Can’t lose weight cos you’re on a plateau?  Do you feel that plateaus hinder weight loss? I’ve found myself at this point many times in my fitness journey.  Why does that happen and what can we do to break the weight loss plateau?  Well, for starters, men tend to lose weight faster than women becos they have more lean muscle thankx to testosterone levels.  Women’s bodies were made for reproduction so we have that little ‘extra’ cushion to help with that process.  Muscle tends to burn fat and that’s why strength training to build muscle is encouraged.  We are all built differently and store fat in different places.  Men store fat in the abdominal area (apple shape) and women store fat in the hips and thighs (pear shape) which is harder to lose.  Some people have more to lose than others so in the beginning the more you weigh, the harder it is to move – e.g. walking with an extra 45 pounds takes more energy than walking with an extra 15 pounds.  There are also factors such as age and body types…older people have hormonal changes, maybe less muscle mass or they’re physically less active.  Also genetics, medical conditions and medications play a role on how we react to weight loss.

I was on a plateau for a long time (over the big picture of time).  I found that these 3 reasons kept me from losing weight at different times.

1.  My numbers weren’t right.  A pound of fat equals 3500 calories of stored energy.  Many people think they’re burning more calories than they are, or think that they’re not eating as much as they are – or a combination of both.  Lots of times I realized that I was not burning more calories than I was consuming.  I had to go thru a period of tracking my calories to see exactly what I was taking in as opposed to using up.  I would also get off my plateau when I increased my activity level.
2.  Excess muscle loss.  Weight loss is a combination of fat and muscle loss.  At one time, I didn’t like strength training very much.  I would do more cardio exercises than strength training.  So I wasn’t building muscle to help burn more calories. (Note:  I am now a believer that muscle burns fat and work out with my weights and/or bands 2 to 3 times a week.)
3.  What we eat matters, not just how much we eat.  This was a biggie for me.  I love carbs – pasta, sweets, refined grains – simple carbs that can lead to increased appetite and cravings for more high sugar foods.  I wasn’t eating enough fruit and veggies, nor protein.  At least not enough to balance out the amount of carbs I was ingesting.  Thankfully, I have learned how to balance things out and I don’t indulge in the stuff I used to love so much anymore.  I changed what I ate and I do not have cravings….except for pasta.  I haven’t beaten that one yet.  The good news is I eat the healthy versions (wheat instead of white) most of the time.

I think we all find ourselves on a plateau every so often.  It’s a fact of fitness life.  But if we change something up, tweak some area of our lifestyle – get more active or change up our workout routines and burn more calories, eat less (for a calorie deficit) or consume better nutrition-filled foods – then we can get back on track and reach our goals.  So don’t think you can’t lose weight cos you’re on a plateau.  You just have to find the way to get off of it that will work for you!

Have a good one!  🙂

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2 Responses to “Plateaus Hinder Weight Loss”

  1. BJ Allen January 5, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    I’ve been in “Maintenance” mode for years now…never really gaining or losing more than 2-3 pounds from my set point. I think I will be GREAT at maintenance once I reach my goal weight!

    But, another key is to remember that weight is only one measure of fitness, and strength and endurance play a critical role in our well-being.

    As the old gospel song says, “You don’t have to move that mountain, just show me the way around it…” In this case, keep working to find the way around your plateau and by applying good habits, you will indeed get there. :0)

  2. Carey January 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Great post. I have hit many plateaus in my fitness journey so I have seen all of this. Just like the concept of muscle confusion our digestion system needs a change every now and then as well.

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