You’ve worked super hard to improve your eating habits and include physical activity in your daily life and as a reward, the reading on your bathroom scale has decreased. But for no apparent reason, “the scale doesn’t move anymore”, even though you continue your good habits. Hitting a plateau is common and somewhat normal during a weight loss process, but a majority of people believe that if they still maintain their current habits, they will continue to lose weight… Wrong!
Before getting discouraged and throwing in the towel, read the following lines to understand what causes this plateau and how to jump right back on the weight loss bandwagon.
Weight loss occurs due to an energy imbalance created between the amount of calories eaten and the amount burned. Hitting a plateau means a return to the energy balance; so the amount of calories eaten is equivalent to the amount of calories burned. Although you continue to eat the same servings and do the same exercises, it is no longer enough for losing further weight. But why? Since you have lost weight, you are lighter, and therefore performing the same activities requires less effort. So you burn fewer calories than when you were heavier. What’s more, as you are less fat, your resting metabolism is also decreased. So you no longer need to eat as much to meet your needs.
To succeed in losing weight again, you must recreate an energy imbalance by increasing the amount of energy burned (calories burned through physical activity) and decreasing the number by calories eaten. However, at this point, be sure to evaluate whether you are satisfied with the weight lost or whether you want to lose some more.
You need to first re-evaluate your current habits. Maybe you are eating more than you think. Are you exercising as often as you used to in the beginning? Are your servings as exact as they were in the beginning? Keeping a food and exercise diary for a few days will help you to better identify potential problem areas and thus rectify the situation both in your diet and in your exercises.
After a while, our bodies and muscles get used to carrying out the same routines and become efficient in performing them. Which means you burn fewer calories to complete them. Use the following tips to modify your exercise sessions and thereby start losing weight again:
a. Increase the length of your sessions (go from 30 to 45 minutes).
b. Include muscular exercises if it is not already done! You will limit the decline in muscular mass.
c. Ramp up the intensity of your cardiovascular workouts.
d. Change the type of activity performed. If you were used to walking, cycle instead, or if you used to swim, join a Zumba class, etc.
e. Exercise more during the day. Apart from your workouts at the gym, try to walk more, climb stairs, get up from your desk more often.
Rather than feeling discouraged when you hit a plateau, give yourself time to adjust to your new weight. Use this opportunity to maintain your weight. Continue to eat and exercise well. Once these habits become ingrained, you can think about resetting the process!
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Karine Larose – Nautilus Plus