what i’ve learned about how to get past a weight loss plateau
Every article I’ve read about a weight loss plateau does very little to offer mental options of recovery.
Most articles spend a lot of time trying to explain why you’ve come to a weight loss plateau but never really go into detail about how to bounce back into losing weight.
Of course you’ll have to consider the usual suspects: evaluating diet, re-arranging exercise routine, identifying underlying medical issues, & managing stress.
When you’ve exhausted all of those, you can come back and keep reading. I’ll wait…
Done? Alright.. let’s talk about the reality of weight loss. It’s not a linear process and there is a kind of plateau that involves the inability to find the strength to begin again.
Failing a dozen times at anything will begin to cast a thick-ass cloud of doubt over your ability to ever accomplish said thing–ever. Are you there?
my begin again plateau story..the short version
I have been trying to lose the pregnancy weight since I gained it almost 3 years ago. I manage to get down to a certain point and then life hits me hard and I am right back where I started. Whenever I am able to do well for long stretches of time then experience a slip up, it’s difficult to even think about beginning again.
Starting over feels like defeat. Getting back into the swing of losing weight feels futile–what’s the point? I’m only going to plateau again and have to restart, again.
what you need to know about a start-over plateau.
Truthfully, starting over is so much better than giving up. As starting over is the opportunity to succeed–giving up is accepting the idea that you are not capable, and that is not true.
When it feels really hard to begin again, I go back to these mental strategies to get me started. If you aren’t sure how to re-start your most recent failed attempt at weight loss, here are my exact re-start and recover steps.
Forgive Yourself & Give Yourself Permission To Start Again
What you not gone do: beat yourself up for being human.
Forget about yesterday. Stop going over your last mistakes. Have you ever heard the term, beating a dead horse? This is kind of what this is when you sit in your shit for so long waiting to smell the stink.
You had that cookie, you took one too many pieces of that birthday cake. So fucking what. You are a human. You’re not a robot. You’ll make mistakes and that is expected.
You are allowed to start as many times as you need to. Don’t follow nobody else’s timeline.
It’s over with, move forward. Forgive yourself for being human and give yourself permission to believe in your abilities to lose weight. Dust your pretty ass off and go again.
I tend to veer off track right around my menstrual cycle. It’s where I become the most vulnerable to sugar and salt cravings. I am the cliche of moody premenstrual syndrome and when I am down I turn to food to pick me up.
I’ve known this for quite some time but have made very little progress at creating a strategy to stay on track during my menstrual.
I’m determined now more than ever to be successful and I’ve already created a strategy for premenstrual success:add a sweet treat every single day of my period and include it in my meal plan.
You’ve fucked up but you’ve also learned a valuable lesson about yourself. Use the knowledge you’ve gained from going off track to keep you going for the next go-round.
Don’t Start Again With A “Fast” Or “Cleanse”
For whatever reason or the other, I tend to end a binge or a bad week and start again with a one-three day water fast. I say it is a way of “cleansing my palette.”| I don’t believe in this anymore.
Restricting ourselves from eating for 2-3 days is low-key punishment for over indulgence or natural human behavior.
We fucked up. But we should not make up for that fuck up by restricting calories, and/or not eating at all. It’s barbaric. Don’t do this to yourself!
Instead let’s focus on re-crafting and getting more specific with our goals. If need be take some time to re-evaluate your goals, think about your past mistakes and prepare for time.
Don’t Stall Your Re-Start To “Get It Out My System”
We love to promise that we’ll “start again on the first Monday of the full moon in Saturn” but, stuffing ourselves with craving food for another week, until the weekend or whatever your start day of choice is will not get you any closer to feeling satisfied and ready to begin again.
In fact, it makes it harder to continue resisting once you’ve trained your brain into giving in to all of your cravings.
Honestly, if you are unable to stop yourself mid-binge it probably means that you are not ready to begin the journey and that is okay. If need be, take some more time to develop a strong sense of “why” and then start again.
You can begin again at any point.
You are totally capable of achieving weight release.
Understand this process is not linear.
It may require some stops and re-starts. THAT IS OKAY. As long as you do do not give up on yourself, you will make it to your goal.
I’d love to hear how you bounce back from a weight loss plateau or failed attempt.
In this never ending quest to get into the best physical shape of my life, I’ve discovered, unraveled, uncovered the POWER of developing a weight loss mindset.
