3 Cycles to Bust Through a Weight Loss Plateau

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I am Kim Barnes Jefferson and I am your host of FabFitTv. I help women to break free of a doubt-free and rule-free life so they can live a life of infinite possibilities.

Today I want to keep on the theme of how do we diet in 2019, how do we get the results that we are looking for? So, I want to talk about the dreaded plateau. We’ve all faced it, we’ve all had it, and we’ve all just been like, “What can we do?” And what I see time and time again is that when you hit that wall where the scales are not budging, you’re not seeing any change in the scale, you’re not seeing any change in your physique, you’re like, “Time to up that cardio, strap myself to that treadmill, and I’m just going to live off of diet coke and rice cakes.” Anyone? Been there, done that, and I’ve got the multiple t-shirts for that.

I want you to think about how you feel when you increase all this exercise and you decrease all your calories. You are craving like a mofo. You might be a little bitchy, and you’re just trying to figure it out and you’re going nutso. And you’re clicking and scrolling. You’re asking everyone, and they’re all telling you to do these things. I’ll tell you that for a bit, dropping my calories and increasing my exercise is going to work. Until it doesn’t.

Your body is having a tantrum

Everyone talks about our metabolism — my metabolism is fast, my metabolism is slow, my metabolism is out to lunch, whatever is. But I want you to think about when someone pushed you to your limit and you just either lost your shit, or you dug in your heels and decided you’re not going to budge. That is what our body does when we try to force it into submission.

It’s just like, “No, I’m not going to do it. I don’t care how much you starve me, I don’t care how many hours of cardio you do, I don’t care how many hours you’re at the gym, I’m not moving.” It is like a stubborn two-year-old, it’s that kid that’s laid out on the floor and you’re just like, “I want to walk away right now and give this kid to the circus.” In order to get that kid up off the floor you’re going to do anything, right? You’re like, “What can I do?” You’re just mortified, but then you’re also like, “But this is my kid, I can’t just walk away, can I?” That’s how your body is, so let’s pick your body up off the floor.


Do the unthinkable

And now I’m going to tell you to do something that you’re going to be like record scratch, like the earth has stopped spinning on its axis kind of thing. I’m going to tell you to eat less and exercise less. Yes, you heard me right. You’re going to eat less, and you’re going to exercise less. Now, you’re already into the eat less, you’re like, “Yeah, I got that. What are you talking about? It’s all me, I can do that. But the exercise less, girl, you’re crazy.”

Now, hear me out. The strategy behind that is that our metabolism. Our body has just been beaten into submission. Do you know what it’s like when you’ve just had a week and you’re just dead on your feet and you can’t wait for the weekend and the whole weekend you’re like, “I am not leaving my couch, I am not getting out of my pajamas, I just want to chill and watch everything on Netflix until I have to call Netflix and say ‘You need more stuff because I just watched it all.'” Have you ever been in that state? That’s the state your body gets when you have just been beating it into submission, it’s just like, “Uncle, I surrender, I can’t give you anymore, I need a break.” And when you go into the eat less, exercise less, that’s exactly what you’re doing, you’re giving your body this break. You are basically putting your body on the DL, you’re letting it rehab and recover.

It’s nice to make your acquaintance.

It’s letting you repair that metabolic damage, it’s letting you start to get reacquainted with your body.

  • Reacquaint it with what hunger feels like.
  • Reacquaint it with what rest feels like.
  • Reacquaint it with how your body is supposed to function when you’re not trying to push it into a place it doesn’t want to be.

And so, when I’m able to give my body this rest my body, my hormones start to balance out, my mood starts to balance out, my sleep starts to increase. I am now a person that people want to be around. I am not feeling like I’m that girl with the rice cakes and the diet coke who’s on a diet and I can’t do a darn thing until my diet gives me the 30 pounds, or whatever you’re looking for.

Reset your expectations

I know for a lot of people this is like, “What? What are you talking about?” But trust me, one of the things I’ll tell you is that it helps to reset your expectations of what your body is capable of. It helps you to chill out, it helps you to ease into, “I am where I am, and I can’t force change.”

Think of it like this – if you’ve ever saved for something, you’ve saved for a house, you’ve saved for a vacation, whatever it is, your paycheck is only as big as your paycheck is, and you can only allocate but so many dollars towards this vacation or towards this house. And when you want to save for a house, and you can only save say $100 a week, I don’t ever hear anyone marching into your boss’s office saying, “I need more money because I need to save for a house” and your boss is like, “Sure, here you go.” That doesn’t really ever happen. 

But that’s what you do to your body when your body doesn’t give you what it wants. You literally march down the office and you’re like, “You need to give me more results, and if you don’t give me more results, I’m going to do more stuff to force you to give me more results.” It’s like picketing your body, but you’re literally exercising your body into submission, and shockingly it doesn’t want to give it to you.

