I wish I could say that my healthy eating regimen has been wildly successful, but the fact is — my weight loss has stalled. I’ve hit the proverbial plateau. Getting past the plateau and restarting the weight loss is a challenge, but I feel as if an honest update of my progress is in order.
I’m not going hungry, I’m not pursuing any kind of crazy eating or not eating at all. And I’m not pursuing a crazy exercise scheme either. Sure, my weight loss plan is all about slow and steady, but… If the plateau continues I worry that I will lose motivation to persevere.
Then again, by viewing healthy eating and moderate exercise as a lifestyle, I’m just living, right? And also, perhaps, “living right.”
Straying From Good Eating Habits
Ah, the cursed plateau. It does undermine one’s resolve, now doesn’t it.
Frustrated by that fact and spurred by fatigue — I worked three very long days and nights in succession — about a week ago I gave way to mindless munching.
The good news? I wasn’t eating junk food.
The bad news? I quickly bounced up 2 pounds. I know. It could’ve been worse. Reigning myself in, I dropped them as soon as I kicked the Eating Devil off my shoulder and gave his space to my better angels.
I also recognize that the only reason I’m making headway at all is due to a resumption of 20 to 30 minutes of walking nearly daily. I still have pain from a heel injury, but it’s sufficiently improved that I’m able to do those crucial minutes. And oh, what a pleasure for my spirit!
And it seems to be helping to tighten a few areas.
But the plateau?
I’m ready to tear my hair out!
The Weight Loss Plateau
So how do we deal with the dreaded plateau?
The Mayo Clinic explains the diet plateau as follows:
During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part, this is because when you cut calories, the body gets needed energy initially by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver… This effect is temporary, however…. As you lose weight, you lose some muscle along with fat. Muscle helps keep the rate at which you burn calories (metabolism) up. So as you lose weight, your metabolism declines, causing you to burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight.
Your slower metabolism will slow your weight loss… When the calories you burn equal the calories you eat, you reach a plateau.
OK then! Now what?
Of course I’ve been here before although it’s been a number of years. Once upon a time I was significantly more overweight and it took many months to lose many pounds, and that did require patience. Then again, the last 30 pounds of that were spurred on by what some may think of as The Divorce Diet. Extraordinary stress made eating anything nearly impossible.
How to Get Past the Plateau?
The Mayo Clinic puts it succinctly:
To lose more weight, you need to either increase your physical activity or decrease the calories you eat.
So I can eat as I’m eating now and walk as I’m walking now, and the result will be that I maintain. While maintaining at this size is far better than being the size I was a month or more ago it’s just not good enough.
That’s a better option, though it remains problematic until my heel is entirely better and even then, as is the case for many of us, only some avenues are possible or reasonable for me to pursue.
So is this where determination comes in? Determination not to lose sight of goals? Determination to focus on the positives? Reminding myself that I can now breathe and sit down in the jeans I could barely close 6 weeks ago?
Another Look at What We Eat and When
I am also considering a closer look at exactly what I eat and when, though I’m already consuming plenty of healthy salads, veggies, fruits and yogurt.
My non-diet diet of healthy eating is, I believe, pretty good. Now I don’t just say that because my son has been cooking some awesome meals — Pop by Instagram and see for yourself — and I’ve been very careful about portion control when he does. I make a point of savoring without overindulging.
Moreover, when he’s doing the cooking we tend to dine at 5 o’clock, which allows plenty of time for digesting, then walking in the evening if I like.
What I find I cannot do is to eliminate the enjoyment of eating by so restricting my consumption that one of life’s great pleasures (and privileges?) is set aside. That includes denying both flavors and aesthetics, and proper nutrition I take as a given.
When I have eliminated diversity from my diet in the past, it has always led to the blues not to mention a predictable cycle of yo-yo dieting.
Tips for Myself
As for tips to get past this plateau, here’s what I’m telling myself.
- Don’t give up!
- Stay motivated (visiting my closet helps; pictures help)
- Kick up the exercise if and when I can
I’m also reminding myself that not to gain is in itself a win. This is especially true when you’re putting in long hours and not sleeping enough as we all know that sleep deprivation leads to additional snacking and hanging onto weight. Besides that, I’ve turned to smoothies when I want something sweet (watching my portions), and I request a more unusual (satisfying) meal of my son when my palate and my eyes are dying for something different. Hence the veggies, the skillet, and the homemade fried rice.
Roughly 6 Weeks In, And…
So here I am, roughly 6 weeks into this process. When I sleep more, I do better. When I walk more, I do better. When I eat well and healthy foods, I like myself more no matter the weight loss result — I feel as if I’m treating my body with respect.
I’m holding steady at a particular weight where I am still not myself, with roughly 12 pounds to lose before I feel like the “me” I am comfortable with. However, I’ve re-established a healthy eating habit and I am fully aware that not gaining is a win.
How do you handle prolonged plateaus when you diet or non-diet? Do you change up the schedule, the food, the exercise? What do you tell yourself so you don’t give up?
Enjoy more of the Makeover Series here.
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