plateaus

NSV

Sometimes when the weight loss process is dragging on and perhaps there are plateaus that we get stuck in, it’s easy to get discouraged. Seeing the same number on the scale is frustrating. Whenever I saw that scale stuck in one place, I tried to tell myself “at least I’m not gaining weight.” That was a positive spin to the disappointment I was feeling.

But I worked so hard this week!

But I made my calorie goals every day this week!

Why isn’t the scale moving?

It’s easy to get obsessed with a number and one trick to get over that is to celebrate something else. Weight loss isn’t ALWAYS about the number on the scale. True health is a combination of things:

Are your clothes looser?

Did you measure your body and see INCHES lost?

Did you buy jeans in a smaller size?

Did you check your blood pressure and it was dramatically improved?

Is your belt too big now and you need to make new holes in it?

If you are keeping track of your weigh-ins, measurements, exercise and goals, I suggest recording all the other things that you see too. Keeping track of positive changes is encouraging. In your journal (electronic or paper), track the inches you lose, your improving moods, landmarks in your health like if your cholesterol levels improve, etc.

Weight Watchers has a term called “Non-Scale Victories” or NSV and I think it’s a fantastic practice to do daily or weekly. Or, if you’d like, keep a gratitude journal. Write down every time someone at work compliments your weight loss.

How to Celebrate Non-Scale Victories

Go on a shopping spree. Buy new clothes in your smaller size and show them off!

Make a goal. For example: “If I lose or maintain ___ weight, I will splurge on expensive running shoes” or “I will hike that local mountain I’m always intimated to try.”

Sign up for something. If you’re noticing your stamina has increased with weight loss, try signing up for a 5k or a walk/run event that you’ve always wanted to do. Getting a t-shirt or a medal for something you’ve accomplished is really encouraging!

Treat yourself. How about a mani/pedi? Or a spa day? Or a day trip to somewhere you wanted to visit? You can reward yourself with anything that makes you happy and celebrates your progress!

Share your success. Tell your friends and family of your NSV and don’t diminish it! Say “I lost 2 more inches!” instead of “I have a long way to go.”

 

Do I Celebrate Non-Scale Victories?

Of course! In fact, I celebrate those EVEN MORE now that I’m in maintenance mode. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a change on the scale, which is a good thing because I want to maintain what I’ve lost. But I still need those daily encouragements to keep going on my path. I think it’s even more important now.

I count my calories every day in an app and I include my exercise calories burned. I love seeing those numbers and seeing that I’m on track. I celebrate days when I am under my calories.

I also measure my body once a month. This became much more important when I started a strength training program two years ago because I wanted to see progress; I wanted to see if I toned my body up. I took before pictures to compare and I measured my hips, waist, arms and legs.

I’ve had several NSV’s lately. The first one was fitting into a dress I didn’t think would fit me. It was the “tiny” pink dress I took to Vegas and it was on the clearance rack in the juniors section. I had no hope that it would fit me but loved the pink sequins and HAD to try it. I was shocked and ecstatic when it fit! And looked good!

The second NSV was the progress I’ve made lifting weights. Each week I’ve been able to increase the amount of my weights, or reps, and it made me feel strong and successful. Seeing those physical changes in my body inspire me to keep trying and keep working.

The last NSV is my return to running. After an injury and a break from running, I decided to get back into it. It’s slow going but I’m now able to run over 2.5 miles without walking, or without any pain or discomfort. I LOVE that!

Celebrate your progress!

QUESTION: Please share some of your non-scale victories you’ve had lately.

P is for Plateaus

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P is for Plateaus

Plateau. Probably the most hated word for anyone trying to lose weight. They can be disheartening and frustrating and lead to giving up.

Why do plateaus happen? It’s pretty simple and makes a lot of sense. There is usually a big loss in the beginning. The body is shocked from the reduction of calories and the weight starts to melt away. It happened to me: when I first decided to start counting calories and swimming, I lost about 8 pounds in one week. That was amazing and motivating! Then each week that went by, that number got smaller and smaller until I was lucky to lose 1 pound a week. After the initial loss, the body gets used to a smaller amount of food and it wants to hold onto the fat in your body. It’s just a natural survival thing.

I hit many plateaus in my efforts to lose 100 pounds. The most significant was when I got around 180 pounds. Between 183-175 pounds it took MONTHS to see a significant change on the scale. It made me crazy! Eventually I started losing consistently again, but it slowed down a great deal.

