Confronting a diet plateau

Plateau Point sign
This is where I am

A little context goes a long way: I didn’t start this particular diet because I wanted to lose weight. I started because I didn’t feel it was right to let my wife deal with self-deprivation involved while gorging myself on super-club-sandwiches and glasses of aged burgundy, sitting right in front of her.

When I started tracking my weight loss resulting from this diet it was more of an intellectual exercise than an obsession with hitting any particular goal.

“I wonder if this diet will have an effect on my weight.” That was about it.

Just because losing weight and getting fitter wasn’t the objective when I started doesn’t mean it hasn’t gradually become an objective as I took note of the results.

More context: I wasn’t overweight to start with. I was perhaps near the top end of my range of ideal weight. I was within the ideal BMI range too. Only I was 3-5 kilos (6 to 11 pounds) over my typical weight of ten years ago. The last time I had been this “heavy” was when I was rowing twice a week and doing weights 3 times a week and had around 10% body fat.

Ah. Fond memories.

I wasn’t trying to lose weight, and I wasn’t obsessed with reaching some nominal target.

So why does it frustrate me that my weight loss has stalled (despite adhering to my diet)?

That’s not the real question, but it is an interesting point. Somehow the behaviour of losing weight has brought about the desire to get fitter. Perhaps because moving towards a target makes you more aware of that target, or the benefits of reaching it? Who knows, I’m no psychologist.

The real question is: What do I do to break this plateau?

But the more I think about it, that’s not the right question either. I don’t need to get any thinner (although I could stand to lose 5 more kg). I’ve reached a turn in the road, where the easy weight loss has been achieved. Let’s not kid ourselves, eating from a fixed list of menus for 12 days is hardly challenging in the grand scheme of things.

What’s next is a bit more complicated. Where do I want to take it from here?

So far I’ve focused entirely on diet. There are good reasons for this. First of all it was imposed upon me because I couldn’t let me wife suffer through the indignity of eating such a narrow and bland choice of foods alone, but also because a couple of small injuries mean I couldn’t do any physical exercise over the last couple of weeks anyway.

In fact, I have to wait another couple of days before I can do any strenuous exercise unless I want the injuries to be drawn out for longer or I want to risk some permanent scarring. All the benefits so far have come through my stomach, and none through my muscles or any real physical effort. In fact, I am – by my own standards at least – not very fit at the moment.

The next step is going to have to be physical exercise. I have no problem with doing sport, I’ve exercised most of my life. But I’m a new father, and as any parent will tell you, time becomes a scarce resource once you’re short on sleep and every spare moment is claimed by the most important person in the universe.

More than ever before, planning my exercise into my schedule and being disciplined about sticking to it will be essential.

I’m staring down the barrel of a one-week, high jet-lag business trip, departing in 2 days. I’ll take some sports kit with me in the hope that I’ll be able to find time around meetings and sleep to begin the process of doing some sport, but I’ll have to put in place a plan for when I get back, or this plateau will likely to turn into a floor.

More generally, I’m going to try to leverage my motivation from the results so far to start training and to continue the journey towards this shifting goal of sustainable fitness and health.


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