Have You Hit a Weight Loss Plateau?

Have you hit a weight loss plateau?

We’ve all been there and it’s frustrating!  At one point I stopped weighing myself.  Isn’t that how you make that problem go away? 🙂  I still don’t weigh myself and instead focus on how I’m feeling and how my clothes fit.  Full disclosure: I do get weighed by my doctor at my yearly checkup so can vouch that I weigh less than the last time I checked.

I will say I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been because I’ve learned many lessons along the way, albeit through trial and error.  One of my biggest lessons was what I ate.  I’ve always been an avid runner and exerciser.  It’s WHAT I was putting into my body that was cancelling out all my efforts.  I could call all those years of exercising a waste of time but I won’t because I didn’t exercise to lose weight.  It was to help with my anxiety and depression.  Once I stopped eating gluten and got over my sugar addiction, I was able to stop focusing on food.  What I mean by that is I’m not constantly thinking about my next snack or meal.  Instead I think about how to fuel my body when I become hungry.  I don’t care if the food isn’t super tasty and I try to keep it simple.  Aside from that, here are my personal tips on getting over a weight loss plateau and surprisingly, they worked for me:

Exercise Less:

I know this may seem counterintuitive but if you’ve worked hard for many months or years to lose weight, you’ve probably made a good habit of exercising. However, there is such a thing as overdoing it.  Many times when people hit a plateau, they exercise more.  The more your body adapts to exercise, the harder it is to make changes to it.  You need to trick your body’s metabolism.  Don’t let it always think you’ll do the work for it.  Take more breaks!  Instead of working out 6 or 7 days a week, drop it down to 4 or 5.  Whether you’re training for a 5K, a half marathon or just trying to get past a weight loss plateau, be especially mindful of these over-training symptoms:

  • Fatigue, physical and/or emotional
  • Decrease in performance
  • Sleep issues
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Decreased appetite
  • Mood disturbances
  • Getting sick more often
  • Changes in heart rate during your normal exercise activities
Source: askthetrainer.com

Add Variety:

This is where I noticed a large difference.  I used to run on the treadmill at the same speed and time.  Now I add tabatas, speed runs, HIIT, hills, side shuffles, lunges or a combination of all those things.  Again, it comes down to tricking your body!  I spend too much time on the treadmill to call it “variety” but at least I’m working my fast twitch muscle fibers, glutes, calves, hip flexors, etc… and not doing the same run over and over again.

I complete at least one day of weights per week ranging anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.  Ideally a person should use weights two to three times a week.  However, I’ve found I need to get more cardio in due to my depression and anxiety so sometimes I will combine weights and cardio.  I have about six weight workout DVDs that tell me what to do because I’m lazy that way.  Some of those have two or three workouts so I change it up every week giving me a different workout for three or four months.  It’s nice to have a surprise workout rather than doing the same one or two and getting bored with it.  Remember, if your brain is bored then your body is too.

I try to do hot yoga and the rowing machine once a week as well.  Yoga helps my mood but it works my body in a completely different way than free weights and running.  The rowing machine is an all over great workout and adds variety.

Have you hit a weight loss plateau?

Increase Calories – because Jillian Michaels told me to  🙂

Here’s an excerpt from a Jillian Michael’s article that I believe says it all.

When you have a smaller amount of weight to lose, your body is already healthy, which makes it tougher to lose weight. What people in this situation often do is cut more calories or increase their time at the gym, but this method will not work. All that does is slow your metabolism down and send your body into starvation mode. The best quick fix is to give your body a little more food so it feels secure. Varying your calorie intake is my best advice for keeping your body from plateauing. For the next three days, vary your calorie intake between 1,800 and 2,400 calories. I know this may sound crazy, but trust me — I know what I’m doing. After three days, drop back down to your usual calorie allowance. Remember, never allow your daily calorie allowance to fall below 1,200 if you are a woman and 1,500 if you are a man. Falling below these daily allowances can do real damage to your metabolism and result in excessive loss of lean muscle tissue.

I’ll admit that I haven’t counted my calories in a long time even though you should do a check from time to time to avoid calorie creep.  I will have days when I intentionally eat more though I make sure it’s clean food unless I’m having a cheat day.  I also make sure my added calories are protein.  I have become more of a protein fan over the years.  Maybe that comes natural after cutting out gluten and sugar 🙂  Call me crazy but I love the “heated” feeling you get when you eat a lot of protein.  This tells me my body is doing what it’s supposed to do.

Cheat two days a week – because Dolvett Quince told me to 🙂

I’m a big believer in “everything in moderation.”  I’m not a fan of fad or extreme diets.  I believe you should change your lifestyle to make permanent change rather than going on a temporary diet. I read a great book written by Dolvett Quince called The 3-1-2-1 Diet: Eat and Cheat Your Way to Weight Loss (see below).  This book explains the most effective way to cheat.  In a nutshell, the first 3 days you eat clean, then you have a cheat day followed by two clean days and then one last cheat day and you repeat this pattern every week.  It’s not a fad diet but one that resonated well with me because it gave me permission to cheat!  What happens when you tell yourself you have to eat a certain way every day of every week for years?  You fail fast!  Then when you fail, you call yourself a failure and eat worse than you did before.  It’s OK to give yourself a couple cheat days.  It’s a reward for doing good most of the time.  You still have to be careful not to go overboard but even Dolvett drinks alcohol and eats dessert (you wouldn’t believe it with that body).  I loved this book for the following reasons:

  • permission to cheat
  • easy recipes
  • the workouts mixing cardio and weights
  • I learned a lot from it to get over my weight loss plateau and I didn’t feel like it was a lot of work

I like Dolvett’s workouts because he combines cardio and weights.  I’ve always been one to dread weight workouts.  I’d rather do my run and skip the weight training but his book showed me how it’s possible to do both.  I also like that he encourages you NOT to count reps.  Counting reps always made me batty!  Instead you complete a set during a specified timeframe (such as 1 minute).  If you read the book and give his method a try, please let me know if it helps you get over your weight loss plateau.

About Kaz

I’m a career Mom who loves to help people improve their finances and health, my two passions. I’m also an avid runner and reader. CPA and MBA

2 comments on “Have You Hit a Weight Loss Plateau?

  1. It’s so interesting to me that you said you need more cardio in order to help fight depression and anxiety. I’ve been working out regularly for just over a year, have dropped 70 pounds (have more a lot more to go still), but a crazy busy schedule had me dropping most of my cardio a couple of months ago. I have continued to do weight training however. For the last several weeks I have been fighting one of the worst bouts of depression I’ve faced in my entire life. I never tied it to stopping the cardio focused part of my workouts. I’ll be changing that today to see if it makes a difference. Great article, Sheri!

    • Cyndee – I’m so glad you talk about that. I have dealt with it for years and cardio always helps me. Honestly, when I weight train, I don’t get depressed but I get very cranky. I still do it though because I know it’s important as we get older 😉 Thanks!

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