Is It a Plateau or More? Signs Your Body is Begging for a Diet Break

Is It a Plateau or More? Signs Your Body is Begging for a Diet Break

When was your last diet break?

If you’re a woman over 40, looking to lose weight …again …chances are, you’re no stranger to “the plateau.”  For most, when fat loss stalls, they instinctively want to lower calories EVEN further – which may potentially do more harm than good. Though the thought of increasing food intake when the scale won’t budge is likely the last thing on your mind – it may be exactly what your body is asking…erm…begging for.  In this podcast, we’ll explore the concept of diet breaks, debunk common myths, and help you find the right balance for your unique needs.

What Are Diet Breaks?

Diet breaks involve temporarily increasing your calorie intake to maintenance levels for a specific period. This strategic approach provides your body with a much-needed respite from caloric restriction, offering numerous benefits for both physical and mental health.

    • Decreasing your calories causes your metabolism to slow down to accommodate the smaller amount of food intake.
    • Slower metabolism = slower fat loss.
    • When your calories are too low for too long, your body begins to adjust, making the reduced calorie level your new maintenance. (this can happen in as quickly as 3 weeks!)
    • By taking a diet break, you essentially “remind” your body of what maintenance ACTUALLY is. This will help keep your metabolism revving higher, aiding the fat loss process once you reduce the calories again.
    • More importantly, a diet break can also serve as a psychological break if you’re under severe stress, or struggling with sticking with your plan.

Diet breaks can come in several forms, from the classic “cheat meal” (a “re-feed” day – on purpose! No need to cheat!), to a full diet break which can last for a couple of weeks, to a metabolism reset. 

Debunking Common Misconceptions

Let’s address some common misconceptions that women over 40 may have about diet breaks:

Age Limits Progress: Contrary to the belief that age limits progress, your body’s adaptability remains relevant. Diet breaks can positively impact your fitness journey at any age.

Hormones Are All That Matter: While hormonal shifts during perimenopause and menopause play a role, balanced nutrition, including diet breaks, is still effective in achieving your health goals.

Extreme Measures Are Necessary: Extreme diets and intense exercise are not the only solutions. Diet breaks offer a balanced and sustainable alternative, preventing burnout and health issues.

Always Pursue Caloric Deficits: Constant caloric deficits can negatively impact hormones, muscle mass, and well-being. Diet breaks counteract these effects, contributing to long-term success.

Fear of Weight Gain: A well-structured diet break is designed to prevent excessive weight gain while providing various health benefits. Fear of gaining weight shouldn’t hinder you from considering a diet break.

Neglecting Nutrient Intake: Focusing solely on calories overlooks the importance of consuming adequate nutrients for overall health. Diet breaks address nutrient deficiencies and promote well-being.

One-Size-Fits-All Approach: Women over 40 have unique health considerations, and a tailored approach is essential for diet breaks to be effective.

Prioritizing Short-Term Results: Prioritizing short-term results can hinder progress. Diet breaks contribute to sustainable long-term results by promoting metabolic health and preventing burnout.

Relying Solely on Exercise: Both exercise and nutrition are crucial, especially as we age. Relying solely on exercise to offset a poor diet is a misconception. Both aspects need to be balanced for optimal results.

Neglecting Self-Care and Rest: Neglecting self-care and rest can impact your body’s response to diet and exercise efforts. Prioritizing sleep, stress management, and self-care is crucial for successful diet breaks.

10 Signs That Indicate the Need for a Diet Break

Now, let’s explore the signs that indicate it’s time for a diet break:

#1  Stalled Progress: If your hard work isn’t yielding the expected results, a diet break can reset your metabolism and boost progress.

#2  Fatigue and Low Energy: Experiencing constant fatigue and low energy levels may signal the need for a diet break to restore vitality.

#3  Irritability and Mood Swings: Mood swings and irritability can be indicators of hormonal imbalance, which a diet break can help address.

#4  Poor Sleep Quality: If your sleep quality is compromised, a diet break can stabilize hormones and improve restorative rest.

#5  Persistent Hunger and Cravings: Intense cravings and persistent hunger can signify the need to satisfy your body’s nutritional needs with a diet break.

#6  Obsessive Thoughts About Food: Constantly thinking about food, fearing certain foods, or feeling guilt around eating may indicate an unhealthy relationship with food that a diet break can help normalize.

#7  Social Isolation: Avoiding social situations due to dietary restrictions can lead to social isolation. A diet break allows you to engage more freely in social activities.

#8  Hormonal Changes: Hormonal imbalances due to caloric restriction can impact menstrual cycles, fertility, and bone health. A diet break can help restore hormonal equilibrium.

#9  Recurring Injuries or Illnesses: Weakened immunity and delayed recovery from injuries can be addressed with a diet break providing essential nutrients for healing.

#10  Decreased Physical Performance: Inadequate energy availability can impact strength, endurance, and overall workout performance. A diet break can rejuvenate your energy and improve performance.

