Passing Your Plateau
You may feel stuck, but you're probably still losing weight—just not enough to register on the scale. But even dropping a third of a pound per week means that in a year, you'll be down a whole 17 pounds.
It's common to overestimate calories burned and underestimate calories eaten. Look for places where calories may hide—dressings, spreads, sauces, croutons and condiments. Do you taste while cooking? Finish what the kids leave on their plates? Absentmindedly grab handfuls of nuts, chips or candy? You might try keeping a detailed food diary.
Remember that for each pound you want to lose, you need to cut at least 3,500 calories—and if you don't want to eat less, to lose the same pound you'll have to add about ten extra hours of brisk walking or the equivalent.
Increasing physical activity is particularly useful for moving beyond a plateau, because exercise both uses calories and builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR, which is why working out with weights or doing some kind of resistance training can be especially helpful. In fact, increasing your muscle mass as you lose body fat can compensate for the decline in BMR induced by weight loss.
There is some evidence that shows that shifting fat and carbohydrate calories to protein calories may help preserve BMR during weight loss. But don't overdo it—twenty-percent of daily calories from protein is as high as you should go.
Many fitness gurus claim that surprising your body with a change in diet, workout or both can jostle you out of a weight loss rut. The science is pretty thin here, but the advice is reasonable because variety can keep you interested. Instead of constant dieting, you might try alternating calorie-cutting days, for example, with less-restrictive maintenance days. Switch to a new type of exercise. Alternate aerobic workouts with light weight training. A change may be just what you need to get the progress rolling again.
If your motivation is flagging, write down all the reasons you originally wanted, and still want, to lose weight. Look at the list every day. Also let friends and family know what you're up to, and ask for their support.
A plateau is an opportunity to reassess whether further weight loss is worth all the work it will take—and to reconsider whether you may, in truth, now be at a perfectly healthy weight and don't need to go any lower. If you do choose to stop where you are, turn your focus toward maintaining what you've achieved and keeping your body in good shape. Remember, eating well and being physically active are good for you. Do a little of both every day, and you will be a total success!