What to Do When You Reach a Weight Loss Plateau

  • When trying to think of something to write about this week, a couple things keep coming to mind - bicycles and back pedals.


    Do you remember the bicycles we had as kids?  The ones where the pedals served as the brakes?


    You could be riding along and when you wanted to stop, you would quickly pedal backwards.  You had to be careful and be ready to stop with one foot aiming for the ground, otherwise you just might fall over.  Those are called coaster brakes, backpedal brakes, or foot brakes.


    Then when you got old enough and got your first “adult” bike, perhaps a 10-speed, you had to learn how to use the handlebar brakes.  At first there were many times that I tried to use a non-existent foot brake and almost found myself running into curbs, parked cars, or whatever object I was prepared to stop near.  It took some time getting used to using my hands to stop rather than my feet, otherwise I found myself frantically ‘backpedaling” and accomplishing nothing.

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    It is the phrase “backpedaling” which is bouncing around my head today.  I was all prepared to say that I’ve been backpedaling with my weight loss in the past two months.  I was going to light-heartedly lament about how I’ve only lost 6 lbs or so since mid-August.  But before throwing out random numbers like that, I have to consult the data.


    Side note: This is where documentation and regular record-keeping is very important for anyone’s weight loss journey.  I not only have weekly weigh-in numbers, I also have a chart which helps me visual the journey and look for patterns.  In fact I’ve lost 8 lbs since early August.


    It was Sept 19 that I first crossed the “down 15%” weight loss line on my chart with a weigh-in of 230.4 lbs.  At the beginning of the year, I learned that even a loss of 5-10% of your starting weight can make a significant difference in your health.  I’m looking toward a 20% loss as my initial goal.


    So I crossed that 15% line in September.  The following week, I established a new low of 227.3 lbs.  Very cool!!  Then I spent a week in Philadelphia and came back to receive a 1000mg IV dose of Solumedrol (steroids) as part of my pulse steroid treatment for multiple sclerosis.  The next week my weight shot up to 233.5 lbs.  Boo!


    Two weeks later I crossed the 15% line again followed by a newer low of 225.5 lbs, only to receive another monthly dose of Solumedrol.  This time the weight shot up to the 15% line at 230.8 lbs.  Not too bad I guess.


    Then last week I go out of town again.  This time I stay steady.  No forward motion, no backward motion.  No gain, no loss, just standing in place.  A brief plateau of sorts.


    I could look at that as a mini failure, or I could try a different approach.  A different visualization.


    At this point in my journey, I’m coasting on level ground.  Maybe even kicking those pedals in reverse and lifting my legs out of the way, which is something I really enjoyed doing as a kid.


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    It felt freeing.  I would be an object in motion with pedals moving backwards while the vehicle (bike) moved forwards.  A contradiction in action.


    The important part is that I am still an object in motion.  Sure the journey has hills and valleys, and it may have level ground.  The beautiful part is that if I “backpedal” it doesn’t mean that I am applying the brakes to make a complete stop.


    I am simply admiring the view.  How’s that for a positive outlook?


    How do you picture yourself traveling along your own weight-loss journey?  Does it help to think of a landscape?  Or is it an abstract journey measured by numbers alone?


    Share your thoughts, it may just help someone else on their own journey.  Leave a comment or create a Sharepost.  I’d love to hear your story, too.

    October 31, 2010

    Weight: 230.8 lbs


    November 7, 2010

    Weight: 230.6 lbs

    Blood Pressure: 118/75

    Pulse: 73


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.


Published On: November 10, 2010