I had someone ask me about plateaus and being stuck. Let me tell you – I have been there and had my passport stamped many times.
First off, I think I should define what a true plateau is. I see those who stay the same weight for a week and call that a plateau. It’s not. A true plateau is at least 6 weeks without more than 1/2 pound change in weight and no measurement changes. The scale does not tell the whole truth as far as plateauing can go. You can certainly get smaller in size without the scale changing much if you have a good cardio and strength program going, so take your measurements once a month.
My absolute worst plateau happened about 3.5 years ago. I had gotten down to 175 and bought my bike as a reward. (You all know how I love this bike!!). I was feeling great at having lost 75 pounds and feeling healthier. I thought the bike would make the rest of the weight drop off. Hahaha. For whatever reason, the brakes hit on the weight loss. I was following WW at the time. I switched between Core and flex points, nothing happened. Scale did not budge week after week. I changed up my exercise more and less. Nothing happened. No measurement change either, so it was just my body saying “Take a break lady”. I began to get so frustrated that I wanted to cry every week when I got on the scale. That’s when you know it’s bad. For a good 6 months I fought that battle and then the plateau started to win. Instead of just accepting the plateau and being thankful that I was maintaining, I began to have thoughts of “Well, if I am doing all this work and not losing, I may as well just eat what I want.” That was mistake number 1.
This was also a stressful time because we had put our house on the market for a cross country move from IL to NY. The first sale fell through, as did the purchase on a building out here. My grandmother had gone into the hospital suddenly and passed away shortly thereafter, which was devastating.
Then our house did sell, and we had to live in temporary housing for several weeks before we were closing out in NY. That meant our household belongings were in the warehouse with our business stuff. The temporary housing didn’t even have a kitchen, it was basically a long-term motel room. Problem number 2 occured with discovering the Mexican bakery that was en route from the warehouse to the temporary place. I let stress talk me into stopping there quite often (and the stuff was amazing and really inexpensive!). John and I would get a bag full of stuff and sit on the bed, watch TV and eat the pastries. I would think about saving some, but usually ended up eating everything I bought. This temporary housing with no kitchen also led to a lot of eating out. We did try bringing the microwave to the motel and a toaster, but it was so depressing.
At this point, I just said “please pass the cake” and quit. Mistake number 3. Plateau officially over because I ended up gaining 30 pounds back. Folks, that is one way to break a plateau, but it really is *not* the recommended way.
I did get back into the groove again eventually awhile after the move. I would say it was about a year long process there of the plateau and gain. I really never considered it a ‘restart,’ but part of the whole process of this journey to where I am today. In looking back, I think the problem was eating too little. The WW point system just didn’t work for me with the exercise I was doing and my body was trying to tell me, but I didn’t understand what it was saying. When I ate more, I didn’t eat enough. Then I went and ate too much!
None of those things that occurred during that time are excuses. That is just what happened and I chose a poor way to deal with it. The one thing that I had absolute control of during that period was what I put into my mouth, and I let that pass. I’m a lot stronger now, and I learned from that experience, oh yes I did. (The main thing being do not ever move a business and a househould across the country 😀 )
Sometimes I get annoyed that I haven’t hit the magical number on the scale quite yet, but I am so grateful that I can maintain or catch the upward blips in the scale before they turn into full blown relapse. It’s not an instantaneous process. The words patience and dedication are my mantra, and they ride on the back of a turtle.