds), but the sleep-deprived group lost mostly muscle in comparison to the rested group that lost mostly fat.
- regulating cortisol levels (the stress hormone that is often associated with midsection weight gain)
- regulating human growth hormone (a hormone closely related to appropriate fat metabolism)
If you want to lose body fat, sleep is a big component in making that happen.
Have you hit a weight loss plateau? Or maybe you've experienced rebounding weight gain? Regardless of what it is, you can turn your metabolism on and get on the right track. If you're interested in working with me directly, contact me here for a free consultation.