exerciseIt happens to the best of us. Out of nowhere, the downward spiral we all want comes to a halt. We start wondering what’s going on, and become unhappy. It might also be those of us who are just starting out – sweating our hair out at the gym only to go a week and find no results.  What are we doing wrong?

I’d like to offer up five big reasons why you might be hitting a brick wall with your weight loss.

  1. You’re eating too much after you workout. This was something I REALLY had to remind myself about, and became a better woman for it. Working out doesn’t give me carte blanche to eat how I want. It shouldn’t be looked at that way when I’m trying to lose weight. Working out doesn’t provide me with a “cushion” to fall back on if I overeat. It’s considered a known fact that people come out of a workout session sweaty and starving. What am I eating to replenish? Am I stopping by McDonalds drive thru, or do I have some grapes or a slice of cantaloupe waiting for me at home?
  2. Are you a little too indulgent when it comes to the good stuff? So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve got a workout routine, you’ve slowed down on the junk food, and you’re only buying healthy/organic/[insert other fitness buzz word]. But wait? Have you merely replaced one vice for another? It may be organic, but that doesn’t mean that the caloric value is better. It especially doesn’t mean that just because the caloric value is smaller, that it’s ok to have 3 or 4 servings. If the “healthy” peanut butter is 20 calories less than the “regular peanut butter,” that doesn’t mean you should have more than you were originally getting! It might even mean you should start shooting for less.. since sometimes (especially with nuts) the more organic versions have the original fat values in tact, and can sometimes have more fat grams in them. To make matters worse, if that organic version has more sodium in it, it’s that much more likely to cause you to maintain water weight (which is usually a result of a high-sodium diet.) Talk about tripping yourself up.
  3. You’re not drinking enough water. Here’s a neat little tidbit I picked up in my reading. The body burns fat whenever your internal temperature is increased. The more water you drink, the more able your body is to heat up. Remember, water is a conductor of heat and electricity – it makes it easier for heat to pass through it, thus making it easier for your body to heat up to do what it needs to do. Do you drink enough before your workout? Better yet, do you drink it afterwards? To tie in with the first point, if you’re drinking too many calories, you might be counteracting your body’s ability to burn calories… since you keep drinking so many!
  4. You’re not hitting the potty enough. Where’s the fiber? For every meal that you take in, you should be releasing just that much. That’s right. Considering now that you know that, how far behind are you falling? Even more so, how much do you estimate you have stuck inside of your system? I know people who get such a small amount of fiber in their daily diet, they may not hit the potty at ALL in one given day. Trust me when I tell you, if your plate weighs 2lbs when you sit it down to eat, rest assured that you are adding at least a pound and some change to your weight. Add the fiber, already!
  5. You’re doing better than you thought. Here’s another neat little tidbit I’ve picked up in my reading. Muscle weighs as much as [if not more than] fat. Yes, yes, this is true.* You might’ve picked up just as many pounds in muscle as you might’ve lost in fat. This is a good thing, though! Why? “According to calculations published in the journal Obesity Research by a Columbia University team in 2001, a pound of muscle burns approximately six calories a day in a resting body, compared with the two calories that a pound of fat burns.” See how that works? So yeah, you might’ve gained a pound of muscle, but when you get your eating habits back together.. you will absolutely reap the rewards of having it!

I won’t lie – I’m facing this right now. I’ve been stepping up my calisthenics routine at home, and while I’ve lost a total of 12 inches between my upper/lower waist, hips, and thighs… I’ve only lost 12 lbs. 12! It’s hard to not let it get me down, which is why I focus heavily on what I look like, and not what I weigh. I suppose I need to re-read what I wrote about being a slave to the scale, eh?

How about it? How did you manage to fight your plateau? How did it affect you? Let’s hear it!

What other reasons are there why we might hit a brick wall?

*I wanted to be clear – if you took a 1′ by 1′ by 1′ cube of muscle, and placed it next to a 1′ by 1′ by 1′ cube of fat, the muscle would weigh more. This is different from the premise of “a pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat,” which isn’t true.