There’s nothing more rewarding than watching the number on the scale drop week by week after committing yourself to a healthier lifestyle. However, what happens when your weight loss comes to a sudden and unexplainable halt? If your weight has remained constant for weeks despite your nutritious diet and regular exercise, you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau.
If your weight has plateaued, don’t panic – this is your body’s way of telling you it’s time to make slight modifications to your daily routine. Before you can get over your dieting hump, it is important to first identify the lifestyle changes you can make to help you drop those iron-willed final few pounds.
Get a Full Night’s Sleep
No, you won’t lose five pounds solely from sleeping through the night. However, the amount of sleep you get will set the tone for how your body reacts to your weight loss efforts. Getting a full night’s sleep allows your body to refresh and replenish to provide you with the energy needed to power through the next day’s workout. Sleeping also helps to reduce cortisol, the “stress hormone” partially responsible for stubborn fat around the midsection.
The amount of sleep you get also impacts your appetite. Studies have shown those who get a full eight hours of sleep reported having a decreased appetite compared to their sleepier, hungrier counterparts. Granted, a full night’s sleep might not be possible for every person on every day. Do not fight midday fatigue when it hits you – a 15 to 30 minute nap is all it takes to refuel and recharge your mental and physical batteries.
Change Up Your Workout
A jog around the neighborhood every morning might have gotten the ball rolling on your initial fitness journey, but a weight loss plateau is a sign that it is time to switch up your workout routine. Your muscles have an incredible memory, and will eventually get used to your everyday workout routine. If they are not being challenged by new and diverse movements, your workout will become less effective over time.
Challenge yourself to get out of your fitness comfort zone by integrating new workouts into your routine. Enroll in a fitness class at your gym, swim laps around your local pool, and experiment with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for a quick body fat burner.
Cut Back on Calories
One of the most common first steps to beginning a weight loss journey is reducing the number of calories you eat and drink per day. While this number might have helped you shed some pounds initially, you might find yourself hitting a weight loss plateau if your caloric intake does not change as your body changes.
The amount of calories your body needs is proportionate to your size. The smaller you become, the fewer calories are required to provide you with the energy needed to function optimally. Drastically cutting calories overnight (such as eliminating entire meals) is not the solution as it can leave you feeling weak, sluggish, and slow your metabolism. Instead, try reducing your caloric intake by 100 to 200 calories per day and modify as needed based on your results and doctor recommendations.
Hold Yourself Accountable
When experiencing a weight loss plateau, it’s easy to place the blame on everything but yourself. Sure, water weight, bad weather and an “off day” might explain a week or two without losing weight, but this trend will not shift until you take a deep look at your own habits to determine what might be a contributing factor.
It’s common to start slipping back into old habits once you begin feeling comfortable and confident with your slimmer figure. However, it is important to hold yourself accountable if you find yourself exercising less and snacking more. Treat yourself to a “cheat day” on special occasions, but remember to keep your weight loss goals at the forefront of each day.
Consult With a Doctor About Your Weight Loss Plateau
If you have tried the suggestions above and your weight loss has still plateaued, consider consulting with your doctor. Autoimmune diseases, medication, sleep disorders, stress, toxins, hormone imbalances, inflammation and hypothyroidism can slow one’s metabolism and make it incredibly difficult to lose weight. If you are struggling to lose weight and have not ruled out an illness related cause yet, discuss your concerns with a functional medicine doctor to see if further testing is required.
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. If you’re ready to start your journey to a healthier, happier life, schedule your visit today!