The weight loss plateau is inevitable at some point in this journey. There are many factors that can account for plateaus in weight loss, but here are a few things you can do to help get back on track:
1. Change up your exercise routine. Our bodies become complacent with exercise. Eventually, tasks that were very difficult don’t produce the same level of effort. Sometimes this means increasing the intensity in cardiovascular activities, increasing weight or the number of reps with strength training or changing up the activity altogether.
2. Increasing your calorie intake. This seems counterintuitive, but can be just the thing to jumpstart your system. When we get closer to our setpoint weight, our body is more reluctant to let go of those last few pounds. By slightly decreasing the calorie deficit, our body is able to let go of weight because it does not think it is starving and in need of conservation. To lose one pound per week, you need a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. By decreasing the deficit to 200 or 300 per day, your weight loss will be more gradual, but easier for your body to continue.
3. Check any emotional or mindless eating. There are so many times when we graze or mindlessly eat and end up consuming more than we recognize. For example, on a Saturday, you take a trip to Costco and end up sampling all of the goodies. If you aren’t careful, that can easily add up to the amount of calories in a meal. Being mindful of our eating and only eating when physically hungry can dramatically decrease unintended calorie consumption.
4. Sleep. If you aren’t currently getting at least 7 hours (on average for most people) per night, this can be an overlooked saboteur. Sleep affects weight loss in several ways. Hormone regulation occurs during sleep and when we do not get enough sleep, our hormones are imbalanced. Primarily, we have more ghrelin which stimulates hunger and less leptin which regulates body fat. In addition, sleep deprivation can create insulin insensitivity causing excess glucose to build in the bloodstream and set the stage for diabetes.