Overcoming Obstacles: How to Push Through Plateaus and Achieve Weight Loss Goals

When you’re trying to lose weight, but the scale won’t budge, know that weight loss is more complicated than your activity level. Several factors can affect your weight loss efforts. For example, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, women are slightly more likely (40%) than men (35%) to
have obesity. This discrepancy underscores the importance of addressing weight management strategies tailored to women’s unique challenges and needs.

One weight loss hurdle individuals encounter is the dreaded plateau – a frustrating period where progress stalls despite consistent efforts. To effectively navigate this obstacle, it’s crucial to understand why it happens and implement targeted strategies to overcome it. 

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Weight loss plateaus explained

Before delving into strategies to overcome plateaus, it’s essential to differentiate between overweight vs obesity. While both terms refer to excess body weight, they represent different degrees of severity. Being overweight generally means having a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9. On the other hand, suffering from obesity indicates a BMI of 30 or higher. However, weight loss interventions are recommended in both cases to avoid further health risks. Among women with obesity, for instance, clinical researcher Dr. Alexandra Lee points out that the condition can lead to problems like infertility. 

Achieving your goal weight can be challenging, especially when you reach a plateau. Weight loss plateaus usually occur when you lose about 7% to 10% of your total body weight. Although there isn’t a clear medical explanation for why this happens, some doctors theorize that it’s a physiological response where the body adapts to weight loss and defends itself against the “threat” of further weight loss by reducing our metabolic rate and burning less energy.

How you can break through a weight loss plateau

Incorporate weight training exercises

While cardiovascular exercise improves heart health and lowers blood pressure, incorporating weight training into your routine can be particularly effective for overcoming plateaus. New research suggests resistance exercises, coupled with a calorie deficit, aid fat loss by building muscle mass, which increases metabolism. The easiest way to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine is through bodyweight exercises, like pull-ups, push-ups, and squats. From there, you can work toward heavier weights using dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells. 

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Eat more fiber

Increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help you feel fuller for longer and regulate your appetite. Fiber also aids digestion and promotes gut health, which can support weight loss efforts. This was confirmed in a Frontiers in Nutrition study where 62.5% of participants in a 16-week fiber-rich eating program lost an average weight of about 7.2 pounds. Small changes like drinking a daily glass of kale juice (rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients) can help a person increase their fiber intake.

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Manage stress

Chronic stress can disrupt hormone levels, increase cravings for high-calorie foods, and contribute to weight gain. However, in one study that followed two groups of people with obesity — where one group participated in a stress management program and the other did not — it was found that those in the stress management group experienced a more significant reduction in BMI. For this, you can incorporate stress-reduction exercises like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and regular physical activity to help mitigate stress levels and support weight loss efforts. 

By implementing these strategies and maintaining consistency and perseverance, you can overcome weight loss plateaus and continue progressing toward your goals. Every journey has challenges, but with determination and the right approach, success is within your reach. 

Author : Zach Winston


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