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Unique Solutions to Try Today When You’ve Hit a Weight Loss Plateau

Unique Solutions to Try Today When You’ve Hit a Weight Loss Plateau

In a parallel universe, dieting might be easy. In our sphere – it’s sadly not.

I’ve done plenty of short and long diets in my life, successful and not-so-successful ones. What do all of these attempts have in common?

In every single one of those endeavors, I’ve hit a weight loss plateau after a certain period of time. How I reacted to that weight loss plateau determined if the diet was turning out to be fruit-bearing or not.

In this article, you will learn how to overcome these guaranteed setbacks on your journey and how to come back stronger than before.

Why you hit a weight loss plateau

Our bodies do not like to give away our energy storage.

It’s very unlikely that we had an ancestor that was happily exhausting himself, in an environment where food resources were scarce. Instead our hunter and gatherer predecessors have evolved to shun energy loss.

That’s why the first few minutes of exercising are always a pain in the neck, even for the most advanced of athletes. David Goggins, Ex-Navy-Seal and finisher of multiple continuous 100-mile races, said this about running:

I hate to run. — David Goggins, experienced ultra endurance runner and probably the toughest man alive

What Mr. Goggins is telling us with that thorough statement is that excess energy usage for no apparent survival-related gain, produces negative feelings in his brainstem.

What I want to get across is:

Hitting a plateau is normal. Our genomes have evolved to store energy instead of being energy wasters – and that’s a good thing.

But first we have to find out if we’re truly hitting a plateau or our mind is tricking us into believing so.

Are you objectively stuck?

In the fitness center I manage, a young and ambitious lad once complained to me about his lack of weight loss results.

After 2 months of being on a strict and sustainable diet, his weighing scale still showed him a rather small decline of 2 kilos. He strictly followed the advice of me and our trainers yet couldn’t see the results he hoped for. He felt cheated on and even asked for a refund.

Promptly I inquired if the weighing scale was the only way he measured his progress. It was.

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It turned out that the frequent gym-goer in fact did see results. He was extremely satisfied with the view in the mirror and even got compliments from his friends and family.

But he based the results of his success solely on the reduction of his body weight, which means he based his happiness of an irrelevant number on a weighing scale.

This is not the way to do it.

When starting a diet, try to get at least 2 variables that you can measure. For example:

  1. Your body weight and before and after pictures.
  2. Before and after pictures and circumferences of your body parts.

This way you make sure if you’re truly hitting a plateau or your mind is simply playing tricks on you.

How to break through the weight loss plateau (Step-by-step)

Once you’ve determined that you’ve indeed hit a plateau. Here are a couple steps that you can follow to break through:

1. Take a look at your goals and your why

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. — Seneca

This is an old saying yet so massively true in our day and age. You have to know where you’re going, to be on the right path. That’s why it’s so crucial that you’ve written down your goals before committing to this weight-loss journey.

If not – this is the time to do it. Reassess what you’re trying to reach and why. Humans are reasonable creatures – for the most part – we need a reason why we do what we do.

Action:

Take at least 10 minutes out of your day, sit in a quite corner with a pen and paper and get this step sorted.

Do this right now. It’s the easiest step and probably the one that will create a big change in your life.

2. Readjust your habits accordingly

If we’re following a diet long enough, we often let our habits slip without even noticing it. We unconsciously increase the portion size, decrease our effort in the gym and buy unhealthier foods.

Just recently I did a diet for a short vacation to Italy and hit a weight-loss plateau. I struggled to find the reason until I noticed that I started to eat two reasonably-sized breakfasts every morning, instead of the usual one. One before the morning workout and one after.

This is quite common on a diet. We’re deluding ourselves and then rationalizing our behaviour. “It’s just a one-time thing”, we say. Or: “I’ve earned that donut – it’s the way I treat myself.”

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As weight-loss is going against our ingrained nature, our brains are great in leading us subtly yet surely off-path. That’s why we need to reassess our goals and our why in step 1, to now readjust our habits accordingly.

Action:

Take a picture of all the meals and beverages that you put in your body during the day. Are these aligned with your goals? Are you happy with what you put in your body?

Be honest with yourself. Our goals are not our goals if we don’t back them up with the right actions.

