Sunday Thoughts (6 ways to beat a weight "plateau")
I talk a good game when it comes to health.
But if you're in the process of trying to lose a few pounds, know this: I've been there.
I am in pretty good shape now, especially "for my age" (whatever that means). Though it wasn't always this way.
With a busy schedule, kids, responsibilities, travel, you name it, it's not hard to pack on a few unwanted pounds.
So when I caught myself looking in the mirror and thinking "uh oh," I went back to basics, got with the program and lost more than 30 pounds.
And I've kept it off, though I've traded some of what used to be fat for muscle, so the number on the scale fluctuates within a couple pounds here or there. It's been this way now for years, and I plan on keeping it that way.
I'm in more of a "maintenance" mode now, not actively trying to lose more. But there were a few times along the road to getting back in shape where things seemed to get stuck.
Your body adapts, your weight loss stagnates, and it can be awfully frustrating.
If you're facing this now, or if you are planning on trying to shed a few pounds or inches, you should know this is normal. And there are ways to push through it and get back on track.
Here are some of my top tips for how to do it:
- Eat enough protein. When you lose weight, your metabolism slows. You don't need the same energy to maintain your size. And often, you can lose muscle as well as fat, so you have to account for that, and try to get it back. Your goal should be to maintain as much muscle as you can, because muscle burns more calories. Plus, a protein punch, whether from food or a protein shake, helps keep you full longer.
- Understand portions. You might think eyeballing your food is good enough. And if you focus on loading up on fruits and vegetables, it usually is. But when you add calorie dense things like peanut butter to your smoothie, for example, a couple extra tablespoons can mean well over 120 calories, or more than 800 in a week. So pay attention.
- Allow for treats. But don't overdo it. Once you start exercising, it's very common to indulge in something sinful. Because "you've earned it." But we humans are very good at overestimating how hard we're working, and allowing for a little too much of something we wouldn't normally eat. Be careful about this.
- Be consistent. I can't stress hard enough the value of a routine. Research has shown that missing one day of exercise increases your odds of missing the next one by over 60%. For any program to work, you've got to stick with it. No matter what exercise you do, you're rarely going to regret doing it, even if you didn't feel like it to start. But you'll often regret skipping it.
- Track what you eat, and your weight. Most of us aren't very good at being honest with ourselves about what we're putting in our mouths, and if we go too long without keeping tabs on the scale, we can find ourselves surprised. If you're feeling stuck, take a couple days and write down EVERYTHING you eat or drink. Just knowing you're going to do this is often enough to set things straight.
- Stress less, sleep more. And don't just track your food intake. Log how much you're sleeping. Less than 6 hours of sleep can make the weight creep on, and fast. And stress leads to higher cortisol, which can make you hungrier. So try to rest, recover, and relax.
Weight loss is a journey. And if it were super easy, we wouldn't be in such bad shape across this country.
So start with a plan, understand there will be bumps in the road, and do your best to get back on track if you get stuck.
If you're concerned about your health (and if you've read this far, you're ahead of the game) it's the most important thing you can do to protect your health, and your independence.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and stay safe.