One moment you’re losing so much weight, and then suddenly the scales refused to budge. You are doing exactly the same thing: same amount of food, same menu, same exercise routine… but still you’re stuck.
You might think that doing exactly the same thing is beneficial to you. After all, why fix something that’s working right? Well, wrong! The human body is a wonderful organism that is very adaptive to any calorie deficit. This means that it already got used to your routine which makes it somehow complacent, thus, your plateau.
So what should you do to skip over this frustrating period? Let me tell you the story of my client Gemma who successfully overcame a weight-loss plateau.
Gemma is one of my most committed clients. Being in her mid-20s, she knows that her decision to undergo weight loss surgery will change the course of her life. Because Gemma has a 9-5 office job, she usually makes her food during the weekend and prepack these on plastic containers. It becomes more convenient for her to cook once or twice a week, so she will not be tempted to eat junk food outside. She also goes to the same indoor cycling class in her gym on the way home.
However, cooking only once a week also has its downsides. She tends to use the same ingredients and would only eat two or three variations of her meal. So after a steady weight loss, she suddenly noticed that her weight is only fluctuating by 1 pound. She started to become frustrated and asked me for advice.
What I told her was to try the following things:
• Food Mix-Up
• Calorie Cycling
• Meal Frequency
• Exercise Variation
Food mix-up is somewhat self-explanatory. I advised Gemma to add a different variety of food in her diet. Instead of always eating oats for example, why not eat lentils or freekeh? Instead of snacking on fruit, try to introduce nuts instead. Keep the body guessing by eating a variety of healthy options.
Calorie cycling is another great way to kick start weight loss again. When your body is used to receiving the same number of calories every single day, your body can reach a plateau. What I asked Gemma to do is cycle the week into high calorie and low calorie days. Alternating between these days can keep her metabolism working at its hardest. However, be warned that this does not mean indulging in junk or sugary food. It just means having an additional serving of a healthy choice during high calorie days. A calorie cycling week would look something like below:
Monday 1100 calories
Tuesday 800 calories
Wednesday 1000 calories
Thursday 700 calories
Friday 1200 calories
Saturday 900 calories
Sunday 1000 calories
Changing meal frequency is also another suggestion that worked for Gemma. This means instead of eating a set 3 meals, I recommended for her to try eating smaller meals 5-6 times a day on her high calorie days. Again, this keeps the body guessing and continuously working.
Exercise variation is the last recommendation which is actually very important. As I mentioned, Gemma goes to the same indoor cycling class 5 times a week. What I asked her to do was to try other exercises available in her gym, like doing strength training exercises or maybe something fun like Zumba or a HIIT class. If these are not options, I asked her to skip the gym for one day and just walk up and down the stairs for 20 minutes.
When I introduced these concepts to Gemma, she was of course a bit reluctant. I could understand this because she already got into a habit and it can be difficult to steer away from what she thought was working for her. But after a few weeks, Gemma was brimming with happiness saying she’s back on her weight loss journey. She followed these suggestions and realized that change can actually be good!