Thursday, 15 September 2011

Motivation and the dreaded plateau...

One of my favourite Tweeters, purple_cath, and I were chatting the other day about the power of motivation, in relation to weight loss plateaus - and between us, I realised that there are physical plateaus and also emotional plateaus to this weight loss bizzo.

After a time, your body gets totally used to the plan you're following, What worked before, and the regime that saw you regularly lose weight each week no longer seems sufficient. Your body is used to it, it's adapted to the shortfall in calories, so your weight stays stable. Frustrating. Annoying, to know you have been as "good" this week as you were on previous weeks, but to not loose.

And the same too, for emotional plateaus. For months, motivation stays high. You have a vision, a goal, and you're fired up, working towards a healthier lifestyle, a lesser dress size, and slimmer body. Then all of a sudden, it's not that you no longer care, but a subtle shift occurs and for some reason the fire has dimmed and whilst your interest is still high, you mental and emotional dedication to the weight loss journey seems less?

Sometimes the physical and mental plateaus come together. Sometimes the mental slump is a result of a physical slowing. Sometimes the body may be raring to go but you just can't summon up the emotional energy to get back into the right head space.

I do not have any of the answers to either, sadly.

I know that in order to get over a physical weight loss plateau, I need to get more sleep, drink more water, and shock my body back into weight loss mode by dropping to 1200 calories made up of lean protein and fruit and vegetables only. No processed carbs and very low sodium.  I suspect a change in exercise also helps; in combination.

But the emotional plateau? The mental aspect of dieting? The motivated attitude that can knock down all weight loss hurdles? How do we keep that burning and firing on all cylinders?

For me, I revisit all the original reasons I started this weight loss caper. I have to go back and visualise what I want my body and my life to look like. I have to try and create environments where I can feel how brilliant it feels to be on the right track with my health. I have to put a little extra planning in. Maybe read a new book on weight loss, or find some success stories that remind me of how possible this all is. I need to feel it.

There doesn't seem to be any concrete answers for this one. There is no "one size fits all" answer.

But I do know that even if I am not speeding along the track, even if I am not at the destination yet, even if I feel I have stalled, I am still ON the track. I am still on the journey. And I will not ever give up.

How do YOU deal with plateaus?

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  1. I totally know what you mean about plateaus! I lost quite a bit of weight a few years ago, but plateaud and never lost those pesky last few pounds. Frustrating! And I inevitably start doing the comparison game, "so and so is skinnier/prettier/more toned/more porportioned/etc than me," which makes me feel even worse. The biggest thing for my motivation is to have an internal locus of control. When I base my motivation on extrnal factors, like making someone else happy, than my motivational foundation is weak because the external things are out of my control. It's like you said. I need to feel it; I need to want it. It has to be something for me.

    Plus, envisioning myself as the person I want to be/look like always helps. Happy and confident!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    ~ Angela

  2. There doesn't seem to be any concrete answers for this one. There is no "one size fits all" answer.


  3. Sunrises to each day are like plateaus to my life aka they are regular. I think that's what differentiates the strong and the beasts. It's when you fall or plateau and overcome that when you really find a deeper and more vibrant fire. I think my biggest problem isn't overcoming a bump but staying on track. We all have something :)

  4. I think a plateau is like a comfort zone. You feel good as you are on the way to your goal and have made great progress and you start to slack off and get stuck in another comfortable place.

    It is being able to re-ignite the spark and motivation that is the key.

    And I think this is a personal thing. For me when I reach a plateau on the way to a goal (not necessarily weight loss, whatever it may be), I need to reset new goals that are easy to achieve, so mini-goals to the holy grail. It's hard though.

  5. I actually had a plateau after i lost 40 kilos which lasted for 7 months. I was doing what i thought was everything right...eating the right calories, exercising with a personal trainer 3 times a week....then i started to just read and research nurtition/exercise etc as much as possible and came across clean started to cut out the processed foods and that broke the plateau....and now to date i have lost over 87 kilos :) In my opinion just have to persevere and continually try different things till you break thru :)

  6. When i hit a lul... i always set myself a 21 day challenge to change my habits...

    I dont know why it works for me, but it does - setting myself a goal and an end date keeps me on track and makes me more motivated to get to where i want to be :)

  7. Hi Lucy! I'm new to the blog world and happy to have stumbled upon your fun and inspiring site. We share the same name and are both "diminshing" :) Only we're on opposite sides of the globe.
    The wrestling for motivation is a familiar story. After I lost 30 pounds (unsure what kilo conversion is), I was stuck. I could feel myself beginning to sink and then something caught my eye, a new goal, one that seemed sooo far out of my own reality before... it was running! I'm not great at it but I needed to shake things up a bit and my emotions have drastically improved! Another thing I'm dabbling in is The Abs Diet for women. It seems to be more realistic for long term life than those low calorie, low carb things. Just thought I'd pass that on. Still truckin away at those final few pounds, hoping to be bikini ready for a cruise in a few weeks!
    Blessings to you from Lucy in the USA!

