You’ve started your weight loss journey and you’ve really put in the time and effort so far. You’re doing group classes, attending workshops, and mixing both strength training and cardio during your own workouts. You’re noticing really positive changes in how your clothes are fitting and how you feel, but your weight loss has stalled for days, maybe even weeks! What now?
Don’t freak out just yet! This is so common and actually a natural occurrence for most people who are trying to drop some pounds. First and foremost, you should be proud of how far you’ve made it through your journey. It takes hard work, determination, consistency, and time to make a significant weight change. There’s still more work to be done, though, and that’s what we’re going to talk about.
Why Is Weight Loss Stalling?
So why, after all that effort, is your weight stalling? There are a few different reasons.
1. For the first few weeks of any new style of training (whether it’s new to you, or new to your body in terms of how often you’re exercising) you will naturally drop a fairly good amount of weight. Getting a little sciency, your body has stored glycogen in it. Glycogen (the body’s main source of energy) is basically the plural of glucose, which we get from the broken down sugars in carbohydrates consumed.
When we expend energy, we are also releasing the stored water that is in glycogen. When there is a surplus of glycogen in the body, there is also a surplus of water which means, at first, you are losing a lot of water weight. This isn’t a bad thing! It’s normal for the body and is just one of the beginning processes of losing weight.
2. When you lose weight, you are expending more energy (exercising) than you are getting energy in (consuming food, drinks, anything with calories). When this happens, your body is still using that glycogen for energy, but because it is stored in the liver and muscle tissues, you’re sapping those stores. This means thatyou’re decreasing your skeletal muscle mass (read: your metabolism), which isn’t great, but it’s just going to happen when you’re trying to lose weight.
3. Albert Einstein is well known for a lot of things; the Theory of Relativity might be one you are more familiar with, but he is also well known for having said that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” While he may be the father of science, he could have also been the father of motivational fitness quotes! The main point here is that doing the same kind of exercises without changing things to progress further will inevitably keep you in the same place.
Breaking Through the Plateau
And how might one combat these common culprits?
1. Increase your energy expenditure. At the end of the day, it comes down to calories in vs. calories out, so if you don’t want to change your food habits, you can change your exercise habits, instead! Add in an extra cardio session once or twice throughout the week, or if you don’t have time for that, just tack on a few extra minutes to each session you normally do. I wouldn’t recommend doing hours of cardiovascular work per day, but be smart about things. Don’t do what you couldn’t normally maintain. But DO challenge yourself.
2. Cut more calories.To do this safely, we have a Registered Dietitian on site to help you through the process, but even just a slight decrease can make a large impact on getting your weight to drop again.
3. Change up your routine!Instead of running the same 3 miles at your usual pace, try some HIIT (high intensity interval training) instead. Here’s an example.
Fat-Blasting HIIT Cardio Routine
- 3-5 minute walk/jog warm up
- 15 second sprint
- 45 second jog
*repeat sprint and jog/walk 10 times 3-5 minute walk/job cool down
If you find this to be too intense, you can always taper it down! Instead of sprinting for 15 seconds, try jogging. Additionally, to replace the 45 second jog you can walk!
The main takeaway is to continue to progress. Just like in life, you wouldn’t remain stagnant doing the same kinds of things because, well, that’s just boring! When it comes to fitness, it’s a similar principle: to see change, you have to make it first.