The Realistic Victory

The Realistic Victory

You’ve been cutting carbs, lifting weights, and doing cardio till you are soaked. You’ve actually dropped two sizes. You feel fabulous. You look fit. Now if only you could lose those last five pounds…

Sound familiar? Welcome to the infamous Diet Plateau. After making a mountainous effort to exercise and eat right, you find your weight loss results have come to a halt. Diet plateaus are very real, usually occurring four weeks to two months into a diet.
I have a friend who I see about every six months. For the last three years, every time I see her she is complaining about losing that last five pounds. Talk about a diet plateau. We all know it doesn’t take three years to lose five pounds. She seems to be doing the right things, but just can’t seem to get those last few pounds off.

 

To lean down for my bodybuilding competition I lost around 20 pounds. This was not a sustainable weight, and it was purely for the competition. However, I did want to equalize at around a 10 pound net loss after the competition. I was able to keep my weight there for about five months, but then it started to creep up.

I have never been a fan of scales, and I even recommend that people put their scales away and just go by the fit of their clothes, and how they look and feel. When I was training, though, it was important to keep track of my weight loss and fat loss, so I started weighing myself every few days. This continued after my competition was over, and that is how I noticed this creep. I really couldn’t understand it. I was eating about the same as I had been eating the past five months, yet my weight was five pounds higher, and I couldn’t seem to get it off. I even bought a scale (for the first time in 30 years) because I thought that there MUST be something wrong with the scale at the gym. I know… a little obsessive.

A diet plateau can result from several factors. It may be a question of what, exactly, you’re losing. Seventy percent of the weight you lose in the first two to three weeks of a diet is water. By the end of the third week, water loss will account for only about twenty percent of weight loss. Once you begin burning body fat rather than merely shedding water, you have to work harder. Most people can lose a pound of water weight a week by cutting their daily intake by 200 to 300 calories. Losing a pound of fat a week requires cutting about 500 calories a day.

Beware though… consuming too few calories also can waylay weight loss. You need a certain amount of calories for everyday functioning. If you try to lose weight too quickly by radically reducing calories, your body will slow your metabolism to compensate, creating a weight-loss plateau.

Other ways that diets are unintentionally sabotaged include underestimating portions—essentially overeating without realizing it—and consuming hidden sources of calories, such as excess fat used in meal preparation. You also may not be working out at the right exercise intensity, thereby overestimating the calories you’re burning at the gym.

(Below are some tips to help with a plateau.) However, I have been considering some other things. As I really look at how much exercise I am doing, I realize that I have not decreased the amount of time or intensity. I also know in my heart of hearts that it is not realistic to do more exercise than I am already doing. I also took a look at my diet. I am averaging 1400 calories a day. That is sustainable for me. I do not feel deprived or hungry, but if I start to cut a few hundred calories, it is not realistic. I have decided that I have reached my ideal weight. My sustainable weight. Yes, I would like to be five pounds lighter, but it is not realistic, so I am okay with it. I think my friend has also reached her ideal weight, and she just needs to be okay with it.

Anyway, on to the tips…

Consume the Correct Number of Calories

Eat enough to maintain weight loss at a pace of one to two pounds per week. If you’re losing more than two pounds of body fat a week, some of that weight loss is coming from muscle. When you lose muscle mass, you slow down your metabolism.

The Calorie Need Calculator link and Activity Calorie Calculator link can help you to figure out the perfect number for you.

Exercise

Add some exercise. Do some form of extra aerobic exercise three to five days a week and strength training two to three times a week. Strength training maintains and/or increases muscle mass, helping boost your metabolism.

Start a Food Journal

Recording what you eat make you aware of extra calories. The numbers don’t lie and they can add up fast. That handful of Doritos will affect your body, even if it came from a bag on someone else’s desk.

Be Patient

Sometimes we need to allow the body a period of time to adjust, and then weight loss will resume.

The Bottom Line: Take time to congratulate yourself on having come this far. Then adjust your routine to carry you to weight-loss victory. But make sure that your victory is realistic and sustainable.

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