Hello hello again!
Hope you all had a great weekend! We had a slower weekend over here, but I’m totally ok with that. Lots of relaxing, with a coffee date, dinner date, and a nice short run thrown in there. Sometimes it’s nice to slow down the pace and not be running errands and going to activities all the time. Also, a perfect weekend for slowing down since the little miss popped her first 2-yr molar this week. Hello, sleepless nights and interrupted naps. It wasn’t as bad as a few of her previous teeth but still not fun, and it’s always so sad to see your little one in pain. Thankfully, she’s a tough gal and stuck through it and can now chew better with those extra molars!
Today’s topic of conversation is a popular one amongst trainers, athletes, people striving to lose weight, folks working on fat loss goals, or basically all human beings am I right?! Most people have hit a fat loss plateau at some point in their life while striving for certain fitness goals. It’s frustrating, it causes anxiety, panic, and can make the person make some drastic changes that could actually hurt getting past the plateau. Here are a few tips that might make that fat loss plateau a little easier to handle…and some of them may surprise you!
1.) Don’t freak out
First of all, DON’T FREAK OUT! If you’re reading this you’ve probably hit a plateau towards your goal. And you’ve probably had a minor freak out and either want to give up or go extreme to lose the weight, gain the muscle, etc. Freaking out doesn’t help. It just causes stress which can actually lead to weight gain. So take a breath and look at a few factors…
2.) Make sure it’s an actual plateau
This one is pretty straight forward. A lot of times people have a goal to lose a certain percentage of body fat, and the second they stop seeing progress they think they’re stuck in a plateau. However, it could be that your body has hit its ‘homeostasis’. Homeostasis is the state at which your body is most comfortable and most efficient. If you’re shooting for a goal that is a little too aggressive, your body could be holding onto some fat because it’s striving for homeostasis. Take a step back and make sure you’re eating enough calories for your training schedule, not over-training, and getting the proper nutrients (enough protein and lots of vegetables).
3.) Weight loss plateau does not always equal fat loss plateau
This point goes hand in hand with #2…a weight loss plateau does not always equal a fat loss plateau. Let me explain…muscle is more dense than fat and therefore, weighs more. If you are working out and being mindful about your eating habits, and the scale is not moving, look at other factors that can show progress. Are your pants fitting better? Do you have more energy going up and down the stairs? Have you lost inches? When I first started implementing weight training into my program, I lost a few inches the first few weeks but gained 5 pounds. If the scale had been my only gauge for my fat loss I would’ve freaked out. I would’ve cut my calories more, worked out more, and probably tried other extremes to make the scale move. I was actually gaining muscle mass. Losing inches around my waist, but gaining inches around my hips and thighs (hello squats and deadlifts!) was a clear sign that my weight gain was muscle gain. I also felt and looked stronger. If you think your fat loss has plateaued because the scale isn’t moving, look at other factors first, before changing your program.
4.) How’s the diet? Need to change macros?
Many people can’t understand why they’re not seeing progress when ‘they’re doing everything right’…well, are you actually doing everything right? Did you maybe binge a little too much at that party last weekend? Did you have too many cookies one week? Take a look at your habits too make sure you’re actually following the plan you want to. I like my clients to track their food, not just to see what they’re eating but to see their eating habits. If they’re eating perfectly 6 days a week and then they have a ‘cheat day’ but during that day they eat half a box of oreos and a few pieces of pizza and ice cream…they’ve undone their hard work from the previous week. I’m not saying never have a treat (uh, helloooo, I’m queen of treats!), but many times we actually eat more than we think and we don’t realize it until we track our food and see our habits on paper. Another, thing to consider when trying to break past a plateau is maybe adjusting your macros. If you are hitting your macros and training spot on for 2-3 weeks, and you don’t see any movement in inches lost or clothes fitting better (notice I did NOT say the scale!), it may be time to reevaluate your macros. With more training you may need to up your protein and cut back on the fat or carbs. It’s worth tweaking those numbers to see if it helps make any forward progress. Another thing you may want to try is reverse dieting. If you’re not seeing forward progress your body may be hitting ‘homeostasis’ (see #2), and this may be a good time to try reverse dieting. I’m not experienced in this but it’s basically SLOWLY adding calories and macros over several months so you can increase your caloric intake but maintain a lean form. If you want more information on this check out Kylie over at KylieFit; she has great background and tips for doing this!
5.) Change training
If you’ve been doing the same training plan for months and are not seeing anymore forward progress, then it may be time to change your training. Our bodies are amazing machines and they adapt and get used to what we put them through. Muscle confusion is a concept that switches up training every few weeks to keep our muscles guessing and continues to challenge them. It can be as simple as taking a week to focus on flexibility and mobility instead of strength. Or you could add in a couple extra cardio days or switch up the resistance training movements if you’ve been doing the same ones over and over again. It’ll also keep you from getting bored so you can continue to train without it being monotonous.
6.) Keep going…it’s normal
Everyone thinks fat loss is linear. A clear cut line on a graph that drops until you reach your goal. This is not the case. Fat loss is a mix of ups and downs and successes and failures. It’s a complicated process that can drive some people mad when it doesn’t go as planned. Keep going. It’s totally normal to hit a plateau during your training. Keep on track and your body will change. Remember, it’s a long process. Fat loss doesn’t happen overnight so keep in mind that it will take months maybe years to reach your goal and that’s ok! Fat loss rates are different for everybody and yours could just be slower than your friend who dropped 50 pounds in 2 months (and ps- if they actually did that, they took unsustainable extremes and will probably gain the weight back). Keep your goal front and center and keep on trucking!
I hope these tips helped you understand fat loss plateaus a little more, and provided some tips for you to break past that plateau if needed. If you have any other questions regarding this topic or any others fitness-related or nutrition-related, please email me! I’d love to connect and answer any questions you have. firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time!