You've been steadily losing weight for the past few weeks, months, or even years, and all of a sudden your progress stops. You've been following your diet and exercise plan perfectly, but you're seeing the same number on the scale for two, three, or four weeks in a row.
What's the deal?
This is the weight loss plateau and it is completely normal during a weight loss journey. You're not alone in experiencing this very frustrating phenomenon.
Here are a few reasons for stagnation in weight loss:
1. Your metabolism may be changing
As you lose weight your body is changing including your metabolism (the process responsible for burning calories). Your rate at which you burn calories, especially resting calorie burn may decrease as you lose weight resulting in a plateau.
It's also possible that you have lost some muscle mass while losing weight which can also impact how your metabolism works.
2. You may have the wrong daily calorie estimate
To lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume. The amount of calories you burn depends on your current body size as well as your exercise routine. A larger person burns more calories at rest than a smaller person.
So, as you lose weight you have to regularly adjust your calorie intake based on your body size. You should be revisiting the calorie estimate every couple of weeks to make sure you are on track to continue losing weight.
However, it is important not to bring your calories too low because it can not only prevent you from losing weight but can also be dangerous to your health. The key is balance. Too many or too few calories can impede your ability to lose weight.
3. Your body composition is changing
I have clients that come to me very disappointed that they haven't lost any weight in the past few weeks but when I ask them about how their clothes fit, they report that their jeans are looser or their t-shirts fit better.
It is possible to lose inches off your hips or waist and still not see a difference on the scale. Consider these changes to your body composition a major win despite your weight staying the same.
So, what can I do to fix it?
1. Track your calories
Chances are you are probably already doing this, but be sure you are being honest went tracking your portions and track every bite even if it's just a few handfuls of popcorn.
Tracking calories doesn't work for everyone. But it can be a useful way to see where your calories are coming from and if there are small changes you could make.
2. Increase your water intake
Hydration has a lot of health benefits and supporting weight loss is one of them! Replace other beverages with a glass of water or buy a water bottle to put at your desk at work to remind you to drink water throughout the day.
3. Change up your exercise routine
Increasing the length or intensity of your exercise can help you jump over that weight loss plateau. Try an activity that boosts your heart rate even for short spurts of time.
Take this opportunity to try a new activity like Zumba, jogging, yoga, weight lifting, or biking! Maybe you'll find your new favorite hobby!
4. Just Keep Going
The best way to overcome a weight loss plateau is to keep working hard and be proud of the progress you've made so far. Just because that number isn't dropping doesn't mean you're not still improving your health.
Stick with it! You'll feel better for continuing your hard work.
If you are having trouble with weight loss, contact me! I work with women to find individualized weight loss and lifestyle solutions.