Today we’re talking about how to bust through stalls and plateaus in your weight loss like the Kool Aid Man!
Spoiler alert: you’re always going to have stalls and plateaus.
It’s like your body is not designed to consistently and constantly lose weight.
Our human body does not prioritize weight loss. It can perceive losing fat mass as losing a valuable entity.
When we consciously decide to lose weight, and we do all the things to lose weight, sometimes our bodies are going to slow that process down.
That is normal, it is natural, it is to be expected.
I am going to unwind it and go through some strategies that you can use. I also want to set you up for success, so that we’re not constantly quitting on our goals.
We’re not letting the stall or plateau make us think;
- It’s not working,
- It’s not going to work,
- I’m doing something wrong,
- This will never work.
It’s okay, if you do have those thoughts. I have those thoughts regularly about lots of things. We just don’t let it go further than that.
We can feel sad or disappointed or worried. Part of being human is to have all of the human feelings, but not take the action. Not let “it’s not working” and me feeling disappointed, allow me to quit.
Instead, how about, I’m going to figure this out!
I think this is an important mind shift, a mindset shift that you might need to hear everything is figure out able, and I’m going to help you figure it out today. Just like we were sitting together at a table or on a zoom call. We’re gonna go through all of the things to figure out what rock we haven’t looked under to diagnose or troubleshoot your weight loss or lack of weight loss.
When I talk to someone, and they feel like “my weight is not moving,” let’s look at all of the things.
- We have a scale.
- We could have a tape measure.
- We could have body composition.
- Even photos.
There’s a lot of different data that we can look at along your journey.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight for three or four weeks, that’s not going to be a ton of data to look at. I will say most people, when they decide to lose weight, usually the first week or two, that’s when you notice that first initial drop. Often that is water weight loss from reducing calories, reducing carbs, reducing sweets and all of that stuff.
That’s normal, that’s natural. And that’s okay.
I don’t care if it’s water weight, I don’t care what it is. We’re getting a little bit of momentum, we can see, hey, I’m paying attention to what I’m eating, I’m paying attention to what I’m doing, and it’s paying off. Then our brains expect it to continue.
Well, I lost three pounds that first week or five pounds the first week or more. I’ve seen people lose nine or 10 pounds in a week. Our brains think oh, well if I lost that much weight the first week, I should be able to keep doing that over and over. And that’s not true.
I don’t want to tell you not to have high expectations for yourself, for your weight loss, for your life, for your goals. I am all about the high expectations. I love setting really high goals for myself and then being okay when it doesn’t happen in the time frame that I thought I could make it happen.
If you want to lose the last 10 pounds, the first 20, the first 50, 100 pounds, doesn’t really matter the time frame. If I lost 30 pounds it doesn’t matter if it took me 4 months, 6 months, 10 months or 12 months.
I know, you’re saying, “yeah, I want it gone now!”
If you really think about it, how long did it take you to put that weight on?
Let’s look at all the different types of data you could have.
Scale. How often are you weighing yourself? Are you weighing yourself every day or twice a day? Waiting for the scale to go down and simply using the scale to dictate your journey? A lot of people do this. If this is you, that is okay. I’m not trying to shame you or call you out but you’re going to be on a roller coaster of emotions. You’re going to have a lot of emotions, and not the good ones.
When we’re just constantly looking to the scale to decide,
- How am I doing?
- Am I having a good day?
- Am I doing it right?
- What should I eat?
- What can I eat?
- What shouldn’t I eat?
- Am I a good person?
All of that. Then the scale becomes like the magic eight ball. Like you’re gonna shake the scale and ask “am I doing it right” and hope to get an answer. If it doesn’t give me the answer I want, if the scale doesn’t go down. That’s a problem. So we want to look beyond the scale.
Measuring tape. I know, super old school, but it’s worth having. If you’re on a weight loss journey. Why don’t we make it official?
Why don’t we get really serious here, instead of just saying;
- I want to lose weight,
- I hope I can lose weight.
- I hope this works.
- I’m going to try this.
No, let’s be serious.
- Let’s actually take out a notebook.
- Let’s actually record things.
- Let’s record what we eat.
- Let’s record our weight over time.
- Let’s go ahead and put in our measurements.
You’re not going to measure yourself every day and see a difference. But what if you did it every two weeks or every month? You could measure your arm, your thigh, your calf, your waist, your hips, your chest, you could do whatever measurements you want. Just be consistent with it.
Obviously, there’s going to be some inconsistencies if you hold the tape measure in a different place. But by and large, you’re going to at least get some benchmarks.