Here are some things to think about if you’ve hit a plateau and how you can bust out of it:

You’re Not Tracking Food

I’ve talked about this before, and even wrote a post about it. The first thing I do when I see the number on the scale creep up, or stay put, is check my food tracking. Am I being accurate? Am I measuring correctly? Are my eyes bigger than my stomach when it comes to portions? Am I lying to myself when I count my calories? Am I nibbling and munching on food that I don’t record? All of these things can lead to plateaus or gains and it’s the quickest way to right the ship if you can correct your tracking.

The trick to fix this: Ask yourself those questions and be truly honest. Keep a food journal, or use an app to record food.

Your Exercise Routine Is Spotty

I’ve got a secret to weight loss: exercise is most definitely a crucial part of the equation. It’s not the entire equation, but it’s a big part. And I hate to break it to people, but working out once or twice a week, or skipping a week, isn’t going to cut it.  Having a steady workout schedule is really important. It doesn’t have to be extreme. Obviously you should listen to your body and stay within your abilities.

The trick to fix this: Even if you’re just walking three days a week, that’s something. The key is to be consistent.

You Aren’t Eating Enough

I’ve chatted with a few people about this subject. Recently a coworker was coworker was complaining that she wasn’t seeing any losses. She described what she was eating and it came to about 1100 calories for the day. That seemed really low to me. Not eating enough food puts the body into starvation mode and it wants to desperately hold onto that fat!

The trick to fix this: I think it’s important to see a doctor or an RD to get a professional opinion on a food plan. Eat enough calories that you are nourishing your body, yet burning fat.

You’re Too Efficient

The more you do something, the better you get at it. As your body becomes better at doing your exercises it actually uses fewer calories during the exercise. This was the most shocking discovery for me. When I was 200+ pounds, I burned over 500 calories in a swimming session! It was awesome! Now that I’m 144 pounds, a 50 minute swim session for me barely burns 300-350 calories. My body has become too efficient, I’ve become “too good” at swimming and it’s too easy for me.

The trick to fix this: Not eating enough food puts the body into starvation mode and it wants to desperately hold onto that fat! change the routine. I’ve started doing sprints in the pool to get my heart rate up.

You’re Over-training

When you increase the intensity of exercise, the body responds by decreasing the amount of calories it burns during the rest of the day. Over-training is the quickest way to get sick, injured, burned out or stuck in a plateau.

The trick to fix this: Take a few days off to give your body a chance to recover. Reduce your workout sessions; for example, if you were doing 90 minutes 3 days a week, try doing 60 minutes 3 days a week for awhile.

You’re In Great Shape

As you get into better shape, your body is more efficient and it costs fewer calories to operate. (See “You’re Too Efficient” above.) Maybe it’s time re-evaluate what your goal weight should be. For some reason I got the number 140 in my head and I’ve never been able to reach that. I had to decide that 144 was okay as my goal weight. Let it go.

The trick to fix this: Pat yourself on the back for being in great shape and just enjoy it!

You’re Eating Out All The Time

Restaurant eating is my downfall. It’s so easy to overeat at a restaurant. The portion sizes are always double, sometimes triple, and then there’s the bread baskets or chips and salsa that are easy to consume way too much of. Not to mention the liquid calories in happy hour drinks! It all adds up and it adds up fast.

The trick to fix this: Try limiting how often you eat out each week. Eat breakfast at home, take your lunch to work and try to make better decisions when eating out–try splitting entrees or taking half home for leftovers. It’s hard, but doable.

You Do Too Much Cardio

This was the revelation I made recently, and wrote about it a few times. Eventually cardio just doesn’t do the trick. Apparently too much can burn muscle for fuel for the body. Weight lifting was the one thing I regret not doing during my journey to lose 100 pounds. I regret it so much because I feel like I would have lost weight faster, would have been stronger, and wouldn’t have had so many plateaus. Learn from my mistakes!

The trick to fix this: Reduce cardio and add weight lifting a few times a week.

Can you relate to any of the above reasons? There are a ton of reasons why your scale may not be budging. The secret is to keep at it and don’t give up. Plateaus can last a week, a month or several months. Sometimes fitness and health is less about that number on the scale and more about how you feel about yourself and how your clothes fit. Good luck!

QUESTION: Have you been stuck in a plateau? What worked for you?

 

A-Abstinence * B-Balance * C-Calories * D-Vitamin D * E-Emergency * F-Fast Food and Fine Dining * G-Gym Bag * H-Happy Weight * I-Intervals * J-Jumping * K-Keeping Sane * L-Losing Weight * M-Measuring Mistakes *N-Nemesis * O-Open *