You've ditched the processed junk foods and started bringing healthy lunches to work. These are powerful first steps that sound simple but make a profound impact. You even saw some significant improvements in the beginning, but you've seemed to hit a plateau. So, what's going on?
While eating clean is of utmost importance when paving a healthier path, there could be some non-food related reasons why you’re not seeing or feeling any improvements lately.
Here are a few non-food related reasons you may be feeling stuck...
Being too focused on the scale
When you feel like you’re doing all the right things, it can be frustrating not to see or feel any improvements -- try not to get discouraged, though. We tend to measure our success by the number staring back at us on our scale, which isn't an effective way to gauge our progress. With things like fluid fluctuations and building muscle, the scale can be deceptive. It is most practical and accurate to assess our growth by how we feel and how our clothes are fitting. Don't let the scale tell you how you're feeling; you are far more than that number.
If you're eating healthy and not prioritizing exercise of some sort, you will likely hit that plateau. While eating clean is a crucial piece of staying healthy, exercise is the other puzzle piece necessary to achieve the goals you've set for yourself. You don’t need to workout in the gym for an hour every day if you don’t want to but at the very least, walk briskly for 20 to 30 minutes each day. Start slowly at first, then build as your body can handle more and more. Find the exercise that fits into your schedule and that you enjoy the most.
Exercising too much
And yes, there’s a fine line to walk with exercise. If you don’t exercise enough, it's not ideal -- but if you exercise too much it causes stress and impairs your adrenal hormone production. So if you’re working out too much in hopes to reach your goals faster, take a couple of days off and reevaluate your workout strategy for better results, like with yoga and weights instead. Contrary to what you might think, weights are an important part of an exercise that will help you build a stronger body, even when your body is at rest. This is especially important as we age. We need to keep our muscle tone to help burn calories and keep our bodies strong and balanced.
You’re still drinking sugar
Sure, you eat salads and healthy meals all day long but your morning coffee is filled with cream and sugar, or you’re drinking fruit juices or diet soda. If this is a struggle, make it a goal this week to begin making some changes in this area. If your drink of choice is something other than water, begin trading water in for your beverage of choice until you crave water more than that sugary drink. It will happen, I assure you! Try flavored sparkling water to satisfy the bubbly craving, and infuse your water with fruit to add some flavor. Give it a try, it may be a refreshing change!
One thing I’ve caught myself doing in my personal experience is being too focused on the scale and basing my success off of the numbers I see. I've tried just cutting back weighing myself to once a week now!
Take more notice of how your body looks and feels. How do your clothes fit? Are you less tired? All of these positive signs are proof that your body is changing for the better.
So when you feel like you're stuck in a rut, reevaluate the non-food related daily habits that may be hindering your progress.
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Health and happiness,
Alicia Williamson (RN, BSN, MSNW, CHC)
Kylie Glastetter (BA,MS, EP-C, CHC)