3. Be urgently patient

Once you’ve readjusted your nutrition and workout habits, the chances are pretty high that you’ve broken through the plateau already.

It’s the time to be urgently patient. This is a term Gary Vaynerchuck uses regarding to the business world. Meaning: On the bigger scale you should be patient, on the smaller, minute-to-minute scale, you should act urgently.

Action:

Follow the proven steps noted before for at least 2 weeks and give it your best effort.

If you’ve seen a difference, go to step 1 and reassess your habits and goals.

If you haven’t seen a difference, proceed to step 4.

4. Add one of the seven plateau-breaker strategies

After you’ve made sure that you’ve certainly hit a plateau, you can implement one of these seven plateau-breaker strategies.

This is the last step of these 4 because it can be used to break through future plateaus. Let’s proceed with caution:

We may not be blessed with the best genetics, but if there’s one thing we can control, it’s our effort. Work hard, friend!

Following are 7 unique solutions which helped me and countless of our clients to reach their dream bodies, by obliterating a plateau. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Caffeine Is Your Friend

There are numerous studies on green tea and its effectiveness on weight loss and health.

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While green tea is an antioxidant rich beverage that has been shown to slow down aging, it can also decrease your satiety and increase your overall weight loss.[1]

Implement 2 cups of green tea every single day to break through the plateau.

The mysterious seeds

Chia seeds

are your friends. They have been shown to be effective in helping you lose weight. Even in studies controlled for fiber levels.[2]

Add a handful of chia seeds to your breakfast.

The high calorie food for weight loss

Nuts contain a lot of calories yet they’ve been shown to increase your weight loss by raising your calorie expenditure at the same time.

In fact nuts, in addition to its dietary fiber, have been shown to be negatively correlated with weight gain over time.[3]

Add a handful of nuts to your breakfast to increase your satiety over the day.

Get your heart working

Burning more calories by upping your work-load is one of the easiest ways to break a weight loss plateau. Yet also one of the hardest ones.

In addition to breaking through a weight-loss plateau, this can help you have more energy and decrease your recovery time. I had to learn this the hard way.

Add 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio 2 times a week to boost your weight loss.

Extra accountability leads to extra progress

We’re social creatures. A lot of the things that we do on a daily basis is to increase our reputation in the tribe that we live in.

Use this fact to your advantage. One of the easiest actions to exploit this natural human tendency is to post your progress pictures on Facebook.

To put your accountability on steroids, train with a friend or best: hire a coach .

Hire a coach for 3 months to kick-start your weight loss success.

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Decrease obesogenic chemicals in your food

Animal foods have been shown to be correlated with weight gain. But is it because vegetarians eat more plants, or less meat?

There was a study in 2012, observing over 3900 men and women, that found the group with increased meat consumption to experience more weight gain. Even when both groups were controled for fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, grain consumption, physical activity and even calorie intake.[4]

Chicken was the meat most closely related with obesity. Decrease your intake of animal foods by substituting 3 chicken-based-meals per week with beans or legumes.

Take the stairs

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I stress sustainability and consistency.

If we truly want to keep the weight off long-term and avoid the Yo-Yo effect, we need to adjust our habits.

Implement basic, physical activity in your day. You don’t need to run a marathon in the morning at 4am. But try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to the supermarket instead of using your car.

Little changes go a long way. Avoid the elevator for the next 7-days.

Summing it up

Hitting a weight-loss plateau is normal when doing a diet to get to the best shape of your life. The question is just how you react to these setbacks along your journey.

We have to first make sure that we truly hit a weight-loss plateau and our mind is not playing tricks on us. To do that, we have to reassess our goals and readjust our habits accordingly.

Only after we’ve been urgently patient, we can then use one of these effective 7 Plateau-Breakers to increase our diet success:

  1. Green Tea
  2. Chia Seeds
  3. Nuts (Beware of Cashews)
  4. Cardiovascular Training
  5. Accountability or Coach
  6. Less Animal Products
  7. More Activitiy in Your Day

Dieting is not easy, it’s hard. But if it’s easy, everyone would do it.

We may not be blessed with the best genetics but if there’s one thing we can control, it’s our effort.

Work hard, friend!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Florian Wüest

Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss The Truth Behind Rapid Weight Loss and the Best Way to Shed Pounds How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss? How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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