October 19, 2015

Weight Loss Plateau? Change Your Mindset

Guest Post by Sarah Williams 

Please welcome guest blogger Sarah Williams with some great suggestions for a frustrating situation: the dreaded weight loss plateau!

As usual, the theoretical author of this blog, Crabby McSlacker, is off doing other things besides writing blog posts. This may or may not involve travel to a major metropolis, and some half-assed futzing around on her novel-in-progress (which, in a shocking development, is going Really F--cking Slowly). Plus she has lately been distracted by some real-estate wheeling and dealing, which could be potentially quite exciting! On the other hand, Crabby has watched enough HGTV to know that the whole shebang could fall through once the house inspector arrives, so she prefers not to jinx things just yet by going public about the details. But either way, triumph or bitter disappointment, she will be back with more blog posts at some point before too long, as she misses everyone and want's to find out what you're all up to!--Crabby

We’ve all been there, standing stark naked on top of our scale staring in agony as, for the second week in a row, the numbers haven’t budged.  Like many of my girlfriends, when this happens I often throw my hands in the air yelling some type of profanity and hop off, grab a towel, and head downstairs for a couple frozen waffles with extra syrup.  Because who is going to pick a banana and almond milk smoothie over the delicious aroma of an Eggo when it’s doing nothing for the scale?

Am I right?  The problem is, I don’t stop with the Eggo.  I toast another one and then because I haven’t had protein and am still hungry, I end up blowing through half of my daily calories before the coffee has finished brewing.  Sure the scale stood stationary for a week or two, but what I often forget is that though it didn’t change, I did.  While the pounds may be stationary, my fat has been busy converting into muscle and my digestive track has been enthusiastic about the huge amount of nutrition I’ve been throwing its way.

A plateau is inevitable in all things.  

We experience them in our exercise, diets, workplace successes - you name it.  The plateau is a sort of “test”, a limbo where you can hang around and wait to see if anything is going to happen, or you can take the reigns and jump the hurdles to get closer to your finish line.  Think of the runner who has been training for a faster time and just isn’t making it.  Do they sit on the sofa and say “oh well”, keep doing what they’ve been doing, or change up their routine?

 When losing weight, you have to think of yourself as that runner who will make the necessary sacrifices, who will push and challenge themselves, but who loves doing it because they can feel their body getting stronger.  Your goal weight is your finish line.  The number on the scale that you’re aiming for is your medal.  Go get it.

Enjoy the food.

So you’re stuck in a rut, the scale isn’t moving, you’re eating somewhat healthy, exercising moderately,  but just not seeing any improvement.  The first thing to ask yourself is, are you enjoying the food you’re eating?  Are you having fun experimenting with new recipes, trying new produce from your local farmer’s market and trying out local organic restaurants?  Or are you begrudgingly eating the same Smart Ones frozen dinner every night?  Are you making workout dates with a friend or local running group?  Or are you walking on the treadmill at the gym with a scowl on your face.  If you chose the latter of either scenario, you’re likely not only going to plateau, but regress.

Maintaining a healthy weight and level of fitness is, and has to be, done with a positive mindset.  You have to embrace the body genetics gave you and learn how to forge it into the best one you can have.  You have to learn that eating healthy doesn’t just lower your weight, it lowers your cholesterol, blood pressure, risk of heart disease, and cancer.  Exercise does the same thing, plus gives you the empowerment that you are strong, and you are able.

Make it fun.

Say cardio isn’t your thing, but you wish it was.  Sign up for a 5k.  Have a friend sign up for it too. Print out one of the many free online training schedules or sign up for the wildly popular Couch to 5k program. Hold yourself accountable to the training by making walking/ running dates with your workout buddy.  It’s a lot harder to skip that workout if you know someone is waiting on you.  Spend the time exercising to also catch up on life and reward yourself for your progress.  If coffee’s your thing, grab a decaf latte after your final lap.  If you’re head over heels for ice cream, pick up a pint of coconut milk ice cream from the supermarket on the way home.

Make the training fun and then ride the wave of excitement from the awesome atmosphere of the race.  The great thing about runners is that they come in all shapes and sizes.  Bad knees?  Sign up for a bike race.  Take a group fitness class.  Join a swim team (yes they have them for adults too).  Get moving doing something you enjoy!

Plan it.

When it comes to eating, you have to make sure you never feel like you are depriving yourself.  Strict diets often end in failure because we were made to enjoy good food, enjoy eating and so when we feel like we can’t fully partake of one of life’s greatest pleasures, we get discouraged.  Don’t know your way around the kitchen very well?  Sign up for a cooking class.  Get a friend or relative to join you.  Many organic markets and chains now offer wonderful cooking classes for people who are trying to bring health to their plates.

