It’s funny how that tiny scale on the bathroom floor can make grown men and women quake with fear and break out into a cold sweat. Will it move? Will it not move? What strange forces influence the mystical movements of the body weight scale? And more importantly, why does it sometimes not budge no matter how hard you exercise? In today’s episode, you’ll learn how to exercise when you stop losing weight, why you may not lose weight with exercise, and how to exercise to get off a weight loss plateau.
Why You Stop Losing Weight
When it comes to exercise, there are generally 3 reasons why you stop losing weight:
Reason 1: Your body becomes accustomed to the demands you’re placing on it. When you perform a motion over and over again, you become more efficient at that motion, which means that you burn fewer calories doing it. For example, when you first step onto an elliptical trainer at the gym, you might huff and puff and barely make it through 10 minutes. But 8 weeks later, you can be cruising through a 45 minute elliptical trainer workout. The reason for this is that your muscles learn how to move in a way that introduces the least possible resistance to movement.
Though this would be quite handy if you were fighting for survival and in the wilderness chopping wood, it’s not so handy when you’re trying shed a quick 5 pounds and need to burn all the calories you possibly can. Whether your body is getting used to how much weight is on the barbell, how fast you’re walking, or how many times you bicycle during the week, physical adaptation is one of the top reasons for a plateau.
Excessive training and improper recovery can often cause a weight loss plateau.
Reason #2: You’re stressed. If you watch the Biggest Loser. you may have heard trainer Jillian Michaels mutter that someone isn’t losing weight because they’re “retaining fluids.” Both physical and emotional stress can play a role in fluid retention. From a physical standpoint, an increase in estrogen, decrease in progesterone, decrease in testosterone, or overstimulation of adrenal glands can cause fluid retention. In the article “How to Recover After A Workout”, I mention that excessive training and improper recovery can cause a weight loss plateau. That is because excessive training and improper recovery cause all those physical consequences I just mentioned. Furthermore, lack of sleep, soreness, tension and constant focus on exercise can also result in those same physical consequences.
Reason #3: Your diet is not ideal. As you probably know, there are a myriad of dietary and nutritional complexities that you must consider when attempting to lose weight. So I’ll keep this simple and leave the rest up to the Nutrition Diva . no amount of running on a treadmill is going to help you lose weight if you’re using it as an excuse to eat whatever you want. When it comes to your weight loss suddenly stopping, there’s just as much chance that
diet is involved as there is a chance that exercise is involved.
How to Get Off a Weight Loss Plateau
Now that you know how you got there in the first place, here are your three quick and dirty tips to getting off a weight loss plateau:Plateau-Busting Tip #1: Make changes that keep your body from adapting to the demands you place upon it. Here are some examples:
Change workout time from morning to evening, or vice versa.
In other words, begin throwing your body curveballs! The rule I give to the clients who I train is to never do the same “routine” for more than 4 weeks in a row.
Plateau-Busting Tip #2: De-stress. Often, the body can be nudged off a weight loss plateau by several days of good eating and very low amounts of exercise. Though this may seem counterintuitive, an overtrained or stressed body may simply need rest. I have personally witnessed dozens of clients “magically” begin to lose weight when the normal hard exercise routine and perfect diet was replaced with an easy morning walk and a few good cheat meals.
Plateau-Busting Tip #3: Begin writing down what you eat. Sometimes you don’t know that you’re making nutritional mistakes until they’re staring you in the face. Are you really eating five pieces of tiny candy by the time you leave the office at the end of the day? That’s an extra pound of fat each month. Did you quit drinking an afternoon protein shake and replace it with a snack bag of potato chips? That can be enough to make a difference. By writing down your diet, you can go back and correlate changes to see when you stopped losing weight. Trust me; it makes the detective work much easier.
Other Reasons for a Weight Loss Plateau
Finally, although it only happens on rare occasions, I’ll come across an individual who needs special treatments to actually begin losing weight again. Typically, this involves addressing a nutritional deficiency, like vitamin D, or a hormonal deficiency, such as testosterone or progesterone.
But these cases are fairly rare, and a weight loss plateau is typically the result of something far simpler, such as an unchanged exercise routine, overtraining, or small nutritional mistakes that someone was unaware they were making. With the correct changes, you can begin losing weight again within just a few days, and that bathroom scale will once again become your friend.
Scale image courtesy of Shuttersto>