15 Tips For Breaking Through A Plateau
Thanks to Elizabeth Hoyt, WW leader in Manhattan Beach, CA who wrote
You're exercising, eating well, and steadily losing pounds. Then all of
a sudden... BAM! The scale seems stuck, week after week. Yes, the
dreaded plateau. Don't think you're the only person this happens to
(although most people DO believe this only happens to them) - nearly
trying to lose weight experiences a phase when the scale won't budge
there's still 5, 10, 15 pounds to go. So, when this happens, you've got
a choice to make. You can either call your diet a success, or keep
plugging away. If you've lost quite a bit of weight - even though you
have that last 10 pounds to go - and you're sleeping better, feeling
good about yourself, have lots more energy, feeling good about how you
look, then maybe you've already achieved your goal. But, if you REALLY
have some more pounds to go, here are ten strategies you can use - try
one or any combination - to melt the last 10 pounds.
1. JOURNAL, JOURNAL, JOURNAL
This is one of the most powerful tools to help you stay on track or get
back on track. Your journal can help you see where you are perhaps
going over or under on your number of points for the day, or aren't
in the Guidelines for Healthy Living requirements. Use your journal as
a detective tool: Had a good week? Look over it at the end of the week
and try and see what you think contributed to that success. Had a not
so good week? Again, look over your journal to see what may have
contributed to you playing a little looser with the program. Look at
week's journal for clues too, sometimes it takes a full week before the
effects of a blown week show up. Using the journal on a consistent
is the best way to make sure that you're really eating the amount of
food that you think you're eating, which can be two different things
2. Eating By the Numbers (Or are you getting in too many carbs?
Protein? Not enough fat?)
Look at your food choices, are you really getting a wide variety of
foods in? Remember, your body needs nutrients from lots of different
sources and if you're eating the same things all the time or too much
type of food, you're probably not getting the proper nutrition your
body needs. How is your protein to carb ratio? Look at the Eating by
Numbers chart on page 5 of your Part 1 booklet for suggested guidelines
of how to most nutritiously spend your points during the day. There are
suggested ranges for someone under and over 200 pounds.
There's a helpful Excel spreadsheet on Rea's homepage:
http://www.geocities.com/reamia/ that is called something like 123
Journal Food Groups that she's got set up for 28-35 points per day, but
you've got to do is input your points range and the suggested
guidelines from the Eating by the Numbers chart for the various food
This can help too if you're one of those WW selection plan people who
don't like the Points system. You can use this to follow the points,
but use it for the selections of the various food groups so that you
a healthy balance in your points.
Take a look at your food choices as sometimes we have the attitude that
as long as our points balance at the end of the day we're okay, but if
we keep in mind the Guidelines for Healthy Living on page 3 of the Part
1 booklet (with further details explained about the guidelines on pages
54-57), we'll see that we still are asked to do a few steps to ensure
we're spending our points in a way that keeps our bodies healthy. Your
points might balance if all you ate was 3 hot fudge sundaes a day, but
it wouldn't be giving your body the nutrition it needs. Beware of those
3. Weigh and measure portions
Too many times our portions have gotten bigger without us realizing it,
using measuring cups and spoons and weighing out our portions can give
us a better idea if our portions have suddenly grown bigger than we're
counting. Remember, portion size does matter.
4. Read labels carefully
Are you counting your points right for the product that you're eating?
I remind everyone of my jumbo dinner frank story where the serving size
was half a frank! Who eats half a frank? I was counting 4 points when I
should have been counting 8 points. If you're eating a bigger serving
size than the one listed on the label you're probably eating more
than you calculated.
5. Remember, zero multiplied is not zero (okay, not when it comes to
If you're eating one serving of fat free sugar free gelatin for 10
calories, okay, that's zero points, but if you're now eating 4 servings
plus 2 tbsp of fat free whipped topping, you've got yourself one point!
