It’s been months since you embarked on your weight loss journey. You’ve been eating well and working out regularly, but the same number on the scale is sticking like super glue. Weight loss plateaus are annoying, but if you hit one, it’s a good time re-evaluate your diet and exercise routine.
Define your goals
You can’t reach the finish line if you don’t know when you’re there. If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, there’s a chance that you’re already at a healthy weight or don’t have an actual plan to reach your goal.
Set a SMART goal. One that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. “I want to lose 10 pounds before July 1 and will do action steps X, Y and Z to get there” is one example. Select your end game, then write it down.
Study up on portion control
Overeating is a symptom of a weight loss plateau. And yes, it’s possible to overdo it on even the most nutritious foods on the planet.
Stop banking calories
Avoid eating too little during the day and don’t save calories. This will likely put you on a cycle of overeating once the sun goes down.
Instead, start your day strong. Fueling up in the morning is a much smarter strategy than severely restricting caloric intake to lose weight. That strategy might actually backfire and lead to yo-yo dieting.
Pack healthy snacks
One common mistake dieters make is to skip snacking to save calories, but in reality, it sets you back in the long run and can lead to a weight loss plateau.
Some healthy snack ideas include protein-energy bites, Greek yoghurt with berries and nuts, hummus with veggie sticks or a smoothie. It’s important that your snack has some protein, carbs, and fat to keep you full.
Write down your meals or use an app to keep track of them
You can easily spot the reasons for your weight loss plateau when you write things down. It’s easy to forget those handfuls of candy or that afternoon latte. Get it write with both your eats and your exercise by recording them in a journal or app.
You might overlook those calories if you’re not reminded while tracking them.
Drink water before chowing down
Down a bottle of water before dinner and you’ll tend to take in fewer calories, reports a study published in the journal Obesity. Why? All that H2O helps your stomach start the meal more satiated—even with zero calories.
Build better meals
Think of each lunch and dinner plate as a pie chart. Aim to fill half with non-starchy vegetables and water-rich fruits, a quarter with lean protein and the final quarter with healthy carbohydrates (such as quinoa, brown rice or sweet potato).
Take your nutrition to the next level
Rather than restricting (“I can’t have any carbs” or “gluten is a no-go for me!”), flip the script and aim to integrate more nutrition into your meals.
Quit cheating all weekend
Stick with the structure that works during the week to stay on track—perhaps adding in a few more steps since you may have more time—and allow yourself to share dessert or order a glass of wine with dinner. The latter logic will remind you that nothing is off-limits. (Psst…you can try this on a Tuesday every so often, too.)
Go less carb-heavy
Many of us are used to eating large portions of carbs in particular, especially when ordering take-out or dining at restaurants. As a gut check until you can eyeball a single serving, use measuring cups to stick to the right size of starch.
Bulk up on veggies
Eat more fibre at every meal and nix carb cravings—even while consuming fewer calories—by incorporating more non-starchy vegetables such as carrots, celery, cauliflower, asparagus and mushrooms.
Find a weight loss buddy(ies)
Motivation can come and go, but fit friendships can be forever. Seek out group workout classes filled with individuals who have similar fitness goals or find a group on social media to check in with, so you can cheer each other on as you all rock that first 5K.
Employ non-food rewards
If your usual pat-on-the-back for rocking that Pilates class is an extra brownie each night before bed, you might want to reconsider and switch to a non-food reward. Some non-food rewards include new workout gear, a massage, a ticket to a concert, or new kitchen tools.
Avoid elimination diets
Choose quality rather than counting every last calorie or gram of carbohydrate or fat.
Take one day, one step at a time
Self-awareness and self-discipline are two crucial personality traits to peel off pounds. Don’t feel so strong in those areas yet? No sweat.
Learn your triggers and avoid them. If you tend to overeat in or make unhealthy choices in certain situations, rearrange your environment and schedule accordingly.