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9 Smart Tips for Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau

I suppose it could be argued that, after I decided to lose the “Newlywed 19,” I started on the weight loss plateau. For several weeks after my husband and I began running together and trying to figure out how to feed ourselves good food, I didn’t see any progress. I’m not going to lie — it was discouraging. I thought maybe I would just be the chubby little wife forever. I thought maybe I had ruined my body. And it was really hard to even want to try when I wasn’t seeing any results.

Slowly, however, things began to change. I kept at it, ran until it hurt, cut back on sweets, and learned to cook. And pretty soon I started to feel like a better version of myself: more energetic and confident in my body, more capable of doing the things I needed to do, and more interested in making healthy choices and leading an active lifestyle.

My experience with losing weight and building a healthy living pattern is pretty typical. Common, even. Many people — from endurance athletes to former-couch potatoes — reach a point in their journey where their progress stalls. This could be a signal that their body has adjusted to their new diet and activity level, and needs more effort if it’s going to continue to become healthier and more efficient. Or it could be a signal that they’ve grown tired and are less vigilant.

Whatever the reason, don’t let a little (or a lot) of time on the weight loss plateau keep you from working toward the healthy lifestyle you have planned. These tips will help you out of your rut and on the track to better health.

  • It’s All Downhill From Here! 1 of 9
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    Use these tips to keep you on your way to better health.

  • Get Enough Sleep 2 of 9
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    Being well-rested ensures your body has enough time to heal from the exercise you've been doing. It can also keep you alert and disciplined enough to make healthy choices and avoid mindless eating. 

  • Rethink Your Appetite 3 of 9
    Broken dark chocolate on kitchen scale

    If you've been exercising a lot, you're probably also a lot hungrier than normal. Instead of indulging in large portions or treating yourself to high-calorie snacks you think you've "earned," remember that it's okay to be hungry sometimes. It may also help to pull out measuring cups and spoons to teach yourself what a "healthy" portion looks like. 

  • Be Consistent 4 of 9
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    To become the (healthier) person you want to be, you may sometimes need to act like that person even when you don't feel like it. That may mean going to the gym every day, even if you don't want to, or eating an apple when you'd much rather have a doughnut. But consistently making healthy choices especially when it's difficult will speed you on your way off the plateau and toward the healthy lifestyle you are hoping to lead. 

  • Make It Hurt 5 of 9
    Woman doing pushups.

    If you've been stuck at the same weight for a while, it may be time to up your game on the exercise front. Increasing the intensity of your workouts running faster or longer, lifting more weight, doing more reps will push your body to work harder and become more efficient, which can lead to greater weight loss and better health. 

  • Don’t Stress 6 of 9
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    Worrying about the progress you are (or aren't) making can wear you down and make it more difficult to resist unhelpful (and unhealthful) snacking, or to have the discipline to go to the gym. If you find yourself stressing about a little stagnation, find some time to relax. Spend some time with a friend, sit down with a good book, meditate, and forget about losing weight for a while. 

  • Improve Your Diet Even More 7 of 9
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    You're cutting down on sweets and eating "lean and green" dinner (salad with a side of lean chicken or fish). But if you're still not where you want to be, consider adding more whole grains to your diet, like 100% whole wheat bread, or exchanging your typical snack of crackers and cheese for a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts instead. Try cutting out as much processed food as you can, and use fresh ingredients instead. 

  • Keep Your Eyes on the Prize 8 of 9
    Mother and daughter running on beach smiling

    What is it that you are working toward anyway? Do you have a strong vision of what your life will look like when you reach your goal? Will you be able to dance in your wedding dress again? Run and play with your children in the park? Finish a triathlon? Whatever it is, keeping that in mind will help you continue to push forward even when progress is slow. 

  • Focus on How You Feel 9 of 9
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    It can be discouraging to step on the scale and to see the same number day after day, week after week. Especially when you are working hard and improving your diet. In fact, maybe you were feeling great healthy and energetic until you stepped on the scale. And the number you saw took the wind right out of your sails. 

    Why let a number on a scale tell you how healthy you are? Why not focus instead on how much energy you have, and how excited you are to feed your body well and keep it moving? The scale can be one way to measure your goal, but it doesn't have to be the only way. And it certainly shouldn't stop you from continuing to pursue a healthy lifestyle. So if you find that the pesky number on the scale leads you to a bag of chips and the couch, more often than it does to healthier choices, put it away and focus on how you feel instead.

 

images via istockphoto.com

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