Everyone hits a plateau at some point in their weight loss journey. I have found it to be a common topic with my health coaching clients. But hitting a plateau isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A plateau is feedback from our bodies letting us know something needs to change. Let’s take a look at some common reasons why weight loss may have slowed down and the possible solutions.
When stress levels are higher than normal, it increases cortisol in the body which can throw our hormones out of balance which in turn can halt weight loss. Cortisol can also make your body crave high-sugar-and-fat content food. If you’re going through a stressful time in your life such as a new job, wedding, busy school schedule, etc. look for ways to take care of yourself. Often when there is too much going on, the first thing that gets thrown out the window is self-care. This is the time when you need to practice self-care the most, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. Find an activity that is calming to you such as meditating or walking that you can do to decrease your stress levels.
Sometimes we think we’re eating healthily when the reality is that we are not actually eating as well as we think. It might be that all you need to do is make a small change to your eating habits and the weight will start to melt away again. One way to learn if you’re eating healthily is to track your food for a week. You can use an app on your phone such as My Fitness Pal or carry a notebook with you to write it down. After tracking your food for seven days, you may find that you were eating more sugar than you thought or that you were snacking more often than you realized. Try cutting back for a few days and see if it makes a difference. Another possibility is that you are not eating enough and that your body has entered famine mode where it doesn’t want to burn fat.
For women, there are certain times of the month when the body naturally retains water which can affect the numbers on the scale. It can be helpful to track your weight over the course of a month or more to make note of normal monthly variations. Out of balance hormones can also affect weight loss. For example, when your thyroid isn’t working properly it can cause an increase in fat storage. If you think this might be the issue, see your doctor about getting your thyroid tested.
Losing weight is 80% about what you eat, but exercise is also part of the weight loss equation and can make a difference during a plateau. If you are not active, consider adding some exercise to your routine. Regular exercise can help your body become more efficient at burning fat while at rest. On the other hand, too much exercise increases cortisol levels which can inhibit weight loss so if you work out intensely every day, try scaling back your workouts for a few weeks and see how you feel. Mixing up your exercise routine can help your body work through a plateau.
Our mindset makes a huge difference in our ability to lose weight just like it does in all other areas of our life. I had a client recently who was eating a healthy whole food diet but hit a plateau. During our one-on-one coaching sessions we discovered that she had some limiting beliefs about her ability to lose weight. She recognized these limiting beliefs and changed the story she was telling herself through affirmations. This helped her change her mindset to a more positive one. Within the next few weeks the number on the scale started going down. Having a positive mindset can be a powerful tool in achieving your weight loss goal.
If you hit a plateau, remind yourself that this part of the journey and be ok with it. There’s always going to be peaks and valleys along your journey. Be solution oriented and focus on how you can overcome this obstacle and learn from it.
Could you benefit from working with a health coach? Let us help you work through your weight loss plateau. Sign up for a free initial consultation at www.bluebirdweightloss.com.