Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On Plateaus

I came across an interesting piece on plateaus, why they happen, how they can't be avoided, and how to deal with them. That piece is here.

Since I don't weigh myself very often, I don't know if I have had any plateaus or not. I do believe that I may have had a few "mini" ones just based on the lack of change in my body over a month or so on a few occasions. That's okay because I haven't really worried much about it. One thing I did do was start to lift weights (low weight, high repetitions) when I felt I wasn't seeing much progress. Ironically, the article says you should build muscle during a plateau phase and I fell into doing it around that time. Of course, this was not due to any great insight on my part, but because I felt it was time to add something else to what I was doing.

One of the things that is often talked about with great frustration in weight loss forums is reaching a plateau and being there for months. Some people recommend that the person suffering the plateau eat more and others come along and shake their heads in disapproval at the idea that eating more will break a "stall". The metabolic nutritionist who is cited in the article I linked to would seem to be on board with those who advocate eating more during a plateau, particularly more protein.

Besides offering some interesting scientific information about the ebb and flow of weight loss (or should I say the total drying up of the river for a certain period of time), the article made me consider just how much conflicting advice and information is out there. In particular, I think that it illustrates well how laymen who take part in weight loss forums operate mainly on anecdotal experiences when they advise others. It's not about what they learned, but about what they experienced personally. If it works for them, they believe it should work for you. If it doesn't work for them, then they don't believe it should work for others. In the end, they are the center of all things normal and their reality will be that of others if they follow the same plan.

Losing weight simply doesn't work that way. Every body is different and you can't predict responses based on the response of other people. Because of that, I'm not so sure that holding your body at maintenance levels for as long as 6 months (as the nutritionist in the article advises) is really necessary for everyone and wonder if doing that for so long would de-motivate people who desperately want to lose weight. However, the ideas in it are good to keep in mind should one encounter a prolonged stall in their weight loss. It's not failure. It's not personal. It's just human biology.

No comments: