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Plateau Busting

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

I finished my 90 day Spark Coach series on healthy lifestyle. Now I am going to go through the 28-day Plateau Busting sessions.
I have had a couple of times when my weight would not budge for a week. None of my plateaus have been long. I know to expect them. I want to learn how to keep them short-lived.
In this blog, I will share what I learn. Maybe it will help others.

4-3-13: What I learned today: Plateaus can be expected. They can sometimes last for a month or more. They can be "broken."
4-4-13: Get your measurements! Post them and measure weekly. When the scale isn't moving, looking at your progress chart in measurements will help keep you motivated.
4-5-13: Don't let the scale be your only measure of success. When it isn't moving, look for other signs of progress and reasons to celebrate. 1 - Pay attention to the change in how your clothes fit; 2 - Take progress photos of yourself so you can look at where you have come from; Track a spark streak and see how long you can keep one going (found in the My Trackers tab); 4 - look at weight and measurement reports to remind yourself how far you have come; 5 - Celebrate small positive changes. Are you less winded? Can you do things now you couldn't before? Are you cooking and eating more healthy foods?
4-6-13: Measure, measure, measure. Don't eyeball portions. Sometimes a plateau is caused by not accurately measuring your food or not entering everything you eat in the tracker. Little bites here and there can really add up. You can also be eating more calories than you think if you are eyeballing portions. Use measuring cups and spoons and get a food scale.
If you love to cook (as I do) you can enter your favorite recipes on There is a recipe calculator. You enter your ingredients and how many servings the recipe makes. It will break down the calorie count and nutrients per serving. You can save them in a recipe collection and also add them to your food tracker. ***Personal note: if you have a great recipe that you enter, mark it to be public and send me a note telling me the title of your recipe so I can check it out. I have entered several recipes. My favorite so far is Hibachi Chicken and Fried Rice.
4-7-13: Are you being TOO consistent with exercise? Has your body gotten used to the routine? That could contribute to a plateau. You can't change your body if you don't challenge your body. Change things up. Add intensity. Add more time, even if it is a little bit.
4-8-13: Your weight can be stalled if your program is not up to date. You should make sure to enter your current weight as it decreases in Weight Tracker. You should also go into Fitness tracker. Click on "update program" and enter what you are doing with exercise. Your original program was set up assuming 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week. If you are doing less than this, or more, you should update your program so your calorie range will be correct. Based on these facts, SparkPeople will adjust the recommended calorie range for you. As you lose weight and you increase your activity, your calorie needs change. Then experiment within your range. Eat low, middle, and high end and find where you need to stay for weight loss success. Everyone is different. "You are an experiment of one." Find your sweet spot.
***personal note: I began at 228 with a calorie range of 1250-1520, I think. I was not exercising every day. Now, I am at 200 and I am committed to 5 days of 30 min. cardio, and 5 10-min. strength training days. My calorie range is set for 1380-1730. I have been finding my weight loss most when I eat at the low end 1300-1400 calories. But that might change. I am always having to test it out.
4-9-2013: Help build consistency in your eating and exercise. It takes 21-40 days to make a new bahavior a habit. When you just don't want to - make yourself start. Once you start, it will be easier to continue...and you will feel proud that you did what you needed to do. To help build consistency: 1 - start with an easy to manage goal. Can you exercise 10 minutes one day a week? After that, increase to two days a week, etc. You could eventually join the 10 minutes a day challenge; 2 - find an accountability partner; 3 - find an excuse busting partner. When you don't eat right or don't want to exercise, write down your excuse. Let your partner view it and ask them to be honest as to whether the excuse is valid; 4 - Have a plan B. Have some frozen meals for those rush times when you don't have time to fix something healthy; when you can't exercise, have other things you can do to "count" - take stairs, park further away from store. Do a 10 minute exercise video. There are some on this website that could be done in your office.
4-10-13: Stay within your calorie range. Experiment to see if you function best at the low, middle, or high end of the range. Eating BELOW your calorie range can go against weight loss just as much as eating above it. Also pay attention to your protein, carb, and fat ranges. You will see those listed at the bottom of your food tracker chart. Experiment with those to see what works best for you - but stay within the recommended ranges. You can also view a more extensive report. Below the tracker chart, there is a button labeled "See Today's Full Report". You can see a wide assortment of nutrients, monitor your sodium, and also view the percentage pie chart that graphically shows where you should be with protein, carb, and fat and how your foods that day compare with the ideal.
4-11-13: Do you want to fan the flame of calorie burning? It will help you move out of a plateau. Make small changes to your exercise routine. Is exercise too routine? Try interval training. Take your workout and add a few short 1-minute bursts of energy where you really push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Be sure not to go so far as to cause yourself injury. Try circuit training. This is when you do a series of moves and repeat that series several times in a row...working up a sweat. Lastly, start competing with yourself. Instead of going the same distance every day, start measuring your time and try to beat your previous time or extend the distance little by little...or maybe do one more set of an exercise, etc. Try to one-better yourself.
4-12-13: Hunger pains are hard to take. When we feel hunger, we tend to over-eat or eat the wrong thing. Try eating foods that will help you stay satisfied longer. Water dense foods have few calories and you can eat a lot of them to feel full: broth based soups, leafy greens, fruit, non-starch vegetables. High Fiber foods digest slower and curb cravings by controling blood sugar spikes: whole grains, fruits, vegetables with skins, beans, lentils, legumes. Also SLOW DOWN. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to register with the brain that it is satisfied. If we give our body time, it will signal fullness before we over-eat.
4-13-13: If you focus on the scale too much, it can be stressful when you are on a plateau. It is just one tool. It is not the end all for success measurement. Weigh once a week to get a realistic measure. Your weight can fluctuate daily for a lot of reasons. Pick the same day, same scale, same time, and wear the same the same amount of clothing.
4-14-13: Five important checkins you need to do daily: 1 - track food accurately. Measure, write them down if you can't track immediately. Every bite counts. 2 - Accurately measure calories burned. Use a heart rate monitor or established exercises on SparkPeople. 3 - Eat high quality foods. Stay away from processed foods as much as possible. Eat fresh produce, whole grains, lean meat, and low fat dairy. 4 - Drink 64 ounces of water every day. If you need some variety, add lemon or berry juice to add flavor. 5 - celebrate one non-scale victory every day. To stay movitated, don't let the scale be your only measure.
4-15-13: Tracking calories burned can be tricky. Machine readings can be off as much as 40 percent. The best way to track is using a heart rate monitor. You can also try and match up your workout with the established exercises in the spark tracker.
4-16-13: Eating meals on a schedule has proven to be a good policy for weight loss. Do not skip breakfast. It should be eaten with the first two hours of waking. Meals should be spaced close the same amount of time apart, with a 100-150 calorie snack inbetween. Example: Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. Some people find making each time they eat a mini-meal. Research does not prove that this is any better than the meal/snack plan.
4-17-13: Don't over-do exercise. It can actually work against you. It can make you hungrier and more likely to overeat; it can cause burnout; it can cause injury. Gradually build up your exercise routine. Plan variety instead of doing the same thing all the time or the same intensity. Don't forget to give yourself a couple of rest days a week.
4-18-13: Be honest. Take a long, hard look at your exercise and eating habits. Are you giving it 100%? Evaluate yourself. Are you slacking? Are you not being accurate in tracking? What can you change up to get you moving again?
4-19-13: Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can cause your metabolism to not function properly. It can cause you to feel hungrier also. You need enough deep sleep hours to function at your best and be successful in your weight loss. If you have trouble sleeping, join the sleep challenge and learn what you can do.
4-20-13: Stress can be a factor in a weight loss plateau. If you are doing everything else right and the scale in not moving, evaluate your stress level. It affects hormones, how your body reacts, sleep, and so many other things. Some stresses can not be avoided, but we can learn coping skills. And, lets face it, we have the power to get rid of some stresses that are self inflicted.
4-21-13: What about fad diets and plans to help bust a plateau? Calorie cycling (eating a low calorie count some days and high some days) is claimed to help with a plateau. There is no proof. If you want to try it, just always stay in your recommended calorie range at the low and high ends. Fasting - does not give you permanent weight loss. What you lose is water weight. There is a risk of being so hungry when you come off of a fast that you overeat. You must be careful. Detox diets. These are usually juice based, pills, or other concoctions. These are like fasting. The weight loss is usually water and short lived. SparkPeople recommends for you not to fall for fad diets. Stay consistent with your calorie range. Eat a well balanced diet. It will pay off.
