October 4, 2012

How I Handle Plateaus

Plateaus are the most frustrating thing one faces when they are trying to lose weight.

I mean you wake up, you take your morning piss and then you step on the damn scale and what do you see? The same flippin' number you saw the day before, and the day before that, and even the week before that.

For me, weight loss plateaus are annoying (of course) but somewhat of a personal challenge. Basically, I see it as my body challenging me to a fight; and guess who will win. ME!

Losing weight is really a mental game. When you wrap your head around the idea that your mind controls your body you probably will start to lose the weight. Too many people concentrate on, “I want to be skinny ASAP,” and never give their bodies a break and realize the machine will follow the mind. When it comes to a plateau, your mind is the most useful tool that will see you through that plateau.

If you look to right of this entry, you will see my breakdown of how much I lost each month. If you can see, my body is ULTRA stubborn when it comes to weight loss. (2 lbs./month is awful in case you didn't know.) I considered every month a plateau month. It’s not that I’m doing something wrong or that I’m eating cake or anything. I know my body and it takes its sweet time to get to a normal weight. I know this because I've done this twice before in my life. (Urgh! Just writing that pisses me off. You’d think I would have learned the past two times. I think that embarrasses me more than the weight itself. The fact that I have the potential to lose weight and maintain it for YEARS, but then I go and slack off …it’s embarrassing! I know better! Anyway, rant over.)

So what do I do when I’m in a plateau?

First of all, I don’t give up! That’s what my body is trying to do by staying at a certain weight. It is resistant to change and it wants me to stop trying to change it.

Second of all, I reassess that I am maintaining the right calorie count and staying within my macro-nutrient ratios.

Third of all, related to the above, I shift my macro-nutrients around to either lower my fat and increase my protein or lower my carbs and increase my fat intake. You might think that it’s counter intuitive to increase the fat you take in, but if it’s healthy fat (i.e. avocados, nuts, olive oil, etc.) then it’s actually good to increase your fat for a short period of time (a week or two).

Fourth, I increase my workout time or intensity. I tend to increase the intensity slightly and add more time to the workout if it is cardio. If it is weights, then I try to increase the weight I’m lifting and maybe change up the movements I’m doing.

Last, I throw in two ultra-high calorie days in a week followed by two baseline calorie days. This is called calorie zig-zagging if you didn't know. (This is the awesome website I used to do the calculations for me). This means that if I’m normally eating 1600 calories a day, I will do a couple days at an ultra-high 2,000 calories and then balance it out the next few days with a lower amount of 1300. This always works for me, but is really hard to maintain over time because I constantly have to remember what my calorie count is for the day. It's just a lot of work, that's why I only do it for 2 weeks at a time.

I use the steps above at random times while I am dieting. It all depends on where I am mentally as well as how busy my life is.What about you? How do you handle weight loss plateaus? I hope you don’t get discouraged and quite! Just remember if you keep at it, it will work!

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