Mental Health

Beating Plateaus to Keep Up the Progress

Beating Plateaus to Keep Up the Progress
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

You have been in Lark DPP for quite some time now. That is not only an accomplishment in itself, but may be a sign of good things to come. People who stay in the Diabetes Prevention Program for longer may lose more weight and have a greater chance of preventing type 2 diabetes.

The Lark DPP mission is all about the ups and downs of the lifelong journey for health, and at some point, “down” periods are likely. They can be mental dips, such as not feeling motivated, or physical dips, such as not losing weight for a while. Often, the physical and mental dips hit at the same time. The recent Lark check-in touched on reasons why the journey can be more challenging after a while and also hinted that there is more to the story. Here is why progress can be harder to see as you get further along, and what you can do about it.

Why It Happens

Why does it seem like you must fight harder for each sign of progress than you may have at the beginning of your health journey? In large part, it seems that way because it is that way. When starting Lark DPP, chances are that there was a lot of room for improvement. Consider these and similar changes that people might make when starting a weight loss and fitness-oriented program such as the DPP.

  • Having plain oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg instead of bacon, eggs, and toast for breakfast.
  • Ordering a small burger and side salad instead of double cheeseburger and fries for lunch.
  • Switching from eating the entire 1,000-calorie order to eating half when eating dinner at restaurants.

If you made one or two of these or similar changes each day in the beginning, you may have lost 1, 2, or 3 pounds a week. However, those may have been the easy ways to slash calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Now, there may not be quite the same changes to make. If you already cut out 2 liters (800 calories!) of soda a day, for example, where would you find another 800 calories to cut as readily?

Why You Can Keep the Wins Coming

The fact that each win may be harder to earn does not mean that you cannot keep them coming.  While it may have been a sacrifice to eat even one serving of vegetables a day, it may be easier now to have several a day if you have learned delicious ways to prepare them and have acquired a taste for them. Similarly, it could be more natural now to:

  • Swap fruit for dessert.
  • Work out for a little longer and harder.
  • Cook nutritious meals in big batches on weekends.
  • Pack healthy lunches instead of eating out.

In short, the changes that may have been made earlier on may have been easier, but you may be better equipped now to make some of the other changes.

Back to the Basics

There is another consideration when thinking about weight loss and fitness plateaus. Sometimes, people are able to follow their program perfectly (or nearly so) for the first few weeks. As time passes, there may be minor steps back towards old habits. A bite or two here and there may creep in, or a workout may be cut short, or portions may start to grow again.

Whenever you wonder why weight loss or fitness seems to be plateauing, it cannot hurt to take a look at what you were doing in the first weeks of the journey, and what you are doing now. It can help to log every sip and bite you take, and to track every workout with Lark to be sure you are aware of your actions. It may be enlightening and lead to some easy changes that will put you right back on track.

More rapid weight loss and quick gains in fitness can happen at the beginning, but they may slow later. That is normal, and it gives an opportunity to look for new ways to keep the gains coming.