Conclusion: Finding Balance for a Healthier You

Understanding the myths, signs, and benefits of diet breaks is essential for women over 40 who want permanent fat loss. Remember:

A diet break is not about giving up or letting go of your goals but about finding a sustainable and balanced approach to nutrition and overall well-being.

Embrace diet breaks not as setbacks but as strategic pauses to help you lose more fat (and keep it off long term!) while maintaining your sanity and quality of life.


New to eating more for weight loss? Grab our free Quick Start Guide! 

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Tracking food without obsession

Tracking food without obsession

Tracking food without obsession to succeed in fat loss goalsWhen used correctly, food tracking tools like MyFitnessPal, or Lose It can help you to reach your physique and/or performance goals (or troubleshoot why you aren’t reaching them).  For EM2WL fam, these tools are also useful to ensure that  you’re eating enough calories, and getting in enough of the micro/macronutrients that tend to left behind when dieting. But even the most “accurate” of these tools leaves room for a margin of error.

For many, this margin becomes the focus, rather than the original reason they began tracking: the overall trend/big picture.  Once focused on minutiae, tracking food can become a slippery slope, leading to obsession for so many people.  Ironically, overly-obsessing about the numbers actually makes success harder to achieve. 

Perfection when tracking can be hard to get away from. Getting wrapped up in the numbers can lead to an obsession with ALL numbers needing to be perfect. This includes numbers from your Fitbit, heart rate monitor, cardio machines, your body fat %, your scale number etc. ALL numbers are estimations and come with a large degree of variability, so learn how things work in the real world, rather than relying solely on how they should work on paper. It’s not about you being perfect, it’s about being consistent.

Use tracking tools responsibly, AND hit your goals  – #likeaboss

There are ways to track without being obsessive. Start by tracking what you are already eating for a 1-2 week period and change nothing. This let’s you see whether you are maintaining, gaining or losing weight. Then a decision can be made for your next course of action. Tracking allows you to see any patterns that might be taking shape in your habits. This can include not eating breakfast or eating too much at a certain time of day.

When you know your baseline, check our online calculator to find your TDEE level. Then you can see if this number needs to be higher or lower than what you are currently consuming. If your number is lower than your TDEE, consider diving into a metabolism reset. If the number is higher than it should be, then your reduction in calories is lower than maybe you thought it should be. (More food FTW!!)

For most, this approach takes away a lot of the obsessive tracking tendencies. It’s much easier to focus on the small changes needed to increase or decrease your caloric level, without getting obsessed by the numbers. Tracking allows you to have an understanding of what kinds of food you like and what will help you reach your macro goals.

Regardless of where you start, tracking can be a very powerful tool in your fat loss efforts. When used as a tool and not as a crutch, you will be able to move away from tracking all together and enjoy your life tracker free.


Why using a food tracker can help with fat loss

Why using a food tracker can help with fat loss

Why using a food tracker for fat loss can help you acheive your goalsA food tracker can be a powerful weight loss tool. When used correctly, it can give you a ton of data about your eating patterns and caloric intakes. For many, tracking food can mean the difference between eating enough calories and eating the right kinds of calories. However, the ultimate goal for the majority of #crushers is to be able to live and eat without the aid of a food tracker.

Intuitive eating vs. Food tracker

The goal to stop tracking comes with an important caveat. You have to actually track your food for a period of time in order to stop tracking later. So for many, this means understanding that if your goal is to stop using a food tracker, then you must be able to perfect intuitive eating, by knowing how your food choices line up each day.

By tracking, this allows you to see each day where your calorie intake actually hits, and where your macros fall in. This allows you to make notes of what you need to eat daily, and how your choices affect your macros for each meal. Paying attention to your daily food habits will set you up for success when the time comes to stop tracking. Your understanding of how to hit that protein goal becomes apparent after you track consistently.

Why using a food tracker for fat loss can help you acheive your goalsAnother good reason for using a food tracker is seeing if there are patterns in your moods and hunger cues. By tracking your moods daily using the notes section of your diary, you will be able to see if there are patterns to certain issues. Things like skipping breakfast causes you to binge eat later in the day. Or a pattern in eating a certain food brings on the bloat or gives you headaches/migraines. These cues can tell you a lot about your eating habits and how to troubleshoot them long after you stop tracking.

Finally, tracking your food allows you to be self aware. It keeps you accountable to your daily required calories, and hitting those macros. Both are necessary for fat loss. It also gives you the stepping stones to make these changes in your food a habit. Habits which need to be solid before you begin intuitive eating.

The goal for everyone is to eventually stop tracking food. But take the steps now to track so your foundation is solid in the future.

How to be successful at fat loss

How to be successful at fat loss

How to be successful at fat loss blog social media (2)

Fat loss is a tricky problem for almost everyone. Of course we all want to get rid of unwanted fat on our bodies, but it is not as easy as “eat less, move more.” There is far more to it than that.