4-22-13: Water weight can be a problem with what the scale reads. Too much sodium or sugar in the diet can make you retain water. Read labels. Pre-packaged foods and restaurant meals are big offenders for excessive sodium. Dehydration - if you are not drinking enough water, your body will try to retain it any way it can. Drink 64 ounces of water daily. Exercise expells sodium. Try to work up a sweat most days of the week. For women, their monthly cycle causes bloating. You have to consider this. It is natural. Compare month to month how much you weigh right after your cycle and it gives a truer picture of where you are in your journey.
4-23-13: Don't let a plateau get you defeated. Decide to celebrate it. You have lost weight. You have not gained it back. Check out what SparkPeople says about maintenance. Take a break and practice maintenance for a couple of weeks and rejuvenate. Then get back on the weight loss plan. You can avoid burnout.
4-24-13: Typical exercise alone might not get you out of a plateau. Make an effort to find ways to add movement throughout your day. It adds up and gives results. Set an alarm to get up from desk and walk around; take a walk at lunch; take stairs; walk t co-worker instead of emailing; dance while you prepare supper; do ab contractions as you drive; knee raises as you sit at your desk.
4-25-13: Be diligent in calculating calories. Just because a food advertises that it is healthy, doesn't mean you can automatically eat more of it. Read the label and log in calories accurately. Many people drink too many calories. Mindless drinking of beverages really add up. Read the label. Don't assume that the bottle of drink is one serving. Read the label. You might find that the calorie count listed (which is always for one serving) might look low, but when you read the label, you find that the container has two to three servings in it. Do the math. If you are on a 2200 calorie diet, you should not consume more than 200-300 calories in beverages. Under 2200 calorie, keep your fluid intake to less than 200. Water is always a safe choice!
4-26-13: Keep Plateaus in perspective. Don't expect constant progress. Maintaining loss and not regaining is worth celebrating. Stay positive and don't quit. A positive attitude will help you stick with your plan. Believe you can do it. Trust the process. It will pay off.
4-27-13: Rev up your metabolism to help with weight loss. DON'T reduce calories too low. Your body will go into fat storage mode. Eat within your range. DON'T skip meals. Eat 4-5 times a day. There should be no more than 4-5 hours between meals. DON'T skip sleeping. Lack of sleep can mess up metabolism. DO build muscle with strength training. 1 lb. of muscle burns 3 times the calories a day than 1 lb. of fat. If you don't strength train, your weight loss will include about 30% muscle loss. You don't want that. DO stay active. If you have a sedentary job or lifestyle, get up and move periodically. If you are sitting, there are things you can be doing that move your muscles. DO exercise in frequent bouts. You burn calories while exercising, but there is also after burn. If you exercise several times a day, even if it is just a walk, it will keep you in after burn mode. DO interval training - have short all out burst of effort. DO stress management. Get rid of or manage stress in your life. DO make healthy eating and exercise fun. Be creative, try new things.
4-28-13: Three exercise techniques that can rev up your calorie burn and also bust a plateau: 1 - use dumbbells and resistance bands together; 2 - give more time in the part of the exercise where your muscle is lengthening. Example arm curls - as you bring arm down (muscle is stretching), take it slower. 4 counts to lower, 2 counts to lift.; 3 - order matters. If you are doing both cardio and strength workouts together, do cardio first. Cardio burns more calories and you will have the energy to give it all your effort.
4-29-13: This is the last day of the lesson. The coach gave a big woohoo for keeping on track and staying with the program. She encouraged me to look back and see where I was 28 days ago. Since I began the Plateau Busting sessions I have lost 6 pounds, lost one inch in my waist and a half inch in my hips. Not bad.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MAWMAW101
    I love your efforts. I did go into Plateau Busting after Spark Coach and still enjoy your updates. This morning I managed to walk 2.1 miles. What type of things do we do for strength training if we don't go to a gym? So far climbing stairs in my house has been my only effort. Used to do yoga, maybe I should try planking!
    1732 days ago
    1755 days ago
  • MAWMAW101
    I am still in Spark Coach but have had 2 plateaus that I remember very well. Thanks for the tip to measure because when I reach in my closet and grab anything without thinking about the fit, I know it is working. Sure most of my slacks have elastic but the shirts button over my tummy! emoticon
    1756 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.