How to Break Through a Weight Plateau
Weight loss is most certainly not linear. Plateaus in your weight loss effort can sometimes be inevitable but that doesn't mean that they should stop your efforts.
Stalls in weight loss very simply mean that something needs to change--and if you can troubleshoot a little bit, that's easy enough to conquer.
Where to go first?
Before changing anything in your diet and exercise, take a look at how you are sleeping. Prioritize getting enough rest each and every night--between 7-9 hours should do it for most people--and don't skimp. Ensure that your sleep is restful as well, not just laying in bed. Not allowing yourself rest can really inhibit your ability to lose weight. First and foremost, you'll become inflamed from lack of sleep. Secondly, and continuing with a compound effect, without enough Z's, you won't have enough energy to perform throughout the day. Your workouts might suffer. You may also rely more heavily on caffeine than you did before which isn't inherently a good thing either. Whatever your deal is with this one--go to bed earlier, get some black out curtains, put on some white noise or count some sheep--get enough sleep!
Next, take a look at your stress level. When you are stressed, your body goes into fight or flight mode--even if you don't FEEL stressed. When this occurs, your body may become inflamed and may also shut down processes like weight loss. Now, here's a disclaimer--sometimes dieting and exercise can be a major stressor if it's been seriously going on for a long time. We'll get into this further later but, keep that in mind! To reduce stress and get back to body homeostasis, figure out what your major stressors are and try to reduce them, include time in your day for self-care and maybe try some relaxation strategies like journaling.
After sleep and stress comes food.
Here's the time to check in with yourself. First, have you been tracking your food? If you haven't, time to get on it! Hop back into tracking your intake/portions and see where you are at. If you're already tracking, increase your accuracy if it's not almost perfect. Small things add up and this is where you may see it. That being said, be sure to include EVERYTHING--licks, bites, things you may be ignoring or not entering because it's "just a tiny bit." Again, those things can make a large difference! Get honest about your weekends and maybe even take a rain check on drinks/food out for a week or two. Check that you're getting enough protein and take a look at your macros if you aren't currently to ensure you aren't eating only carbs ;). Most often, this is where we can break through a plateau by ensuring we are utilizing more accurate tracking and portions.
As we mentioned before, long term dieting (that is incredibly accurate) can also potentially cause an issue. You may need a diet break to swing things back into gear again. You'll want to work closely with a coach on this as a diet break is not a free-for-all.
If all of this is in check, you may need to slightly decrease food to potentially increase your deficit. As you diet, your metabolism down regulates to meet the current intake. If you've been accurate and haven't been dieting too long, this is likely the case and a calorie reduction is likely necessary.
Lastly, what's going on in your exercise?
Maybe you need to change up your exercise routine a little bit. This may mean adding in an extra day of exercise, adding in more cardio or increasing your intensity/volume. Are you getting as much NEAT as you were before? Have you been working as hard during your cardio time? These are questions we also have to ask when deciding whether or not you are truly in a plateau and the next steps. This does not mean you need to add in hours of extra exercise. It may mean adding in a few extra minutes of cardio per week to up your calorie burn.
There are ways to break out of that plateau--you just have to identify the root cause first and foremost and then make small changes from there to get back on track!