Don’t you hate a plateau? You are eating right and doing your exercise and yet the numbers on the scale seem to be at a standstill? Does it make you feel like you want to just forget the whole thing? Don’t lie to me. I know, because I have been there myself. That feeling that you are wasting your time is just enough for that little devil parked on your shoulder to say “Give it up.”
Let me give you some good news. Plateaus are totally normal. You seem, commonly what happens is that as your body adjusts to the level of activity and the type of foods you are taking in. It kind of resets it’s own definition of what’s normal. You body says “This must be how much exercise and food I need to maintain so we will just stay here a while.”
There may be another cause for a plateau. I have mentioned this before but I had a period where I went up and down the same 2 pounds for over a year. I spoke to my doctor about it and he reviewed my medications. I am on a few different ones – the joy of being 55. I am some diabetic medications as well as some for cholesterol not to mention vitamins and my low dose aspirin. He looked over the medication list and said “Here’s the culprit” and change out one medication and weight started coming off again. This is unusual but worth looking into.
What do you do if you feel stuck on a plateau? I can offer a few ideas on things that I have tried and found effective. The biggest thing is that if your food and activity have leveled off, shake it up a bit. Something has to change or at least be adjusted, either diet or activity level.
Take a look at your food intake both the amount and the type. Maybe you need to adjust it. You might even want to talk to a dietitian about it and ask for some suggestions to jump start things.
Here is one thing that is kind of a bit of bad news. As your weight comes off, it slows down and becomes more difficult to take off. It sounds funny to say but when I started at 425 pounds, the first 100 pounds came off fairly easily (as long as I worked my plan) but the closer I get now to my goal, the harder I have to work at it.
One think I had to adjust with my food was my calorie intake. Using the IPhone app My Fitness Pal and recorded my weight and food intake, it would adjust my calorie intake. It is easy to forget that as we weight less, we don’t need to eat as much. Maybe you are still eating as you did when you began your journey. Maybe those numbers need to be adjusted downwards.
One of the things I do is make a big bowl of salad and keep it in the fridge. When I am tempted to have a snack, I have a nice filling bowl of salad (no dressing) instead of a high calorie snack. My salad is a bit different. I start with chopped cabbage for a bit more crunch. I add what are called carrot sticks or finely shredded carrots. I will throw in a can of drained tuna or salmon for some protein. I also add things like raw sunflower seeds just because I like them.
I also tracking my water intake more closely. I make sure I am not drinking my calories, even in so-called healthy things like fruit juice. Don’t forget that even fruit juice has calories, mostly from sugars.
The same can be said for activity. When you go to the gym, for example, do you do the same old workout every time? You need to jump start your muscles too. Change up your workout. Not into the gym or lifting weights? Change up walking for some swimming, or pick a more difficult route.
I even found using my fitness program on my WII game system started to get too easy and I had to take it up a level by making it harder and by adding more exercises. I have also created totally new workout routines that I can alternate so I am not doing the same thing all the time.
There are other things you can do to shake up your activity level. Try a new sport or class at the gym or at your community centre. Try a beginners class in Yoga, or Zumba, or Martial Arts. Try a new exercise DVD. You would be amazed at how many good exercise DVD’s can be borrowed from your local library. You can sign them out and try them. If you really like them, then you can look to purchase a similar DVD. That was how I got started with Tai Chi.
Maybe you need to buddy up. It is harder to slough off a workout or even a walk if you have planned to do it with a friend. Arrange a time to meet up and go for a walk or play some tennis or badminton. Do you have kids? Take them to the playground, but don’t just watch – play with them. When was the last time you climbed the monkey bars or played a good game of tag?
Another thing you may want to look into is the quality or quantity of your sleep. I have been reading more and more articles online about how NOT getting good sleep can effect your weight.
The big thing is to look at what is the same-old same-old in your routines. There is an old saying attributed to Albert Einstein “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things the same way, and expect different results.” Don’t be insane. Change it up!
Coming soon – I will be attending The Wellness Show this weekend at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre and will have some thoughts on that in my next blog post. There is always a lot to see and to learn at the show.
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day.