Weight loss plateaus happen to us all. You’re doing well, you’re losing weight, the scales are going down and you’re feeling good. Then all of a sudden, you stop losing weight and hit a fitness, health and weight loss plateau. It’s as if someone has put the breaks on all your hard work.
So, what is a weight loss plateau, and why do they happen? “The body likes to be stable, and doesn’t like losing weight,” explains nutritionist Susie Burrell. “We know that once it has lost weight it works better, but to the body, weight loss is perceived as a negative energy state and, as a result, it will do everything it can to halt this loss,” and that means a weight loss plateau.
The struggle of the weight loss plateau – you’re not alone
If you’re in a rut with your exercise routine (or it is simply non-existent at the moment), then you’re not alone. Many of us go through different phases with exercise and enjoy it at different times, but find it a struggle at other times. And because how we feel about it can change, as well as our lives and commitments change, our motivation will change over time too.
So here are some of the easy, simple and basic ways that you can help yourself to stay motivated to exercise. When you find what works for you (and it can be slightly different from time to time), then it is a good idea to stick with it.
Step #1: Start off slowly
What’s changed and what could change? Have you been doing the same thing, day in and day out and have stopped seeing results? Have you ever thought to yourself that you’re going to go out for a run, then get half-way down the street and you’re gasping for breath, so you turn around and head back home?
If that sounds like you, then perhaps you’re trying to be too ambitious, and you’ve ended up unmotivated. Time to shake things up! Try something new; start off slowly, perhaps a new healthy activity, a couple of times a week, and go at a pace that is sustainable for you right now. You can build up your confidence over time.
Step #2” Make yourself do it
Let’s face it; making yourself exercise when you really don’t want to can be tough. We all suffer from low motivation sometimes. But there is a saying, “no-one ever regrets a workout.” But you might just regret the workouts that you didn’t do – particularly when the scales don’t budge. So have that saying in mind, and force yourself to workout, even when you don’t really want to.
How can you do this? Commit to your workouts 100%. Set a calendar reminder, pack your gym gear the day before, or get together with a friend to exercise to keep yourself accountable.
Step #3: Get some snazzy new gear
Hey, you deserve it! Having gorgeous new workout gear and a decent set of scales (you might want to read my post To Weigh Every Day or Not? My Love/Hate Relationship with the Scale) and treat yourself to some music that you love.
If you want to feel good and be a little bit more motivated to workout, then the right gear can help you. Whether it is some new training shoes, gym leggings, or some activity tracker accessories from somewhere like Mobile Mob, it is all good. The cost of buying the new items can be motivation enough to use them, so that you get your money’s worth!
Step #4: Set a crystal-clear goal
Don’t make it vague – make your goal specific! If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau it’s now time to get tough with yourself. Setting a goal will give you something to work towards with your training. So that can be a really good idea.
You might feel like signing up yourself for a 5K race, or maybe you’re wanting to lose 2 inches off your waist, or drop a certain number of pounds or kilos by a specific date. Goal setting will help to get you exercising, as well as focus your exercise. There is nothing worse than getting to the gym to do the same old thing, especially if they’re not the things that will help you to be where you want to be – and that’s what could be causing your weight loss plateau in the first place.
Step #5: HIIT It Up!
HIIT is high intensity interval training, and it can be a great idea if justifying long stretches of time to exercise is hard for you. It is characterised by short and fast sequences of exercise that raise your heart rate, make you sweat, and will get your metabolism revved up.
HIIT could be twenty second sprints on a treadmill, with ten seconds rest, repeated for five minutes. It will only be five minutes but you’ll be feeling the effects of it afterwards. Check out HIIT classes at your local gym or read up on it and put together your own workouts.
Get over a weight loss plateau by focusing on your diet
Try these diet ideas from Body + Soul ideas for extra motivation:
- Increase your calories just slightly, say 100-200 calories extra each day
- Increase the size of your breakfast or lunch
- Keep your diet very strict during the first half of the week and then relax it a little over the weekend Eat breakfast earlier (the earlier the better)
- Alternate the size of your breakfasts to keep your body guessing
- Enjoy spicy food to get your metabolism revving!