6 tips to beat a weight loss plateau
Everyone's weight loss journey is different and happens at different rates as certain things in your life can affect the amount of weight you lose and if your weight remain stagnant. You can be going along great for a few months and then not lose weight for a few months.
The amount of exercise you do, your stress levels, amount of sleep you get, your physical activity and exercise level and most importantly what you put in your mouth is going to affect your weight loss and differ day by day so naturally your weight will.
If this happens, the first thing to do is not stress - this happens to most people. Secondly, just take a few deep breaths and realise that it's not the end of the world and there are some things you can do to re-set and help that weight loss.
1. Adjust calorie intake
2. Increase incidental exercise
3. Change up your exercise regime
4. Reduce your stress levels
5. Get enough sleep
6. Take the focus off weight loss
Adjust calorie intake
Now I for one do not advocate counting calories, i've seen it lead to more problems than it fixes. However, the "simple" (and I say simple in " as there is no simple way to lose weight) way to lose weight is less calories in and more calories out. At the beginning you may be losing weight eating a certain amount of food. But as you lose weight, don't forget that your body then needs less to keep it running, so the amount of food you eat needs to be adjusted. This is one thing that I think most people forget. They find a good balance of food which they can eat to lose weight and then forget to adjust their intake as they lose weight.
I'm not going to say an exact calorie amount because every single person is different, but it's simple. If you are maintaining your weight, then you are eating just the right amount for that weight. To lose weight then, you just need to adjust it slightly. Be honest with yourself. You think you are eating well and wondering why you aren't losing weight, but are you forgetting about those chips and dip before dinner or that sneaky chocolate and ice cream before bed. It may not seem like much but extra calories do add up over time.
You don't need to specifically measure your calories, but just writing down what you ate for a few days and having it down in black and white is a good way of knowing what you are actually eating as it can be easy to forget that snack you ate while watching TV.
Another way to reduce calorie intake drastically is to reduce take-away food and eating out. On average take away meals have far higher calories then meals prepared at home and it will also save your wallet too as cooking healthy meals at home is much cheaper.
Increase incidental exercise
Aiming to do 10,000 steps a day when sitting at an office in front of a computer all day can be hard. It's so easy when you're focused and working to go hours without having gotten up and moved around from your desk. This is why it is so important then to remember to increase your incidental exercise and to not go over an hour without getting up and walking around.
One way to help get your steps up, set your alarm for 25 minutes, then have 5 minutes where you get up, get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, go to the printer or just stretch. Having those forced breaks every half hour will not only make you more productive for those 25 minutes but it'll ensure that you don't go hours without getting up from your desk and moving around.
Walking instead of driving to an appointment or the shops, getting off the bus or train a few stops earlier, taking the stairs instead of lift are just a few ways to increase incidental exercise. You will be surprised how many extra steps per day you can get in by ditching the car.
Instead of catching up with friends over drinks, organise to go for a walk, or meet somewhere, walk to a cafe and get a coffee or breakfast and walk back so aim to include some exercise in your catch ups with your friends.
Change up your exercise regime
At first you were all excited about your exercise plan and were going at it 110%. It was new and exciting and got you motivated. After doing the same one for a few weeks, over time your body gets used to it and you may not be noticing as many changes as quick, not just physical changes but also to your fitness. This could be because your body has adapted to the training that you are doing and wanting something else to challenge it or inadvertently your fitness may have increased and so you are not going as hard as you were. This is one of the reasons I say to change up your regime every 4 - 6 weeks so that you keep giving your body something different and you don't get time to get bored with your training.
Look at your stress levels
Stress is one of the major contributors and has a huge impact on weight in contributing to both weight gain and loss. There have been multiple studies between the impact of stress and both increased weight due to people overeating when stressed and the opposite, losing weight due to not eating and stress causing lack of appetite.
When you feel yourself getting particularly stressed, stop take a few deep breaths and if you can, go for a walk. Even just a 10 or 15 minute walk around the block or at the very least go and sit in the sunshine (if it's sunny out). - fun fact - Vitamin D has been proven to help reduce stress levels. You will instantly feel the stress start to lift and be more clear headed and focused. Chances are you'll find out that what you were stressing about is a lot more manageable than it seemed, and having a clear head about it will give you the focus and attention to be able to come up with a solution.
Get enough sleep
Like the correlation between stress and weight gain, not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night can play havoc with your weight. If you are used to going to bed at midnight, it might be hard to then automatically go to bed at 9.30 or 10pm, so try going to bed 10 - 15 minutes earlier each night. After 2 weeks you should be going to bed around 2 hours earlier and will notice the significant difference that it makes to not only your sleep pattern and weight loss, but also increased energy levels, concentration at work and to overall vitality.
If you have trouble falling to sleep, create a bedtime routine. Just like we teach children, bath/ shower, brush your teeth, story then bed. As adults we should create a routine something similar. If you do the same routine everyday after a few days or week, your body will understand the sequence and realise that the next step is going to sleep so you will notice it taking you less time to fall to sleep. If you are a shift worker, this can be harder if you get off shift at 6am and are trying to get to bed at 7am and it's daylight out. For times like this, make sure you have great block out curtains so that no sunlight can get in the room. Do exactly the same nighttime routine as you would say at 9pm when going to bed. No electronic devices for an hour before, no caffeine within 6-8 hours of going to bed and make sure not to eat within 2 hours of going to sleep.
Take the focus off weight loss
If you feel your weight is plateauing, it might be time to set yourself some new goals and take a bit of the focus and pressure off weight loss. I feel that weight loss should never be someones solo heath focus anyway. Even if they do want to lose weight, having a fitness or strength goal, with weight loss being a nice side effect of becoming fitter/ stronger is going to be much better for you mentally and you will notice that you will stay more motivated. For example, if your goal was to run 5km, you will notice that this becomes easier and you push yourself harder and go faster and of course weight loss is going to be a nice side effect of you increasing your exercise.