One of the most common questions I get asked is, “I eat healthily and I go to the gym regularly. I was losing weight steadily, and now, all of the sudden, I’ve stopped. I’ve lowered my calories, and even that hasn’t made the scale move. What is going on??”
Your mind is conditioned to protect your body. Your brain is always concerned that the most recent meal you had, is literally your last meal. It is completely not convinced that you will be eating again anytime soon, so it is always looking for a way to feed your body and encouraging you to eat that brownie or that piece of cake because it’s not sure it will ever see another piece of food again.
If you’ve done a variety of fad diets, if you change things too drastically and too quickly, your body and your mind may band together and “dig in their heels,” making it extra hard for you to become successful at weight loss. Here are some common solutions, if implemented together, the majority of people will see positive results.
I constantly talk about this and I can physically see people stop listening when I tell them this one. Just hear me out… dehydration feels very similar to hunger. When you are properly hydrated, you experience fewer cravings, and you generally eat less. How do calculate the appropriate amount of water to drink? You should be drinking anywhere from ½ ounce of water to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. If you are mostly sedentary then using ½ an ounce in the calculation is good, on days where you are working out, use an ounce.
Monitor your caloric intake
Use a calorie tracker. There are quite a few apps for smartphones that will allow you to scan the barcodes of packaged foods and it will calculate how many calories you are eating including your macros or: carbs, proteins and fats. If you are eating within the appropriate caloric intake, it may be that you are eating a disproportionate amount of carbs or fats. You have to fuel your body properly, the best way to do that effectively is to calculate EVERYTHING. I had a client who had no idea how many calories her favorite chain store Smoothie was costing her until she plugged it into her calorie tracker, she was shocked that it was essentially the same amount as a full meal! These hidden calories will sabotage all of your hard work and leave you frustrated.
Change up your routine
Your muscles will get used to doing the same cardio and weight training day in and day out. If you always, always do steady state cardio on a treadmill, try doing intervals on an elliptical, or a HIIT program. Try different classes at your gym. Switch out your old tried and true weight exercises, with a different movement. I change mine up almost every four to six weeks.
Make sure you are getting good sleep, your body needs to recharge itself and reset your hormones fully. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can become elevated due to lack of quality sleep, when elevated it increases the retention of fat around the mid-section.
If you don’t see changes happening, after a few weeks, I would recommend seeing a medical professional to discuss getting your hormone levels checked. Plateaus are common, everyone has them, it takes trying different things and paying attention to how your body reacts, to make effective change. Changing your body composition is not something you can accomplish overnight. It’s better for your mental and physical health if you take it slow. We are not all the same, we respond differently to different approaches, trying things and listening to your body takes time, but it is oh so worth it!