Sadly, it’s rare for most people to consider the necessity of developing a shift of mindset for achieving weight loss consistency.
When most people think of losing weight they think of sweating it out in the gym, eating big green salads and shopping at the local health food store. Those are great tools for weight loss but they aren’t at the heart what it takes to lose weight–for real this time.
In my experience, having a proper mindset is THE most important part of weight loss.
In this post we will explore the 3 very critical mindset shifts I made that helped me become consistent with my fitness efforts + finally achieve massive weight loss. These are simple concepts but implementing these 3 mindset shifts will truly change the way you approach your fitness journey, for good.
mindset shift ONE: SPRING MUST COME
BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF, BE PATIENT WITH THE JOURNEY.
Proper mindset is your absolute key to starting & succeeding at weight loss. And so is your ability to slow tf down.
Oh my goodness, if I had a dollar for every time I started a new weight loss regimen & quit within the first few days because things just didn’t go as planned, girl–I’d have a lot of damn dollars.
You’ve created these poor eating, inconsistent, negative self talk habits over the course of many many decades. To think that a week, or couple of months, is all it will take to completely eradicate those bad habits is really unfair to yourself. It’s cruel and unusual punishment for being and doing as a naturally flawed human does.
What’s the deal with all the rush and fuss?
There are two points here: 1) slow down; it’s not going to happen overnight & 2) keep reminding yourself of 1.
I hate fad diets for this particular reason, it encourages the idea that weight loss should happen FAST. Spring must come.
Our society low-key teaches us two things about fat people.
The first, fat men and women cannot be sexy and the second being fat is shameful and should be hidden. We believe these things to be true, without ever considering an alternative. We’ll get to the alternative in a bit but first let’s focus on the shame of being fat.
When I gave birth to my first child at 21, almost 11 years ago, I gained nearly 100 pounds. I abandoned friendships, minimized social movements, and became a recluse. Why? Because I was fat and afraid of the judgment I’d receive because of it. I associated being thin with being happy and was hell bent on losing weight for that purpose alone.
For months, years even, I kept telling myself that as soon as I lose X amount of pounds I would be happy again and my life would instantly change and be better.Fast forward to two years later when stress induced weight loss happened and I lost ALL 100 pounds. I lost a lot of weight & found skinny but where in the heck was my happy? No where in sight. The numbers on the scale changed. I was treated differently by some people and that felt good but I still felt deficient on the inside.
Something was missing. I still felt unworthy. My insecurity still raged. I continued to compare myself to everyone else wondering if I would ever be good enough.
Losing weight did nothing to improve the way that I felt about myself.
With that quick knowledge check on what weight loss can and cannot give you–let’s dive into 3 mindset shifts you can make for weight loss consistency.
one:accept yourself as you are, while you strive for weight loss
If you read nothing else in this post, read this one paragraph: You cannot hate yourself and simultaneously enjoy the good parts of this life. Self hate cannot be contained, it muddies the waters of all things good and joyous in the world. There is no way possible for you to hate yourself & simultaneously enjoy the good in this world.
FACTS: There are millions of happy and fat people in the world and to start losing weight, you’ll have to at least feign fat and happy for a long while.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m not licensed to diagnose any disorder of any kind. I do not have credentials to offer any medical advise what-so-ever.
All I have is 31 years of experience fighting with myself to become this ideal body that I was convinced would make me happier. I’ve been obese and I’ve been “skinny” many times in my life and in each frame, sadness, unworthiness, self intolerance, continued to exist.
Losing weight never made me “happy.” Weight loss provided, at most, a minimal confidence booster but, on a deeper level, weight loss did little to change how I felt about myself. I ditched the idea that I NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT TO BE HAPPY & went towards the journey with a sturdier “why” in place. I accepted my body for what it was, as it was, and moved towards my goal of weight loss without the intense pressure to lose weight, and lose it really really fast.
When I decided that I WANTED to lose weight, and did not NEED it to be happy, this became THE GAME CHANGER. I could get my nails done, do my hair, and put on an outfit that made me feel beautiful, in my fat body. There was no sadness about my existent body & rush to shed the weight. There was just me and this current body striving for my solidified why that had nothing to do with the reflection in the mirror. Oh, it was deeper than skin, and this is what created the consistency.
final takeaway: if you can accept yourself as you are right now, losing weight loses it’s pressure & is easier to sustain.
