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Christopher M. Young, CPT, FNC
Online Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach

I Plateaued! What The F#$% Do I Do Now?

You have been killing it in the gym or at home, eating right, being consistent, but all of a sudden, everything seems to have stalled. Unfortunately, a plateau is pretty much inevitable, the good news is that it can also be easy to overcome.

You might be wanting to lose fat, get in shape, and get nice and lean. Your body on the other hand, is an asshole…it wants to store fat and not be lean. Unfortunately, this is your bodies natural tendency to protect you (oh, so it’s NOT an asshole?). You see, your body detects the reduction in calories and might assume you have hit a bout of starvation, therefore its natural reaction is to protect you from the evil starvation, so it does everything in its power to stop the fat loss from happening (your body is just misunderstood). As hard as your body might fight to stop fat loss, there are ways to overcome it. Let’s discuss, shall we?

Are You Actually Plateauing?

Ok, first let’s actually make sure that you are in a plateau. because there are numerous times when one of my clients says “I am plateauing”, when in reality, they are not.

First, not losing weight for a couple days is not a plateau.  It is simply you throwing a hissy fit because the scale didn’t move the direction you wanted. Oh, it’s been more than a week? Still not a plateau. Going a month without any significant change in scale weight is more in line with a plateau.

One of the best ways to ensure that you are not in a plateau is knowing when and how to weigh yourself. For those that are scale obsessed and borderline compulsive when it comes to weighing yourself. You know, the ones that want to weigh themselves after every meal and multiple times a day (you know who you are). I recommend option #1: weighing in once a week. First thing in the morning, after your morning evacuation (that is both #1 AND #2…if you are a morning pooper), and prior to eating anything to weigh yourself, ideally around the same time every week.

Option number two are for those that truly understand, the scale is merely a number and is not reflective or accurate in regards to what is taking place in your body during the transformation process. This means daily weigh ins. Again, same time every morning, post urination and bowel movement, and prior to eating or drinking anything.  Total the weekly weigh ins and divide by 7 to get your average weight. Did you lose weight compared to last week? If so, you are not in a plateau.

Just because the weight doesn’t change, also doesn’t mean that you are in a plateau either. This is why taking measurements is also important. Once a month (or every 14 days for those in my VIP group) you should take measurements of your arms, chest, waist, hips, and thighs. If you are dropping inches, than you are not in a plateau.

Are You Going F$#%ing Insane On Cheat Days?

So you are allowed a little bit of a cheat meal periodically, but some people completely go ape shit on their cheat meals (which often turn into cheat days) devouring everything they have been craving for the past week or two. Don’t believe the bullshit that tries to tell you that you can eat as much as you want on your cheat meals or that it will help to reset your metabolism and speed up your fat burning. It’s crap. The point of a cheat meal is more mental than it is physiological, so you have to show a little restraint. Sure, there are benefits physically to a cheat meal, including refilling your glycogen stores and making your muscles look and feel fuller. You may notice an increase in performance and strength following a cheat meal as well.

Yes, this means that a slice of pizza is perfectly ok. An entire pie is negating everything you worked for this week. So take it easy and be mindful of what and how much you are consuming. You cannot go all out and expect to keep those results going. So instead of looking at your cheat meal as a free pass to eat as much as you want, simply increase your caloric intake by 500-700 calories, and enjoy (moderately), on the foods you have been craving while maintaining your standard diet throughout the day.

NOTE: It is equally as important to TRACK YOUR MOTHER F$@%ING FOOD! If you do not know how much you are eating, you could be consuming in excess of 1000 calories more than you realize! Track it, track it real good.

Give Me a Break

It is important to mentally break from dieting periodically. After awhile you start to experience the diet burnout. You have less energy, you are tired, maybe even a little moody due to the decreased caloric intake, and you just want to give up at some point. Take a break. This time off allows you the opportunity to recharge, reset, and refresh yourself so you can get back on and give more focus and commitment to your goals.

This is one of the primary reasons that my VIP group runs for 14 days, with a 7 day recharge break. It is purposeful to reduce overwhelm and burnout. It gives you the mental and physical break needed to get back on track and have the energy and focus to push through the next round.

Are You Following a Workout Program?

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be shocked to know that many of the people that I talk to that are claiming to be on a plateau, are not following a specific program or a plan for weight loss.

Most programs are designed to not only challenge and push you outside your comfort zone, but for physical growth as well. This often means you will drop fat, lose weight, and get in better shape with a well designed program. Just doing what you “feel” you should do often equates to actually doing less than you need to get the results. So start a program, hit the gym, pop in your workout DVD’s, or whatever program you have.

NEAT is Neat, But It Is Not All You Should Do

What the F is NEAT? I am talking about non-exercise activity thermogenesis. These are activities that are active, but not necessarily excercise activities, like yard work, gardening, walking, etc. While non-exercise activity is great, it is not all that you should be doing (See Following a Workout Program above).

It is not uncommon for those losing weight and getting leaner to start moving less, as it is a natural response from your body. Your body is simply trying to conserve energy. This means that you will have to make a conscious effort to get up and move more. Go hiking or long walks, stay active, get a FitBit (you can add me on FitBit for some healthy competition), and just move more.

Be Patient

Your body is very finicky and it will often do the opposite of what you want. If you are in a plateau, remember to look into each of these areas. Start by tracking your food, limit your cheat meal craziness, be more active, take breaks once in awhile, and be patient in the process. This is a long term lifestyle that requires effort and constant adjustment.





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