How to Blast Through Your Weight Loss Plateau
By Mary E. Collins, LCSW-R
Many people have expressed their pleasure from the weight loss they experience in the weeks following their bariatric surgery. I have heard them talking about having lost anywhere from twenty to fifty pounds in the first months yet feeling discouraged and or frustrated when they find themselves at a plateau. They feel like they’re doing everything right and still not seeing their weight go down. For some, the plateau may be several weeks, a few months, or by a year out.
Hitting a plateau when trying to lose weight happens to all of us. To be honest, those who have had bariatric surgery are, unfortunately, not exempt from the frustration associated with weight loss 'stalls’. But don’t panic, because there are ways that you can push through your weight loss plateau.
According to research, "During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part, this is because when you cut calories, the body gets needed energy initially by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen is partly made of water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it releases water, resulting in weight loss that's mostly water. This effect is temporary, however. As you lose weight, you lose some muscle along with fat. Muscle helps keep the rate at which you burn calories (metabolism) up. So, as you lose weight, your metabolism declines, causing you to burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight" (Getting Past a Weight-loss Plateau 2015).
Although the disappointment and frustration may try to get the best of you, remember that just as it took time to put on the weight, it will take time and effort to take it off. This will help support you to blast through:
If you are eating the same things, your body can get accustom to that. This can result in slowing or keeping your metabolism at the same pace. It is often recommended that you switch something up within your diet in order to catch your metabolism 'off guard’. By allowing your body to process different foods it may in turn increase your metabolism.
Shake up your fitness routine. If you are not exercising or doing the same routine, it is also recommended to add some weights to your workout or alternate from your current routine to a routine that will challenge you and your muscles in a different way. If you are one that likes exercise and changes in your routine regularly then maybe you should work with a professional to increase the intensity and duration.
Think slow and steady. Another thing to keep in mind is that one to two pounds a week is considered healthy weight loss. As the saying goes: 'steady, slow weight loss along with habit change tends to be the answer to being able to maintain long term weight loss’.
Lean into support. Don't forget, you also have the option of reaching out to your bariatric team. Many people find this helpful in 'getting back on track’. There is also online bariatric support that many find helpful.
You are not alone. If you want to maintain and/or continue to lose weight, don't give up! Remember, surgery was and is a tool. Unfortunately, for many of us, things don't just come easy, we must put some effort and work in order to reap the ongoing benefits. You are worth it and owe it to yourself.
You have come this far, be proud and don't give up! You deserve to be healthy, break through your plateau and feel good.