Motivation Monday: how to stay motivated during a plateau

One of the most common reasons why people fall off their diet and exercise program is because their weight loss progress becomes stagnant.

Even though they are still eating and exercising in the same manner that caused them to shed pounds a few months ago, now the measuring tape and the scale will not budge. Their bodies become stuck at a plateau and this is disheartening. Many people simply give up on their goals due to confusion and frustration.

Attention: you can conquer your weight loss plateau and continue the climb to that healthier and fitter body that you want and worked hard for. The most important thing to know is that plateaus will happen, but with the proper motivation, dedication, and nutrition, your progress will never be in jeopardy.

Plateaus Will Happen

Although annoying, plateaus are completely normal for dieters. There are several theories as to why this phenomenon happens. According to the Set Point Theory, described by, “your body naturally tries to maintain a certain weight where it is most comfortable. If you find yourself stuck at the same weight time and time again, you may have reached the comfort zone.”

An additional reason why nutritious and doctors believe plateaus happen is because after a significant loss in weight, your body mass become smaller. On a daily basis, you will burn fewer calories as a smaller person, than you did as a larger person. Therefore, the calories you put into your body will begin to exceed the calories that you burn off, leading to a stable or increasing weight.

Switch Up Your Routine

Believe it or not, your body gets bored. Eating the same foods, at the same hour, then completing the same workout every day of every week is enough to set your metabolism to, what I like to call, chill mode. This means it is not speeding up, nor slowing down, but just staying steady. Surprising your body with something new may just be the kick start it needs to start shedding fat once again.

Are you stuck at a plateau but rely on cardio as your only form of exercise? Then you need to add in some lightweight training. GAIAM Life claims that you’ll “get the fastest results by combining cardio and sculpting in a single workout. You’ll burn 3 times more fat than cardio alone.”

Aging and fitness

Photo from MCT Campus

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is also a good way to alter your old routine. During a HIIT workout, instead of working out at one constant speed, the intensity level ranges from low to moderate to advance with each move. Therefore, your body is burning more calories as it keeps up with the fluctuating pace of the workout.

It is the same concept for those that strictly lift weights during workouts. If your weight loss progress has plateaued, adding cardio such as HIIT, cycling or a group fitness class will help your body burn more calories per workout compared to just lifting alone.

Up Your Calories and Carbs

You may be thinking “What? Why should I eat more if I’m trying to lose weight?” It is a common misconception that in order to drop weight, you must significantly drop your food intake as well as calories and carbohydrates. This is a myth. Your body must receive adequate nutrition in order to be able to carry out its daily duties to keep you alive.

When you suddenly decrease the amount of calories and carbs that you intake, it will be detrimental to your health and weight loss attempts. Your body will naturally go into starvation mode, in which it will hoard its fat deposits and desperately keep its weight from falling. This is not what you want.

A neat technique to try when you seem to be stuck at a plateau is called Reverse Dieting. Instead of taking away calories and carbs in your diet, you slowly add them in little by little each week. The additional energy from the carbohydrates will power you through longer and tougher workouts, while the extra calories will jolt your metabolism into burning more calories than before.

Remember the Reason Why You Started

When dieting gets hard and you have hit a plateau, it can be easy to want to give up. However, it is in those times of desperation that you must be your strongest.

Try this exercise: On a piece of paper, list the all the goals you had when you began your weight loss program originally. Walk to class without feeling breathless, fit into a smaller dress size, or to like what you see in the mirror are all examples of goals. Now cross out the goals on your list that you have already met. Take those crossed out items and write them in a separate list beside your original list.

Now look at it. The original list of goals represent where you initially started. It may appear long and at the beginning of your journey, the list of goals may have seemed impossible to conquer. Now look at the list beside it. These are all the accomplishments you have made so far. This list represents where you are now.

If you were to give up now, then that accomplishment list will slowly start to dwindle and your beginning goal list will lengthen. This is the opposite of what you want. Hang your lists somewhere you can see them each and every day to remind why you started this weight loss program, how far you have come and what you have to do to reach all your goals.

Patience is Key

Some plateaus may last for several weeks, while some can last for several months. The key is to be patient with yourself and your body. Remember that you didn’t become overweight or unhealthy in a day, therefore you shouldn’t expect to reach your goal weight in one day. Although it may seem like a tortuous amount of time to wait, every month, every week, every day, and every hour count towards your journey and your ultimate goal.


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