Pushing Past Plateaus
If you’ve been on your Center for Medical Weight Loss (CMWL) plan for a while, you may see your weight loss slowing a bit. While watching the pounds dropping off more slowly can be frustrating, it’s also normal: Many people on a weight loss plan will eventually experience the dreaded ‘plateau.’ The trick is to do some detective work to figure out how to help get the scale moving again.
Is It Really a Plateau?
First, you need to look at other measurements of progress beyond your weight to determine whether you’ve really reached a weight loss plateau. The beauty of the CMWL program is that your body composition is measured along with your body weight. So, if your weight loss seems stalled, look at the trend in your body fat percentage. If it is continuing to decrease, congratulations! This means you are losing fat even though your overall weight may be the same.
How to Beat a Weight Loss Stall
However, if both your body weight and body fat percentage are in a holding pattern, you may indeed be experiencing a bit of a plateau. Here are three pitfalls that can lead to this, plus how to get out of them:
- Lifestyle Lapses: Have you eased up a bit on the exercise? Done any late-night nibbling that you quickly forget about? It’s easy and common for once-vigilant habits to slack a bit after a couple months of relatively consistent weight loss. You may also find that your motivation is a bit lower: The initial high of starting a weight loss plan and shedding pounds quickly can be difficult to sustain over weeks and months. This is when shaking up your routine is really important. Trying a new activity, training for an athletic event, or doing a behavior-change challenge can all help. But first start with a reaffirmation of why you’re doing this: Go back to your list of reasons why losing the weight for good is important to you. Recommit yourself to these, and then find ways to keep your motivation high.
- Food Fatigue: Choosing the same foods over and over again can make it easy to overeat as your body searches for something novel to satisfy you. This is when you need to get more creative. Set aside one hour each week to rev up your meals. You could find at least two new recipes to try with ingredients you haven’t had in at least a month. Or choose one recipe with foods you like but don’t eat that much, and make the other one experimental, with new flavors or spices you haven’t tried.
- Metabolism Math: As you weigh less, you’ll end up needing fewer calories to maintain your lower body weight. And the more weight you’ve lost, the greater the impact. The good news? You can help counteract this by building more lean body mass through exercise.
As you gain more muscle, you may find your body weight initially doesn’t change (or may even go up) but you’ll look thinner – that’s because muscle is denser and takes up less space per pound compared to fat. You’ll probably also notice that your body composition measurements improve. You’ll look better and, over time, you’ll likely find that weight loss is easier because this lean body mass requires more calories to support it. This is also a great opportunity to use other measures beyond just pounds lost to gauge progress: If you’re weight training twice a week, you’re making an important investment in your health as well as your weight loss goals.