  8. Emotional plateaus are the worst. It's hard enough to get started on the weight loss journey and you start losing weight and if you hit a weight loss plateau, you can work around it, find new ways, but the emotional plateau sucks. I've lost 23kgs so far and I'm stuck. I've lost all motivation. I don't even have that much further to go. But I just can't be bothered. So, I don't have the answer, but if I find someone that does, I'll let you know.

  9. I completely agree about the emotional plateaus. I am rarely at a point where I am lacking physical energy, but due to my emotional plateau I just can't get motivated. I had lost about 12 kgs before I became pregnant. I only gained 8 kgs during my pregnancy and had lost 6kgs within a month of giving birth. It was great! Then, the emotional plateau HIT! My son is 9 months old and I have gained 14kgs from my lowest!
    I am trying now to lose some serious weight and you are an inspiration for me. I read your blog regularly. We all reach some plateau, now and then, but I am sure you will work through them. :)

  10. So this last week I had made an appointment with a counselor to deal with some of those stressors and Explained to her my concerns with how those stressors had affected my ability to focus and stay on track, I explained that even though I feel really good and full of life when I do exercise and eat well I have been lacking in determination and Motivation whilst still feeling so blue and she and I discussed those stressors but also discovered that some food choices and nutritional neglect can play a big role in how it affects whether or not you are able to stay focused and be positive so that you can stay on track.
    So she gave me some options…. Now keep in mind I do a fair amount of research with anything that I’m involved in its important to me to know what the cause and effect is for everything, I believe for every action is a reaction and I want to make sure that the reaction is something I’m comfortable taking on.
    So Here it is… the recommendations, First she stated that while I keep track of all the food I eat with the My fitness pal APP She recommended also keeping a personal journal of the day that way if something does get in the way like a emotional issue or something as easy as not getting enough sleep then I can see where Food and Emotions plays a role in my life. And then go back over it to find a way of correction for that reaction.
    Also she said that the scale can be deadly for reinforcement because that can also put you into an emotional hiatus if the scale went up or down in numbers that you’re not happy about ….. Or sideways as you’re throwing it a wall. LoL Just kidding but in all honesty I have thought about it a couple of times as of the last few weeks.
    And here is the biggie …. With all the Exercise that I already had been doing with my Running and other things …. She mentioned Yoga & Meditation I thought initially to myself is are you crazy???!!! … with everything I already have going and all that I have on my plate Really!??? Are you sure??? I started to tell her that I just didn’t think I have the Flexibility let alone the patience to work out with Yoga 4 times a week but in the interest of being sane and able I did as she asked and hold on to your hats guys and gals... This was it the piece that I have been missing …. I love YOGA and Meditation and I do have to admit at first I hurt in all kinds of muscles and body parts that I didn’t know even existed... Since this applied I thought to post it to yours as well! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hi there,
    Weight loss platues are frustrating! I agree when you say there are no concrete answers. But try not to get disheartened, it sounds like you've been doing really well :)

  12. hi's the thing that works for me... your goal should be to be as HEALTHY as possible, not losing weight. If you make exercising a regular habit, and eat as healthy as possible, OVER TIME the weight will come off, the dress size will shrink. Many people want to lose weight for a specific purpose - a wedding, a reunion, etc. - when all is said and done, and the otherwise normal eating habits fall back into place once the goal is accomplished, pounds creep back on...
    i have found that just trying to be HEALTHY - and hey, I do eat junk food, how can i resist every time? - i am consistent with exercise and have (mostly) good eating habits..
    it's taken a while - and i'm not complaining - i've gone from a size 12 to an 8 (even a tight 6) just by eating better and exercising at least 3 times a week....
    takes patience... but worth the effort....

  13. I've been plateauing for about 18 years now. It gets easier. LOL. x

  14. I really like your picture for motivations, i'll try to do it in my language hope it will help me through the days.

    About weight loss platues i still don't have any clue how to surpass it.

    Anyway you seem to be doing a good job on it.

    Fight Fight!!! Keep on Fighting even if it's with your own self.

  15. Such inspirational words even if you haven't hit a plateau yet. I struggle daily to stay motivated. Congrats on all your success!

  16. For me really works to watch tv-shows about ppl losing weight, reading book of ppl overcoming themselves...Anything that awakes my emotions about weight loss isue.I kinda get back to those feelings that I want to be "there".
    I am right now in that terrible point where I am at "ok" weight. I fit in my old jeans etc...but I feel like I will be dissapointed with myself if once and for all I wont reach what I have decided in the beginning.
    :D It feels like gaining weight starts in our mids and the same goes to losing it....


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