Why You Shouldn’t Panic That You Haven’t Reached Your Goal Weight

Good news: it’s February and you’re still going to the gym and eating right. Bad news: those numbers on the scale don’t seem to be dropping nearly as quickly as they apparently did for all those infomercial stars. In fact, lately, it’s felt stagnant, and a bit discouraging.

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Those frustrations are 100 percent expected, but you may actually still be on the right track to getting healthier. If in fact you think you’re doing everything well (eating healthy, exercising regularly, sleeping well on a nightly basis, etc.) but feel like you’ve hit that weight loss plateau my biggest advice is to realize that the hiatus is normal and it’s important to keep up with your lifestyle because the results you want are still within reach.

There are a few key concepts to help understand the meaning of a weight loss plateau. I always like to look at the glass half full during the process of living a healthy lifestyle because even if the results don’t come automatically, I strongly believe each change we make is a positive one in the long run. If there is a week here or there where your weight on the scale has stagnated, this can mean that your body’s metabolic rate has slowed itself down in order to adjust to the overall decrease in calories. This makes sense because if your intake is decreased the natural response is to compensate and burn fewer calories overall. This is why it’s important to understand that patience and time are crucial while trying to lose weight and to never work out too much in the beginning as this can just lead to exhaustion and dehydration. I’ve found that patients tend to lose weight rapidly in the beginning and over time it becomes harder to lose the pounds. This is normal. The last five pounds of fat you are trying to burn will be at least twice as hard compared to the first five pounds you burned. As you eat healthy and work out there is less body mass to accommodate and as a result there are less calories to burn.

What do you do when you hit that plateau? I highly recommend counting calories as you try to lose weight. This gives you a clear measure of how much the food you eat corresponds to exact reduction in pounds. Additionally, it allows you to eat slightly more when you hit this plateau in order to reset your “starvation hormones” and facilitate the weight loss process. Resetting your metabolism is a great way to remind your body to continue to burn fat when you go back to your regular diet. Don’t get frustrated and understand that every step contributes to the overall change in lifestyle.

dr. uruj kamal

dr. uruj kamal

Dr. Uruj Kamal is Chief Resident of Adult Outpatient Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center-University of Massachusetts Medical School. A Stony Brook native, she enjoys combining her knowledge of mental health with healthy living. Dr. Kamal has a special interest in outpatient adult psychiatry.