This isn’t actually the title of this week’s official challenge. You see, I read this week’s challenge about taking “me time” to assess your weight loss journey and it didn’t feel like something I could blog about in my own voice, so instead, I’m going to talk about what I like to call “The Mental Plateau”.
We all know about the problems with physical plateaus (wait, is the plural of plateau, plateaux?! *mind blown*) whilst on a weight-loss journey, but what about the mental obstacles that lie across our path?
Now, I’m not currently experiencing any kind of plateau, after 2 weeks of illness and takeaway-fueled recovery, my scales and my attitude are reflecting some healthy losses again but the mental plateau is my biggest problem whenever I get to a certain weight, and I’m expecting to see it raise its ugly head again at some point in the near future.
So what is a plateau?
Well, in the simplest terms, it’s a levelling out of progress… to the extent where your weight-loss or motivation flatlines. If it’s physical, you may feel as though you’re throwing every effort into doing all of the right things without reaping any rewards, and that can be pretty demoralising. However, a mental plateau, in my experience, can be even more disastrous. Mine usually hits when I reach what I consider to be an “acceptable weight”. If I can turn sideways infront of a mirror and my boobs stick out twice as much as my belly, I’m there. When I can see my feet in the shower without leaning over? Get in!
It doesn’t help that when we reach that stage, weight-loss can genuinely, physically becomes harder. They say that the closer you get to your goal weight, the harder it becomes and I’m more than happy to agree with this sentiment. In my life, contentment has always bred laziness… like a piggy enjoying a mud bath, I’m happy to live in the moment without any thought for the bigger picture. Inevitably, this leads to over-eating, because I genuinely feel that until something “clicks” (if it ever does), over-eating is what my psyche is programmed to do. It doesn’t happen immediately, it’s taken over two years to put on half of what I originally lost… but it happens. And whilst the scales are steadily climbing, my brain is still plateauing… simply not registering.
When it does finally kick into action (usually because my clothes start to feel tight), an initial reaction is anything from self-loathing to abject dismay, not the best emotions for motivation. After a bit more wallowing (and a few more pounds on the scales), I find myself doing the “enough is enough!” thing whilst desperately trying to leap back into the saddle in blind panic before my buttons start popping. It would be a lot more productive and easier on the emotions if I didn’t experience that mental plateau in the first place.
If you’re not familiar with the Weight Watchers plan, they have something called “Filling & Healthy” which is a nifty tool in your weight-loss arsenal and one that I’ve been employing on days when the motivation just isn’t there. It works like this:
1. Pick only the foods listed as Filling & Healthy
2. Stop when you feel satisfied and not when you’re ready to burst!
3. Include 2 teaspoons of healthy oil (sunflower, olive, flaxseed, safflower or rapeseed oil)
4. Deduct the ProPoints values of any food or drink you have that isn’t Filling & Healthy from your Weekly ProPoints allowance of 49
5. Relax and don’t count!
To put it bluntly, I believe that getting fully-acquainted with the concept of Weight Watcher’s “Filling & Healthy” regime is the key to beating the future mental plateau. And when I say “acquainted”, I mean… “overly-familiar”. We all know that the key to losing weight (and keeping it off) is down to employing some good ol’ common-sense and their “Filling & Healthy” list is packed-full of common-sense foods. Playing with food combinations on that list is a less taxing method of maintaining your weight when you feel that the novelty of counting points and weighing portions is wearing thin.
I like that it doesn’t do battle with what is probably just a temporary “can see my feet, so can’t be bothered to work hard!” attitude. Instead, it lets you ride that dip in your motivation like a wave until you come back out the other side without (hopefully) having done too much damage to your hard work.
Do you suffer from the Mental Plateau?
p.s. I’ve got a lovely (healthy!) recipe that I want to share later in the week if my Asda home shop turns up today!
* I am a Weight Watchers blog ambassador and my links to their website are affiliated. I have received no payment for this post.