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What to do when you hit a plateau in your weightloss journey

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What to do when you hit a plateau in your weightloss journey

Plateaus are a normal part of weight loss. Anyone who has ever pursued a weightloss journey can appreciate the frustration of the dreaded plateau. You’ve been losing weight consistently for the last couple of months and now all of a sudden the weight loss has stopped. So what’s up?


First let’s identify what a plateau actually is so we’re all on the same page. 


A lot of us will jump to saying we’ve hit a plateau in weight loss after just a week or two of not seeing any movement on the scale. Remember, there is so much more to body recomposition than just the number on the scale. See our weight loss vs. fat loss blog for more information here. 


The dangerous part about this mindset of “oh no, the scale stopped moving” is it often automatically sends us to a place that fuels more restriction and we can easily start to spiral. This is where your coach will ask you to trust the process. As your coach, I’m not worried about a plateau unless you meet the following criteria:

  • It has been 4 or more weeks since the scale has gone down 

  • You’re not seeing a change in how your body LOOKS

  • There has been no other change in lifestyle habits (sleep, stress, nutrition, exercise, alcohol consumption, etc.)

If you meet ALL of that criteria, it’s definitely worth taking a look to see what can be adjusted to facilitate weight loss. But first, we’re going to take a look at the following:


Are your expectations realistic?

Most of us want to lose weight and we want it to happen yesterday. We want to come to the gym, eat a healthy diet and just let the weight fall off consistently over the course of a couple of months. Unfortunately, this is not the experience for a lot of us. While on a weight loss journey, it is completely normal for your weight to fluctuate, especially if you’re a woman. If you weigh yourself every day, you might start to notice that your weight is always higher during certain times of the month or after more intense workouts etc. You might also notice that a big weight drop almost always happens after a period of weight gain. Tracking your weight every day doesn’t work for everyone. But it can be a helpful tool to help us identify a trend over time instead of getting hung up on those days or weeks where our weight won’t budge or even goes up even though nothing else in our routine has changed. 


Your Styku Scan Data:

We rely on the Styku body scan to show us what the scale might not. By looking at your measurements over time, we can see if you are gaining muscle and losing fat. Don’t get me wrong, if weight loss is a goal for you, we definitely want to help you achieve that. BUT we don’t want to sacrifice your health just for a number on the scale. So if you’re losing fat but building muscle, (which is really freaking hard to do btw) we might encourage you to stay the course a little while longer before going into another weight loss phase. Which brings me to my next point…


How long have you been in a weight loss phase?

While being in a weight loss phase can be fun and rewarding to see all your hard work paying off, it’s not necessarily the best place to be long term. No matter how you slice it, the only way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit. But being in a calorie deficit is a stress on the body. Since we’re under enough stress at work, at home, and otherwise, we don’t want to be ADDING more stress on top for long periods of time which can lead to other chronic health conditions. For this reason, we might suggest a “maintenance” phase where you intentionally increase your calories and portions to maintain your current weight and maybe even gain a little bit of muscle for a month or two before adjusting your diet to enter another weight loss phase where we can continue to prioritize the loss of fat and preservation of lean muscle tissue. 


How are your hormones?

Hormones get a bad reputation for being out of balance and wreaking havoc on our systems, especially weight loss. Unfortunately, as women, we no longer have the luxury of not being educated about our hormones, reproductive or otherwise, and how they impact our day to day. It’s important we understand the simple lifestyle changes we can make to help optimize our hormones so we don’t continue to put them in jeopardy. We might ask you questions about your mood, energy, sleep patterns, cravings, and more to get more information about the best path forward.  


What actually needs to be adjusted?

A lot of us will automatically jump to thinking we need to increase our exercise or tighten up our nutrition. And that MIGHT be true but we want to make sure we’re seeing the full picture. What does your day look like? How is your support system? Do you need to have a conversation with your husband about bringing home your favorite treats? Do you need to go to bed an hour earlier? How is your water intake? What is your movement like outside of the gym? All of this has to be taken into consideration with your coach. 

This last part I’ve saved especially for us women who have been chasing that last 5-10 pounds that just won’t budge. 


Is it actually worth it?

This is where we have to be really honest with ourselves. For many of us, those last 5-10 pounds are coming from fun date nights with our spouse, enjoying birthday cake at a loved one’s birthday party, sharing pancakes with our kids on Sunday mornings, etc. Those last 5-10 pounds are representative of a life full of love and FUN. Do you really want to be so laser focused on your nutrition that you have to forgo these special moments with family and friends? For a lot of us that answer is no and that’s OK! BUT we do have to stop hating ourselves and the way we look in the mirror.

The bottom line:

Of course diet and exercise are important when it comes to weight loss. But too many of us are putting too much focus on these two things and not enough focus on all of our other daily lifestyle habits that have just as much of an impact on our overall health and wellness. Trust the process and give your body enough time to adjust. You’ll get there. 


-Coach Megan

Personal Training and Fitness for All of Middletown

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