Photos. I know you’re probably thinking, I don’t want to put those photos in my phone. I just found out from one of my current self made clients that she had been taking pictures all along and putting them in the hidden folder of her iPhone. I didn’t even know iPhones had a hidden folder. Now I don’t have to have all of my underwear and bra pictures just in my phone.
I would really focus on collecting more data. I know sometimes we take the photo and we don’t like the photo. We take another photo that wasn’t a good one. Let me hold the camera like this. Let me hold it at this angle. That’s not good lighting. That looks bad. Don’t do that. Take it.
No matter how good or bad the picture is, you’re gonna think it’s bad. That’s just our human brains. I think we’ve already determined that.
I think collecting the data, so that in a month, 2 months, 4 months, a year, we have a lot of data to look at.
We’re not playing the game of;
- Why isn’t my weight loss working?
- Why am I at a stall?
- How come it’s at a plateau?
- How come I’m not losing weight?
- It must mean it’s not working.
So it’s natural, of course, to think all those things but we’re going to actually collect the data.
We’re going to get serious about our weight loss and make it a real thing.
We’re not hoping. We’re not trying. “I’m gonna try it out and see if it works.” No, I’m doing it!
Let’s actually look under all the big rocks. Sometimes we look under small rocks.
We think our weight loss is,
- I don’t have the magic pill.
- I’m not meditating in the morning.
- I’m not flossing with the right floss.
We look at really minutiae stuff.
There’s nothing about flossing your teeth that leads to weight loss, but maybe it does. It certainly makes your mouth happy and your dentist happy as well.
Let’s look at the big rock called Food.
If you want to lose weight, and you’re not losing weight and you feel like your weight loss is stalled. Let’s really look at food. Do you keep a food journal? Do you keep any kind of food log? How will we know exactly what we’ve been doing over the last 4, 8, 12, 16 weeks?
I would suggest a food journal, again, because you’re serious about weight loss and you want to see what is actually happening. Just like bringing your car to a car mechanic, they are not going to just guess wildly at what the problem is. They’re going to open the hood of the car. They’re going to look at all of the parts. They’re going to run diagnostics. They’re not just going to say, try this, try that. Try driving on two wheels. Try driving with all the windows down.
We’re going to get serious and look at food.
Tell me about your food quality.
I get it. We can’t always eat organic food. We’re not all going to shop at Whole Foods. Overall, what’s the food quality? Or are you eating like a five year old? Do you eat Fritos every day? Do you not eat any vegetables? What are you eating?
I think it’s worth asking, do I believe that you can eat Fritos and lose weight? I do. Do I believe that Fritos have any nutritional value? I don’t.
Processed foods, by and large, are empty calories. They provide no nutrition. That’s what that means, and potentially could set you up for not having a great gut biome. I’m sure bad bacteria in our gut love to eat junk food.
We get in the habit of eating highly refined processed foods because they’re very delicious and addictive. I think it’s a lot easier to make those less frequent.
How about the amount of food?
How much are you really eating? Do you need a food scale? I don’t believe you do. I do think you want to be able to have an idea of how much you’re eating, like eyeball it.
Are you eating all the right things? You’re eating the quality grass fed beef, and you’re eating a lot of vegetables, but you’re also using a lot of butter, or oil. Getting seconds and thirds. Is that the problem, that we’re eating too much food? Or are we eating highly caloric? You know, butter and oil, things that add additional calories, but don’t really add up to our bellies not feeling full.
You could say that oil has some good properties. Oftentimes, our oil is not the best quality. You’d be better off supplementing with Omega three.
I would look at your food, and not be judgmental. Not to be like, look at all these things you’re doing wrong, but to really be neutral. Take the bird’s eye view.
Get awareness around what’s really going on.
Sometimes people will use macro trackers, but then not include bites, licks, tastes, extras so the macro tracking becomes useless data.
Same thing with a food journal, you can make a beautiful food journal, it looks perfect. Everything looks just right. But you’re not really being completely honest and weight loss is about honesty, getting serious, taking ownership, full responsibility. I get it.
I know it can feel overwhelming. It can feel like, “I don’t know what to do.” You just have to own it.
If your weight loss is slow, hopefully, I’m going to say something today that is your big aha moment. Where you can go and employ a tool or a strategy to bust through that stall or plateau.
Maybe it’s as simple as being aware of the bites, licks and taste. Being aware that your food is radically different Monday through Friday than it is Saturday and Sunday.
Your weekend is basically a third of your life. That is a big period of time, especially if you’re just starting a weight loss journey. Making a few changes works.
There’s a saying, what got you here won’t get you there. It’s about refining the process, looking more closely.
What do I need to change now that I’m here?
