By: Rick Bellanti – September. 2016
We’ve all been there – you’re working hard eating responsibly and exercising and losing weight and then just when you’re feeling happy with your progress your scale decides to stop responding to all your hard work. I know as I have hit this issue twice already while on my journey to lose 241 pounds. This is called hitting a plateau and is very common and is to be expected as you lose weight. Our bodies are generally resistant to changes and weight loss tends to slow down the more weight you lose.
I recommend not weighing yourself on a daily basis. I know some of my friends weigh themselves throughout the day (multiple times). That would drive me to have crazy mood swings because if I saw the scale moving in the right direction (weight loss), I would be in a happy mood, but if it went to the dark side and showed weight gain, I would be in a bad mood.
I no longer let the scale dictate my moods. I weigh myself once a month and here’s why; weight loss plateaus can happen for a number of reasons even if you are following your strict plan and going to the gym and working out with your friends on a regular basis. You could be putting on lean muscle while burning your fat and contradicting what the scale says; also if you are drinking the recommended water (half your body weight in ounces) per day, the scale does not know the difference.
Check your workout routine and if you do the same exercises over and over again your body becomes accustomed to it so you need to mix it up a bit and try different activities and workouts. If you want to constantly see progress you need to change up your program on a regular basis. For example, instead of the same spin class every few days, mix it up and sign up for a Zumba dance class instead. If you like your routines then just try altering them a bit, change the reps, your tempo, even the amount of sets will help. Just remember, the more you do something, the better you will get at it, and as your body becomes better at performing your workouts, the fewer calories it will burn.
With the more weight you lose it actually takes less calories to move your body, so a loss of weight will lead to less energy requirement, so bump up those healthy calories and eat more. Sounds crazy right? If you are working out that means you are burning more calories. If your body does not have enough calories it will go into a starvation mode and hold onto your fat storage making it harder to see the scale move down.
Be careful when increasing your calorie intake as sometimes people will over speculate the amount of working out they are doing and start taking in too many calories and start contradicting the workout.
Check your daily log of food intake and make sure you are eating enough calories to make up for the ones being burned during exercising.
Muscle burns fat… if you start losing muscle you will be burning less calories, so build lean muscle! Cardio work at the gym helps for the short term but building lean muscle seems to be the better choice. You do not need to bulk up, but keep in mind again muscle burns that fat, so build lean muscle and you’ll lose the fat storage more efficiently.
Nutrition is the main key, so making sure you are not eating too much calories and also eating enough calories, it’s a tricky game, but once you understand it, it will all come together. Keeping a daily food log and a workout log is a must and I highly recommend both. If you are just working out your body will want more food to fuel it and that’s where people will tend to overeat thus making the plateau inevitable.
Also, do not over-train your body; make sure you take the proper days to rest and recover your body in between your routines. Even if you take a day or two off to recover, you can take walks or do yoga, swimming etc… variety is the key to success.
What has helped me in the past and even now is rest and let the body recuperate, then when I come back to my routines I change them up a bit. I keep a log of my daily activities as well as my calorie intake.
On heavier exercising days I up my calories accordingly. I make sure I drink enough water daily and during my plateaus I up the intake even more (especially in the hot summer months). Focus on feeling good and not what the scale reads, and be happy with your progress no matter how big or small. One Day at a Time is a phrase I use so often with my Facebook friends who are reaching out to me. These lifestyle changes are not a short race with a finish line… it’s a lifestyle change for the rest of your life. The sooner you appreciate that and accept it, the better off you will be for years to come.
Rick Bellanti is a wellness columnist and is on a journey himself to lose 240lbs, and has lost 160 lbs since the start of 2015. If you have any questions or comments, please post them to his Getting Healthy with Rick Bellanti Facebook page and once a month he will address a few of the topics here.