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Many of us have experienced a stall in weight loss at some point or another. There are many different triggers for a plateau, and in today’s post I’d like to talk about some of those triggers that I have personally experienced and share some strategies for when the scale stops moving.
I’m not a doctor or nutritionist; this is just from my own personal experience. Everyone is different, but hopefully some of these tips can resonate with you and give you some helpful ideas.
I underestimated the extent to which stress will cause my body to hang on to its stored resources. For about a year and a half, my body was in a high stress state due to my crazy schedule and work responsibilities (namely, my cookbook project). Since my body was sleep-deprived and always in a state of tension, it was scared to let go of any of the fat it had stored up for an emergency – because surely this stress level indicated an emergency! Only within the past two months has my body finally figured out that things have calmed down enough for it to be able to relinquish its hold on stored fat.
Weight loss can actually be a form of stress in itself because of all the changes undergone by the body. Therefore it’s no surprise that periods of weight loss are often followed by a plateau in which your body “catches up” to its new normal. Don’t worry! Keep plugging away and you’ll be rewarded.
Surprise, surprise – the solution to the stress issue is to…de-stress. Easier said than done, I know. At least make sure you get plenty of sleep. As you’re able, take time for activities that will help you chill out. If that’s a form of physical exercise or just being active by playing a game of hide-and-seek with your family, great! You’ll kill two or three birds with one stone.
Hanging out with the horses is a great way to de-stress. Smokey doesn’t like hugs.
Yep, if you know me, you knew this was going to come up. Years ago I published a blog post titled “Food Freedom or Gluttony?” which covers this very topic. No, the Trim Healthy Mama plan doesn’t count calories, and neither do I! I’m not going to start, either. But…being aware of the calories you consume is good, and for some of us who are naturally “easy keepers” (‘scuse the horse terminology), it’s necessary. THM does a great job of making the metabolism run efficiently, but even THM cannot magically undo the effects of stuffing your face with peanut butter at every meal. (Guilty!) There is still a basic principle of calories in, calories out, that cannot be overlooked if you want to lose weight. The amount of calories one can eat and still lose weight varies drastically from person to person. I personally cannot get away with eating as much as many people can even if I stay away from all sugar and follow Trim Healthy Mama to a T. I’m aware of that, and it’s something I have to work around, and that’s fine.
Did you know that there are 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates, but 9 calories per gram of fat? We totally need fats to remain healthy, but we do need to be aware of the fact that they’re twice as calorie-dense as some other macronutrients. Trim Healthy Mama offers a balance of S (fats), E (carbs), and FP (low carb, low fat) meals for a reason! Switching up fuel types switches up calorie load.
The salmon recipe below can fit any THM fuel type depending on what you serve with it. Check out the recipe post for details.
Towards the end of testing recipes for my cookbook, I tested a LOT of heavy recipes. One time I made 4 cheesecakes in one week! (I saved all the heavy recipes for the end….) Not good for weight loss, trust me. Now that I’m not working on a cookbook list, I have more freedom to make what I want to make, so I’m trying to focus on Deep S, E, and Fuel Pull meals and snacks. Deep S uses foundation fats like butter and coconut oil that burn more cleanly than fats like cream cheese and nuts. Sure, I have my fair share of regular S meals, but I try to include a good number of Es and Fuel Pulls for a lighter calorie load to balance those out. It works! Sometimes I even go as far as only having one S meal a day. Don’t get me wrong – that approach isn’t for everyone. Some people respond better to more S meals and fewer E meals, especially when they first start THM. I’ve been on THM for over 3 years, so my body seems to have gotten rid of most of its extra glucose and handles back-to-back E meals just fine. (But that’s not a rut I would want to get into, either. Balance, balance, balance.) It’s amazing how the body adjusts. When I first started THM, E meals didn’t fill me up for more than an hour or two. Now the same meal will keep me full for 3-4 hours!
Even though it’s good to be mindful of calories, be sure that you don’t throw your body into starvation mode by not eating enough. Know which ditch you tend to fall into and adjust your diet accordingly. Not eating enough can stress your body and cause it to hold onto weight.
This Chocolate Dreamy is a deliciously filling THM Fuel Pull!
This isn’t an issue that I’ve had to deal with personally, but it bears mentioning. If you can’t lose weight despite doing everything right, you may need to see a doctor to find out if you’re sensitive to certain foods.
Got allergies? Most of my recipes are organized by allergy info in this index.
Exercise can cause weight loss plateaus and help you break through them. Go figure. Exercise may cause you to hold onto fluids for a few days, resulting in a temporary weight gain. But don’t stop exercising! Give your body a break once or twice a week, be patient, and you will see results. Eventually the scale will plunge with a satisfying drop, and all the blood, sweat, and tears will be worth it. Even if you don’t see a drop in weight, I guarantee you’ll feel better (and look better) due to increased muscle tone. Muscle is of exponential benefit because muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn even when you’re just relaxing!
Not an exercise person? Try 15 minutes a day. Every little bit helps. I’m personally not an exercise freak, but I’ve found that I feel a lot better when I’m active, and every little bit of activity helps me burn more calories, which in turn balances the calories in, calories out equation! If grunting with weights doesn’t sound appealing, find something more interesting. I personally enjoy running in limited doses, but I have some pronation issues and need to get some better shoes before I do too much of it. More on the lazy side by nature, I prefer activities like riding horse, hiking, playing volleyball with my siblings, and riding bike. Be creative with your exercise. A more active lifestyle in general is a great habit to build and will provide a lot of benefits other than weight loss and increased muscle tone, such as better relationships, a suntan, and reduced stress levels. 😉
A Final Word to the Wise
Keep in mind that weight loss can be a slow process! Sometimes your body just needs time to adjust and heal before it sheds the weight. Good things are happening – they’re just not registering on the scale yet! If you’re getting discouraged and have looked at this list and feel like you’re doing the best you can, put the scale away for awhile.
Buy the old fashioned kind of scale without a digital reader on it. It’ll take all the fun out of weighing. 😛 My husband bought this kind when we got married (because it was cheaper) and I’ve barely weighed myself since…bahaha.
Don’t give up! Play around with your diet and activity levels until you find something that feels like it’s working, but be patient because sometimes it takes a few weeks of doing things right until your body decides that it’s OK to go in a downward direction again.
Can you identify with any of the points above? Do you have anything to add from a different perspective? Please comment below and tell me!