If you’re just starting your weight loss journey, in many ways, that’s a little bit easier. Weight loss can be a little bit speedier.
If you’ve been at this a while then we’re going to want to figure out what needs to happen now? What do I need to tighten up, so to speak?
I have talked previously about tightening and loosening the plan. If you need to break through a stall or plateau, what you’re saying is, I need to tighten up somewhere and we want to figure out what knob to turn.
I’m a shotgun approach kind of lady. I’m a “throw the kitchen sink” at this kind of lady. If I get sick I buy like 900 over the counter medications, literally. I buy everything. I’ll go to CVS and spend like $300, because I’m a big baby. “Woe is me,” and I have to not be sick. I have to try all the things. I have 9000 bottles of supplements. I have everything.
I get it if you want to turn all the knobs. That’s what happens. Sometimes that’s a problem because we don’t know what works and what doesn’t work.
Really narrowing down what is actually happening.
- Why did I hit that stall or plateau?
- Maybe actually paying attention to how the food feels?
- Are you noticing that some foods make you feel bloated?
- Make you feel nauseous?
- Make you break out in hives?
We want to look for clues as to what is happening with our food choices. We have to be ultra aware.
A food journal is key.
I and my coaches inside Self Made and Self Made Society, work with clients on planning the day in advance. If you want to go and do that, that’s great. It is a food journal, but it’s just done in advance. It’s not like, I felt like having some Cheetos. So I ate them and then I put them in the food journal.
It’s more like planning the day. So if I don’t want to have Cheetos, and I don’t put them in the plan, then I don’t eat them.
I also want to caution you to not reduce your calories too much. It happens a lot, we are too low calorie maybe to begin with. Or we try to fast. Or starve our way through a plateau or a stall. That doesn’t work long term. Again, your body does not want to do this.
The more we turn up the heat, so to speak, and we try to over exercise and under eat our body is going to be like, “Oh, this bitch is starving us again and we’re going to slow shit down.”
We want to really be sure that we’re not reducing calories too much. I know it’s very tempting because you want the weight loss. You want it now. The scale needs to go down. But does it stay down? Are we always going to be chasing a number?
When we’re looking at big rocks, I would consider exercise a fairly big rock.
Even just movement.
- Do you move in the day?
- Or are you like sitting all day and you don’t have any movement at all?
- You have no get up from the desk and walking around.
- You’re not going for a walk.
- You don’t have any movement in your life.
I would add exercise.
Walk. I would get moving I think, and you’ve heard me say this before, walk. That’s where I would go first.
I would also caution you. For those of you who are just like me, if you think walking is good and you think well walking then I have to walk five miles. I have to walk 10 miles. No, we just need baby steps. Baby steps and looking to get probably 7500 steps a day.
7500 is where I would probably aim for and then you could up it from there. Maybe you’re looking for 8000 steps a day. I know it’s hard sometimes to get 10,000 steps a day. I don’t think you necessarily have to do that.
Strength training. This is a great place to look. If you’re looking at why am I at a stall or a plateau and the strength training goes both ways. You could be doing too much.
I’ve seen clients who try to out exercise a stall. They try to use more exercise as a way to get faster, better results and that backfires.
They have a lot of muscle soreness, they retain a lot of water, they get injured, their body is in a constant state of high adrenaline or high cortisol, it does not work well.
Too much exercise, especially when you’re trying to push heavy weights to failure, or you’re trying to do a lot of high intensity interval training, and you’re trying to do it every day. You’re going to get better results with more measured exercise.
If I’m going to start strength training, then it’s baby steps. It’s 10 or 15 minutes a day, two or three times a week.
If you’re somebody who does strength training, I probably wouldn’t exceed 40-45 minutes in a session. Doing more is not always better. You might see that this change, even though it seems counter intuitive, will make a difference for you. It might get the fat loss rolling for you.
Ultimately, whatever the scale says, I know;
- You’re looking for fat loss,
- You’re looking for a leaner body,
- You’re looking for better body composition,
Regardless of what the scale says.
If the scale said 200 pounds, but you were a size two and ripped. Is that really a problem?
How about sleep?
This is the one women especially bristle at. You know, because we’re busy all day, we have so much to do.
By the time eight or nine o’clock rolls around, it’s like;
- I couldn’t get ready for bed now,
- I have too much to do.
- I have to catch up on my shows.
- I need to relax.
- I need some “me time.”
Well, how about take your “me time,” put your ass in bed and read a book? Or watch Blue Bloods in bed, like normal people do? I’m kidding. I don’t think normal people do that, but I do that anyway.