Beware of those hidden extras where we multiply portions, and beware of
BLT's: Bites, Licks, and Tastes that never seem to get counted on any
journal. These add up. Also, remember that if a food like high fiber
cereal or bread, comes out to zero points according to the
you have to count one point! Trying to rationalize eating a whole box
cereal and saying that you consumed NO points is falling in that diet
mentality where certain foods don't count.
6. Too many refined carbs?
Are you eating too many sources of simple and refined carbohydrates,
the stuff that's heavily processed and no longer looks like its natural
food source. Think of it as the difference between whole grain bread
processed white bread, brown rice vs. white rice, popcorn cakes vs.
corn on the cob. Try to include more of the natural sources of
carbohydrates in your diet stuff like beans, yams, potatoes, brown
rice, and whole
wheat anything rather than so many crackers, pretzels, and chips (even
low fat chips). This is not to say you can't have any refined carbs,
just try to limit the amount of them if you're having trouble losing
7. Not enough fat?
Okay, this sounds counterintuitive, but according to the Eating by the
Numbers chart and for good nutrition you should be actively adding in
about 2-3 points of fat per day. This is stuff like vegetable oils,
margarine, butter, regular or reduced fat (not fat free) salad
avocados, regular or reduced fat (not fat free) mayonnaise, olives, and
peanut or soy butter. I have personally met a number of people now who
weren't losing and when I suggested they start actively adding in 2-3
points of fat per day they started losing again. Our bodies need enough
fat in order to properly function. You think there's enough fat in my
food already, right? Not when you're limiting your number of points in
order to lose weight. We are often making much lower fat choices than
normally would have, and as a consequence our consumption of fat falls
far below the recommended guidelines according to lots of nutrition
experts of 30% of your total calories in fat per day. If you are
your fat intake to only the fat that's naturally in food and even then
you're probably taking the skin off the chicken and drinking skim or 1%
milk, then you might only be getting around 10% of your calories in fat
per day, not enough for your body. So, the reason our bodies need
enough fat in our diets each day as opposed to just feeding off of our
body's fat stores is because fat contains an essential fatty acid:
acid, that our body can't produce on its own. That fat is needed for
proper metabolic and digestive function. Fat provides essential
our bodies need, it transports fat soluble vitamins that our bodies
need, it is needed for proper digestion and metabolic function, it
us keep fuller longer, keeps our hair and skin nice, and is crucial for
proper gallbladder function. If you're on a super low fat diet you can
develop gallstones that are no fun and super painful.
8. Drink half your body weight in water each day
According to Barbara Levine, R.D., Ph.D., the Director of the Nutrition
Information Center at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and
reported in the June 1999 issue of Weight Watchers magazine, she says
that overweight people need more water than the typical 8 cups a day
rule. "Overweight people tend to need more water, because fat cells
more water than other fat cells in the body. To determine the number of
ounces of water you need per day, divide your weight by two. For
example, a person who weighs 140 pounds should consume 70 ounces, or
cups. Of course, this is an estimate. The best way to gauge whether you
are getting enough water is to monitor the color of your urine. If
you're drinking enough, it should be the color of pale straw. If it is
deeper yellow, you're not getting enough fluids" (page 16, June 1999).
Lots of times we misinterpret thirst for hunger, try water first, wait
minutes, real hunger will not go away.
9. Make sure you're getting five servings of fruits and vegetables per
Eating the zero point veggies can often help us to fill up so that
we're not eating the other higher points foods instead. If you're
try non-starchy veggies first. Lots of members make the Garden
Soup recipe in the Part 1 booklet and eat a bowl of that before dinner
to fill up a bit so that you can get full on the smaller portions
you'll be serving yourself. Try a glass of V8 juice before a meal
summer when soup sounds too hot. Variety is good here too, try a new
fruit or veggie each month to expand your repertoire.
10. Increase the frequency or intensity of your physical activity
Are you exercising? If not, know that you'll be much more successful at
losing the weight and keeping it off if you are also physically active.
