Breaking Through a Plateau

This is part of a series of tips and suggestions I've learned from the Weight Watchers program. I lost 35 pounds and have maintained that loss for three years (see my before and after pics) and am a Weight Watchers Lifetime Member.

Today's Weight Watchers meeting was about how to bust through a plateau--when the scale won't budge for several weeks in a row or you keep gaining and losing the same pound or two. This topic came at the right time for me. While a plateau is just want you want for maintaining weight loss, I know my weight has been creeping up. Sure enough, the scale confirmed it today: I gained 3.8 pounds!

Maintaining your weight loss, according to Weight Watchers, means being two pounds above or below your goal weight since everyone's weight naturally fluctuates from week to week. I'd been hovering at the higher end of my goal weight range for the past month, but this recent gain put me 1.5 pounds over my goal weight range.

I almost skipped the meeting so I didn't have to admit to the gain, but I'm glad I went. A quote in the Weight Watchers Weekly publication says, "We all stumble one in a while, but you've got to get right back up. Don't let an extra four pounds become an extra eight pounds."

In our meeting, we talked about strategies for breaking through a plateau.

  1. Track your points. One of the biggest things that helps a lot of people lose weight on the program is tracking the points for every single bite you put into your mouth (note--there are other people who lose successfully with the Weight Watchers simply filling technique, where you don't track, but that's not me!). As my leader explained, when we're on the program for a while and get used to it, we "loosen" things up and aren't as rigid with tracking. If we go to a party, we'll say, "Oh, I'll just put 10 points for everything. I didn't have that much." Even if you go over your points allotment for the day, it's still important to track them to be accountable. Research has shown that writing down what you eat helps people lose weight, and there are many other programs that use this technique too. No wonder--it works! My goal for the next week is to track every single thing I put into my mouth.
  2. Measuring. This is a sister strategy to #1. Over time, we start grabbing handfuls of pretzels instead of counting out the number in a serving or guessing at how much a cup of pasta is. Our eyes are nearly always bigger than our measuring cups and spoons! I started measuring today and was surprised to see just how little one tablespoon of peanut butter is. I have probably been using two or three tablespoons and counting it as only one. Measuring cups and spoons will be my best friend for this next week.
  3. Strategizing. My biggest problem with overeating is not that I'm truly hungry. I know how to eat so that my meals are healthy, filling, and satisfying, and I'm rarely hungry. Rather, like many people, I overeat for emotional reasons, like stress or boredom. We talked today about recognizing when we're eating for emotional reasons and coming up with strategies to do other things, like having a cup of tea, doing a crossword puzzle, or going for a walk. My strategy for this next week is housecleaning. When I want to eat and I'm not hungry, I'm going to do small chores around the house. That way, I'll end up with a clean house, so it will be a win-win!
These strategies go beyond the Weight Watchers program and would help anyone trying to lose weight. Do you have any other ideas on ways to break through a plateau?