Thursday, November 8, 2007

Plateau Does Not Equal Failure

OK, so you've been losing weight at a pretty steady clip and then, all of a sudden, you stop seeing the numbers on the scale go down. Panic starts to set in, your palms get sweaty, and all of your failed weight loss attempts of the past start flashing before your eyes. Sound familiar fellaz? I'm sure it does because anyone who has tried to lose weight has experienced a stall. Hell, I know that I have on many occasions.

As I've already discussed in my post on the Atkins Diet, I went through pretty much a one year plateau after losing 50lbs. It was a frustrating, yet rewarding, experience for me in many ways. I don't suggest that people follow my take a whole year to figure out you need to change something attitude; however, I now realize that while I was definitely not pleased with the pitiful weight loss numbers on the scale, I wasn't regaining my lost weight either. For the first time on my journey, I felt as though I really did have a little control over my bodyweight. Yes, one can argue that I really didn't lose any weight that year since our bodyweight can fluctuate up to five pounds on a daily basis, but that's taking the glass is half empty approach.

An alternative view, and just as valid, is that I was able to control my weight for an entire year by exercising and eating low-carb. Also, we have to remember that the scale is just one tool that we use to see how we are progressing on our weight loss journey. Keep in mind that you also have a tape measure, a full length mirror, and your clothes to see if you are still losing inches. If you are weight training, then you can expect to go through a period of possible gains on the scale because of your muscle growth. Those new to weight training or seasoned vets returning after a lay off will see the most initial growth in strength and size.

Next, you have to figure out how you can burn more daily calories. Don't always look to slashing more calories first. Guys, this is the wrong approach and one that leads to yo-yo dieting and weight loss. It's really simple: look for more ways to burn not cut calories. Stop parking so close to the front door of the mall. Get off the escalator and get out of the elevator and take the stairs. And, don't even think about getting on those moving sidewalks in the airport! Do these activities burn hundreds of calories? Nope, not even close, but they burn calories nonetheless and that's the point. To break through a plateau, try and figure out how you can holistically burn more calories first through a structured exercise routine (think weight resistance before cardio) and spontaneous activities like those I've mentioned.

Now, if you know that you are eating more calories than your maintenance level, then you need to do what I've said above and eat the number of calories that you've already calculated that you should be eating. Hey, don't beat yourself up and get down on yourself because I'll let you in on a little secret. The more you concentrate on eating whole, unprocessed foods, the easier it is to clean up your diet. It takes time, and it's not easy. But, man is it ever rewarding!

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