When the Scale Won?t Budge
It happens to everyone. You are cruising along, dropping the pounds, and then all of a sudden, Halt! The scale is stuck. What can possibly be wrong?
There are some many reasons why weight loss can stop, but if you back up and play detective, perhaps you can explain it. Start by asking yourself these questions:
Has your weight been stuck for one week or less?
If yes, then fluid accumulation may have your weight at a standstill. For women, hormonal changes mid-to late-cycle usually lead to water retention. In addition, anyone can retain fluid after eating a high sodium meal. And when the ambient temperature and humidity are high, the body is less efficient at removing fluid. Fluid retention is a side effect of certain medications, including some oral contraceptives and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Fluid retention could be a symptom of a medical condition, but it would be accompanied by other signs of disease.
Solution: Drink lots of water and keep your sodium intake low to prevent water retention.
Do you eat more food than you realize?
A bite here, a lick there, a pick while cooking, not to mention another small helping, and a binge we hardly remember. It all adds up to blow your calorie budget, and unless you keep a food log, how can you be sure? Counting calories forces you to pay attention to exactly what you eat. It assures that you know your calorie needs and your food choices stay within your calorie budget.
Solution: Keep food logs and calorie counts. Review your analysis at the end of the day.
Is your exercise sufficient?
To start, if you don’t exercise for 30-minutes or more on most days, then you are missing an opportunity to burn calories. Cardio-type exercise prevents some of the metabolic adaptation that stops weight loss, and lifting weights preserves and builds muscle - and muscle burns calories. If you already put in your exercise time, then step up to interval training where you work really hard in brief spurts. You can also exercise for 60 minutes a day, in two 30-minute intervals before breakfast and dinner. Or try a completely new activity to burn more calories by taxing new muscles.
Solution: Kick up your exercise.
Do you get enough sleep?
The body burns calories more effectively when you get enough sleep. Sleep-deprivation alters hormones that regulate your weight. When you short-change sleep, the level of appetite stimulating hormones increase and the hormones that trigger fullness drop. Few people realize the harm they create by missing their ZZZZs.
Solution: Sleep eight hours a night.
Have you reached your Set Point?
It's a fact that when a person loses 10-20% of his or her body weight, the body reaches a Set Point and stops losing weight (for now). Scientists believe that everyone has a genetically determined “set point” or weight range that spans about 30 pounds. When people try to force their weight below that range, hormones kick in to increase hunger and metabolism slows down. To reset your Set Point, increase your average calorie intake to the number needed to maintain your new weight. Hold that line for about 6 months, and after that (or maybe longer), a low calorie diet will lead to weight loss again.
Solution: Read Break Through Your Set Point: How to Finally Lose the Weight You Want and Keep It Off by George Blackburn, MD. Set your calorie budget to maintenance for awhile.
Change your point of view.
Remember this: When you reach your goal weight, nothing will change in terms of diet and exercise. You still have to eat a healthy diet and be active to maintain your new weight (and your health). And so, you are already there. (Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans....)
Does your scale ever "get stuck"? How did you get it moving again?