Try to set a regular bedtime. I know it won’t always work. You don’t let your kids stay up to midnight because they need some me time. They need to watch more SpongeBob SquarePants. It’s like, you need to go to bed.
I’m telling you. If you nail sleep, you’re going to help yourself in so many ways.
You’ve probably already noticed on nights you do not sleep well, the whole next day you have a foggy brain, you need tons of caffeine, you crave carbs. Long term lack of sleep is a problem. If in the short term here and there. I get it, it’s going to happen.
If we can change our sleep, we’re going to notice a lot of health benefits. This might be the one thing that needs work.
Do you need something to help you go to sleep? I’m not talking about some kind of prescription medicine but there’s plenty of things.
There’s all kinds of supplements that are natural, that you could find to help you go to sleep and stay asleep.
Water. Do you drink water?
How much water? I think for most women, probably half a gallon a day is reasonable.
Could you drink more? Sure. Do you need to? Probably not.
Unless you are a really sweaty person and you lose a lot of fluid. I think most people probably do well with half a gallon.
If you’re nowhere near that. That’s fine. Add eight ounces and every week try to increase that. Baby steps on this.
Sleep and water, to me, are basics.
Food and exercise. That’s usually where our brains go, and usually not in a good way. Usually it’s less food and more exercise, but I want to look a little bit deeper.
- What kind of food are you eating?
- How much are you eating?
- Do you know what you’re eating?
- Do you really know?
- Do you have a good accounting of it?
- Would your accountant or bookkeeper go with your record?
- Or are you going to get a letter from the food IRS?
There are two things you may not have considered when looking at busting through your stall or plateau?
Gut health. How healthy is your digestion?
Some of it we don’t know because I can’t see my gut and your doctor isn’t necessarily going to test your gut bacteria.
You can run a couple questions by yourself like;
- How is your digestion?
- Do you have good bowel movements daily?
- Or regularly?
- Well formed ones?
Yes, I’m talking about poop.
Do you have;
- A lot of gas?
- Do you take Tums every night?
We want to look at this because this is a big indicator that you are not digesting food very well.
The problem with that is that it could mean you are not actually absorbing nutrients from your food. Which leaves your body in a state of feeling like it doesn’t have enough to eat. It can be a problem for hunger hormones.
When we are not digesting our food, we don’t have the right gut bacteria, we’re experiencing gut dysbiosis. We could have “leaky gut,” where our bodies perceive that regular food is a foreign invader. More and more this is happening.
We live in this toxic society and if you’ve taken antibiotics, have you actually gone and then replenished your gut bacteria?
- Have you given any thought to taking a regular probiotic?
- Do you use any fermented foods?
- Do you pay attention to how certain foods feel in your body?
- What foods give you diarrhea?
- What foods give you cramps?
- What food works best for you?
This is important. This could be one of the reasons that you are having a lot of cravings and that weight loss is slower for you.
It has been shown in studies and data around gut bacteria, that the more weight we have to lose, the more chances are that we have some type of irregularity in our gut bacteria. That makes sense. When we overeat, we over consume, and we have too much fuel on board. We’re not processing that fuel. It puts a heavier burden on our digestive system.
I would really start to use your food journal to make some notes of what is happening.
Some of my clients will figure it out on their own. You know, every time I use protein powder, I get gas or diarrhea. Well, we should probably take that one out.
I would go three to five days and see, maybe it’s a particular powder, maybe there’s something in it that does not agree with you.
- Maybe it’s whey protein that doesn’t agree with you.
- Maybe you should try a plant protein.
- Maybe it’s the sweeteners.
- Maybe it’s just things we eat all the time that our body decides not to like because our gut has some permeability. That’s leaky gut, essentially.
Things like eggs, chicken, soy, oftentimes it is a protein type of food.
Simply taking the food out and giving yourself three to five days is a great test. If you are having significant trouble with your gut, then I would absolutely talk to your doctor. You might need a functional medicine specialist.
Other people that could be helpful are acupuncturists and chiropractors who also specialize in helping people repair their gut. It is worth doing.
If you feel this might be you. It is hard to lose weight. Makes sense, it’s hard to lose weight if your gut is not functioning optimally.
I don’t make this science or medical based on purpose, so I’m not going to go into details about specific types of probiotics or specific strains of bacteria. The World Wide Web is filled with great information. If you’re already my client, you know how to reach me. In Self Made Society and Self Made we talk about all of these things too.
You can get help in managing all of these different facets, because when our gut is not optimal, then we’re also looking at hormone imbalance.
Injuries. One of the things kind of overlooked are injuries. Especially chronic injuries, even acute injuries, anything that is causing inflammation in your body over time.