One of the very first things I did when I began the journey to self love was surround myself with people who made me feel good about my body.
If these people don’t exists in real life, you can find people who resemble you on social media. Some of the very first body acceptance women that made me feel like a fat fucking goddess was on Instagram.
There are thousands of women (and men) fucking shit up on the internet. There are hundreds of hashtags you can search on Instagram that will lead you right to them. Seek them out and take in the confident sexiness they exude.
Seeing fierce women like, Tess Holiday and Gabi Fresh (and so many others) kill shit in clothes that society explicitly reserves for the thin will light a fire in you. A blaze, bitch.
This kind of confidence coming from women that we’ve been told are too big to exude sexiness gives you permission to take your power back! The way their clothes don’t try to hide rolls of fat. How effortlessly they embrace the camera will almost immediately change your perspective on who can be sexy. Because these women are hot AND fat.
Surrounding yourself with these kind of images opens up a brand new internal dialogue. You’ll start to question your own beliefs about your body. You’ll begin to ask yourself questions like how the hell can I get this way? And then something magical happens within you. You start to see yourself as attractive (sexy even) too.
Maybe you’ll see these women and feel nothing but repulsion. If this is the case, I suggest you keep doing the work to acceptance because this is akin to being repulsed to folk of darker shades, or thinner lips–it’s rooted in self hate.
Take Action: Dump ANYONE Who Makes You Feel Unworthy
3) accept the descriptor, & decide if their approval matters
First of all, you are worth being loved by all that you encounter, if this is what you wish. Why? Because you are here. You have value for being the person that you are, period.
Second, you have fat but you are not fat and fat alone.
Can fat be people attractive? Yes. Can fat people have attractive qualities about them? Damn right. Can fat people be fun to be around? Of course they can. Can fat people give others physical pleasure? Ugh, hell yeah (fat lady with a man and three children here, somebody is getting it in with this fattie).
Anybody that treats you poorly because you are fat, is not worth the effort to keep them in your life.
The compliment from an acquaintance or a stranger isn’t what creates that feel good feeling. Because the verbiage of the compliment itself means nothing. What gives you that good feeling is the the fact that you have accepted and/or believe the compliment to be true. “Why yes, I do look good don’t I?” It’s the same concept when someone insults you. You only feel bad about an insult if you find some truth in it.
Being called fat cannot hurt you if you have already accepted the descriptor. Currently, you are fat and that’s fine–thats what you look like on the outside. Why does this bother you if it is true? You’ve attached negative connotations to a word that is meant to describe. Are you offended when someone describes you as black (if your skin is black) or white (if your skin is white)? No. Because it’s an accurate description of what you look like.
When you stop giving meaningless descriptors or labels control over your sense of self and worth you can begin healing.
A lot of times we make a big deal about the opinions of others because we are drawing our sense of worth from what they think of us. It’s completely normal to do so but people with a healthy self esteem know when to throw the deuces to “they”. Who is they anyway? And why have we given them so much power over how we feel about us?
girl, we all struggle with body image issues
If you were rail thin and someone pointed it out, because of your mindset, this would be a dagger to the heart. Because of your mindset any word can be used against you. Imagine how hard it will be to navigate the world when you are constantly allowing the fleeting opinions of others to dictate how you should feel about yourself. Folk will find a flaw in every and anything they can.
Furthermore, you have the power to accept yourself as you are, despite the opinion of people who don’t suffer with you.
Action step: Accept the descriptor. Tell yourself “I am fat, and that is okay because it is currently what I look like.” Take the sting out of the word fat by using it freely.
None of this will come easy. It will take practice. Make it a habit to look at yourself and your fatness in a different light.
You have power, you’re worthy of love and light, and you can achieve all that you set out to do.
No amount of weight loss can give that to you. As you go into your journey remember who the fuck you are on the inside and allow time for the outside to catch up to all that heroic shit you exude.
I’d love to know what you think about these suggestions. Are they do-able? can you do it? Do you have any body love personalities you can suggest to us? Let me know in the comments!
The question I get the most when people see my weight loss transformation is, “how do I begin losing weight?” or my particular favorite “where did you start?”
I love these questions, but it’s difficult to answer without being very cautious with my response. The journey for each individual is a sacred one. What might work for me may not work for you. How you achieve physical fitness may look different from the way that I was able to.
But, even with those truths, there are some universal principles to losing weight. There are specific mindset shifts that need to happen before you can begin to lose weight naturally.
