The most helpful thing is to define success in ways other than the number on the scale. There are many measures of success and it always helps to start by measuring many of these things.
What to Measure
- Body fat percent
- body measurements (waist size et c)
- Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol
- How far you can run/walk
- How fast you can run/walk
- how many steps you average in a day
- What you can do
What causes a plateau and what you can do about it?
After you lose a few pounds it gets easier to move around, so your body burns fewer calories doing the things you do. To understand this grab a 10lb bag of anything and walk around the store, then put it down and walk around the store again. Of course the 2nd lap is easier, you're carrying less weight. This has nothing to do with "starvation mode" it has to do with the body's desire to be efficient. What you need to do is either eat less or move more. It's best to do a little of both.
2) You cut calories way too much. This IS the starvation mode, Your body needs a certain amount of calories to simply get the nutrition you need, If you are not getting enough fuel to operate the basic functions your body will slow the metabolic rate. What can you do? You need to eat enough to get the nutrition your body needs. You might need to meet with a nutritionist. Taking a multivitamin may help, but you need enough fuel and protein as well. You can also move more. There is also calorie cycling which is an option where you eat more on certain days and less on others to maintain a calorie deficit without having every day's calories be too low.
3) You're eating too much: it might seem crazy but it's true. When you start off on a weight loss journey you measure and record everything, and then you eyeball it and then portions start to creep up on you. I suggest randomly measuring again. I know it's tedious and not really a habit you want for life, but you can measure what fits in your ladle or serving spoon and simply use that at dinner. Once a month or so for a day just weigh and measure everything for a day or two, if you "guess wrong" then you should measure more often. Obese people have a tendency to underestimate food intake, and that problem only clears up with a lot of practice and "studying" of portion sizes. I Another reason people eat too much is distracted eating which causes people to horribly underestimate how much food was eaten. You can read more about this in my older blog post on the topic.
4) You're not tracking : People who track their food intake lose weight 11% faster. It's very important to track. Writing it down on paper is probably the best method. It' hasn't been studied for weight loss, but it has been studied for other things for example taking notes on paper rather than typing them led to better test scores. Hand writing a to do list leads to better recall. In spite of this theory I still prefer Myfitnesspal because it tracks nutrition, calories, exercise, and more. I get lots of info in one place and it's so easy with the mobile app and computer. I would love to test my theory for a while, but then I would lose that info on my nutrient intake or spend much to much time looking it all up. However if you are not so in love with gadgets, just get a notebook and a calorie counter and start writing it down.
5) You've lost motivation: This is when you revert back to rewarding yourself with food, you get back into the mainstream food drama half the day and go out for ice cream at night, this is what happens when you go on a strict, diet that probably sounds plausible but is nothing but food drama, you can't stand it, you can't sustain it, and you then start to "cheat" just a little. I cringe when I hear "I'm on a modified Atkin's Diet" whaaat??? who modified this you???
I don't think the Atkins diet is healthy, not a bit, but you can't "modify" it either. You can eliminate non-nutritive carbohydrates, you can eliminate processed sugar and white flour, and you can eat more vegetables and less fruit, but don't "modify Atkins" Define what you are doing not what you are almost doing.
- I ran week Four of couch to 5K which is where you spend more time running and less time walking, and I survived. I found on a treadmill it's not so bad. I don't have to "carry" music in a pocket where I might accidentally hit the pause button, and I can have water to drink on the walking spurts. When I started this I hated running, my joints hurt and I was dying after just 60 seconds. Today I ran 5 full minutes dripping with sweat but feeling energized.
- I hiked a mountain. Last year I hiked with meetup groups and walked at a moderate to slow pace. My knees hurt badly on the way down. This year I was the slow one in the fast group, but I needed much shorter breaks to catch my breath, and far fewer of them, and on the way down I had no knee pain at all, this is because my legs are stronger and I weigh less.
- I wear smaller clothing even though the scale doesn't seem to want to budge I am in smaller clothing. I suspect the percent body fat on my scale is simply less than accurate. I weigh boxes on my scale for shipping and the post office hasn't complained yet, so I think the pounds are true, but something must be off.
- I burn less calories. This might seem like a bad thing but not really. I used to burn 1000 calories in my Zumba class. I am down to 600. This is based on my heart rate monitor data. You burn more calories when you carry extra weight and when the movement is more difficult. Now I am stronger and weigh less Zumba is not as hard anymore and I only burn 600 calories in an hour and 45 minute class. I am debating a weighted vest for class, I go because I love it, and it's one reason I've started running, Running is still a major challenge.