Weight Loss Plateau : A Nightmare
By Heleen Woest
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If you have struggled with your weight, you will be very familiar with the dreaded weight loss plateau. Let’s face it, a plateau is no fun, especially if it goes on for a while. Unfortunately I know what I’m talking about, some of my weight loss plateaus and those of the ladies in my support groups went on for months at a time!
There is good news though: The times I sharpened my CONSISTENCY with my exercise, healthy eating, and making time for God, I came out of it and started loosing weight again. The other times when I caved under the pressure and turned again to diet pills, laxatives or other dangerous methods, I sank back into the dark pit of despair without loosing weight anyway. It’s not worth it! If there is one thing we can learn from this struggle then it is to wait patiently on our God and let Him restore our bodies in the way He knows best.
Don’t get me wrong: Waiting is not always the answer. The weight loss plateau might have been caused by a physiological problem, a lack of knowledge or just plain denial. You might seriously not know that your portions are too big or that it’s not okay to graze the whole day long, but most of us really knows.
If the reason for your weight loss plateau lies in a lack of consistency then you probably know it. Please be assured that I am not accusing you at all. I have gone both ways: There were times when I just knew that I wasn’t doing what God was asking of me, but there were also those times when I knew that I did everything I possibly could. In these times I had to learn to trust and wait.
Does that mean that following a healthy eating plan, getting some exercise, staying away from diets and dangerous methods and praying will ward off a weight loss plateau forever? No, unfortunately not. Even if you are doing all the “right things” you can still hit the dreaded plateau. Part of it is your body’s way to stay healthy, as too much weight loss too fast is very unhealthy and causes serious health problems.
However, the important difference between hitting a weight loss plateau on a restrictive diet as opposed to a healthy eating plan lies in the fact that you are much more likely to ride out the plateau and continue loosing weight on a program such as Weight Watchers or First Place than on a restrictive diet such as a low carb diet. When you have deprived your body from certain substances and you stop loosing weight, chances are good that you will start binging on the very thing you have deprived yourself from.
A verse that meant a lot to me in my struggle with “the dreaded plateau” is found in Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
You might be baffled by this pause in your weight loss, but God isn’t. Don’t panic and take another dangerous detour. The short cut to freedom is to ask God, He is eager to talk to you.
I am going to supply you with a list of things that might contribute to your weight loss plateau, but before you start tweaking anything, keep in mind that putting a few good things in place is not the same as turning to a dangerous method. If you are suffering form an Eating Disorder then the thoughts of following some extreme diet or getting a hold of diet pills might have gone through your mind already. Please don’t do it, that road is a dead end and you know it.
So here is a list of things to try and change if you hit a weight loss plateau. My advise is to change it one at a time, so that you will know for the future what affects your body’s ability to lose weight.
If the list below doesn’t supply you with the answer you’re looking for then you might need additional help and daily encouragement to overcome your struggle with food. Please have a look at my 12 Week Online Program to help you stop binge eating or find out how to stop overeating.
- CHECK FOR HIDDEN SOURCES OF SUGAR and FAT- Never just assume that something is good or healthy before you didn’t look at the sugar and fat content on the label. It is very important to read labels. People genuinely still believe that any sausage is okay even though some of those have more than 20g of fat. People also assume that sweetened cereal is healthy, but some cereals has more sugar than doughnuts. CHECK!
- EATING TOO LITTLE OR TOO MUCH CAN BE A PROBLEM – Tiny portions without plenty of fruit and vegetables to go with it can cause your metabolism to go into “starvation mode”. You want your metabolism to speed up, not slow down. So eat enough food low in sugar and fat.
- ARE YOU EATING SIX SMALL MEALS OR SNACKS A DAY – Research has shown that six small meals a day are better than 3 large meals especially when you need more energy or want to lose weight.
- CUTTING SUGAR AND WHITE FLOUR – Now this is not easy, but if you have an “addiction” going surrounding white flour and sugar then you might still be sneaking it in everywhere and binge on these late at night or certain times of the day. This will sabotage your weight loss effort for sure. Important: Omiting the above substances from your diet must be done gradually, replacing refined white flour items with grainy ones as you go along and sugar with fruit or it can cause binging.
