How to Emotionally Survive a Weightloss Plateau

There’s been a lot of talk the past few weeks on the solo support group page about how discouraging it can be when that darn scale gets stubborn and just will not move in the desired direction.  This is actually a common occurrence, especially if you had a big loss in the first couple of weeks.  Our bodies are great at adapting, so if you've been doing the same things for 4 - 6 weeks it may be time for a change.  Patience, consistency, and compliance with your plan are necessary and difficult when you want to see your efforts rewarded RIGHT NOW!  Keep reading for some ideas on how to make it through the dreaded plateau with your sanity still intact.

When you first start taking better care of your body through regular exercise, your body actually burns more calories during exercise due to inefficiency to meet the demands of the working muscles.  This inflated rate of calorie burn will gradually decrease as your body becomes accustomed to the exercise.  Bummer!  We know.  It can be frustrating, but all is not lost.  The good news is, you can start to mix things up and the body will need to work hard again to adapt.  Just don't switch it up too often.  That can have the opposite effect.  

Another thing to keep in mind is that just because the scale isn't budging, doesn't mean that change isn't happening!  I know more than a few of you discovered that this week as you measured.  One participant found that though she'd only lost 1 pound in 4 weeks, she'd actually lost 6 INCHES!  The scale is really only one piece of the puzzle.  It just can't tell the whole story.

Sometimes though, we know what we should be doing to get through a nasty stall, we wonder what can we do to not totally lose it mentally and emotionally in the meantime.  Well, stay with me.  I have some thoughts on that, too. 


Look for what you’re doing right vs what you keep thinking is going wrong.  Take an honest look at how you were previously treating your body and what you’re doing now that’s different or better.  This is very much like what we did last week as we gave ourselves a daily “hug”.  You are doing SO MANY things right in your life.  Just look at you!  You keep trying week after week to incorporate these healthy habits, even when you’re not perfect, even when life throws you curve balls or knocks you on your backside.  You keep getting up every morning and putting forth some effort to get your life back!  That should be recognized and celebrated! 


Yes, really.  Do NOT weigh yourself every day (or hour).  Valerie has shared her struggles with this.  I highly recommend reading it here.  Put the scale up and stop focusing on that magic number to happiness and contentment.  Those things darn sure don’t come from a scale so “Let it go!”  If you really must, only weigh yourself 1- 2 times a week...and only measure about every 4 weeks.


Increasing your exercise time from 30 to 45 minutes or even 60 can definitely make a big impact in your daily calorie burn each day, and I highly recommend going above and beyond when it comes to your exercise efforts.  Do you want to know what else just might make the greatest impact?  Increasing your overall daily activity levels.  Have you ever participated in a 10,000+-step challenge while working a desk job?  Oh, my heavens!  Boy, is it eye-opening?  Even if you are getting a 30-60 minute workout in 5 days/week, start looking at how much “sitting” is actually happening in your day.  Are you coming home from essentially sitting for 6-8 hours and then spending the last 4 “active” hours of your day sitting on the couch watching TV?  GET UP and MOVE!  Invigorate your body by going for a walk outside.  For those of you still in freezing and/or blizzard weather, go to an indoor rec center or aquatic center and PLAY!  Go ice-skating, sledding, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, whatever it is you’re not doing, just get up and go do it.  Your body and mind with thank you later!


Low-calorie diets have sadly been a “thing” for way too long.  Hear me out.  Low-calorie diets work for the short-term but can really backfire long-term because typically they are not just low calorie, they also tend to be low in nutrients as well.  Stuff yourselves with the good stuff.  Okay, don’t stuff yourselves; give yourself several full-servings of nutrient-dense foods  Try on some grown-up taste buds and switch from white rice to brown rice, white or whole wheat bread to 100% whole wheat breads, leave the juices for special occasions or desperate travel situations (yes, even the V8s) and grab a whole piece of fruit (they are actually quite portable) and chopped raw vegetables.  Eating the whole food provides the fiber needed to keep you feeling satisfied and you’re not missing out on the nutrient content your body is craving.  And, please, please, please, stop starving yourselves!  As much as you may not want to believe it unless you’re like 4’ 10” you really need to be consuming OVER 1200 calories and MORE if you are incorporating intense exercise into your life!  Trust me on this one.  Increase your calories with WHOLE GRAINS & WHOLE FOODS and toss the highly processed junk to the curb and just see if it makes a difference for you.

Whew... that was a long soapbox moment. ;)  Check out these posts for more tips on how to deal with a stubborn plateau.

Overcoming Plateaus
Ditch the Quick Fix Fad and Reach Your Health Goals

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October 18 2016


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