If you're frustrated by a weight loss plateau it's important to find out what's really behind it. While it's tempting to lose weight fast, rapid weight loss can sabotage your metabolism and wreak havoc on your body. Knowing your healthy body weight can be the starting point in addressing your weight loss plateau. Here's your first question: Question #1 - How many years has it been since you were at your healthy body weight?
Think back to a time when your weight was within a healthy range. That time could be as early as high school or college. Once you find that time in you life, note your life stage (e.g. newlywed, no kids etc). If you happen to know your weight during this time, note that as well. Look closely at your notes and you may seen a pattern - as you age your weight continually creeped up. Studies suggest that on average we gain between 5-10 pound a decade. That's an average and according to obesity statics we're putting on more weight than ever! It's no surprise then when you've put on 20+ pounds overnight.
Do a search on the Internet on weight guidelines and you'll come up with an array of charts on ideal body weight. Dr. Stephen Hall did an interesting post on the differences of various weight charts. As you can see, there are many ranges of a healthy weight; the trick is to find the weight that works best for your body type and stage of life. With this backdrop of information let's reassess your weight.
This much we know; for years we've based our weight on a skewed view of normal. If you come from a culture or ethnicity where your build is medium or large those older weight guidelines were never on your side. Now that you know about various guidelines on weight, you have a weight range to work with. For example, if you're 5'6" your weight range is between 130-160 pounds. This range allows for your unique body type, muscles, and genetics to provide a number unique for you. Aiming for a number below 130 would be completely unrealistic for you (even if that was your high school weight!) and the closer you get to 160 pounds you need to be sure that your body composition is more muscle than fat.
When you discover what your healthy weight was 20 years ago, setting a goal to return to that weight may be a recipe for frustration. The best approach is to set a weight loss goal of 10% of your current body weight. In the example above, if you're 160 pounds, losing 16 pounds can keep you within a healthy range. This weight loss goal will help you lose fat instead of muscle. Remember, rapid weight loss doesn't help you lose fat, you'll lose muscle first!
If you are frustrated by your weight loss plateau, realize that seeing results is not an overnight effort. Don't get caught up with infomercial success stories - notice the disclaimer on the bottom of the screen - results atypical (translation - many people still don't lose weight).
In my next post I'll discuss other areas that can contribute to your weight loss plateau. Until then, take good care of you - your body depends on it!