9 October 2019Have you hit a plateau? Do this to recharge your diet

Typical 10 steps in the life of a diet

  1. You get motivated, perhaps by the scale or a medical issue, and pick a diet.
  2. You start losing weight, quickly at first, which stokes your motivation.
  3. Weight loss slows a bit, but you're still feeling successful.
  4. You may drift off your diet a bit, but still lose weight.
  5. Weight loss gradually slows and then stops, before you reach your goal.
  6. You stick with your plan for another week or two, but still no weight loss.
  7. Frustration sets in. You may take more liberties with food choices.
  8. Diet over.
  9. If you return to your old habits, you eventually regain all that weight.
  10. And eventually you get motivated again and start over at #1.

Fading motivation and weight plateaus are a fact of life for dieters everywhere. What can you do when motivation goes down the drain and the dreaded weight plateau sets in? Here are 10 ideas for recharging your diet if you hit a plateau. One or more of them may help you cope and move on to more sustainable weight loss success.

How to recharge your diet when you hit a plateau

1. Re-imagine your goals

Many people start with extremely ambitious plans to lose a lot of weight in a very short period of time. How can you determine if you are trying to lose too fast? One clue is this: when you plug your goals into the MyNetDiary calorie tracker, it says you have to cut back by 1000 or more calories per day. Or it may say that you need to eat fewer than 1200 calories/day to reach your goal. A very low calorie level may lead to feelings of deprivation. Perhaps a slightly higher calorie level is more sustainable.

2. Embrace the plateau

Re-define your present weight as your new starting weight. Live with it for 2-4 weeks, while eating modest portions of food, and staying active. Then when you're ready, enter your new weight and goals into the tracker.

3. Take the long view

Permanent healthy weight loss does not happen quickly. If you have 50 lbs to lose, it could take over a year to accomplish.

4. Shake up your food choices

If you've been eating the same meals and snacks and beverages throughout your diet, change up your choices, while still sticking with your calorie limits and pushing protein.

5. Reimagine your exercise routines

When you do the same old exercise routine over and over and over, your muscles can become more efficient performing that activity, burning fewer calories. Add different things, at different times of day or for longer periods or a higher effort level. If you only do the elliptical, switch to a stationary bike, or add a fast walk or jog a couple of times a week.

6. Add more vegetables

Fresh or cooked vegetables are filling. Fill your meals with more vegetables and fewer grain foods and protein. Aim to fill half your plate with veggies.

7. Get brutal about treats

If treats have been sneaking back into your food choices, it may be time to cut them back. An additional 100-200 calories/day of sugary treats, alcoholic beverages or snack foods can bring weight loss to a screeching halt.

8. Stick to 3 meals

Research suggests that our obsession with frequent eating to stifle hunger could be hindering calorie burning. If your system is always stocked with calories, there's less reason for your body to mobilize fat stores to make up the difference. Eating 3 meals (and maybe a small mid-afternoon snack of high protein food or fresh vegetables) is usually a good plan to help .

9. Don't lump all your calories at the end of the day

This follows #8. Aim for balancing meals throughout the day. That way you burn more of your calories throughout the day, rather than sleeping on them.

10. Celebrate the weight you have already lost

Reward yourself with something that isn't food. After all, you're at a weight plateau because you did lose weight. New clothing in your new smaller size can motivate you to avoid backsliding. It can also help you feel better about your new weight. Other ideas: a new haircut or color, a trip, new workout clothes, a new class, or anything else related to your life, home, hobbies or family.

You are not alone

You're not alone if you are on a weight plateau. Don't hesitate to share your frustrations with your weight loss buddies in MyNetDiary Forum. You may end up crowd-sourcing some solutions that help others also move forward to weight loss success.

Originally published on 22 April 2014
Updated: 9 October 2019

Donna P Feldman MS RDN

is author of "Feed Your Vegetarian Teen", writes about food and nutrition at Radio Nutrition and is co-host of the Walk Talk Nutrition podcast series.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

Tags:

Weight Loss/Plateau (Weight Stall)

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