It never fails you are cruising along with your diet… doing fantastic, rocking every minute of your workouts, eating like a rockstar on the cover of a health magazine. You step on the scale ready to celebrate another loss…
Wait a minute?
WAIT A MINUTE?
I DIDN’T LOSE ANY WEIGHT?
That can’t be right, I’m doing everything right!!!
Uh the dreaded diet plateau. The moment in time when we stop losing weight.
I was really lucky that on my journey I didn’t hit my first plateau until 99 pounds. Yes you read that right, 99 pounds. Could I not have hit it at 100 pounds? All I wanted to do was hit that 100 to say I did it and every time I stepped on the scale….
99…99…99…wait maybe….nope 99.
This first plateau had such an effect on me. It was all I thought about. I became obsessed with weighing myself. Yes, me…the person who preaches to not weigh yourself everyday weighed myself everyday. Every. Single. Day.
Plateaus obviously make me exercise poor judgment.
But, finally, the scale moved and I lost the 100 pounds. Plateau busted.
After that plateau it seemed like no matter what I did I lost weight slower than 90’s internet. I used to lose at a solid 3-4 pounds a week. Now, I was losing 1 pound every 2-3 weeks. But I was eating better than I ever had and working out more than I did before. Ahhh…. It was incredibly frustrating.
Then around 104 pounds lost I hit my largest plateau. This wasn’t a plateau…this was a mountain. I could not lose any weight. Nope. It wasn’t budging. I went my longest streak without losing any weight.
All I could hear was my doctor’s voice in my head telling me that although I needed to lose another 20 pounds to be considered “normal” this was going to be really hard and “not likely”.
But after 18 days of no weight loss, I stepped on the scale in my normal “I’m in a plateau” fashion. What I mean is that I set the scale at 1 pound lower than my weight, then I would step on to see if the arrow would stay down. I didn’t want to know anything other than whether I beat the damn plateau. Every time I did that and the arrow flew up I knew I was still in the plateau. So I’d say a bad word under my breath to the scale and walk out.
Yes, I verbally assault scales during plateaus.
This week, I finally stepped on the scale and the arrow stayed down! And the best news of all, it didn’t just go down 1 pound, it went down 4.
Ha! Ha! Not today plateau.
Plateaus are really the annoying cousin of dieting. You have to deal with them, but no one likes them. They seriously suck.
I seriously want to punch plateaus in the face.
There are tons of articles and blog posts out there for what you can do physically to get past a plateau. So hop on Google and read to your heart’s content.
Frankly, I don’t care what is causing them or what I need to do to stop them. I just hate them. I don’t need to understand them, I just need to learn how to deal with them.
So, I wish I could give you some great advice about how to physically beat a plateau…but alas I’ll save that for the experts. I can however, give you some advice to avoid pulling your hair out during the process.
Accept the plateau for what it is, just a plateau. One thing I kept doing during each plateau was over analyzing them. “Are you eating too many carbs?” “Do you need to run another mile?” “Are you done losing weight?”. Stop over analyzing. A plateau is just a stopping point in your weight. Period. Don’t worry about anything more than that. If you do, you are just giving the plateau power to kill your hope.
They are not permanent. Standing in the Y bathroom the 4th time I weighed myself in 2 weeks and seeing the same number on the scale had me convinced that I had officially hit rock bottom weight. I didn’t. The scale eventually moved again. So keep reminding yourself that this too shall pass.
It could actually be a good thing. I know, I know, this is hard to believe, but sometimes a plateau could be a good thing for your body. Remind yourself that it could be a sign you are gaining more muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you could simply be losing fat and gaining muscle causing you to even out.
Take the scale out of the equation. I am a huge hypocrite typing this, because I swear during my last plateau I literally weighed myself everyday, even though I promised myself I wouldn’t and I got mad at myself every single time I stepped on. So hide the scale. Weigh yourself less. That way you don’t have to deal with the constant reminder that you are at a plateau. Resist the urge.
And if you can’t like me…then weigh yourself fast get off fast and move on.
See your progress. Sure your weight is at a plateau, but that is just a number. Try and find other ways you are progressing. You ran 2 miles without stopping! You attended an exercise class all alone! You got your 10,000 steps everyday this week! You bought a medium top!! You successfully avoided the donuts in the office break room. Celebrate everything! No progress is ever too small. See the good in what you are doing, and that will help drown out the damn voice telling you that the scale isn’t moving.
This is the perfect time to get out your before and after photos. Look at those all the time to remind you that the process is working!
Remind yourself it’s just a number: Weight is a number, it means nothing. In fact, when I started I hardly ever weighed myself. Instead I noticed sizing, my pants were getting big, etc. Trust me life was a lot happier when I wasn’t obsessed about the number on the scale, so try and remind yourself its just a number.
Find the Bright Side! People on a diet are so focused on the amount of weight they are losing, think instead about the amount of weight you are not gaining! So you are stuck at a plateau…at least you are maintaining the weight. That in itself is a success story.
The scale will move again! Repeat that to yourself over and over. The plateau will end. The weight will start to fall off again.
In other words, before you know it you will have punched that plateau in the face.