Make a meal plan for your week and stick to it.  Fill the spaces with things that you enjoy and can look forward to.  Choose foods rich in flavors and experiment with spices which are packed full of nutrition.  Don’t fall into the trap of eating the same old bland food over and over again.  Fill your refrigerator, cabinets and countertops with healthy, organic, fresh food that will satisfy the craving for good nutrition that your body so desperately craves.  Your scale will start moving again, but this time, the right way.

If you get a bad review at work, you don’t quit, you work harder to improve what was wrong.  When you reach a point in your relationships where they aren’t growing, you don’t walk away, you work at them.  You learn how to add spice and flair and keep them lively.  Weight loss should be the same way.  Always remember that eating healthy and exercising should be part of who you are, not a quick fix to obtain a lower number on the scale.  Weight loss is a journey, not a destination.

Sarah Williams is a lifestyle writer who is passionate about healthy living. She’s a total nutrition freak, who believes that true happiness comes from taking care of your body and having great relationships. She regularly encourages people to take care of their body, self-development and relationships at Wingman Magazine.


  1. Sarah,
    Good stuff! You're right, some plateaus are expected. I walk on them when I can find them. ;) I do some of your concepts, but slack off on others.

    I do keep it fun, but I do have the tendency to keep a routine too long without changing it, just like 95% of the people I see in the gym. :) To fight that, I have been consciously throwing in 1 random item per workout or so, even crazy stuff, like a few pushups on some device that was never intended for that. And walls provide all kinds of rad ideas! The only requirement there is that you don't mind looking eccentric, and don't do something that gets you thrown out.

    I had one win the other day that was totally cheating! I found out that my scale is reading 10 pounds too heavy! So instant weight loss. Actually that is better than a previous scale I had, which turned out to be reading about 12 pounds too light, which is dangerous! I tested it after my clothes started getting suspiciously tight.

    Yes, that's a great point about signing up for an event. Since I'm not a team sports person (with a possible exception for team whining) or pro athlete, I need stuff like that to get myself going.


    1. Team whining is far more effective than the individual kind!

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

    2. Mary Anne,
      You and I can be the team leaders! :) Whining recruitment coming soon! If we do enough, it's bound to knock off a few calories!


  2. Thanks for sharing! Those plateaus are sucky!

    You gave some really timeless wisdom here. I find that switching things up with new recipes ignites that part of me that loves new things. None enjoys doing the same old thing day in and day out... or maybe they do... I for one, need to something new to keep my sense of growth and adventure up.

    Even if it is the smallest change, it is enough to keep me entertained and alive!

    I would say create a goal to change one thing each week. Change up the workout routine, or maybe a recipe, or read a new blog! These are ways I keep myself motivated to live the abundant life health has to offer!

  3. While i know in my head that everything levels off on a regular basis, i need reminders that it happens, it's normal, and it's not the end of the world or the end of the progress in that area. Excellent reminder, thank you.

  4. I have been going through the mother of all plateaus – since early August! Argh! I have lost about 100 pounds with another 100 to go, so while it is frustrating, at the same time I am pretty pleased that I have been able to maintain that loss for a while. It shows me that I can keep the weight off. I am trying to maintain a positive attitude and try new things. I just met with a dietician for the first time last week, which was great, and interested in mixing up my exercise routine, which was kind of derailed when I developed runner's knee. I've been doing PT exercises but plan on trying swimming and working on lots of upper body strength as well. One new thing I tried at the gym recently is the elliptical, which totally kicks my butt!!! Thanks for a great post.

    1. Amy,
      100 pounds! That's absolutely fantastic!! Your follow-up plan sounds pretty positive, too.


  5. Sometimes a plateau can be jump started by switching things up with your nutrition. Try significantly increasing calories for a day or two, followed by a few days at slightly lower than what you usually eat, and then return to your normal eating routine. Try intermittent fasting. Switch up your workout routine and add strength training. There are lots of ways to overcome the plateau. You really have to be mindful of your nutrition - this is key. Also, it is to be expected to have weight loss slow down. Good stuff.

  6. Those are great points! I agree that the key is to be mindful of your nutrition.

  7. I love your writing and this post. I have been in the Medical Field for over 25 yrs mostly in OB/GYN and weight loss for not only women but men too is depressing and difficult. Thanks for sharing your support! Anytime you want to guest blog on mine let me know, email me anytime and vice versa! I love following you! Great job!

  8. Commitment is the key success of everything. If you’re not completely committed to a weight loss program, then you’ll not get the expected results.

  9. Many fat people are happy with their body and they don't want to change. It is only the perception of mind
    Website: http://www.lifenow.xyz/

  10. Perfect article.

    I believe in Mindset to lose weight.

  11. Sometimes that same old bland food every day is kind of nice. But then, I'm personally one of those odd people who could go without eating entirely if my body were to be somehow self-sustaining. It's definitely a physical need thing.

    That said, getting back on topic, plateaus are best overcome by changing your exercise routine. And sometimes - just sometimes - if you've been on a reduced calorie diet for a long time, increasing it by a couple hundred calories 2-3 days per week can trigger your body to get back in gear.


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