Let’s get straight into it. We’re working hard to reach our goal and then a few weeks later the weight loss just stops and we’re baffled and more than a little fed up. It happens all the time so there’s nothing unusual about it but knowing the reasons why weight loss stops, having some inclination would do wonders for your motivation and for working through a plateau. So I’ve put together my top 5 reasons why weight loss stops.

Top 5 reasons why weight loss stops

  1. DENIAL – If you don’t “write what you bite” chances are you’re putting in more than you believe you are. Those who do well on a weight loss programme for some time and experience a slowdown followed by a plateau can be suffering from the effects of complacency. The frustration is real as complacency sets in subtly and victims feel hard done by as motivation is as high as ever. People can unconsciously consume 30% more calories if they are not journaling their food and drink intake simply because it creates a less mindful approach and extras slip in unnoticed. Completing a food diary until the maintenance phase is essential for ensuring constant progress.
  1. LESS PAIN – Those who enrol on a weight loss programme are suffering either emotionally, physically or both. As pounds diminish, so too does the suffering felt at the beginning. Human nature can cause a “this will do” attitude even when a healthy weight is still quite a way off. Less joint pain, improved energy and more confidence are great improvements but why sell yourself short? There is so much more to enjoy and many more benefits to experience. Little improvements in mental and physical health should be celebrated but accepted for what they are, small steps in the right direction. Why do the job half when you’re more than capable of seeing it through? This is when new goals need to be set – What would you like to enjoy next? What would you like to wear but can’t yet? What exercise would improve joints even more? Dangle a carrot for yourself at the start of every month, set small attainable goals that will make you want to push yourself that little bit harder. Don’t just move away from pain, keep working towards pleasure to experience optimal enjoyment of achieving your ultimate weight loss goal.
  1. WRONG ATTITUDE – This is a polite way of saying laziness which is often why weight loss stops. It stands to reason that calorie intake needs or what we refer to as total daily energy expenditure goes down as weight goes down. Therefore losing fat comes down to getting the correct calorie deficit which is 500 calories per day in order to lose one pound of fat per week (7×500=3,500). Over drinking on alcohol, not exercising enough and eating desserts on weekends are a super combination for not shifting pounds when you want to. Challenging such behaviours can be met with defence and annoyance as individuals claim to follow the guidelines on weekdays and want to “have a life.” The truth is that weight loss requires commitment every day of the week, allowing for the odd glass of wine or small sweet treat. If the attitude is where it should be, this will not be regarded as a battle but a project worth adhering to. This should be a no-brainer because of the extreme difference in how you feel on the inside and ultimately how you look on the outside.
  1. PRIORITIES – If something is worth doing and is important to you then you’ll find a way to make the time for it. Weight loss plateaus happen when people get side tracked and start giving too much energy to other things. Often this is family or work demands, both of which have to be met, but when such demands take over the lifestyle pie chart of leisure, self-care and productivity the domino effect on sleep, nutrition, stress and physical activity leaves a trail of upset, anger and resentment. It is selfish NOT to put yourself first when it comes to health and looking after your well-being. If this imbalance is not rectified, weight loss not only stalls but starts to go the other way. What good are you to anyone if you are not taking care of your own needs first? Think of the aeroplane safety talk. It is important to put on your own mask before you can help others to put on theirs. Give yourself the time to manage your weight permanently, take care of yourself not just for a few weeks or months, but by creating a lifestyle that allows you to achieve a healthy weight and stay there.
  1. CHRONIC TRIGGERS – It’s not the things that happened to us yesterday or today that have the biggest effect on our reactions. As Dr Larocque states in his latest book “People do not have a problem with food but with their emotions.” Learning to manage emotions is an indispensable skill for improving quality of life and maintaining a healthy weight. The main reason why weight loss plateaus and backsliding occur is because people do not link their past experiences to how they feel in the present.  Chronic triggers or mental blocks stop people in their tracks and can be recognised by AN INABILITY TO STOP DOING SOMETHING THAT IS HARMFUL TO THEM. This can be many behaviours such as eating too much, drinking too much, spending too much, taking drugs, working too much or sleeping too much. People don’t go out to sabotage their own happiness but to fill an emotional void repressed since childhood or adolescence. This is often unconscious and is the aftermath of a trauma or an aggressive event. The earlier the aggression or trauma takes place and the more intense it is, the more it may be hidden or repressed by an AUTOMATIC mental process.  Therefore, it is difficult for the person to make a link with his or her actual unhealthy behaviour. The cornerstone of the problem is “What I tell myself in my head”, in other words it is perception based rather than reality based. Psychological suffering in childhood is not understood and the child hides it using automatic, unconscious psychological processes. It is removed from memory as though it never existed. The experience however, manifests itself later in life when the role of VICTIM or SURVIVOR will come out. Emotions like anger, mistrust, guilt, anxiety and passivity can break weight loss efforts down. Explore their origins, get to grips with the real reasons you feel out of control and behave in an unhealthy manner.

Hope you find this advice helpful. If you have any queries about weight loss please email me on c.jackson@motivation.ie and I’ll try to get back to you shortly.

Blog Post by Claire Jackson