My weight loss journey has been very interesting, though seemingly not very productive over the last few months. Losing weight is definitely an uphill battle and because of that, there are peaks and valleys. How you respond when stuck in the dreaded plateau makes the difference between continued success or ending up back where you started.
Over the last year and a half I have lost just around thirty pounds, though not all at once. Last year, I had lost thirty, only to gain twenty pounds back over summer and fall. Then in January of this year I started over, though luckily ten pounds less than my initial starting point.
Once I got back down to the weight I was last year, 160, I got stuck again. A week later I weighed myself and to my surprise, 160 still. My weight stayed at exactly 160 for two months and it nearly drove me crazy! Finally, I did some things that helped get me out of my plateau and steadily losing weight again.
The first thing I did to start losing weight again seemed completely counterproductive. I started eating more calories. Initially, I was only eating 1200 calories a day, and dropped the first ten pounds very quickly. But once I plateaued, I decided to not be so strict on my diet and started eating around 1600 calories a day.
I also cut back on how much I was working out. I went from six days a week, for about an hour and a half a day, to four days a week for about an hour. While this seems totally backwards, what was really happening is that my body wasn’t getting enough calories and I was trying to burn off too many to lose weight.
In addition, rather than weighing myself and worrying about losing pounds, I decided to put the scale away for a while and just focus on building strength. I did pushups, sit ups, several variations on squats, and used the weight machines and the free weights at the gym. What I found was that while I wasn’t losing any weight, my body was still improving and getting stronger and fitter.
The one thing I did during my plateau to help keep me focused and motivated was I started taking pictures of myself and measuring myself every couple of weeks. What I had found was that while I had not lost a single pound over eight weeks, my stomach was flatter and I had lost seven inches from my waist, hips, chest, and thighs. This made me much happier than just the scale could because this showed I was gaining muscle at the same time and looking better for it.
If you’re stuck in a weight loss plateau that you can’t get out of, try following some of these tips. Eat more, workout less (only if you think your overall calories is too low, otherwise this won’t help any), focus on strength training instead of shedding pounds, measure yourself instead of weighing yourself, and see if this shift in focus will help your body get on track to losing weight. The mind is a powerful thing and if you are trying too hard to attain your goals, sometimes mental blocks get in the way, and focusing on something else for a time may be just the thing to break out of the plateau and see the scale move again.