No one is safe from it. No matter what phase of the weight loss journey you’re on, you’ll still run into one...perhaps even a few.
Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded..::gulp:: plateau.
But why does this happen? Why do we abruptly run into a wall even when we’re doing so much better at taking care of ourselves?
Here’s the truth about plateaus: they are a HEALTHY and NORMAL part of the weight loss process. When we begin to give our lifestyle a complete overhaul and incorporate more exercise into our weekly routine, all the intricate networks and systems inside of us begin working relentlessly to adapt to those changes. The result? Your metabolism begins to rev up
like an engine and those first pounds begin to start coming off. Then about 2 months later, you step on the scale one morning, the same time you always do, and you see it hasn’t budged.
Not. One. Inch. You go to weigh in at the same time the following week. Still no movement. You begin retracing calories and going back to make sure you logged in everything. You make sure you’re still getting 3-4 workouts in a week and drinking enough water. Everything seems to check out, nothing’s really amiss. So why has the scale seemingly stopped working?
Well before we start yelling in frustration, it’s important to understand just what’s happening to the body when this happens.
The body’s sole function in its life is to maintain a state of homeostasis, or balance. Everything we do to our bodies affects that balance. When we introduce (or reintroduce) it to vigorous exercise and certain dietary changes such as caloric deficits, it begins to work harder to adapt to all the changes and stressors it has been exposed to. To put it simply-it’s making sure it can still function normally under these new conditions.
So as it’s adapting, you’re reaping the benefits. But when the body does eventually adapt, that’s when everything just seems to come to a grinding, screeching halt. So...now comes the million dollar question: what to DO about it.
Although it tends to have a negative impact on our overall attitude and mentality, we all have the choice to completely change our mindset towards it or let it defeat us completely. Instead of letting this try to dissuade you from keeping at it, use it as a motivator. You can and will go over that hill. You just have to figure out how to get the engines going again.
Most of the time, tweaks in nutrition and/or workout routine can be all it takes to get everything started back up. You may have to crank up the intensity for a little while in your workout routine which would also mean a slight increase in daily calories to compensate for extra energy expended. However, if you’re going especially hard and not giving your body enough recovery time, it may also signal that you need to rest.
Overworking will cause your body to go into 'survival mode’ and it will hold on to any extra energy stores it has so it can function, which can and will slow metabolism. It’s also important to make sure you are sticking with your meal plan. Not losing weight in a period of time could also reflect non-adherence to that diet/meal plan, which is often the main culprit. Be sure you are still logging and being accountable!
The most important thing I want to stress is that it’s important that you don’t use this as an excuse to give up! REMIND yourself why you walked through that door and WHY you chose to embark on this journey. You’ve already accomplished the hardest part of this which is choosing your health and making it a priority.
Keep coming in and putting in work. Keep being mindful of what you are giving your body. Keep the bigger picture in focus and in the forefront of your mind. Our bodies don’t adapt to punish us. They adapt to keep us alive so we can keep grinding!
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