So I opened up two different women’s health magazines last week and both had articles addressing “weight plateau”. Obviously this is a high concern among women and something I want to shed some light on. I will highlight some things I did not read in the articles and expand on some things that were addressed.
When you are first starting an exercise or diet program your body typically responds quickly and pounds come off quickly. With the exercise and limited caloric intake, your body is relying on energy from glycogen (sugar) stored in muscles and the liver. “Glycogen is partly made up of water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it releases water resulting in weight loss that is mostly water” *
So...those initial 5 or 10 pounds of weight loss are glycogen and water. “For every gram of glycogen stored, you store anywhere from 3-4 grams of water with it”.* That is the very quick, and not so scientific explanation of “ you are just losing water weight”. So, your body is using the “sugars” first for energy and burning those off but....you have to get to the fat stores! Burning the fat takes more time and patience!
So let’s assume you have gotten over that initial “quick” weight loss period and have continued to exercise regularly and eat healthy BUT you have plateaued. You have not reached your ideal healthy weight and you are frustrated. Don’t give up! Just make some adjustments.
When you lose weight you lose muscle along with fat. Muscle helps sustain that high metabolism - so you burn calories more efficiently. So add more strength training to your program to increase muscle mass. Remember from one of my previous blogs - don’t be afraid of heavy weights! You will not get “huge”. You will build that muscle necessary to increase your metabolism and ultimately burn more calories throughout the day.
I have had people tell me they don’t understand why they can’t lose weight. They tell me they run 3 miles a day and eat healthy but are not shedding those unwanted pounds. Well, when you continue with the same exercise program day after day and don’t “trick” your body, your weight plateaus. When your workout routine plateaus - so do you. In addition to adding strength training, add HIIT (high intensity interval training) into your routine. Or simply add more miles or time onto that run! Do more! Challenge your body! Finally, just do more throughout the day. Move more - take the stairs, walk around while talking on the phone, get up from that chair and do squats. Moving burns calories!
Now, it is also important to address diet. I truly don’t like the simplicity of “calories in should not exceed calories burned” Yes, there is truth to that but you need to focus on what calories you are taking in. Yes, when trying to lose weight you should limit your calories but that doesn’t mean just one meal a day or no carbs or some crazy, unrealistic diet. It might be that you need to be more mindful of what and when you eat. Limit the mindless snacking (that is my biggest problem). Be present when you eat! Slow down and enjoy the meal. Add more protein into your diet. Add the good fats to your meal - such as avocado, nuts, seeds, good healthy oils. Make sure you are eating breakfast - such as a smoothie loaded with fruits and vegetables and a good protein powder. I know keeping a food journal is an excellent way of keeping track of your calories and again, being more mindful about how you fuel your body. Finally, drink more water! Often times we think we are hungry but our bodies are dehydrated.
If you feel you are following a good healthy diet and exercise routine and still not losing those necessary pounds, consult your doctor about a possible hormonal imbalance or thyroid problem.
Keep at it!