If you think back to what first started you on your weight-loss journey – was it a big birthday coming up? was it a desire to fit in to a certain pair of jeans again? Was it because your doctor had warned you of some health problem that might rear it’s head if you didn’t? Was it so you could run around the park with your children, grand children or dog? Whatever that original trigger was it very often gets lost as we start to lose weight. When you start to see the number on the scale going down, that’s what starts to motivate you. We all do it – I’m just as guilty, and it is a great motivator. But, when that number stops going down it can utterly kill your motivation.
That weight loss plateau WILL happen – it happens to everyone. The key is to view that not as failure, but as part of the process. If you’ve lost weight, then just maintaining that loss is in itself a massive success – never forget that. The scales are also only one way of measuring not only your progress but also your health. So when the scale stops dropping focus on some of these other signs of your health and fitness instead.
#1 Less fat, more muscle…
If you’re exercising regularly and particularly if you’ve recently started doing new types of exercise or added in some resistance training then you will probably be losing fat, but gaining lean muscle. This may not show on the scale as a weight loss so it’s worth either investing in some smart scales that measure body fat (though bear in mind these can be quite inaccurate – but will give you an idea of relative losses), or better yet ask your PT or gym instructor to measure your body fat with calipers. This will document improvements much better than a scale.
#2. You’re stepping it up..
So many people track their steps nowadays with various activity trackers, be it a fitbit, UP, apple watch etc. So have those steps per day gone up? I bet they have – since starting your weight loss journey you’ve almost certainly ramped up your activity so take a little look at how many steps you’re hitting each day – be proud of how many you’re fitting in to your day now!
#3 Your clothes fit better..
Maybe those jeans you wanted to get in to – now fit? Maybe you’ve just bought a dress in a size smaller (or 2 sizes!), maybe you just like the fact you can wear different styles of clothes and feel confident and happy in them. Think about all those clothes that used to feel tight and now don’t! That’s an awesome achievement 🙂
#4 You look forward to your workout…
If you’re not a regular exerciser then getting to the gym or going to that class can be a massive step, and at first it’s something you may well dread. Well take stock and see how you feel about it now? Do you dread it maybe just a little bit less… do you even maybe enjoy it? Do you find yourself planning your workouts in to your day and planning other stuff around it? Has it now become a habit? Now that’s progress! 🙂
#5 You’re stronger or faster than you used to be
Maybe you can now walk up those stairs at work without needing to stop to catch your breath, maybe you can now get through that spin class without feeling like you want to hurl, maybe you can now keep up with your grandson as he runs around the park, maybe you can now lift all the shopping bags out the car in one go without having to make multiple trips? Be proud of the fact you can these things better than you could before!
#6 You have more energy, more confidence, you feel more positive…
More energy, a more positive outlook or more focus etc aren’t easy things to quantify but you may well experience some or all of these during your journey. They definitely need to be recognised and celebrated as ultimately they are some of the most important benefits of this whole journey.
#7 You’ve changed the way you eat
Your go to snacks may not be the same anymore, you may be able to say no to those foods you used to rely on, you may have totally changed the way you eat – whatever the change is that’s another massive sign of progress. If you can now refuse those biscuits at the staff meeting, or stop yourself mindlessly eating chocolates when you’re watching tv then give yourself a massive congratulations!
#8 Your doctor is pleased
If you started losing weight for health reasons, or even if you didn’t specifically, then if your doctor is happy with your current test results then that’s a massive success. So if your blood pressure has reduced, your cholesterol levels have gone down, your blood sugar levels are more stable etc this is all fantastic. All of these things will lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.
So when those scales stop moving take stock of all those other signs of progress and be proud of how far you’ve come!
This article is written by Dr Nancy Priston. Please remember, she isn’t a medical Dr, the information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this site.