Give it a rest

So, with this eat less, exercise less, it’s giving your body a much-needed break. How does this work? So, when you were growing up and you probably had three square meals a day: you had breakfast, you had lunch and you had dinner. And you had big spaces of time between each meal, and the big spaces of time between each meal give your digestive tract time to rest. It’s not always digesting – you eat, it digests, it has some rest, you eat, it digests, you have some rest time.

And so, I want you to pick a time that you’re going to stop eating in the evening. Now this isn’t about, “If I eat calories after [6:00] it’s going to go right to my butt.” Malarkey. I’m saying if I have dinner every night at [8:00], I try my best to get dinner on the table before [8:00], it just doesn’t happen. So, I eat at [8:00] and I don’t eat again until anywhere between [12:00] and [1:00] in the afternoon. So, I give myself a good 12 hours of my digestive tract just chilling out, but eight hours of those I’m sleeping, so it’s really only four hours that I’m not eating. And it’s literally just taking my digestive system and just giving it a big old rest. And I was that person, I ate five to six meals a day and I never really gave my metabolism or my digestive system a chance to rest and recover, only when I was sleeping. So, this is another way to kind of help reboot my system.

Then with the workouts. I know for a lot of people who like to work out this is going to be like, “Whoa.” And it was totally whoa for me. The workouts are going to be two to three times a week, that’s it. The rest of the time you’re going to just focus on movement. In last week’s episode I talked all about what movement is, in a nutshell if you’ve got a Fitbit trying to hit those 10,000 steps a day and just moving, active daily living. I go into greater detail, and I’ll put the link in the show notes so you guys can reference it. But it’s movement.

Rest and Restore

Then the other part is just really focusing on rest and restoration, and that is besides the leisure walk, getting your 10,000 steps walking at a leisurely pace, it’s doing infrared saunas, it’s doing cryotherapy. I know it’s winter and the thought of you going from a freezing cold outside to a freezing cold inside you’re like, “Why would I sign up for that?” Trust me, I’ve done it. Believe it or not, three minutes goes by pretty fast. And I’d say I’m cold, like my knees and my ankles get cold by like two minutes in and then I have like a minute, you can do anything for a minute, so I just power through.

The sauna on the other hand, I feel like I’m drunk when I get out of that. I’m just so chill 5,000 when I come out of the sauna. It’s a great experience, just 100% stress reduction. Rest and restoration is taking naps, being more mindful, loving your pets, loving your partner yup read between the lines (s-e-x), watching TV —  whatever you do to relax. Whatever it is, it’s all about how do I just rest and recover your body? That’s the main focus during this period where you’re eating less and you’re exercising less. 

And this period will last for four weeks, so for four solid weeks you’re getting in two to three workouts a week and you are eating three meals a day. And these workouts, they’re not like, “I only have three workouts, I need to hit it hard.” Yes, I want you to lift. I want there to be a little metabolic work in there, but it’s not like I’m going to the gym for two hours and I’m killing it. That’s not what it is about.

You are working out so that you maintain your muscle mass, so that you’re not just sitting around like veal. Read the Year of Yes, Shonda Rimes has a great story about that in her book. You are still lifting heavy weights to maintain that muscle mass so that when we get to the next phase (eat more, exercise more) you haven’t taken a few steps back. You’ve maintained the strength that you’ve had and now in this eat more/exercise more phase we’re able to start focusing on the muscle build. 

During the eat less/exercise less phase, the focus is on tapping into your body’s stored fat. By spacing out meals leptin levels reset,  hormone that tells your body that you’re full, reset ghrelin levels, the hormone that tells your  body is hungry, and lastly works to reset insulin receptors. When you have too much insulin hanging around all the time your body becomes less sensitive to it.  

The Next Phase

Now, in this eat more/exercise more phase, my focus is now let’s again keep the body guessing. This phase you are back to working out a little bit more. You’ll put a little bit more food into your system four meals equally spaced.

For your food think soups, scrambles, stir fries, and shakes. Your meals start with protein and vegetables as the first two components of your meal.

Then add fat, good fats. People are like, “Oh, I cook in my fat.” For this time, I don’t want you to cook in fat for your stir fries. Use chicken broth for your stir fries, and then afterwards, after you’ve cooked the vegetables then you can throw in some of your good fat in once the vegetables have cooked or once the meat has cooked. Focus on protein and vegetables, fibrous vegetables. Fibrous vegetables are like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, those that kind of have that hearty-sticking-with-you type vegetable. There’s no vegetable that’s off-limits to you. 

Then I’m going to move to my good fats, focus on oils versus the nuts and the nut butters. Use olive oil sparingly; olive oil is great but has a lot of omega-6, and in our diet we already get a lot of omega 6s. If you go to any grocery store, you’ll see a plethora of oils. Pick any oil with the exception of corn, vegetable, soy, and peanut.

Next, you can start bringing in some of your starchy vegetables. These would be beets, butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, those kinds of things. I want you to focus on the protein and the vegetables first. Then pay attention to your hunger and your energy. They will tell you what to do with fat and what to do with starch.

