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Staying Positive During Weight Plateaus

Staying Positive During Weight Plateaus

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Woman smiling on a scale with arms raised looking at her weight

If you’ve never tried to lose weight, you might not understand the dreaded “weight plateau.” And it works both ways – people trying to gain weight, bulk up and add muscle, also face weight plateaus. But, today, we are focused on the weight loss plateau, a hurdle virtually every bariatric patient will experience along their journey.

The biggest issue with hitting a weight plateau is frustration. You become frustrated that you’re not losing weight fast enough though you continue to do the right things – the things your bariatric surgeon and nutritionist have advised you to do. You’re doing everything RIGHT! Why is the scale not moving down faster?

But, while we’re on the subject, let’s discuss a few reasons you could be experiencing a plateau. And touch upon some suggestions that could help you break through it.

Why You Might Be Plateauing

  1. Gym routine – are you getting enough activity or overworking your body? Are you getting enough protein? Depending on your fitness routine, you could even be losing muscle. Decreased muscle mass slows down your metabolism.
  2. Lack of sleep – your body needs sleep to recover and properly maintain its metabolic rate.
  3. Not getting enough nutritious calories – known as metabolic adaptability, you’re eating so little that your body instinctively tries to preserve every last calorie it takes in by slowing the metabolism.
  4. Have you lost a bit of focus and motivation in your planning? If so, get re-dedicated to tracking workouts and what you eat.
  5. Are you stressed or depressed? These emotional issues wear the body down and produce hormones that stunt weight loss progress.
  6. Is your mind set on unrealistic goals and progress? Have you allowed your mental state to control your physical progress? The mental toll of allowing your frustrations and assumed lack of progress to creep in, day after day, can get exhausting and could be a factor in stunting your progress.

Ideas to Bust Your Plateaus

  • Forget “cheat days” and give yourself some leeway amidst a strict fitness and diet program. Unless prohibited by your post-op plan, you don’t have to deprive yourself of everything you want. Just be mindful of how much you’re having. If you’re relatively close to surgery day, you likely won’t want to overeat anyway.
  • Start tracking your food intake to prioritize and modify as necessary. There are plenty of free or low-cost apps to track your eating. Most importantly, ensure that you complete your primary nutritional goals before indulging. You’ll find that indulgences are more satisfying with less volume and fewer calories.
  • Try intermittent fasting. There’s no correct answer to this, and you should work with your nutritionist or bariatric surgeon to understand what program is best for you. However, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve weight loss results or get you back on track if you’ve fallen off.
  • Restructure your weight training and cardio program. Make sure you understand the concept of losing muscle vs. losing fat. Working with a trainer or exercise physiologist is a great way to understand what’s behind your exercise program. Going to the gym and performing the same activities daily won’t cut it anymore.
  • Make sleep a priority. Whatever your daily schedule is, adapt it, so you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. But stay away from sleeping pills and other crutches. You may be doing more harm than good. Instead, work on the physical and mental impediments that may stop you from getting a good night’s sleep. And don’t forget that your bedding might be to blame too. Make sure you have the right equipment for proper sleep.
  • Get enough water. At least 64 ounces and up to 128 depending on activity levels and water loss. You should be well hydrated as it is the basis for achieving many of the goals listed above.

With all these things in mind, remember that you are likely doing the right things, and some minor modifications can go a long way. Continue to follow your post-op program and ask for help if you need it. Your mind is your true strength: stay focused and determined – the results you want to achieve will eventually be reached if you focus on the long-term outcome.

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