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weight loss plateau

Breaking Through a Plateau

Breaking Through a Plateau: When we talk about tackling weight loss we need to talk about the inevitability of plateauing. Plateaus occur when we deviate from our diet allowances, this can occur unconsciously, and it’s not until we take a closer look at our recent eating habits and their effect on our weight loss goals when we can begin to understand why this has happened. Has straying from your diet plan has led to the situation you find yourself in?
Here are some areas to work on to help you break through your plateau and continue with your weight loss.


When you reach a plateau the first thing to do is “change the context”. Recognise and enjoy the benefits that your weight loss has bought you. Ask yourself a few questions. Do you have more energy? Are your joints less painful? Are you sleeping better? Don’t fall into the trap where you have achieved great health benefits but your mind is stuck on the number on the scale. Try not to forget what you have achieved from a health point of view. Remember that weight loss is a marathon not a sprint.


Once you have identified the problem areas it’s a good time to try and correct the issue that has arisen, and the best way to do this is to evaluate the principle benefits your weight loss has bought you. All the energy, improved sleeping and loss of fatigue, and the overall feeling of well being, and how all these health benefits that your weight loss and management has done for you should be a call to action for you to re-motivate and invigorate you to get back on track. But there’s no rush, if you fall off the wagon it’s hard to jump back on right away, but a real effort to catch up, and the new lessons learned along the way are more beneficial than finding the answer right off the bat.


Revisit your weight loss plan. Are you still following it properly, or are you ‘winging’ it? You probably feel you are eating very well, but when we don’t record our intake we are much less mindful. Small slips add up so get back to recording everything you eat if you’ve stopped.
If your plateauing is the result of an unconscious decision, then it’s a good time to consider how actively aware of your intake you are. Awareness is best practised through repetition, so keeping an honest record of the food and drink you are consuming on a daily basis will help you to realise your calorie intake, and correct it to get back on track. This is a great practice to keep you on track and help you to continue with your positive changes. Remember to be honest with yourself, you are the ultimately your own decision maker.


Once you have identified the physical root cause of your plateauing it might be a good time to consider the psychological reasons for your deviation. Were you stressed over the past few weeks due to an increase in your commitments both at home or work? Were you sabotaged without consciously realising? Stress itself inhibits fat burning through the Cortisol system, if this was a possible cause then consider getting more exercise, exercise is a great way of de-stressing. If approached with a situation where you are tempted to eat something you know will undo some of your progress, ask yourself two questions: 1. “Am I sure I really want to eat this?” and 2. “Am I willing to suffer the consequences of eating this?”


Look at your sleep. Are you getting enough good quality sleep or are you watching TV, on your phone or playing on the computer far too late into the evening?
Fatigue is something to keep an eye on. Good quality sleep will go a long way in helping you to eliminate stressors and help you to maintain a clear and positive attitude. If you are watching TV or playing on the computer too late into the evening you might need to look to making some changes.


Exercise is so very important, yet we all tend to put this on the back burner, especially during the winter months. If you are lucky enough to have equipment in your house you could do a short “HIIT” program (high intensity interval training). There are many benefits to this, and the best is, it takes only a short time. An example might be walking on a treadmill at 3 mph at 0 incline for 3 minutes, then 1 minute at 4.5 mph on incline 1 or 1.5 for 1 minute and repeat this for 20 or so minutes. Or if walking outside, walk 100 steps easy then 50 steps slow jog or brisk walk and do this over and over for 20 or 30 minutes.
Putting aside the time for “formal” exercise is highly recommended, but moving around does not need to be confined to the time you have set aside for this. During long stints watching TV or otherwise you should consider standing during commercial breaks, or while talking on the phone. Try to move around occasionally. A target to consider is to not sit for one hour.


If you’re finding yourself ingesting more calorie rich food or drink then changing how you eat or what you are eating will help you change things around. Consider looking at two meal replacements for a while.


The biggest area we need to work on however, is motivation. We do lose our motivation especially when the scale isn’t moving. We also then tend to get quite careless with our eating and exercise. We must find a way to get back to that original enthusiasm we had when we started. The best way to do this is to write down the most important reasons for you to strive for a healthy weight.
An effective way to return to our diet plan after a deviation is to write down the important reasons that you set out originally to strive for a healthy weight and to look again at your personal goals. Becoming re-acquainted with your goals to help remember your reasons is a powerful way to re-motivate and get back to that original enthusiasm. Without this we will continue to falter and return to old habits.
Les Brown, a well-known motivational speaker summarised the thinking this way:
1. It’s possible. 2. It’s necessary. 3. I can. 4. I will. 5. It’s hard…but you can do hard.


The ‘why’ we eat is as important, if not more important than the ‘what’ we eat, and remember if you think you can or you can’t you’re probably right, old habits die hard, and are a result of an outdated mindset. Repetition is a powerful tool in re-conditioning yourself and making the steps you are taking feel right for you.

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