How to Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau

How rewarding is it when you set out to lose weight and it actually works?!

In the beginning, you set your mind to it and the weight started to come off.  At first the weight dropped off steadily, and then there probably was a little weight loss plateau, but then you felt better than you had in a while, and the success from dropping the first few pounds helped you keep at it.

Now, you’re really getting to your goal, when all of a sudden you feel stuck with those last few pounds. Sound familiar?

In the beginning, it was easy. You may have started by cutting out what you knew was keeping the weight on . . . the soda, the office muffins, the extra slice of pizza . . . and your body responded, which motivated you to keep going.

When you hit that little weight loss plateau you started pulling back on portions (even of the healthy stuff), drinking more water and switching the sandwich at lunch for a gorgeous salad. Go you!

You’ve been doing everything right. You feel great. You are almost there. You are almost there. You are almost there.

What the *$&%@*?!

Those last lingering pounds aren’t budging. Maybe they’re just there to mess with your head? What’s the deal?


How to Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau


Diet trumps exercise in weight loss. I struggle when I have a client a few pounds from his or her goal weight who is so fixated on the number on the scale that nothing else matters.

I always tell them not to give that number too much power. Easier said than done? I know.

To lose weight, the most important thing is to change your diet. However, especially when those final few pounds won’t budge, you also need to take a really close look at other pillars of your wellness. Let’s focus on exercise and stress here.


Sometimes you’re feeling fit, your clothing is fitting better than ever but the scale wants to show 148 pounds, instead of 145.

If those 3 pounds simply must come off, you may need to pull back on the spin classes, heavy strength training or swimming and head over to a low and slow treadmill workout or a yoga or barre class to meet your number goal.

Intense exercise, like spin and boot camps can build muscle, which is dense and adds to the higher number on the scale.

Let’s not forget though, that changing up your routine in this case is just to accomplish that number goal! You may actually feel better at 148, so maybe this is a good time to assess if 145 still is the goal.

Another thing to consider, is that we all have a set point, which is the weight our bodies tend to hover around naturally.

You don’t get to choose your set point (boy, wouldn’t that change the world!), but with hard work you can lower it. It will take time.

Not days. Not weeks. But months and months of consistent work.

Finally, instead of yelling profanities at the scale every morning, try measuring your waist, thighs, hips, arms and chest, or get a body fat analysis to see how you’re doing. Your scale has feelings too.


Is there more to those three pounds than diet and exercise? Is it possible that you’re fighting your biology with mixed goals?

If you’re like too many people, you’re living a busy, stressful life. You’re also trying to live a healthy life. Those two things don’t always work together so well.

When you’re stressed, your body produces adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that make it harder to lose weight. Your heart may feel racier and you may find yourself craving junk, thanks to sabotaging hormonal effects.

Look honestly at your stress and how you’re managing it. It’s just as important as your diet and exercise.

What will help YOU manage your stress so you can kick those few pounds to the curb and also boost your health? Try one of these stress reducing methods daily: meditate for 10 minutes a day, take a long shower or bath nightly, or read a book instead of getting back on your computer before bed.

Of course there are more than a couple reasons (age, sleep deprivation, hydration, medications, yo yo dieting history…) why you’ve hit that weight loss plateau and those few extra pounds may be lingering, but exercise and stress are two biggies that are super important and often overlooked.

Good for you for getting sooooo very close to your goal. Tweak and refine what is already working for you by switching up your exercise and ditch the stress. And if it’s any consolation, we think you look great;)


Tried it all, but your weight still won’t budge?

Learn why your hard work isn’t paying off and how to re-channel your energy to lose the weight. Check out my e-book: Why Can’t I Drop the Weight?



About Nutritious Life Editors

The Nutritious Life Editors are a team of healthy lifestyle enthusiasts who not only subscribe to — and live! — the 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life, but also have access to some of the savviest thought leaders in the health and wellness space — including our founder and resident dietitian, Keri Glassman. From the hottest trends in wellness to the latest medical science, we stay on top of it all in order to deliver the info YOU need to live your most nutritious life.

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