Overcoming Weight Loss Plateaus
So, you started your fitness journey, but your scale seems stuck after you lost the first few pounds. Or maybe you have been steadily losing weight for several weeks, but now you have not seen a change in three weeks. What is going on?
It is known as the weight loss plateau. A chart of your weight looks like it has flatlined, but you have not reached your goal.
Getting Off the Weight Loss Plateau
You will eventually get off the plateau if you have been consistent with your reduced calorie intake diet as well as your increased exercise. If you have seen no change for three to four weeks, you should further modify your diet1 and activity.
· Walk more. Your walking program should build up progressively, increasing your total mileage by no more than 10 percent a week to avoid injury. Look at your walking progress and increase your mileage according to that schedule. As you lose weight, you burn fewer calories per mile, so to have the same calories burned, you will need to increase the distance that you walk steadily. You can also boost your walks’ intensity by adding high-intensity intervals with hills, stairs, or jogging.
· Reduce calories. Reduce your calories by another 200 per day, but do not go below 1200 calories per day unless you are on a medically supervised program. Tactics would be cutting portions and eliminating fattier food, substituting fruits and vegetables for other snacks, and switching to noncaloric beverages. If you begin to lose more than 1.5 pounds a week, add back those 200 calories.
· Add more activity and reduce long stretches of sitting. Find ways to build more movement into each day. Take stairs than the elevator—Park in the far corner of the parking lot rather than near the door. Put on music and dance through chores or just for fun. Check your daily step count on your mobile phone or with a fitness tracker. Aim to get up and move around for at least one minute or 250 steps each hour.
· Tone your muscles. Walking tones your legs, but you will still need upper body and abdominal exercises to keep the rest of you in shape. Buy an exercise band or some light dumbbells for an arm routine and select an excellent abdominal practice. It will keep the jiggles in check as you lose weight.
· Avoid common mistakes: What habits and attitudes do you need to overcome? Make sure you are not committing common mistakes. If you have not been tracking your food and activity, do so for a week to spot changes you can make.
From Fat to Muscle
If you took up exercise as part of your weight loss plan, you build lean muscle. You should also be losing fat as your body needs it for fuel if you have been eating reduced calories. You will also burn fat during long exercise sessions such as brisk walks for 45 minutes or more. While this is happening, you may not see any weight change, but many terrific things are happening in your body that will increase your metabolism and help you keep the weight off permanently.
Walking builds long, lean muscle rather than bulky muscle. This muscle burns calories all the time, day, and night, even while you sleep. Fatty tissue burns very few calories. By walking and other exercises, you are increasing your base metabolism—the number of calories your body burns each day, even on days you do not exercise. It will help you lose fatty tissue.
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Stop Weighing, Start Measuring
Seeing the scale stuck on the same number can be discouraging. You may abandon your healthy habits. Use these ways of measuring your progress instead:
· Measure your waist and hips. Get out the measuring tape or a belt. Measure your progress by seeing how much more you can tighten the belt or how the inches are coming off on your waist and the widest portion of your hips.
· Measure yourself no more than once a week. Daily fluctuations can be discouraging, especially on a scale. Do not let that kill your resolve. Weigh yourself no more than once a week if you want to keep weighing yourself.
· Make your goal not pounds, but sizes. Dropping a pants size means you are looking better and better, getting leaner. And while that happens, you may not see the results on the scale you thought you would—but it means that you have now supercharged your metabolism by burning fat and adding lean muscle.
· Use a body composition scale. Scales are available that determine your body fat, water, and lean tissue using bioelectric impedance. They will often sync with an app to see all your numbers. You will be able to see the changes you make in building muscle and losing fat.
Do not let a stuck scale reverse the positive changes you have made in exercising more and eating a healthier diet. You are gaining the benefits of reducing your health risks even if you do not seem to be getting closer to your weight loss goal. Stick with your healthy habits, and you are likely to see the results you want.
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