You started out great! You found your groove with your workout. You learned to love some foods you used to poke fun at like broccoli. The junk food is gone! You are wearing one size smaller in clothing, but now your scale won't budge and you still have 10-20 pounds more to lose. That class reunion or wedding is getting close. Now what?
Certainly, you've been there. Or are you still there? You aren't alone; this a common situation when people try to lose weight. They set the goal with a target date and work hard. It is exciting to see the weight melt off, then suddenly it stops. Nothing changes for weeks. How discouraging! Here are the common reasons people get stuck on the plateau for way too long and how to fix it.
- You stick with clear beverages because they seem to be calorie-free. The truth is that most beverages have calories, with the exception of water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea. Soda and alcohol have at least a staggering 120 calories per serving! Find out the calories for what you are drinking and count them in on your daily intake chart.
- You taste the food you cook-- just to make sure it tastes right. Little nibbles add up quickly. If you use a recipe, follow it and it should taste fine. Also, you can do low cal swaps for some of the ingredients like cream, which are high calorie.
- You cut down your food intake during the week, then splurge on the weekend. One innocent splurge of cheesecake can be a full day's worth of calories! Usually it is better to leave foods with such a high calorie count alone. Try low fat vanilla Greek yogurt on a rice cake with berries on top instead.
- You try to boost the burn by cutting out carbs, fats, and reduce your protein intake. Unfortunately, you can sabotage your diet plan this way. Your body will store fat to protect against starvation. These are essential nutrients your body must have to be healthy. Instead, find out from a personal trainer, dietician, or nutritionist how much of each nutrient you should take in. Once you know, use a food scale to weight your food or measuring cups to measure out your servings.
- You can't stand to throw your kids' food down the disposal, so you eat it too. Adults give children way too much food most of the time. Cut the amount you give them to half. If they are still hungry, they will ask for more. You also teach them what hunger feels like so they learn to only eat when they are hungry.
- You ordered the salad instead of the burger at the fast food restaurant. This gets most people every time! All the toppings and dressings are very high in calories; some salad dressing packets are between 400-500 calories!. If they have a salad bar, you can easily choose what to eat and what to leave alone. But normally I recommend people who are trying to lose weight to steer clear of fast food and pack their own food instead.
- You get gabby at the gym. Most social people love to talk, but don't do well working and talking together. Save your gab time for before and after class.
- You love the class one instructor teaches, so you stick to only her classes. Every instructor has their favorite moves and combinations. After a while, class members adapt to the instructor's patterns. Mix it up! Try a couple of other instructors' classes, too. Variety keeps your body challenged.
- You avoid weights because you don't want to bulk up. This is a very deceptive part of weight loss because you are actually looking for fat loss. Maintaining lean muscle mass burns more calories, but muscle weighs more. First, look at lowering your body fat percentage. Second, add lifting to your routine. You will begin to see a change in the body fat and lean muscle mass percentages. You will slim down much faster this way, but keep lifting to every other day.
- You spend your active time driving your kids to their activities, so now you are exhausted. Driving gives the illusion of moving, when you are really sitting. Instead of sitting to wait for your children, get out and walk outside or in the school hallway.
- You decided to quite smoking while losing weight. Smokers always gain weight when trying to quit. The more serious threat to your health is smoking. Stop it first. After about a month, then try losing weight again. You will find yourself more successful this way.
- You let the stresses at work eat at you, so you don't sleep well. Lack of sleep and stress cause cortisol levels to rise which causes you to retain body fat. Journaling can help put your thoughts in the mental "parking lot" so you can sleep. Prayer coupled with journaling allows you to hand the problems over to the Lord, so He works them out. Also dreaming will help you begin to work on a solution because you sorted out the thoughts by writing them down.
- You just started taking a new medication or have a new medical condition. Some medications and health conditions cause weight gain. Check with your pharmacist or doctor to find out if weight gain is a side effect to your meds. If it is a health condition, exercise and proper nutrition will help you keep down the amount of weight gain. More importantly, you keep other health conditions from cropping up because you take care of yourself.
- You've done everything your personal trainer told you, but nothing works. Get a full medical exam. Such issues as thyroid conditions, menopause, and others can cause your weight to stick with you. A healthy diet and exercise will be your friends!
The bottom line is keep your body challenged in your exercise, keep track of all the foods and drinks you put into your body, reduce your stresses, and get enough sleep. Taking care of your body to maintain good health for yourself and others is what matters. The rest usually falls into place.
May God bless you!