The time has come. February has hit. The gyms are starting to get less crowded. The rush is coming to a close. What happened? Well, for some, results have started to slow down. Willpower has been overcome by that little person on your shoulder. For the patient ones, things will get better, results will continue and long term change will happen.
I can explain why almost all new year’s resolutions usually last for about 4 weeks--and then suddenly hit rock bottom, go sideways, and end up with you making the same resolutions the next year. The reason is something called “set point theory.” A scientific concept with lots of research that makes a huge difference towards helping you see long term change. If you learn to master “set points," which is not all that complicated, that can be the biggest change that prevents you from repeating previous weight loss failures…
All nutritional plans or diets stop working at some point. You don’t see changes, and you believe that either you or the plan are no longer functioning. If you’ve ever tried to change your body, this probably isn’t a surprise to you.
The good news: When it appears to stop working, it’s actually still working.
Let me explain.
We know that as you lose weight, your metabolism tends to slow down. We also know that if you’re patient and focus on losing one to two pounds per week at most, then you’re more likely to keep it off for good. But most people quit before significant weight loss occurs.
The process usually goes something like this:
Step 1: You lose weight (sometimes, a lot, and very fast, especially weeks 1 and 2).
Step 2: You stop losing weight (between week 3 to 4).
Step 3: You're still not seeing any changes. Plateau.
Step 4: Weight gain.
Step 5: You're unhappy with your plan, your confidence fails you and you quit.
The majority of people don't know that steps 2 and 3 are often the most important part of the process. To put it another way, your plateau is a necessary part of the process. You must stall in order to move forward again.
We all have a normal body weight. Whether we like that weight or not is a different story, but this is the weight our metabolism has come to accept. The more weight you lose, the harder your body works to resist that change, or even pulls you back to your old weight. It does this by slowing your metabolism and increasing your hunger. It's a hormonal thing but that's another big topic for a later discussion. Don't give in. All hope is not lost. You can undo the process by changing your body and allowing your body time to adjust. Stay the Course.
This is why plateaus can be so deceiving and disruptive. Your body is adapting to it's new reality, it's new metabolism. Once it does, you will be ready to take the next step in your weight loss journey. Every person has a different set point. There’s not one rule for how long you have to wait. The more weight you have to lose (say, more than 30 lbs), the quicker it can happen initially without hitting your set point. If you want to lose closer to 10 to 15 lbs, you might hit a plateau after the first 7-10 lbs. Once you hit your set point, your body will likely need about 4 to 8 weeks to adjust to your new weight and new metabolism. Doesn't sound too exciting but this is how it works. Keep going while you maintain and your body will respond like that's your new normal and things will start to get moving again.
If you go from 150 to 130 pounds and wait out the set point process, the process becomes much easier to stay at your new weight because your body no longer has to get outside it's comfort zone with regards to hormones and metabolism. Then, you’re able to start losing weight again in big amounts. Even better? And, it makes it harder to gain weight as well.
The result: you don’t feel like you’re constantly following a failing plan that is pulling you back to your old weight time and time again. That's why long-term fat-loss never occurs in 30 days. It's a process. Trust it!
Finding the right plan or approach is about seeing the long term results. Almost any plan can deliver the quick results. Never lasting. Ignore them. Instead, focus on what you think you can do for the whole year. Make it a lifestyle change and commitment. Then, you won't be as unhappy the next time that set point comes into play.
The Fitness For Function Team