It’s Not A Race, Treat It Like A Marathon
A race is fast. You take off and before you know it you and your opponents are crossing that finish line. You’ll barely remember how you got from the start to the finish. It’s over just that quick. If you had to run at that pace for let’s say the duration of 5-10 miles, it’s likely that you’d lose steam and either have to slow down or stop completely.
Weight loss for people who have a lot of weight to lose is not a race, it’s a marathon.
For those of us that have double and triple digits to shed, it’s difficult to sustain the pace of a marathon when you’re moving faster than your body & mind has been trained for. Get me? Let me clarify.
If it’s your first time running a marathon and you aren’t already someone who does a lot of long game running, taking off extremely fast will inevitably work against you. You’ll tire quickly & eventually slow all the way down & most likely you’ll quit altogether.
If you head into losing weight the mindset that I am in this for the long game, and I do not need to race to my finish line (goal weight) it’s more likely that you’ll choose healthier and sustainable methods to achieve weight loss.
Two things I’ve learned not to do: 1. jump into the journey head first, going cold turkey on all the foods I’ve loved for decades & 2. join a gym memberships I’m never ever going to use.
Here is why:
Deprivation never worked for me. I’d deprive myself of the things I craved for a few days then I’d lose control and go on a binge and have to start over.
Total workout exhaustion never worked either. Doing a vigorous workout early into my journey just made me dread having to workout the next day. Dread fostered a mental environment for fear, fear turned into procrastination which lead way to excuses and then I never went back for day 2, or 3 or 8.
Those two things above is the precise reason why you will never ever stay consistent. You’re hanging your hat farther than you can reach it babygirl.
Build up some consistency before you try to somersault into an overly restrictive diet & far too strenuous workout in the gym.
Start slow. Would you go 90 MPH on a motorcycle if it was your fist time being on one? Hell no. Don’t do that shit with losing weight either. One last thing on this: spring must come. As long as you’re breathing still, six months from now won’t go any faster or slower, it’ll just come. Imagine if you just went into the journey with the mindset of staying consistent rather than getting your results super fast.
Gather Your Data | Know Yourself
STOP! trying to be like the fit ladies on Instagram and Youtube.
You are NOT them.
You are NOT up to their physical strength.
You are NOT ready to do what they do.
Understand that this is YOUR journey and you will need to figure out what works for YOU.
Don’t force their regimen into your life if it doesn’t fit. Results are results and it doesn’t matter how quick or slow you’ve achieved it. It’s your journey, get there at a pace that is most comfortable to you.
The data you’ve gathered over many years of weight loss failure/success is what you will use to keep you consistent.
My data (past failures) have taught me that putting something unobtainable (know yourself; for example GYM when I know I cannot get there due to my schedule) on my to-do list 1. delays my progress 2. gives me a “valid excuse” to not commit to my goals 3. makes me feel bad about myself when I do not show up for myself.
Know your strengths, know your self sabotage behaviors, know your triggers!
Accept Defeat and Begin Again
The biggest problem for me is that i get totally bummed after I’ve “failed.” I’ll have a great week and then the weekend comes along and i can’t resist a pizza or two and a cheat meal turns into a binge weekend and then things get ugly. I end up losing hope and continue stuffing my face with food that makes me feel good. Before you know it,it’s been three months since my last weight loss attempt.
This is not the way ladies. if you slip up and enjoy a pizza, bnge for the weekend, fuck all of that and keep it going. Get right back to the park or gym, get back to juicing or eating clean.
Forgive yourself for that mistake, gather your data and keep it moving. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself, beating yourself up for human mistakes, accept your humanity and keep it going!
Shift your FOCUS, immediately.
Weight loss is just as mental as as it is physical. I’d even say it is MORE MENTAL than anything else. Losing weight will require an immense amount of mental stamina. You have to be willing to FOCUS on your goals.
This will require you to resist. How do you resist? How does a pizza lover resist enjoying a slice of pizza when the office staff treats you and all your co-workers for lunch? Focus. Your brain will go on a tangent. The only thing you will be able to focus on is, how good that slice of pizza looks and possibly how GOOD eating that pizza will make you feel.
Your focus is wrong. Focus or think really hard on your goals, and think of nothing else.
