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Weight Loss Plateau? Help is on the way!

03.05.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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By Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, Redskins Team Dietitian

I have noticed a trend in my office over the past couple weeks – clients frustrated with weight loss plateaus.

I quickly checked my calendar and thought, “right on time!” It is 8 eight weeks into the New Year and the New Years Resolutions of losing weight is losing its luster. This is a crucial moment in your weight management journey and what you do at this point can determine whether you are successful in life long weight management or you re-enter the cycle known as yo-yo dieting.

I’d like to address the 4 most common reasons we hit a weight loss plateau and provide you with strategies to combat these roadblocks!

4 Common Reasons of Weight Loss Plateaus

1. Loss of Focus and Discipline.

After 8 weeks of careful attention to making the best food choices, managing portion sizes and organizing meal/snack timing, we often start letting some of the details slide. This is a good time to rededicate yourself to the habits that you began in January that allowed you to lose the weight up to this point.

Solution: Get back to keeping detailed food records

This is often the first habit to slide. My clients will tell me, “I don’t have to write it down (or enter it into my phone), I know exactly what I’m eating”. Nine out of 10 times they will return to my office a week later and say “Yikes! I forgot that I started having a glass of wine with dinner or that I have been baking more often and of course “tasting my product”, etc. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine or a delicious brownie but if these habits start escalating in frequency it will raise your caloric intake just enough to fill the caloric deficit needed to lose weight. Hello weight loss plateau! Click here to read my blog post on keeping a food record.

*Quick note – it is a good idea to keep an exercise log as well to assess whether there has been some “slippage” here. I encourage you to read Becky Johnson’s blog entries for motivating tips on keeping this part of the weight management equation fun and safe!

2. Unrealistic Diet Plan.

I find that many of my clients get caught up in the latest weight loss fad diet wave.

It is understandable- the weight loss industry is very seductive, promising everything we want to hear: quick, easy weight loss with very little effort. Sure, following an extremely low calorie diet or cutting out major food groups (which equates to lower calorie intake) will cause weight loss. HOWEVER, one is not able to eat this way for a lifetime. As soon as “life happens,” the weight is regained.

Americans have no problem losing weight, where we have a problem is keeping the weight off and this is mainly attributed to our weight loss method of “going on a diet” which implies at some point we will be “going off the diet”.

Solution: Make it a lifestyle change not a “diet"

Ask yourself whether your New Year’s Weight Loss Plan is sustainable for a lifetime. If you have been following a diet plan that cuts out any of the five food groups or is very low in calories (<1500/day) reconsider your plan. (Visit intuitiveeating.org to learn the dangers of dieting).

This week I’d like to challenge you to recommit yourself to keeping a food record and pay close attention to your food choices and portion sizes.

Next week I will address the other two most common reasons for weight loss plateau:

3. Natural weight loss pattern. We will look at the way the body adapts to weight loss including changes in biology and hormones.

4. The body’s healthy body weight/set point. We will discuss the difference between what we WANT to weigh and what the body NEEDS to weigh.

Make it a healthy week - you deserve it!
- Jane

Leave your questions for the team nutritionist below!

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