Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Weight at a standstill? Check out why!
It's almost Spring Break. With beach on the mind, you've worked extremely hard in the gym. You've attended extra group fitness classes, you've starved yourself, you've given up the foods you love, and only to find that the scale hasn't moved in weeks. So, Have You Reached a Weight Loss Plateau?
Here are some possible reasons why we achieve steady loss and then see our weight come to a halt. Check it out! 1. You are obsessing about calories! An initial decrease in calories will result in weight loss, however, it will not result in continued weight loss and allow you to reach your full potential. Why? Calories are not all created equal. We once thought that weight loss was all about input verses output, but we now know that it doesn't quite work that way. Some of the most beneficial foods for weight loss are indeed higher in calories. Let's take fat for example. Consuming healthy fats can help promote weight loss by making us feel fuller longer, curbing food cravings and boosting our mood. Focusing only on calories can stall our progress and create frustration!
2. You are not eating enough calories! Not only may you not be eating the right foods, you may not be eating enough food! Depriving your body of the energy it needs sends the wrong signal to the brain; one that tells it to conserve energy instead of burning it. The body does not make any assumptions when it comes to gauging when it will be fed again and metabolism eventually slows, making it extremely difficult for you to continue to lose weight. Additionally, prolonged calorie restriction can lead to loss of lean muscle mass, not to mention more dangerous conditions such as gallstones, constant fatigue and digestive issues. Remember that effective weight loss programs do not encourage starvation or deprivation. They encourage you to eat the right foods for you!
3. You are not tracking and measuring! One of the most important tasks that I require my clients to do is to record information about their diet on a Food Diary Form. A food diary is different than a food log or other types of forms because in addition to recording foods eaten in a day, it obtains critical information which keys the client (and me) into various food habits that they have developed over time that are driving negative nutritional behaviors. Recording this information makes us more mindful about food, habits surrounding food and our attitude towards food, and research fully supports it! In a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research, those who kept a food diary lost TWICE as much weight as those who did not, over a 6-month period.* Case in point - whether you are recording with pen and paper or by using an app, tracking is critical to weight loss success!
3. You are obsessed about the scale! While it's healthy to weight in, it is not healthy to obsess about the number on the scale. Why? Quite frankly, it is only a number. Several factors play into our weight including muscle mass, fluid balance, hormone fluctuations, digestion, stress and even air travel. When I work with clients I ask them to record their weight so I can follow the trends of weight over a period of time. I never take one recording into account without first looking at the trends. Don't stress over your number!
4. You started weight training! From time to time I encounter a client who begins weightlifting at the gym. While this may not necessarily make you gain weight, it may slow or halt the rate at which you lose weight. This is primarily because muscle weighs more than fat, and as you build muscle mass it will be reflected as such on the scale. When clients begin working with me I typically require them to seek out one pair of pants that they will measure against. This is the one piece of clothing that they can wear to gauge exactly how they "feel" in their clothing. Feeling good in a pair of pants that you haven't been able to wear in months tells you that what you are doing is working!
5. You are not getting enough sleep! If you don't think that sleep and weight are connected, perhaps it's time to wake up! There is much evidence that those who do not get enough sleep gain weight more rapidly and take off weight more slowly. In 1998, 35% of American adults were getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and by 2005 that number had dropped to 26%.* When we are not well rested we are less likely to make informed nutritional choices. Hormone fluctuations also play a role prompting the body to eat more, and being up more hours in the day give us more time to consume more energy.
6. You've got stress! In today's fast-paced world we are all trying to be everyone and everything to everybody and that is downright stressful! When the body is stressed it releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol can interfere with our body's metabolism and not only plateau our weight, but make you gain weight by increasing both your appetite and cravings for foods that pack on the pounds! One way to manage cortisol levels is to engage in cardiovascular activity. Attend a group fitness class or visit the gym, and maintain your routine! Rigorous exercise releases chemicals of it's own called endorphins, one of the body's happy chemicals. To start your day, try 10 minutes of breathing techniques and stretches. In the evening, try journaling before bed to collect all of your thoughts. Take a warm bath or diffuse essentials oils (to learn more about Young Living Essential Oils, click here) like Lavender, which promotes relaxation and has been proven to lower cortisol levels in many studies. Resources: Hollis, Jack, PhD. "Kaiser Permanente Study Finds Keeping a Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss," 8 July 2008. Web. 15 Mar. 2017. https://share.kaiserpermanente.org/article/kaiser-permanente-study-finds-keeping-a-food-diary-doubles-diet-weight-loss/ Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health, Obesity Prevention Source. Web. 15 March 2017. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/sleep-and-obesity/