A lot of patients will find after a period of successfully losing weight their weight loss comes to a screeching halt. It is common issue we hear from our patients and unfortunately patients become so frustrated by the slowing or stopping of weight loss they of “give up” and quit doing what has helped them be so successful. Our bodies are great at adapting to what we have been doing after a period of time. So it is very important to keep pushing and continue doing the things that worked for you to get you where you are; you just may need to make some modifications!
Why We Stop Losing Weight
Typically there are 3 reasons why we stop losing weight when it comes to exercise.
1). Our bodies become accustomed to the demands we are placing on it. We adapt to what we are doing day in and day out and become more efficient at performing motions and activities. When this happens, we burn fewer calories while doing an activity we have been doing for any given period of time. Whether your body is getting used to how much weight you are lifting in the gym, the pace you are walking or how many times you exercise during the week, physical adaptation is one of the top reasons for a plateau. Excessive training and not allowing your body an adequate recovery period can also cause a weight loss plateau.
2). Stress, both physical and emotional can play a role in fluid retention. With regards to physical stress, you can experience an increase in estrogen, decrease in progesterone, decrease in testosterone, or overstimulation of adrenal glands which can cause fluid retention. As mentioned earlier, excessive training and inadequate recovery can cause all of the physical consequences of stress I just mentioned. In addition, lack of sleep, soreness, tension and constant focus on exercise can also result in those same physical consequences.
3). Maybe, just maybe, your diet is not as great as you think it is. You cannot out exercise a bad diet no matter how hard you try. There are a myriad of dietary and nutritional complexities that you must consider when attempting to lose weight. When your weight loss comes to a sudden halt, there is just as much of a chance that your diet is involved as there is a chance that exercise is involved.
So now that you know some causes for your plateaus, let’s discuss some ways to bust through the plateaus! Below are some plateau busters:
1). Do not allow your body to adapt to the demands you place on it. Always try to confuse your body. For example, if you only do cardio, add weight training. We recommend lower weights and higher repetitions; or if you only do weight training, add cardio. If you perform weight training, increase the intensity and decrease your repetitions–increase weight 1 day of your weight training day and only do limited repetitions (i.e. find a weight you can only lift for 5 repetitions). Choose to perform entirely different exercises than you normally perform. Do not perform your exercises in the same order every time you work out. Add in some 30-60 second bursts of cardio in between each weight training set (jump rope, perform jumping jacks, jog in place, high-knees, etc.). Change up the time of day you typically work out; i.e. if you always work out in the mornings change it to evenings and vice versa.
2). Reduce your stress–as if it is an easy thing to do! Try to de-stress. Sometimes an overtrained or stressed body need a rest to reset itself and resume losing weight. This may seem counterproductive, but allow yourself a few light days of exercise and a few good indulgence meals. Sometimes something as simple as this will help you “magically” begin losing weight again!
3). Write down everything! Do this for at least one week and see what your habits are. The Golden Rules of Tracking are: if you bite it, write it; if you drink it, ink it; if you snack it, track it; if you nibble it, scribble it; if you steal it, reveal it; if you grab it, blab it; if you lick it, Bic it; if it goes in your smacker, it goes in your tracker; if you ingest it, you guessed it–Grab your pencil before your utensil!
Other Possibilities of Plateau
Occasionally, nutritional deficiencies, whether it is vitamin or hormonal, may result in weight plateaus. Instances of this occurring is very rare and a weight loss plateau is typically the result of something far more simple. With the correct changes, you can begin losing weight again within just a few days.