Those !*&!*(^! Diet Plateaus
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It took me two years to lose 110 pounds, but with diet plateaus, it felt like 10 years. I started my diet with reasonable losses. I did exactly what any doctor would order: a pound or two a week. I followed the plan, I ate wisely and – for once in my dieting life – I did not waiver. I even added exercise.
I saw the scale go down – and the more it went down, the more committed I became. I enjoyed a slow, but encouragingly steady decline in pounds.
And then the Dreaded Diet Plateau kicked in. Every day I would get on the scale and the scale would not budge – not even an ounce. I actually went out and bought a new scale thinking that mine was defective. It didn’t help.
I talked to a diet group advisor who said “It happens -your body is adjusting – stick with the diet and the weight will come off.” I trusted her and I trusted the diet, but….
In the two years I dieted I hit four plateaus that each lasted about a month. Thus, four times, I was ready to give it all up. It was so discouraging. How could I be eating right and exercising and not lose weight? (At the end of this piece are excerpts from the Mayo Clinic explanation of plateaus.)
Still, I stayed faithful to the diet plan because there were three things I knew in my heart:
- Diet plateaus are normal
- I was being honest with myself and sticking to the diet
- If I didn’t give up, I would succeed in the end
Many of us have dieting friends who announce “I’ve hit a plateau,” while you watch them attack the bread basket. Their “plateau” is false and they are not being honest with themselves.
If you hit a plateau,
- Know it happens
- Don’t give up
- Stay the course (both eating and exercise)
Trust me, you can beat the plateaus – and it is so worth it.
From the Mayo Clinic website (www.mayoclinic.org/)
A weight-loss plateau eventually happens to everyone who is trying to lose weight. The frustrating reality is that even well-planned weight-loss efforts often become stalled.
During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part this is because when calories from food are reduced, the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen holds on to water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it also releases water, resulting in substantial weight loss that’s mostly water.
A plateau occurs because your metabolism — the process of burning calories for energy — slows as you lose muscle. You burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight even doing the same activities. Your weight-loss efforts result in a new equilibrium with your now slower metabolism.
At this new equilibrium, calories eaten equals calories expended. This means that to lose more weight, you need to increase activity or decrease the calories you eat. Using the same approach that worked initially may maintain your weight loss, but it won’t lead to more weight loss.