Plight of the Plateau on Your Weight Loss Journey

November 29th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Losing weight is not an easy task. If you’re on a sensible diet and working on both sides of the energy equation with eating and exercise your weight loss might start out steady but the closer you approach your ideal weight (if that is your ultimate goal) the slower weight loss becomes. Before you get into this life changing mode to lose weight for good it certainly helps to get your mind around this fact of life. You don’t simply lose 1-2 pounds per week as if you were a robot figuring a mathematical equations, then “DING” you’re there. Don’t you wish…..

My motto “slow and steady wins the race” doesn’t totally apply here because yes it could be slow and steady at first then you’ll shift gears when weight loss is far from steady. Keep in mind you didn’t gain this weight over the last month or so. It might have snuck up on you for weeks, months and possibly years. It will take time, but trust me, the journey is worth it.

You will do yourself a great service to know that you might (and many people do) experience a weight plateau. A weight plateau is what the words implies – your weight is sitting in one spot for a prolonged period of time. Remember, we are biological beings that need time to regroup and our bodies to readjust. Also, we have heart and we WILL overcome. Here are a number of tips to take heed and think about:

Plan for It

Expect you’ll hit a plateau so you’re not caught off guard. Be like a Girl Guide and “Be Prepared” for when it arrives.

Work in A Number of Rewards

It certainly helps when life is full of a multitude of rewards and losing weight and reaching your goal is merely 1 reward. To you it’s probably your ultimate reward. This is understandable enough. I suggest you work on a list on non-food, behavioural rewards you get when you achieve a small goal.

For example, let’s say I’m Sigh Master written about November 14-18. One of my behaviour goals was to track hunger and satiety cues. Well, why not give yourself a non food reward at the end of each week if you followed through with this 80% of the time. Another example is if you’re following a new exercise regimen and make your goal to exercise for 30 minutes, 5 times per week. Each week you achieve this give yourself a “treat”.  No, I don’t suggest you include lavish rewards or this routine can really get out of hand. Consider life’s simple pleasures and take it from there. I have mine, you have yours and Sigh Master has hers. Got it??

Phantom Weight – Your Minds Eye Delay of Your Physical Status

As I mentioned your body is readjusting itself while plateauing. I’m sure anyone who has lost weight successfully can attest to a few other interesting phenomena. First, people will tell you for months “you’ve lost more weight” long after you achieved your goal. A sure sign of bodily readjustment. Second, long after you’ve lost weight is that your self perception of your physical self will lag from your original weight to your new lower weight. It’s a freakish thing and I’m not sure why it isn’t studied more.

When I lost weight decades ago it was still a year after I lost weight when I continued to dream about myself as my larger former self. I question how we see ourselves in our mind’s eye might send us back 10 steps on the Snakes and Ladders game – Weight Loss Edition. Truly though, if you’re not staying in the moment, embracing the changes you’ve made. If you still see yourself as fat you might slip backward. I’m telling you this to beware and be aware of this so you don’t slip.

I’m a big believer in working on losing weight once. If it’s a really long process that’s even better. You may more optimally embrace the physical, mental and psychological shifts when it’s very slow.

Re-evalute the Details – May Be Slippage

I am also a realist and understand how eating and activity behaviours can wax and wane from month to month, season to season and year to year. If you’re stuck at a weight plateau take out your trusty notepad (or i-Pad) and keep a food record including tracking your hunger and satiety cues outlined on November 17.

I’ll admit there are times of year when I eat out more often and I sometimes ignore my full cue. If you do it once in a while, that’s no big deal. If you find yourself getting used to that super-stuffed feeling of fullness by eating into your serving size, well then that’s a totally different story.  Also track how you’re eating. Are you nibbling standing up while cooking? How about while “cleaning the dishes” or does that now have a double meaning, acting as the human garbage disposer? The sooner you identify this “slippage” of behaviours the sooner you can make a goal to change this around. Pronto, already!!

Remember the plight of the plateau. That is Mother Nature’s way of rejigging the junk in your trunk. In our instant society it isn’t easy to wait 1 second never mind a few weeks for what we want. It’ll be worth the wait so keep focusing on your behavioural goals and stay on track. You’ll be glad you did.

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