You are busting your butt, eating SUPER healthy and “clean”, and your weight isn’t budging or it’s even going up. You panic, you stress, and you feel lost.
Have no fear, there are many different reasons why what is happening is happening. The following are some of the most common issues associated with a plateau, or even weight gain during a weight loss goal. Some are positive issues, some that might be creeping in and hurting your goals, and some are just blatant sabotage.
You are gaining muscle. This tends to be one of the “go-to” responses when people aren’t losing weight. “Oh, I must just be gaining muscle”. You might. Or you might be using that as a cop out. Are you gaining strength? Are your clothes still getting looser, but the scale isn’t budging? Then you might just be gaining muscle. If you are lifting heavy weights, and improving strength on a steady basis, muscle gains should be happening. If your jeans feel tighter around the waist, that isn’t from getting “too bulky of abs” – sorry.
Be sure you are still being honest with yourself first, with your food and drink intake, your sleep habits, and water intake. These can all lead to weight gains that don’t equal muscle gains.
Another reason you hit a plateau might be – just because. Weight loss plateaus happen, and the more weight you lose, the longer they actually can get. In some sense, isn’t reaching your goal weight essentially hitting a long plateau? You may just need to work on tweaking some habits within your plateau and practice maintaining that weight for a little while.
Example: When I got up to my peak weight of 260 lbs. and decided to lose it, I lost 30 pounds pretty quick. I then maintained 230 for about a year, before deciding that I wanted to lose more. I then worked on losing an additional 20 pounds over the course of a year and some change. The point being, weight loss doesn’t always happen fast, or steadily – and if you can focus on creating good habits within your plateaus, you can set yourself up for the day when you decide to take the next step down 20 pounds, and it will be much easier.
Lastly – not necessarily good, but lacking another place to put this one – ladies, beware of water weight gain during your menstrual cycle. This is normal, and is not a real plateau or gain. Omit any results that occur during this time and don’t stress over it.
You have let your old habits creep back in. When you started out, you tracked everything, you said no to that extra serving of pasta, and you passed on desserts – except for on holidays. Now that you have lost some weight, and people have been complimenting you on your new figure, you suppose you could have a little extra bite here, and a little extra cookie there, and man does a REAL coke sound good for once.
The thing is, the habits that you created to get you to your current state, are the habits that will keep you going and progressing. Those little extra bites add up. Think about sample day at the grocery store, or Costco…
…Random Rant Alert: I cant stand when it is sample day at Costco, and people stand around the sample stands just waiting for more samples to come out. Seriously, they stand there for 3 minutes, just to get a free 1/2 of a bagel pizza bite. They flock to the sample stands like hoards of vultures…just lurking for a free bite, while some of us are trying to shop as fast as possible and get out of there…
…sorry, back to the point. You walk through the grocery isles eating a bite here, and a bite there…well those little samples could easily add up to 200, 300, or 400+ calories. Depending on your goal intake, that could be a whole extra meals worth of junk calories!
I recommend sitting down and thinking about the habits you formed while losing your initial weight. Ask yourself – are you still doing those things? Maybe you will realize that you have gotten a little more lax in your health habits. Get back to doing what you did before, and see if the weight starts coming off again. If it does, you may need to adjust your caloric intake. You shouldn’t need to cut out a ton of calories, but even reducing your goal intake by 100-200 calories might be all you need.
Complete non-adherence. Sometimes you need to be honest with yourself first and foremost. You need to take a huge step back and think about they things you have been doing, eating, and not doing lately that could be leading to your weight re-gain. I’m not trying to shame here, but looking at this realistically.
Maybe you are going through a stressful time and aren’t as active throughout the day, or completely lost track of your diet tracking or intuitive eating strategies.
You need to be honest with yourself – not your coach, trainer, dietitian, etc. You can tell them whatever you want and it won’t change the fact that you are lying to yourself and sabotaging your diet.
This happens to the best of us, and the best thing you can do here is to take a deep breath, re-assess your goals, and get on with it. We all screw up, and playing the poor-me card won’t help you get any closer. Talk with your support system (family, friends, trainer, etc.) and let them know that you just fell off plan completely, and are ready to get back at it. The sooner the better.
Look at why you started in the first place. Ask yourself why again. And again. Dig deep and find the deeper rooted reasons and keep those in mind when starting back up, and keep them around for those days you just don’t feel like doing yourself justice.
Stay healthy my friends,