Pesky plateaus! That feeling of starting a new diet and exercise program with the best of intentions, only to find ourselves stuck at the same weight months later. Or, seeing fast weight loss, then just as quickly, things start to stale.
The majority of us have had the experience of pushing ourselves hard day after day but struggling to see progress or improvement. This is called a plateau. Here are a few reasons why this may be happening:
Our body (wisely) goes into survival mode. When we go on diets with an emphasis on deprivation, our subconscious natural instinct is to avoid starvation. Just because we know we won’t starve, doesn’t mean our bodies know that. There are many years of food scarcity concerns built into our DNA. Therefore, our body perceives caloric deprivation as dangerous and will heighten our food-seeking impulses (cravings) when it feels we are not nourishing ourselves properly.
** You can listen to Potential Podcast Episode 56, for a discussion on The Mysterious World of Calories
Every pound of weight loss may reduce our metabolic rate. When weight loss is extreme and rapid, without regard for protein levels and workouts designed to maintain muscle mass, we may notice a shift in metabolic rate that makes weight loss and weight management significantly more difficult.
Rapid weight loss boosts appetite. If we restrict our calorie intake and food intake too much, our appetite naturally increases as a survival mechanism for preventing weight loss. In addition, weight loss alone can also increase certain hormone levels (ghrelin) which heighten appetite. This increase in appetite can make it difficult to stick to a diet plan.
When we consider restrictive diets, we frequently focus on what we can’t eat, rather than what is truly best for our bodies. When we deprive ourselves or provide a lack of nourishment, our bodies begin to combat that instinctually causing plateaus. This can be very discouraging, but it does not imply that something is wrong. On the contrary, it means our bodies are working well to protect us. (Thanks bod!)
To avoid plateaus, consider approaching health and wellness goals from a new angle. Instead of focusing on deprivation, focus on long-term holistic health. When the emphasis is put on moving in ways that feel good and consuming foods that are nourishing to the body, steady and significant progress can be made.
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