Do not let any other thought into your mind. For the most part, don’t give the office party too much thought. Acknowledge the presence of it, then move on, do something else. Step outside, allow all of it to be eaten but don’t spend to much time thinking about it.
This kind of focus takes practice but once you do it one time, you’ll be better equipped for a second time.
November 27, 2017 was a Monday and the very end of the month. I started anyway. Stop waiting for the first of the month, don’t wait for a Monday, quit planning and hoping and wishing and start doing.
You will never ever find the perfect time to start. It does not exist. You need nothing else but everything you are already equipped with to begin.
If you want to lose weight, literally take the very first step right now!
Edit June 22, 2018 Its been six months since I wrote this post and have lost a total of 60LBS. I currently weigh 216LBS.
let me preface this by saying, the actual Cardi B did not tell or teach me anything about success IRL, I learned from her experience. Just so we are clear.
It’s crazy because I’m 8 months away from my 30th birthday, and I am struggling with my identity. Ya’ll would be like, “damn girl! Almost 30 and still don’t know who you are?”
In fact, I think this is precisely the issue.
I know exactly who I am and whenever I’m doing fraudulent shit, or taking action in a way that feels unnatural I become inconsistent, unproductive, and even more stagnant than before.
I had a photo of mine go viral. Because of said viral photo I gained a ton of new followers. Okay, I gained over 5k followers within a few days. I think it went to straight to my fucking head.
I’m a writer, b. Nothing else. I have a professional camera but I’m not photographer. I’m not a photographer yet watching all the “Viral” photos in my “niche” encouraged me to believe that this who I needed to be to get where I want to go.
That’s the craziest part though. Back then–I don’t think I knew exactly where I wanted to go, in the back of my mind I kind of knew but I allowed myself to become overly distracted with shit that had nothing to do with my ultimate goal–writing–writer shit.
For example–I’m not a fashion blogger, but I spent money in places I had no business spending money like FashionNova in hopes that I could “go viral” again and attract more followers or readers or viewers. But, again, I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl–how the fuck was I supposed to coordinate an outfit? I’m no Gabi Fresh but for whatever reason I convinced myself that THIS was what I Needed to do to get where i wanted to go.
I enjoy writing, that’s it. All i ever wanted to do was write–more specifically–all I ever wanted to do was create content.
But I cannot do no fraudulent shit.
You see the shit on my website? I don’t write like that. That is forced writing and I don’t like it, it feels unnatural. I can’t do “technical” writing. Yet again, I convinced myself that if I was to become a serious blogger that I needed to write like Mattie James from MattieJames.com or Demetria Lucus from abelleinbrooklyn.com. That may have worked for them but it’s not natural for me. Truth is, I had more viewers when I was writing freely, expressing myself rather than silencing my real voice–the one that thinks deeply and openly accepts her flaws and flaunts them for those that can relate– for those people to relate.
I enjoy working out.
But I ain’t really doing anything revolutionary with my regimen. I eat okay on most days and walk around my local park couple times a week–that it. I don’t want to host a course, or create a class a how to lose weight class.
I enjoy weight loss. I enjoy inspiring women like myself who struggle with emotional eating to push beyond their limits and go for what they want but I can’t be Za from fbfitness.com or any of the others who are passionate about weight loss. Women like ZA have incredible products, I keep thinking that I have to come out with my own line of fitness attire to get to where I want to go but that’d be fraudulent, because I’m a fitness enthusiast but writing is my passion.
For the first quarter of 2018 I spent unnecessary time acquiring things, turning into someone I’ve never been in an mad dash to secure a seat at the 10k, 20k, 1m table. I wanted 2018 to be my Cardi B year but Cardi B got to where she is by being her unapologetic self–and I completely disregarded this part of the process.
The money I spent putting on 4 inch nails that I could barely wipe my ass with, buying tons of clothes that I have yet to wear, and lace fronts that collect dust in my closet but cost me a fortune I could have invested into my writing.
Fear lived at the root of all the shit I distracted myself with. I was afraid to do what I knew I needed to—or had to do to see the kind of success that I desire.
You can buy all the cute clothes on IG, you can buy the cute fixtures, you can buy a few nights out at a hotel to stage your photos like them but you cannot buy authenticity.
Aint no Cardi B year without authenticity.
There will always be an outline, something you can look up to or draw inspiration from but no two paths will ever be the same. What works for them, may not work for you. When it don’t feel right, it usually means it’s not right for you–don’t stick with it.