- CHECK YOUR MINERAL BALANCE and POTASSIUM LEVELS – Talk to you doctor about the possibility of a mineral imbalance or a potassium shortage. There are also over the counter supplements that you can take if you suspect this to be the culprit, but first confirm this with your physician.
- TRY TO EXERCISE MORE – Exercise is a very important part of weight loss and it can definitely help you get out of a weight loss plateau. However, your body might be in a rut and you might have to do different exercise not necessarily more: Spice it up, if you have always walked on the treadmill it might be time to give the stationary bike a go or to speed it up and start jogging for a few minutes a day in between walking. It is in fact always a good idea to mix up your exercise routine or have some intervals. If you’re walking outside you might want to change your route every other day to include some hills or jog for short periods instead of just walking.
- WEIGHTS – Adding weights can give your metabolism that kick-start it might need to get out of the weight loss plateau. Use toning machines (found at fitness centers) or invest in some inexpensive small weights you can buy at sporting goods stores. Tip: Garage sales are a great place to find some light weights.
- FOOD ALLERGY – This is something you need to be tested for, but if you have been eating food that you are allergic to it could leave you feeling bloated, fatigued and irritable. All of these things will not benefit you in your weight loss plight but might in fact make you hit a weight loss plateau. Knowing which foods to avoid can help you.
- BEWARE OF TOO MUCH COFFEE OR TEA – Coffee, cola & tea with caffeine stimulate release of insulin with a temporary lift in energy followed by hunger, fatigue & slower weight loss.
- ALCOHOL – Alcohol stimulates insulin and can also make you hit a weight loss plateau
- IT MAY BE THE MEDICINES YOU ARE TAKING – Find out from your doctor if any of the drugs that you’re taking can interfere with weight loss and what you can do about it.
- TOO MUCH SALT- We all know that too much salt can cause water retention which might be mistaken for excess weight. However, too much salt is also very unhealthy and causes other health problems, so why not cut the salt, even if it’s not to blame for your weight loss plateau, it will benefit you.
- MEDICAL PROBLEMS – It is always good to check with your doctor. Get some blood work done to make sure you don’t’ have a low thyroid, a vitamin or mineral deficiency or another health issue that might prevent you from loosing weight.
- DRINK WATER – Too little water can be to blame for your weight loss plateau. Other drinks that contain caffeine can leave you dehydrated, but enough water especially before meals can help you distinguish between food hunger and water hunger. Lots of people are actually dehydrated most of the time because they eat when their bodies are really asking for water, something that can also cause unnecessary weight gain.
- EAT MORE PROTEIN : If you eat more lean protein it can curb your craving for refined sugars and carbs and indirectly improve your weight loss. Don’t cut out all carbs though, always follow a healthy balanced diet which includes healthy carbs such as grainy bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and oatmeal. Don’t fall for the temptation to fall for a dangerous method, it always backfires and in the end you are worse off.
- AVOID PROCESSED FOOD – Processed foods such as sauces, granola bars, and diet snacks contain sugar, which slows down your weight loss.
In my own life I found that as soon as I gave up a lot of coffee and tea, especially with added creamer and Splenda, the weight loss plateau would finally budge. So although there are a host of different opinions when it comes to sweetener especially the most popular one at the moment, Splenda, always be sure to test it and see if there might be a link to your weight loss plateau (everybody is different)
That said, most people don’t have some big problem. For most of us weight loss plateaus will come and go but only the consistent girls among us will make it. If none of the above applies to you, then you just have to keep doing what you’re doing and just wait it out.
It’s not easy, I know, but have a look at Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”
Important: This article is not applicable to you if you are suffering from Anorexia Nervosa. Your body is in starvation mode and what you’re experiencing is not a plateau but rather a serious warning sign: Your body is shutting down because of a lack of nutrition. Please get in touch with a doctor or psychologist as soon as possible, your life depends on it.
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