The 3 Surprising Steps to Take When Weight Loss Stops
So, you’ve been dieting and exercising successfully, you’re doing all the right things, building the right habits and behaviours, but you’ve noticed things beginning to slow down…
And you know you’re coming to that most dreaded place—the weight loss plateau…
It happens to all of us, right? So what do you do?
Most people in this situation think they should immediately start eating less and exercising harder than they already have been. But this actually is the absolute worst thing you can do!
Think about it for a second. When your body thinks too much mass is coming off and you’re about to starve to death, it pushes back and protects you by slowing your metabolism right down.
If you respond by pushing even harder (removing more calories, training harder), you’re actually telling your already worried body that you’re in big trouble. And, it will do what is needed to save you by grinding your metabolism to a halt. Now you definitely don’t want that!
Never get into a pushing and shoving match with your body because you won’t win. You need to take a much gentler approach.
So, implement these 3 steps every time you hit a weight loss plateau. They may seem counterintuitive but they work:
- Transition away from cardio and toward strength training. Usually what we do to initiate weight loss is cardiovascular or high paced exercise where your lungs are burning, your heart’s pumping, and you’re sweating. Well, when you start to hit plateaus that’s the last thing you want to do because your body is shutting down your metabolic rate and slowing things right down. And the more you try and hammer yourself into the ground with that stressful ‘go, go, go, go exercise’ the more your body is going to fight back. What you need to do instead is lift more—do resistance training or strength training, and focus more on muscular contraction.
- Slow down your exercise. When your metabolism slows down, don’t speed exercise up. It’s the worst thing you can do. You’ve got to let your body recover or it won’t allow you to continue with weight loss. So slow things down. Go for walks, do stretching, do yoga, or other types of active rest. When your metabolism slows down, slower exercise is actually better for you! It will keep you on track while allowing your body to recoup.
- Increase your caloric intake (a little bit). Now don’t go crazy here but if you’re on a 1,500 or 2,000 calorie per day diet, increase your calories by 150-250 calories per day. Your body is not going to allow you to continue to lose weight if it keeps thinking you’re going into some sort of starvation mode, so you have to trick it a little bit into thinking all is well.
Yes, you might gain some weight in two to four weeks of increasing your calories, but the weight’s just going to come up a little bit and then you’ll see, it’ll start to come back down again on its own because your body is going to start picking up your resting metabolic rate again. And as I’ve talked about before, your body’s metabolic rate is really where the weight loss battle is won; it’s not necessarily in dieting down, it’s not in getting your exercise intensity through the roof. It’s in your body starting to release more energy and use more energy just to operate on a day-to-day basis.
So, those are the big three things you need to do when you hit a weight loss plateau.
But, then what?
Well, once your body feels it’s operating within more of a healthy environment, meaning food is coming in and stress is slowing down, it will increase your resting metabolism and allow you to continue to lose weight. You’ll know you’ve recovered sufficiently because you’ll be full of energy. And once this happens, your body will be in a place where it can respond so you can pick things up again.
- You can start doing more cardio,
- You can start cutting out a little bit more food (not drastically though—150 to 250 calories a day so it’s nice and gradual), and lastly
- You can put the intensity of your training sessions up.
Continue along with this plan until your next plateau starts to hit, and then repeat steps 1-3. All you have to do is listen to your body. When it wants you to slow down, rest, and eat it’ll tell you via the plateau and via your energy. And that’s what you should do, as long as you’re keeping it within reason.
If your weight loss is slowing down and your energy is dropping, don’t try and fight against your body by running yourself into the ground. That’s how you completely shut your body down. Slow down, work out less, do more resistance training, do more active rest, and eat more food. That’s what you need to do, especially if you’re starting to have energy issues. Once your body begins to pick your metabolism back up, meaning your weight is starting to come back down and you feel good again, that’s when you can start bringing up the intensity, dieting down a little bit, and getting more into cardio training. This is basically the dance you need to have with your body while you’re losing weight. Over and over again.
Try it out and tell us what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to like this post and share it on social media so more people can benefit.