When you don’t get the result you expect fast enough, or you hit a weight loss plateau, you likely make some observations. Things like “I must be doing something wrong” or “this isn’t working.”
Be careful. These insidious thoughts lead to something worse.
Next thing you know you’ll justify skipping a workout, having seconds, or snacking on jelly bellies. After all, it’s not working so why bother?
Can you see how asking the wrong questions ensures you don’t lose weight or, you gain back what you’ve lost?
You want to delve into why you’re at a weight loss plateau in a way that keeps you on track and motivated to continue. Here are three ways to do that:
1. Ask useful questions. Like:
- What, if I was consistent, would have a big impact on my results?
- What am I doing well that I can capitalize on?
- Is there something I was doing previously that made a difference, but I’ve gotten out of the habit?
The key is recognizing where you’re winning and how you can build on that. And to see where you might need to shift or re-engage. Once you identify those areas, take a close look at food and movement…
2. Food assessment. Sometimes what you’re eating got you to where you are, but it won’t get you further. Let’s say you were drinking a sugary coffee most afternoons and having dessert every night and, after cutting it in half you lost weight. It may be that reducing half the sugar gets you this far, but not the rest of the way. In what areas might this be the case for you?
Another consideration is, are you consistent with your eating habits or have you let some things slide? Maybe in the beginning you were mindful of not snacking while preparing dinner or while watching TV, but those habits have creeped back in. Or you eat a bit too much, not to the point of stuffed but more than sufficient. Find where you need to get back to what was working.
3. Exercise progression. Do you know a woman who after years of walking almost everyday, laments that her body doesn’t look any different? I asked this while speaking at a women’s conference and one audience member said, “I know who you’re talking about. That’s me!”
Our bodies need new and different exercise options to continue changing. You can challenge your body in several ways, such as:
- Exercise longer and/or more frequently
- Up your aerobic exercise intensity (see ways to measure it here)
- Get variety. If you walk, add biking, dancing, running…anything.
- If you don’t already, add strength training (it’s a must!)
- Lift heavier weights
- Shake up your strength exercises
I’ve had several clients who, after making changes like these, were able to workout less and start losing weight again.
Reaching a weight loss plateau is common. The key is to respond with curiosity and compassion. Take credit for the progress you’ve made. Then, determine what needs to change and decide what you’ll do about it. You got this.