And then the same premise holds true for the eat less/ exercise less, but with the eat more/exercise more I want you to make sure that because we’re exercising, you’re really paying attention to when you have that starchy vegetable. It should be in the morning and around your workout time.

I know for years you’ve been told to ‘avoid carbs’ it’s the “carbs” that helps start the chemical process get the energy in your body, and the protein helps after exercise when your muscle bellies are open for about 20 to 30 minutes post exercise for it to absorb the proteins that help you build and repair. 

You also want to pay attention to your hunger, your energy, and craving because that’s what’s going to dictate whether you add a little bit more food or you pull back a little on the exercise, because if you try to push your exercise and not do anything with your food, you’re going to be back in that craving cyclone, and that that craving cyclone sucks.

Increase how you workout

In the eat more/exercise more you’re going to go to four workouts. These are metabolic workouts; they’re strength workouts. But you’re also building in a little bit of plyometric work so that you’re lifting heavy weights. During your workout you should be breathing heavy and sweating. It’s not about I need to PR this workout, no, it’s just like I want to leave and just say, “I had a great workout” and leave the room.

While I’m increasing my exercise and I’m still keeping up with my movement. I still want to make sure I’m getting in those 10,000 steps every day. I still want to make sure that I’m managing my stress. I still want to make sure that I’m managing my sleep. Because I’ll tell you, regardless of what protocol you follow, if you’re not getting great sleep and you’re a stress ball, everything goes out the window. Your body does not do well with prolonged stress and prolonged lack of sleep. Your body is just like, “I don’t like it.” Sleep and stress are always going to be a focus because regardless of what else you do, if that’s not right, you’re not going to get the results.


It’s a process

And so, remember, as you go through these processes, the first phase: exercise less/eat less, is four solid weeks. And then you’re going to do two weeks of eat more/exercise more. Then you’re going to go to two weeks eat less/exercise less until you’ve reached your desired physique goals. And you’re just literally going back and forth, and the goal here is to keep your body going, “What is she doing? What’s happening here? I don’t know.”

Your body is very adaptive, and as soon as it figures out that we’re dieting it’s going to be like, “Oh girl, we’ve been here, I’m not giving you what you want. I’m just going to sit here on the side of the road and I’m going to smoke my cigarette and have a scotch and watch you run around the gym like a crazy person, and I’m not going to do a darn thing because you’ve put me through hell and I’m done being in hell.” That’s how your body talks to you. Your body is like an 80-year-old woman drinking Dubonnet and smoking like Pall Malls! So, you have to keep your body guessing.

I’m not that person who ever believes that a food group is off limits. I’m more about at certain times, based on your goal, your choices change. But all food groups always will have a place in your diet.

Find your buffer

For me, I need to have fruit. It’s like a buffer food for me. Fruit keeps me from eating just junk and candy. So, if I have some blueberries in my house, if I have a banana in my house, I can eat that, and it takes the edge off of me seeking out know Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or M&Ms or jelly beans. If I have a handful of blueberries or I have a banana with some nut butter on it, I’m good. It takes away the craving monkey and I’m able to move forward.

But again, during this period is when you really start to become the investigator. I want you to think about CSI. They look at the chalk outline and they’re like, “The guy must have broken in through the window, and then he did this, then he did that.” That’s what I want you to think about when you’re going through the process. Remember that we’re focusing on repairing or rebuilding our metabolism so that our metabolism has that flexibility and we don’t ever hit these plateaus anymore. Or when we see ourselves getting into that plateau, we’re like, “I see the plateau ahead and I know how to make this left turn in order to avoid that plateau. I see another plateau, I know how to make a right turn.” And so, that’s where I want you to start thinking about. The more I can get in-tuned with my body, the more I can avoid plateaus in the first place.

When I work with my clients through this cycle, it’s not about the number on the scale. I want you to think about what does your physique look like?

Are you looking to reduce the size of your thighs?

Are you looking to reduce some belly fat?

Are you looking to get some more shape in your body?

And by shape, that’s where you build muscle.

Fat makes you fluffy, where muscle kind of like shrinks you in.

For a lot of my people, when they get to the exercise more/eat more, I want them really focusing on quality workout, so that the last few reps of the exercise they’re doing feels challenging with great form, so that as we go through these cycles, you’re starting to see maybe that hourglass is starting to uncover. Maybe you’re starting to see a little bit of a shoulder cap. Maybe you’re starting to see a little tighter tush. Sometimes, you’re able to see the results of your effort versus looking down at the scale and then being like, “It’s not adding up.” Or you’re losing a pound here and a pound there; take that away.

Judge it by measurements.

Judge it by how your clothes feel.

Judge it by how your hunger is, by your energy, and by your sleep. Those are the markers that are going to really give you the biggest bang for your buck.

That’s all I got for you today! So, it’s really how do you go about busting that plateau. It’s really turning what you think upside down, inside out, and left and right.

Definitely if you have any questions or comments about this, I’d love to talk it through with you to see how this could possibly benefit you.

Last Week’s Show: The New Rules of Weight Loss

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