Find something that you enjoy doing and just do it! Start with a five
minute walk out of your door, look at your watch after five minutes
start heading back, just like that you've done 10 minutes! Next week
adding in a couple of extra minutes, try walking for 7 minutes out of
your door, and 7 minutes back, you've now done 14 minutes. Keep adding
until you're up to at least 10 minutes out and 10 minutes back.
If you're already active, are you exercising at enough intensity? If
you can easily carry on a conversation while exercising (you should be
able to speak, but it should take a bit of effort) you're not
your body enough. Your body becomes really efficient at adjusting to
the amount of physical activity you're doing, so you regularly have to
adjust either the intensity of your workouts or the frequency in order
continue to reap the maximum benefit from physical activity.
Try strength training in order to build lean muscle tissue. As we get
older we lose lean muscle tissue, which depresses your metabolism; in
addition severely restrictive diets where we eat too few calories can
cause us to lose weight but lots of it is lean muscle, which also
depresses our metabolism. If we build muscle tissue this can help us to
that process and to make us trimmer and stronger.
11. Move the furniture around
Do you always have your biggest meal at dinner? Try eating your biggest
meal for lunch or even for breakfast, with smaller meals for the
remaining meals. If you regularly eat most of your points at one meal
body converts the rest of the food into stored energy...fat...so that
you balance your points out throughout the day better you can actually
give your metabolism a boost by keeping it revving throughout the day
instead of only one spike at dinner. Food actually helps to boost our
metabolism, that's why it's important never to skip meals. There's a
saying that you could help to lose weight by eating breakfast like a
lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. This gives us the
majority of our points early in the day when our bodies can use them
we're active instead of right before bed if we eat them at dinner.
12. Try varying your number of points
Do you always eat at a certain number of points per day? Your body gets
very efficient at predicting its intake and adjusts itself accordingly.
Keep it guessing. Try mixing up the number of points you have...low one
day, middle the next, back to low, then high end of your points.
Special note: If you're very active never eat at the low end of your
points, your body may think it's starving, always eat middle to high
of your points and take those extra food points you earn with the
PointsBooster (you'll get one after you reach your 10% goal) if you
them...let your hunger be your guide. Remember, you can trade exercise
points for food points once you have earned more than 2 points of
in one day, trade them for food on a one-to-one basis.
13. Take your measurements and look for other non-scale signs of
Often even when the scale isn't moving, we're still improving our
health and our bodies, which will show up in other ways other than the
scale. Have your measurements gone down? How are your clothes fitting?
you climb a flight of stairs without being winded? Has your cholesterol
gone down? Can you walk now for 20 minutes when before you were huffing
and puffing at 5 minutes? How do you feel? Have you reached your 10%
goal? Hold that keychain in your hands as a measure of your success.
14. Are you on an attitude plateau?
Are you just tired of feeling like you're going to be doing this
forever? Does that translate into that right now your desire to lose
is equal to your desire for freedom from counting and having to think
about points and healthy food choices? If so, then that mental attitude
might be the culprit in that you're following a more relaxed adherence
to the program but you think you're still doing it to the letter.
yourself of why you started this process, look at how far you've come.
Is your goal still the same? Is it that you're scared of success, are
okay with how you look right now, have you become complacent? Ask
yourself these kind of questions honestly. If you're tired of the
routine or have become complacent, try spicing up your food plan by
trying more interesting meals and snacks, adding new foods, trying new
recipes or new restaurants. Set new goals, setting a new goal can
to challenge yourself. Pretend like it's your first week on program all
over again, try to recapture that enthusiasm that you had in the
beginning! You can do it as long as you don't give up!
15. Consider maintenance
A plateau that lasts a long time can be the practice to show you that
you can maintain your weight. Sustaining weight loss is a challenge in
itself. Consider doing the maintenance process so as to take a break
from weight loss. Taking a break from weight loss and focusing on
the weight off can be the best thing to do, especially if a vacation or
stressful situation is what is keeping you from continuing on your
weight loss journey. It's better to gain some ground, then hold it,
back and gain more ground than to give up because then you lose all of
the ground you've gained (lost!).