In speaking to some of my clients, it came out that some of them have had a knee problem for a long, long time, and they just haven’t had it checked out. I get it. We start to work around injuries or limited mobility. We start to just ignore it.
As women, we’re so busy, we make the dentist appointments for the kids and the doctor’s appointments. We take the dog to the vet. Yet, we don’t take ourselves to the doctor. We don’t get the aches and pains checked out. We don’t attend to our injuries, whether that is going to a physician, ortho, acupuncturist, massage therapist, chiropractor or functional medicine person.
There are a lot of different practitioners out there. If you’re in pain, chronic or recurrent pain, I would get that looked at.
I’m not going to say that every injury is creating tons of inflammation, but it’s probably creating some inflammation. Inflammation has your body holding on to water. That’s why when you work out in the gym and you get very sore, you will probably weigh a little bit more on those days.
Often breaking a stall or a plateau is really just the mental weight of a weight loss goal.
It’s sort of breaking through this idea of your past diet history. What’s happened in the past, because it’s very easy for your brain to present to you, this is what happens. I always get to this weight and then I can’t lose more weight. I’m a slow loser, right, all of this stuff.
We want to prepare our brain to be like, “you know what, we can bust this plateau. We can figure out what I can do that is a little bit different from something I have been doing.”
I know you’re probably going to want to do all the things, but just keep a record of what you do. Then you can start to be more strategic. You can analyze. You could be more neutral and less emotional in making decisions when we are eating or working out. Doing the things from a place of fear, from a place of frustration, from a place of disappointment, from worry, from all of these places it’s not working.
We tend to make a lot of these drastic attempts to withhold all the calories.
I’m going to fast for 24 hours or I’m going to do something that is not a sustainable lifestyle. Or we just quit. You know, to me, neither of those seem like good options.
Think about what you could do if you feel like you’re at a stall or a plateau.
I had a client tell me you know what? Maybe there’s no such thing as a stall or a plateau. I’m like, even better.
What if you’re not at a stall or a plateau? What if this is just normal weight loss? This is how weight loss goes. Our body does not prioritize weight loss.
What if every month I lost two pounds? What if every month I lost three pounds or four pounds? I know we all want to lose 10 or 15 or 20 pounds a month, but so what if we don’t?
What if I’m making this a weight loss lifestyle? I’m creating a body that I like and the lifestyle I like that I could keep up with and make sense for my schedule. Who I am as a person. Then what if they’re not any stalls or plateaus? What if this is just part of the journey?
There’s going to be times when the scale does not move and it doesn’t mean that I’m not changing, which is why I think photos and tape measure really work well.
You could be having body composition changes that don’t show up on a scale.
You could also be having other changes that don’t show up on a scale like;
- You sleep better,
- You are drinking more water,
- You are going on walks,
- You are taking care of yourself,
- You do feel better about yourself,
- You’re building your confidence,
Because you’re spending time working on yourself.
Body composition, you’ve seen it before, they’ll show a picture of multiple women, and they’ll show them all at the same weight. They all have drastically different bodies. Or you’ll see a side by side before and after, where the woman weighs the same, or even more, but her body looks drastically leaner.
So what if the scale is not the end all be all?
What if we could have faith that if I focus on;
- Doing the things right,
- Taking care of myself,
- Eating when I’m hungry,
- Not eating when I’m not hungry,
- If I plan my food,
- If I can just focus on doing the things,
Then what difference does it make if the scale goes down?
Weight loss plateaus and stalls are just to be expected. They are okay.
NOTES IN ANCHOR
NEWSFLASH…Your body does not prioritize weight loss. Bummer, right? In fact, in its own sick and twisted way, it can perceive losing fat mass as losing a valuable entity…even when we consciously decide to lose weight. Tell me if this has ever happened to you… You decided to lose weight. You do all the things to lose weight.
And then it seems like it takes forever OR you hit a massive plateau and can’t seem to lose any more weight. Here’s a spoiler alert… Sometimes our bodies are going to slow the weight loss process down. It’s just a cold, hard fact. You can go from losing 3 or 4 pounds a week, to not losing anything at all, or even gaining.
(WTAF, right?!) These are stalls or plateaus that typically drive just about every women I have ever met crazy.
And it is in these plateaus that it is easy to give up. Just chuck it in the f*ck it bucket and move on.
But you don’t have to…all is not lost, my friend. There are several things you can try to bust through these stalls and plateaus like the Kool-Aid Man busting through a wall.
Let’s discuss breaking through the plateaus that are slowing you down and so much more!
ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.
Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on. Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience.
Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.
By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.
Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you unf*ck your diet brain.
She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.
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