Monday, August 6, 2012

The "P" Word

One of the things I always want to convey through this blog is the real-life aspect of weight loss.  While I do not advocate using a public forum to vent frustrations or complaints, there are definitely real challenges to face when you set out to lose weight, especially when the amount you intend to lose is significant, and I believe it’s important to share those things as well. 

For the last two weeks, my scale has not budged downward.  In fact, I’ve had daily fluctuations, but stayed within the same 3-pound range for the last 17 days.  I have not strayed from my food plan, and continue to eat between 1400-1500 calories per day.  In addition, I’ve been doing great at the gym and have not missed a single workout.  So what’s going on?  Let me tell you…

(Before I go any further, I know that many people believe you should only weigh-in weekly, or even monthly, to avoid the emotional highs and lows that can be a part of daily weigh-ins.  For me, however, daily has worked for the last 13 months, so I’m sticking with it.)

Because of the detailed progress spreadsheet I keep, where I track my daily weigh-ins, I can look back and see that this is not the first time I’ve reached, what most would term, a plateau.  The term “plateau” (according to has several meanings, all having to do with reaching a place where progress ceases to rise.  There are two definitions, however, that really stand out to me.  The first one reads, “remain at a stable level of achievement,” and the second one calls a plateau, “a period of little or no apparent progress…” (italics mine).

When you know you’re doing the work, yet you’re not seeing the expected results, it’s important to remember that word “achievement.”  Just because I didn’t lose 2 pounds this week doesn’t take anything away from the 115 pound loss I have already achieved!  When you reach a plateau, that’s a good time to look back at how far you’ve really come!  The second important thing to think about is the second definition I mentioned.  Just because your progress doesn’t look apparent on the scale doesn’t mean you’ve come to a screeching halt!  For me, it’s a signal that my body is ready for me to change things up a bit.  It’s time to increase the incline on the treadmill and add in more interval training, it’s time to change around the order in which I perform my strength training exercises.  It’s time to flip around what time of day I eat my larger calorie meals vs. my smaller calorie meals, etc.  From experience, a few small changes will go a long way in getting things kick-started back up again.

Another interesting thing I realized about my plateau periods.  Each one has come when I’ve reached a weight that I maintained for a long period in the past.  For example, the last plateau I experienced came when I got back down to the size I was 10 years ago.  I had been at that weight for the better part of 5 years or more.  Right now, I’m made it down to the size I was in my last two years of high school, which I continued to be throughout college and for a few years after that.  Each of these plateaus came when I reached a point that my body was comfortable in for a long time in the past.  While my body may want to stay here to visit for a while, I’m packin’ it up and movin’ it on down the street to a much smaller address!  The eviction notice has been served!

With each of the plateaus I’ve went through previously, as I come out of them, I’ve hit great new loss levels quickly.  That being said, I am poised and ready to break through to new lows very soon!

My take-aways from plateau periods include:
1)     Plateaus will happen, they are inevitable!
2)     Don’t give up just because you’ve hit a plateau!
3)     Plateaus are a chance to realize how much you’ve already acheived!
4)     Plateaus should not become comfort zones!
5)     Scale progress may not be apparent in a plateau, but there are other kinds of progess!
6)     Plateaus are a chance to change things around and make it more interesting!
7)     Don’t slack off when you reach a plateau, keep working and you’ll break through it!

“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
~ Galatians 6:9 ~

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