Staying Positive During a Weight Loss StallJune 5, 2023
Staying Positive During a Weight Loss Stall: Weight loss journeys are nothing short of a wild ride on a roller coaster, but aren’t most things we experience in life? There are times when everything is clicking and losing weight doesn’t feel like trying to climb Mt. Everest on a sheet of ice while wearing slippers. It can be super complicated and you may feel like you’re overthinking everything, especially when the scale stops dropping.
First, I want you to take a giant, cleansing breath. The kind where you inhale so big, your lungs may burst and then exhale with your jaws slightly agape and tongue is unstuck from the roof of your mouth. If that felt amazing, give it another try or two.
Staying Positive During a Weight Loss Stall
Now that we have lowered your cortisol levels from catastrophic to almost manageable, let’s chat about how you can remain positive during a weight loss stall. Here are 7 tips to help you keep your sanity while trying to lose weight:
Let’s talk about your relationships
No, I don’t mean the one with your significant other. I’m talking about the “other” relationships. Particularly, the relationship with the scale. How would you describe that relationship? Is it a healthy relationship? Is there an understanding of the purpose it serves which should be as a guide or tool? Is it a toxic relationship? Do you live and die by the number that pops up? When you step on it, do you immediately feel anxiety and a dark pit in your stomach when a certain number pops up? If so, I have some startling news. You need to break up with the scale. Immediately. Like, right now. It is not serving you and it’s creating anxiety and negative feelings that are not serving you or your goals. I acknowledge that you may not be prepared to break up and that’s okay! Maybe you start ghosting “him/her” at first and only use it once a week or, even better, once or twice a month. Trust me, there are better ways to gauge your journey. Read on for more.
Track your progress
Whenever I see patients in the office, one of the first pieces of advice I share is to start tracking your progress on day one. There are some great apps, but honestly, I tell patients to start with the NOTES section of their smartphone or they can use good ol’ pencil and paper. By tracking progress, I mean to write down EVERY. SINGLE. WIN. Every one of them. There are so many that you may overlook, so be intentional and search for them. Some to consider: You’re able to cross your legs now. You can bend over and tie your shoes. You no longer get short of breath after getting to your desk at work. You no longer need the seat belt extender on a plane. You can finally ride a roller coaster with your family. You learned that you eat when you are stressed. You drank 8 ounces of more water than you used to per day. Finally, you figured out a way to not drink with meals. You made some incredible friendships on your journey. It all counts and matters. When a weight loss slump arrives, review this massive list and remember you have more wins than Tom Brady!
Plan ahead for stalls
Stalls are part of the process. It gives you an opportunity to figure out what your next step is in the journey. This is where the good stuff lies. It’s a calling to be challenged. What is it that you still haven’t addressed? Are you now in a place to tackle it? If not, that’s okay, but at what point will you? Will it be when you start to gain weight? Will it be when your stall hits month 2? 3? Create a plan that if this, then that. Here are some examples: If I gain 15 lbs, then I will book an appointment with a personal trainer. If my stall lasts more than 30 days, then I will look for a counselor to address my emotional eating habits. BONUS: You can spend time in your easier phase to search around for these services and have some names and numbers to reach out to if/when these times come up in the journey.
Social Media Cleanse
Social media can be amazing. It can be a connection and a vector to learn from others going through the journey. BE CAREFUL as it can also be the detriment to your success. You can easily get swept into comparing your journey to others or how someone else looks. It can also be a place where toxic people share their toxic, negative energy. Consider this, the average North American spends 147 minutes on social media per day. The World Health Organization has stated the average life expectancy is 72 years old. That means we will spend over seven years of our life on social media. This is a staggering amount of time. Think about how you want this time utilized. Maybe you want to decrease the amount, or maybe you simply want to manipulate what you see so that it’s more positive. To decrease the amount, change your phone settings so it will block you from using it after a certain amount of time. There are also online browser extensions to do the same, such as StrictWorkflow or StayFocused. You can edit your feed by unfollowing accounts or silence accounts that are more negative or may trigger you to compare. This is a great place to start when you are frustrated with a stall.
Look for a caring bariatric support group to join. One that has a professional as a moderator so it’s more organized and can steer away people from going off topic or can help provide insight into your journey. If groups aren’t your favorite option, you can look for a mental health provider. It’s the best form of self-care you can give yourself on any journey that is tough or challenging. If you’ve never been to one, it can be a great place to decompress and offload heavy things you’ve been carrying mentally. Sometimes you don’t even realize how much you’re carrying until you make an account of it all. The key is to find the right person for you. That said, I recommend you look for someone who specializes in bariatrics or food related concerns. Mental health is often one of the most overlooked but most important parts of any journey, but especially weight loss. I highly recommend you consider this as a possible first step when a stall hits.
Step outside of your comfort zone
May I offer a distraction from your stall? Sometimes you just need to challenge yourself in another way to feel the reward of accomplishment. This can balance the emotional toll the stall can have on you mentally. Let’s dig into what fun challenges are out there that may help fill that proverbial cup. There are extremes, like skydiving, but if you’re like me, that brings a bit of perspiration just by reading it. It doesn’t have to be complicated or extreme. Maybe there’s a bucket list of items that you can consider. This could be fitness related and may include biking, kayaking, hiking or doing a 5K. Maybe it’s a professional goal. Shoot for finally starting a project or a new business, take a course into something new you are considering, or write an article or book. Build friendships with people you may have never connected with before to gain new perspectives and share different journeys. Try a new fashion style using clothing you may have shied from before.
The power of “yet”
Last, but definitely not least, words matter. Be sure to speak kindly to yourself and use the word YET every chance you get. I haven’t lost 50 lbs – YET. I haven’t been able to walk 1 mile – YET. I haven’t been able to drop a clothing size – YET. Time hasn’t stopped. There’s still an opportunity to hit your goals. That’s the promise of the word – YET.
Here’s what I can tell you: Life is short. Time flies faster than we ever realize. Don’t spend these precious days succumbing to the daily grind and getting boxed in. Even if you’ve lost 5 lbs or 40 lbs and still have 80+lbs more to lose, you are still feeling positive change from that, so take advantage of it. Enjoy this journey and this life because it’s a blessing to wake up every day with another shot to right our wrongs, try something new, share our stories and laugh until we go to bed at night. Live it to the fullest; stall or no stall. You already are a winner.
ABOUT THE AUTHORDezi Zevin is a physician assistant with over 20 years of experience. She is a NASM-certified personal trainer, bariatric fitness specialist, and medical fitness practitioner. She believes in working collaboratively with each patient to create an individualized plan that considers all aspects of their health, from gut health to mental health and fitness. Dezi's Fusion HFX health center offers a supportive environment for her patients. This approach has helped countless people not only reach their goals but empowered them to maintain their results long-term.