Pop quiz: What’s the number one reason people give up on their fitness journey before they’ve reached their goal?
If you said weight loss plateaus, give yourself a high five because you nailed it. Weight loss plateaus (sometimes called weight loss stalls) are a super common, super frustrating roadblock that many people encounter on the path to success. The worst part? They can cause a lot of people to slide back into old habits or even give up entirely. But you don’t have to let that happen to you!
WHAT CAUSES PLATEAUS
The first step to overcoming a weight loss plateau is to understand what caused it in the first place. If you’re certain that your portions haven’t crept up over the past couple weeks, and that you haven’t slacked off your exercise program, then the most likely culprit is changes to your body composition.
During the first few weeks of your fitness journey, you actually lose a considerable amount of water weight, rather than fat. That’s because you’re burning a carbohydrate called glycogen for fuel, and glycogen has a high water content.
It’s also inevitable that as you lose fat, you will also lose a little muscle at first. Muscle helps keep your metabolism up, and as you lose it, you burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight. A slower metabolism slows weight loss, and when the calories you burn equal the calories you hit, you hit a plateau.
HOW TO OVERCOME A PLATEAU
Luckily, while weight loss stalls can be frustrating, they don’t have to mean the end of your fitness journey. We’ve put together seven of our favorite ways to restart your weight loss and get back in the groove instead of giving up.
KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL
It’s easy to get in a weight loss groove and start cutting yourself some slack...and then a little more slack...and a little more. Keep a food diary for a month and see if you can pinpoint where your diet could use a little clean up.
CHECK PORTION SIZES
This is a common culprit in weight loss stalls because you may not even realize that your portions have creeped back up. Now is the perfect time to check and make sure you’re not accidentally consuming more calories than you think.
REV UP YOUR WORKOUT
The fitter and stronger you get, the more intense your workouts need to be. A weight loss plateau may just be your body’s way of saying “Let’s up the intensity here – I can handle it.”
BACK OFF THE BOTTLE
While it might be tempting to indulge in a cold one, alcohol does more than pack a caloric punch. While a single portion of wine or beer only contains about 100 calories, alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, making it more likely that you’ll continue to imbibe or make poor food choices when you’re drinking.
HIT THE HAY
It’s actually impossible to overstate the benefits of sufficient sleep for fitness and wellness. Not only does sleep recharge your body so that you can attack your next workout, one study* actually found that healthy adults who slept four hours a night for five nights in a row experienced an average 2.6% decrease in resting metabolic rate.
GET ON YOUR FEET
Try to be as active as possible every single day. Take walking breaks every couple of hours, try a standing desk instead of a traditional workspace, run the vacuum. Whatever you can find that keeps you moving will help increase your NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
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