You know what is the freaking WORST?! When you’ve started a new diet, lost some weight, and everything was going SO well and then out of the BLUE… your diet stopped working. And you’re like, “what the hell gives?!” You’re eating the same things, doing the workouts, and you’re COMMITTED, but your progress has plateaued and you don’t know why.
It’s frustrating as hell when you suddenly feel like your diet stopped working out of nowhere… But the good news is, I know the reason why this is happening and how you can fix it (and you can bet your bottom dollar that’s what we’re talking about in this blog!)
If you want to read this… well, keep reading! 😉
If you want to watch/listen, catch the video below: Click here!!
Trust me, I know the frustration that comes with hitting a plateau. You start your diet guns blazing, things are going suuuuper well, you’re shedding pounds… and then for nooooo reason at all… you find that your diet STOPPED WORKING. While this is incredibly confusing and frustrating, there’s actually a really straightforward reason for why this is happening. And it usually boils down to one of these two things:
- If you’re honest with yourself, you’ve been cheating a little bit (That’s okay! You’re allowed to have a life).
- Your body has adapted to your diet.
Adaptation: Why Your Diet Stopped Working
And in this blog we’re focusing on the second reason because this is where most people find themselves stuck and confused with what the hell to do next. So let’s dive in starting with an analogy because you knooow I love a good analogy! 😉 Do you remember those chemistry days way back when in high school when you had to balance equations? Well, think of your body like those equations. Your body is always trying to balance the equation of what you’re bringing in and what you’re spending. In other words, your body adapts to whatever diet you give it.
And the biggest problem I see with this is that people start off too intensely. They start following the advice of everyone and their sister on Instagram to “eat low calorie” (and maybe that’s what you’ve been doing too.) You’ve slashed your calories, you’re eating waaay less than you used to be, you lost some weight (yay!)… but now you’ve hit a damn plateau. And you’re wondering how in hell you’re going to lose more weight when you’re already starving, eating only 1200 calories a day and working out like a maniac.
And while yes, technically it is true that eating low calorie will help you lose weight initially, the PROBLEM is that “low calorie” is not a specific calorie number. It’s not a point in time or a standard amount across the board that we can refer to. So if someone says they’re eating low calorie (or says that you should!), that has NO relevance to anyone else. What “low calorie” means to me and my body is completely different from what “low calorie” would mean for my best friend, mom, colleague… you get the picture.
Let’s Work Through An Example
Let’s say someone came to me looking to be a new client and they had not been dieting at all. They were just eating with reckless abandon and finally felt like they reeeally needed to get their shit together. And let’s say they’ve been averaging 2000 calories a day. If I go ahead and put them on a diet of 1700 calories a day, technically that is low calorie for them because it is lower than what they were maintaining their weight on before dieting.
But on the flip side, if someone comes to me with a significant dieting history, never eating more than 1100-1200 calories a day for 10+ years, they’re already eating really low calorie. They have no room to even cut any more calories.
Low-calorie needs to be relative to YOU.
For some reason women have latched onto 1200 calories as the standard number for “eating low calorie”, but I honestly have no idea where this even came from. This is not a standard calorie number and should not be what you base your diet off of. It needs to be relative to you. Otherwise you’ll find yourself going from crash diet to crash diet, frustrated because nothing is working anymore. You’ll have no room left to adjust because you dropped calories too low too quickly and did too much cardio too quickly.
So what should I do if my diet stopped working?
You need to STOP dieting for a while.
Don’t hate the messenger here! I knooow how much that sucks for you chronic dieters to hear. I was once in that category myself and when I was first told I had to stop dieting, it suuuucked. But the truth is, you have to have periods of time as a human being when you’re not dieting if you want to lose weight. Your body will always adapt to the diets you’re on, and it needs periods of time to reset.
If low calorie has been your only way of life, your body has no reason to change anything because it’s used to it. Your body won’t look at it as a stimulus to lose weight, but as the norm. So, you need to give your body time to learn a new norm. To reset, so that when the time comes to cut calories again your body will be ready.
My Favorite Analogy
My favorite analogy for this is to think of a low calorie diet like taking a kid to Disney World. The first time they go, they’re going to be mind blown! They’re going to be SO excited about everything, giving you a huge reaction. But if you keep taking that kid to Disney World everyday for the next 10 years, eventually that reaction is going to wear off. That kid will learn that Disney World is now a normal part of their life so there will be no reason to react to it the way they once did.
And it’s the same with low calorie dieting – at first, your body will react to less calories. You’ll lose weight and you’ll be feeling GOOD. But as you stay at this low calorie point, your body will adapt and it will no longer give you the reaction you want (losing weight). The solution? Abandon ship for a little bit and go into a maintenance mode (what I help clients do successfully all the time *wink wink*). Allow your body to reset and readjust to a higher calorie intake so that the next time you lower your calories you get the response you’re wanting – FINALLY getting off the last bit of weight you’ve been working so hard to lose!
To Sum it All Up
It is true that if you lower your calories to an extremely low number right out of the gate, you will see some progress. No diet really has trouble working initially, but a lot of diets fail because they don’t get you to your end goal. You run out of steam too fast. Who cares if you lost 5-10 pounds fast if what you ultimately wanted was to lose 20-30 pounds, but burnt out too quickly? So instead, start your diet with plenty of room to lower calories again, and again, and again. You want to start your diet by eating as much as possible, while doing as little cardio as possible, for as long as possible. That way, when you do hit those plateaus you still have room to lower your calories relative to you to see fat loss.
So instead of going guns blazing and wondering why, after just a couple months, your diet stopped working … be smart about it. If you’re reading this blog, I know you have long term goals (and you CAN achieve them!) So when you begin dieting, start with that long term goal in mind. You need to know where you’re going before you can figure out how to best start so you don’t run out of steam before you get there.
Feeling like you’re stuck in a plateau and ready to learn more about entering a maintenance mode? Check out this blog where I talk all about how eating more might actually be the ONE thing you need to finally get to your dream body!