Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How To Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau

Most of us have been here before. You start eating really well, you've been getting your butt into the gym, and you're actually seeing results! But as time goes by, you start to notice that the scale isn't budging anymore, despite your hard efforts.

I know exactly how this feels. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have read a post about my experience with a 20lb weight gain in 7 months. Yikes. But the worst part of it all? The weight gain wasn't even my fault...

And no, I promise I'm not making excuses. I was put on antidepressants back in October to help with my anxiety and depression due to all the crazy things that have been going on in my life (i.e. moving, having no friends, etc). At first, I thought being on medication was really going to help me. But flash forward seven months and it finally clicks in my head that my jeans haven't shrunk in the dryer, but I've actually put on a solid 20 lbs. I can't express to you how confused and frustrated I am. How can I be working out harder in the gym and watching explicitly what I put into my mouth, but still be gaining weight? After doing so assessing, I realized that the weight gain all boiled down to one thing...that damn medication.

Now, I'm not saying that being on medication is a bad thing, because it totally helps people have a better quality of life. However, I think doctors are too quick to put you on medication without assessing the real, underlying issue and especially without telling you the drastic side effects that go along with it. Okay, I'm starting to ramble on here. But I just wanted to show you that you're not alone if you are in a weight loss journey. We are all in this together!  Now, let's get to what this post is really about.

Before I get to my main tips, I first want you to find a mirror. Look at yourself and tell yourself (out loud!) five things you like about yourself. This can be anything; your eyes, lips, teeth, humor, eyebrows...the list goes on. The reason why I want you to do this first is because we have to remember (myself included!) that we are not defined by the number on the scale or how far we have to go to squeeze our thighs into those skinny jeans. We are so much more than that. Got your five things? Write them down on a piece on paper and tape that shit onto your mirror so that every time you look at yourself to criticize what you hate about yourself, you can remember all the things you love about who you are. Got that? Alright, let's move on to the tips!

1. Assess Your Eating Patterns
Do you find yourself mindlessly heading to the pantry after dinner time? Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having a night snack. But if you are hit with cravings as soon as you cleaned your dinner plate, something isn't right. Be sure you are filling up with a nutrient dense dinner including healthy carbs, proteins, and most importantly, fats. Healthy fats will keep you satiated a heck of a lot longer than any other macronutrient because they take a longer time for the body to break down. If you truly cannot rid yourself of those post-dinner cravings, make yourself a cup of green tea with a squeeze of honey to satisfy your sweet tooth.

2. Change Up Your Workouts
My father tells me this like it is his job. I am a culprit of sticking to the same workout routine for months and months on end. It's no wonder I am no longer seeing any progress! When you stick to the same workouts, whether that'd be strength training, running, or circuits, your body will eventually get used to it. It will no longer be put into shock and have to adapt to the stress you are putting your body under. Instead, it will say, "Been here, done that. I know exactly how much I should be expending to get through this workout. Easy peasy." And you do not want this to happen. When your body gets used to a certain workout, it no longer has to adapt to the workout because you are using the same muscles and burning the same amount of calories every time. Instead of doing a steady-paced 3 mile run, switch it up by doing intervals. Sprint all out for 30 seconds and walk for 1 minute. This type of training is called High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. By doing this type of interval training, it'll give your metabolism a boost and your body will keep burning calories even after you've completed your workout!

3. Don't Just Eat for Calories, Eat for Nutrients
While counting calories can be helpful for some, I do not recommend it. As someone who has counted calories for two years now (yikes!), it eventually becomes very tedious and can even become obsessive. You become so fixated on the number of calories that you forget to feed your body what it truly needs; food that is nutrients dense and is as processed as little as possible. Think about it like this, your body would much rather be fed 100 calories worth of sweet potato than it would being fed a 100 calorie cookie snack pack. That snack pack has close to zero nutrients for your body while the sweet potato has quality carbohydrates, vitamin A, fiber, and vitamin B-6. When your body is lacking certain nutrients, it can cause you to crave unhealthy foods in order to get those nutrients it needs. A common example is if you crave chocolate, your body is really craving magnesium, which can be found in raw nuts, seeds, and some fruits. 

4. Just Because You Exercised, Doesn't Mean You Can Pig Out
This mentality is very common among most people. They feel that because they went for a run that it is an excuse to pig out on pizza and ice cream. There are a few things wrong with this type of mentality. Firstly, pizza and ice cream are not a quality post-workout meal/snack. After a workout, you should be refueling with quality protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Notice the words "quality" and "healthy". Secondly, keep in the back of your mind the basic premise of weight loss: burning more calories than you take in. While I hate to put such an emphasis on calories (because its potential to become obsessive), if you only burn 300 calories in your workout and you consume 600 calories after your workout, you could potentially be going over your daily calorie allowance (also referred to as you Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE). The most effective way to ensure that you are not going over your TDEE without relying on calorie counting apps or recording everything you eat on paper, is to simply move your body, listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues, and practice portion control. 

I hope these tips help you assess what could be causing your weight loss plateau! However, I just want you to remember that you are so much more than the number on the scale. Rather than tracking your progress by stepping on the scale, track your progress through pictures, the way you feel, and how you fit into your clothes. Take progress pictures on an empty stomach, in the same position with as close to the same lighting and timing as possible. This will give you the most accurate comparison. Obviously your stomach may look a tad bigger after you've eaten a whole day's worth of food compared to as soon as you wake up in the morning! Keep in mind that other more important factors for weight loss other than looking physically better such as feeling more confident in yourself and having more energy to live your life!

Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know if you want me to continue with these health and fitness posts!
Much love,
Gabriella xx


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