I stepped on the scale and it said the same number it had said for weeks. What in the world was happening? I knew I had reached the dreaded plateau, but overcoming weight loss plateau was something that I (at the time) had no clue where to start to fix it.
Eventually I did overcome that weight loss plateau to make it to where I am today. However, at the time, I had no idea where to start and I was completely lost.
Logging onto Pinterest just gave me confusing information and everything seemed to be a gimmick and NOBODY seemed to know what they were talking about.
Now that I know what I’m talking about and I’ve got the certificates to prove it, I’ve made it my mission to tell women the truth.
That there are better ways to lose weight and to reach your fitness goals. That includes not living in extreme calorie deficits as well.
There are many reasons for reaching a plateau and sometimes they are unavoidable. However, one of the biggest things in a weight loss plan is periodizing your diet, your NEAT levels (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), your sleep, and stress levels.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Overcoming Weight Loss Plateau – Periodizing Your Diet
One thing that I am a HUGE fan of is flexible dieting. That messaging has never changed. The beauty of flexible dieting is that you can flexible diet while trying to lose weight, and then when you’re in maintenance phase.
Let’s dig deeper on this though…
When we are working to lose weight, we have to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. It’s a non-negotiable piece of the puzzle.
However, when we have been in a calorie deficit for so long, our body starts to make metabolic adaptions to that level of calories. No, there’s no such thing as a “ruined metabolism”.
Our bodies are super smart and they adapt to the conditions they’re in. It’s that simple.
Quick tip – if you are not counting your calories, and I mean actually measuring and counting, you need to start doing that immediately.
We eat way more calories than we realize, so make sure that you are counting those calories to know exactly where you are.
Okay! Back to topic at hand of periodizing your deficits by showing you an example [this is strictly an example!]:
- Weeks 1-4 be at a 20-25% deficit of your baseline calories (which can be figured here)
- Weeks 5-8 be at a 30% or so deficit
- Week 9 – Return to baseline calories
- Weeks 10-13 be at a 35% deficit
- Week 14 -> Return to baseline calories
- Weeks 15-18 be at a 20-25% deficit
….See what I mean? Periodizing it.
Now, once you reach your goal weight, you don’t need to be in a calorie deficit anymore, so you will need to work your calories slowly back up.
If you have been in a deficit for months on end and haven’t been at baseline, it’s possible that your metabolism is becoming efficient at that deficit level. Which is why you slowly refeed for awhile.
That was a lot of info- go back and read again if needed!
Overcoming Weight Loss Plateau – NEAT Levels
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
To which you probably say, “yeah, that doesn’t help. Try again”
NEAT is just what it says, it’s our movement that is non-exercise related. It’s the steps you take (hence step goals), it’s the turning of my head over my shoulder to look at my office door when my husband or son walks in the room.
It’s me spotting and coaching clients in the gym during their sessions. It’s you bending down to pick up your baby or fixing lunch for your daughter.
See what I mean?
We are not meant to be couch potatoes. Every single movement burns calories and keeps us active.
That’s why I preach that healthy living is a lifestyle. It’s not just about your overall diet and gym workouts, it’s everything in between. All the movements and non-movements in between.
Bottom line? Get up and MOVE!
You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in your journey to simply move.
Track your steps. Look to see how many steps you take over the course of several days. Then, make a goal based off of that number.
Example- if you’re reaching 6,000 steps per day, then make a goal of 8,000 steps, then after a month or two of consistent 8,000 steps, increase to 10,000.
Create success for yourself. Learn your body and your lifestyle and live it.
Overcoming Weight Loss Plateau – Sleep
You might be at a plateau because your sleep may not be quality sleep.
Having young kiddos, I know how hard it is to get quality sleep. BELIEVE ME I know how hard it is. My child didn’t sleep for the first 2+ years of his life.
I totally get it.
There were days that I was so sleep deprived that I had to nap with him. Both morning AND afternoon.
It is what it is, right?
Start by really working to get yourself and your family on a bedtime routine. We are meant to sleep at night and we are not meant to work around the clock.
I’m looking at you, mama who thinks she has to wash every single dish every single day after her kiddos go to bed; then get up before dawn’s crack shows her bright rays the next morning.
Slow down and get some rest.
Believe me when I say I’m totally talking to myself on this, too! I have to really work on getting a proper bedtime routine in and getting quality sleep.
Because my days start between 4 and 5AM and I go to bed between 9 and 10PM at night. So, my sleep has to be top notch to stay healthy and strong.
Overcoming Weight Loss Plateau – Stress Levels
The stress hormone in our bodies is called cortisol and while cortisol in small amounts is a good thing because it helps burn calories. (It is produced when you’re working out in the gym). Too much cortisol can lead to cravings which can lead to binge eating or overeating.
Which is why it’s SO important to count your calories. Both during weight loss and maintain phase.
Because, when you’re having cravings, which, is what too much cortisol can do, it can turn into either stress eating, or little bites of things here and there that add up to way more than you thought!
As you can see, there’s many options as to why you have hit a plateau.
Your lifestyle does not begin and end in the gym. Nor does it begin and end with what you eat although both of those are huge parts of it!
There are so many factors that go into this journey that is called “weight loss” and healthy living.
Being at a weight loss plateau, I would suggest starting with one of these four things, then working your way down the list.
Here’s what I mean…
Start with number one and check your calories and count them and make sure that you’re RIGHT on track with those. Use MyFitnessPal or something like that. It’s free and super easy to use.
Then, start working on increasing your steps every single day and going to bed at a decent time with a solid routine.
Then, start removing stressors from your life that can be removed. Learn to say no to people to make room for the priorities in your life.
Here’s the deal.
These four things are the top things I have found as a coach that effect weight/fat loss.
Going through these four things will take time, effort, and paying attention. You cannot expect immediate results.
I recommend grabbing a journal and writing down your thoughts each day. Just a few lines on how you feel and the small successes that you achieved that day.
You’ve totally got this mama.
This is a rough journey. Especially with kiddos, believe me. I know. I’ve been right where you are.
I can tell you this. It was worth every single hard day, and the plateau and the drama of learning new things.
This journey isn’t about being as skinny as possible. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin and being a strong mama who’s an awesome example of healthy living to her kiddos.