It’s the most frustrating part of your weight-loss journey: you’re cruising along at a steady pace, the pounds are falling off, and then, all of the sudden, you hit a roadblock. It feels like everything you’re doing isn’t working. You get discouraged because you’re putting in the same effort, eating right and working out regularly. But, often, that’s exactly the problem: you’re doing the same things.
We asked Danielle Repko, an American Council on Exercise-certified health coach with OhioHealth Group, what to do when your weight loss stalls. She shared this advice.
What is a plateau?
You’ve reached a plateau when your progress starts to slow, or stops entirely. “It usually means your body has adjusted to your new habits,” says Repko, “and it’s often the point people begin to question why they’re even trying anymore.”
It’s not uncommon for this to happen early in your weight-loss journey after you lose water weight, which everyone loses the quickest. But it can happen at any time and for different reasons. If it’s later in your journey, it might also be a good time to revisit your “why” and ask yourself if you’re happy with your current weight and need to set new goals unrelated to weight loss.
What can I do when my weight loss stalls?
Repko says when you hit a plateau, you should pause and re-evaluate your diet and activity level. For most people, boosting your physical activity is all that’s needed to jump-start your weight loss again. And that doesn’t mean you have to double the hours you spend at the gym; start by just switching up your routine.
“You can walk the same amount of time, but try changing up your route. Look for a route with more hills, or walk with some dumbbells,” says Repko. “Or, if you’re a fan of going to the gym, try adding more strength training to your workout, or use a new piece of equipment.”
She says it’s also important not to lose control of your diet. “Cutting more calories from your diet isn’t always the right answer to a plateau, but you should remain mindful of what you eat. Be sure you’re not taking in empty calories just because you’re working out. Instead, adjust your workout to make it more intense if you plan to have that cupcake or nachos at happy hour.”
Be sure to write down your new activity or diet goals in your Diabetes Prevention Action Plan and track them with your preferred method. One diabetes prevention program participant also recommends showing what you track to a partner or friend who can hold you accountable.
Remember, it’s totally normal!
It’s easy to get upset when the hard work you’re putting in appears not to be paying off. But don’t forget that weight-loss plateaus happen to everyone. The small changes you make will add up and you’ll start to lose weight again.
If you need some extra motivation, try joining an official diabetes prevention program! Check with your employer (OhioHealth offers a program for associates), your local YMCA or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of recognized locations to find a program near you.