Have you ever been dieting then gone through a period where you stayed at the same weight? Even though you have followed the program? Sometimes we stay the same weight for a few weeks and even put a little back on.
In the early stages of your diet, it is easy to lose weight, the pounds seem for fall off even if you ‘cheat a little’
The new diet is such a shock to the system, with the absence of binges and snacking.
After a while what tends to happen is that the body adjusts to the lower calorie intake, the metabolism might slow, or the body will use the food more efficiently. Also, it is normal for you to become less strict with the rules.
For example, you might drink more calories, or forget the number of times you have had a dessert, or a chocolate bar during the past week.
The only way to avoid ‘cheat food creep’, where you gradually relax the rules of the diet is to keep meticulous notes. This is hard to maintain, and boring.
In the early stages of a diet there are many rewards, finding that old clothes fit again, or receiving positive comments from friends and family. When you are getting regular positive feedback, it is easier to stay strong when temptation comes your way.
Another reason for hitting a plateau is psychological
We underestimate how fat we really are because of denial. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, and the charts say you should be 140 pounds, it is likely that you think that your correct weight should be 170 pounds. There could be various reasons for this:
- Thinking that you are 60 pounds’ overweight seems ridiculous, after all you can still see your hips or ribs, right?
- You have NEVER been 140 pounds…. Well, not since you were 11 years old.
- People tell you that you are not really fat, just ‘heavily built’. How could you be 60 pounds’ overweight?
- Losing 60 pounds seems totally impossible. Let’s be REALISTIC!
I’m sure there will be other types of self-limiting belief chatter in your head from time to time, but you get the idea.
I have done exactly this for all my adult life, until recently.
My target weight at the beginning of each diet was 220 pounds. I thought that the 165-185-pound ideal bracket was ridiculous, unobtainable and unrealistic for a ‘stocky guy like me’.
So, what happened each time I got to 220 pounds(ish)?
2 things happened, I relaxed in my efforts… Then bounced right back to 240-250 pounds!
As I write this I am 210 pounds, and I can easily grab a big role of flab from around my waist. I still have a ‘double chin’ and ‘love handles’… (Strange terms, I hate them!)
So, after being stuck just below 220 pounds for almost 2 months, I realize that the 220 involved an old mental block. The next one will be at 200 pounds.
Because it is a round figure? Or because I haven’t weighed less than 200 pounds since I was about 13 years old!
Wow, I was seriously overweight as a child. I wish I knew then what I know now…
So, as you are losing weight, expect plateaus. For whatever reason, be it physiological or psychological it doesn’t matter.
So, how do we overcome the plateau problem? Probably the main reason for diet abandonment?
…It is simple …We never ‘go on a diet’ ever again.
We change our diet, for the long term… For the rest of our lives
If we want to lose the weight, then keep it off permanently then we must make life changes.
If you need to lose 100 pounds permanently but in the short term you lose 30 pounds then plateau for 2 months, what position are you in? A great one.
In the context of another 10, 20, or 50 years of life, does a 2-month plateau really matter? Of course, not.
The worst thing you can do is abandon your goal of health and vitality and go back to unhealthy eating.
The second-best thing to do would be nothing, stay on the plateau and consolidate your new body and identity.
The best thing would be to go back to basics, reevaluate your diet, consider a new physical activity, and go back to keeping accurate records of weight and food intake.
In the context of the rest of your life, celebrate a plateau as a chance for you to get used to your new body, and start preparing for an even better life still.
Remember than you are becoming a new and improved version of yourself. It might take some time to get used to, the plateau could be a form of subconscious sabotage. That might sound crazy, but if you have a fear of the opposite sex, or binge eat as a form of self-destruction, the plateau could be happening for reasons that you might not have thought of.
Celebrate your plateau as a time of consolidation, and regrouping of your efforts. In the context of the rest of your life, a short-term plateau is absolutely fine.