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Wednesday 4 January 2012

Weight Loss Plateau: 5 Questions You Need to Answer, Part 3

Do you know what your healthy weight range is? As you age this is a number that you want to know. It’s not uncommon to hit a weight loss plateau in general however, these plateaus seem to get more frequent as you age. In my last post on weight loss plateau, I discussed the importance of breaking weight loss into smaller goals. Today, we’ll delve into two areas that create angst among women trying to lose those stubborn pounds.

Question #2 
Do you nibble a lot? Of course not you may say to yourself. However, your nibbling may be so subtle that you don’t even realize it. When is the last time you popped something into your mouth during dinner prep? Do you habitually finish the food on your kid’s plate? Oh, I know - it’s just a little chicken strip or side of macaroni and cheese. However, in a few weeks those little bites add up. If you add up the total times you nibble and attach a caloric amount to the food you’d be floored by how much food you’re really eating. Trust me, I’ve tried it and it works. After 3 p.m. is a danger zone for me and many other women I work with. One day I added up those nibbles and came up with an extra 450 calories! Very scary. Now if you nibble like this regularly, you could be eating an additional 300-500 a day without thinking about it. Hence the weight loss plateau begins and in some cases continues.

So what if you’re a chronic nibbler? There are several ways to conquer this challenge. First, avoid cooking when you’re hungry. It’s so much easier to nibble to make-up for missed calories earlier in the day. The only problem is that when you’re hungry and potentially stressed out (dinner is a beast!) nibbling could end up being another meal. If possible, eat half of your meal prior to the real meal. You’ll tackle the hunger pangs and prevent eating too much throughout the day. Another way to conquer this challenge is to chew sugar-free gum during those critical zones. There’s nothing tasty about eating a cookie while chewing gum. 1-2 teaspoons of Apple cider vinegar with an 8 oz. glass of water is another trick to help neutralize the nibbles.

Question #3 
Are you stressed about your slow weight loss? If you’re stressing over weight loss, your weight loss may stall. Let’s paint the scenario. Say you’ve lost weight and have the last 15 pounds to go. You’re excited and you know it’s a matter of time before you reach your goal. But then something happens; the one pound that originally took you one week to lose now takes three weeks! You stay on track - you exercise daily and eat really well (no cheating) - but nothing happens. Now you’re frustrated and you begin to wonder if you’ll ever reach your goal. Now you’re thinking about your weight loss constantly, you’re more critical, and mealtime becomes the dreaded time. Guess what? You’re stressing over your weight and research shows that high stress levels lead to high cortisol (e.g. hormone surge) levels. High stress levels can cause you to plateau or even put on weight due to either overeating (see Question 2) or stay in a toxic stress state.

If you’re stressed over your weight loss, relax - literally! The best thing you can do is take things one day at a time. The reality is that as you age, weight loss will slow down especially if you dieted throughout your life. You can loss those last pounds but your time horizon has to be longer. Instead of a weekly goal, set a goal six months out. The one caveat is that you have to stay on track. If you fall off the wagon one day, get back up and try the next day. However, you can’t stay off the wagon long. Taking a week off means that you may have to add another month to reaching your goals.

 In my next post I’ll discuss the last culprits that can affect your weight loss plateau. What things are you doing to avoid nibbling and remove toxic stress from your life?


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