The Plateau Action Plan

December 8, 2009

One thing I learned many years ago is to have a plan of action for stalls & plateaus.  I generally don’t consider myself plateaued until it’s been 3 weeks of no loss while I was making an effort.  If I’m not making an effort, I can’t really call it a plateau, just being off plan.  And we all know how fickle the scale is so one week is definitely not enough to worry about, two makes me wonder, but three there is no denying it. 

The plan of action for me usually consists of going back to tracking carefully & counting whatever it is I’m counting — calories, fat grams, or these days, grams of carboydrate.  The act of counting makes me MUCH more aware of what I’m eating and I can make changes accordingly.

I weigh in “officially” Monday mornings, but step on the scale more days than not during the week.  Those daily weigh ins are just for focus – I don’t write them down anywhere, but they usually give me an indication of what is going on – and I find that the daily pattern helps me keep focused on my weight every day.   I know my weight fluctuates by about 3-4 pounds during the week, so I wasn’t too worried — it would be back down soon.

Except it hasn’t been.  The 190s have been winning.  For the past few weeks those daily weigh ins have been up a bit or staying the same — bouncing around 189, then several days of 190 or 191 then back to 189.  I think in 3 weeks I saw 188 once only — and the numbers with a 19x more often than anything else. 

It hasn’t helped that we’ve been away the last 2 weekends and that on both weekends I was less than 100% compliant with my diet.  Both weekends I was “pretty good” but really “pretty good” means “good enough to maintain my weight” not good enough to lose.  2 bites of 2 desserts, a nibble of this or that, ‘just a taste’ of something wonderful on my husband’s plate.  Really, great self restraint, but still, it can add up.  And low-carb dieting is not for the faint of heart, as one high carb slip can add pounds really fast as the carbs add water & therefore weight.  It’s easy come, easy go once you go back to stricter carb levels, but those jumps in the scale can be demoralizing if you don’t really understand the whys.  Even if you do, like me, it’s not so fun to see much bigger numbers suddenly come home to roost.

For the past several months I’ve been eating low carb without keeping track of exactly what I was eating nor how many carbs it contained.   So I knew my Plateau Action Plan would be to go back to basics — back to counting.   Over the past few months I’ve not paid much attention to serving sizes of veggies & admit that the occaisional bite of fruit has slipped in.  I also regularly eat foods that many low-carb dieters stay away from – such as fresh cheeses, mushrooms & nuts.  Bottom line – I suspected there could be a pretty good gap between my real carb intake & what I was trying for. 

So yesterday, when the scale showed 190 (officially up 1 pound from 189, where I’ve been for 2 weeks before that) I knew I needed to start counting again.  And just over 24 hours later, I wasn’t surprised by what I found — many more carbs than I expected, and this was with me paying close attention.  Last week, when I was still winging it, I easily ate 3 times as many carbs.   So this week I’m keeping close track all week, and hopefully that will help the scale get moving down again.

I’m not particularly worried about the speed of my weight loss, by the way, nor do plateaus freak me out — I think they’re a normal part of the process & that sometimes we need to hang out at a certain weight in order to feel the motivation to go further.  I am also aware that my plateau has corresponded with my return to exercise (more than light walking) & know that can be having an impact on both my appetite and my weight.  Still, I can already see the benefits of counting & being real with myself.   I made several different choices yesterday based on this ‘back to basics & counting” approach and was STILL shocked by the numbers — so I assume this will help me get back to a losing mode.

Do you have a Plateau Action Plan?  What is your trigger to put it into effect?

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