Ways to aid successful fat loss

Before you dive into the tweaks needed for this, familiarize yourself with our quick start guide. This will refresh your memory on how to begin your journey and what to expect. One of the main aspects to consider in this is a metabolism reset. This will be your biggest supporter to a successful cut phase.

When the time comes to reduce calories and begin your fat loss phase, cutting requires only a small amount of calories to be removed. We are talking 5-15% from your TDEE. The key is still to be able to eat as much as possible and still have a loss in fat. Following a 4-6 week cut phase, a jump back up to your TDEE level is necessary to remind the body of where maintenance is.

How to be successful at fat loss blog social media (1)Think about it. If you cut your intake to a specific number, and do nothing more, then your body will adjust to that lower level and that becomes your new “normal.” Then when the plateau hits (which it always does) calories need to be slashed again in order to see a loss. Each step down will cause the metabolism to slow, thus making it harder and harder for fat loss to happen.

Just like your body adjusts to calories going down – it will adjust to calories going up.

By reminding your metabolism where maintenance is, the body continues to burn at the higher caloric level, giving you far more food to eat and still burn for fat loss. Every 4-6 weeks you should take one week off back at TDEE. If you choose to go 8-10 weeks, then a two or more week break is needed.

Biggest thing to remember is this is NOT a quick fix diet! Patience, Consistency and maximum caloric intake are what will help you be successful at fat loss.



Trial and error, tears and frustration – Crystal’s Diet Journey

Trial and error, tears and frustration – Crystal’s Diet Journey

photo-2Thank you for considering me to share my story with the world or whoever will read.

My story has been full of ups and downs. A lot of trial and error, tears and a lot of frustration. But without that it wouldn’t have made me the person that I am today.

I wasn’t always a bigger girl growing up. I actually used to get made fun of for being too skinny. But, with time, I ended up putting the weight on and totally losing control of it. I ballooned up to 230+ pounds. My doctor told me I was getting close to being pre-diabetic. So I knew right there and then I had to do something about it.

And this is where the frustration began.

I started off doing weight watchers, and then moving to Curves, and then joining a local gym which I was not happy at. Didn’t help that I had no idea what I was doing. At that point in time I was frustrated with seeing no progress and decided just to give up.  I was sad and depressed. Avoided looking in the mirror and was disgusted having to shop in the plus size in all the stores. Nothing that I used to wear fit. Started wearing men’s clothes because it would hide a lot of my shame.

photo-5Then in 2012 a Snap Fitness opened up down the street from me which ended up saving my life and kick started my love of fitness. I started going everyday nearly two or three hours and eating very little. About 1200 calories a day. Yup got caught up in that cycle. Sure I lost weight. And before I knew it I was under 200 lbs. Took me a few years to go from a size 24 to a size 12 but had been logging my food with myfitnesspal since 2011.

Then the nasty bought of plateaus hit.

Frustration grew.

I found eatmore2weighless through the forums on myfitnesspal and started to apply it to my daily routine. I knew that with the amount of work that I was doing that I was just simply not eating enough. For a few years I went back and forth from eating 1200 calories to 1700 calories. If I didn’t see the pounds move then I would cut cut cut.

Which brings me to a couple months ago (April 2016) when after all the frustrations finally piled up I said to myself that I’m going to start eating more especially with doing heavy lifting 4 to 5 days a week. Looking at progress pics I can see myself leaning out and toning up even though I’m the same weight as I was in September 2015.  I’ve gained a lot of self confidence over the years and have done a lot of reading and research that I feel confident enough to take a personal training course so I can help others on their journey.

I don’t know where I would be right now if I didn’t find EM2WL. I look forward to see where this journey takes me.



Read more of Crystal’s journey here

How to Stop the Binge Cycles. Forever.

How to Stop the Binge Cycles. Forever.

If you are like most people, you have probably lived through this cycle at least once, but even more likely, you have lived it over and over: You wake up one day, go to get ready for work, pull on your favorite pants and can’t get them buttoned. Well, you can, but let’s just say, it’s not pretty! Can you say muffin top?? You vow right then and there to start your “diet” again. No more fast food, no more chips, no more cheese, no more cookies, no more pizza, no more than 1,200 calories a day. In fact, you are so serious, you are even going to cut out chocolate *gasp*.

You wake up early the next morning and make an egg white omelet with spinach (hold the cheese) portion out your carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes for lunch, and you head out for a jog. This time, you are so committed to this new lifestyle that you even sign up take a high impact step aerobics class after work, just to burn off some more calories. If you can keep your food calories at 1,200, and then burn off 600 calories in that one hour aerobics class, well that knocks your net calorie intake to 600 for the day. Then, add in the burn from your morning jog and surely the pounds will just fly off you! Score!!

Well, your new “diet” goes well for a day or two, maybe even a week, but then the cravings begin… Soon they become all encompassing. Every waking moment is spent thinking about those precious 1,200 calories, and how you are going to allocate them to survive another day. You begin to dream about food 24/7.   You feel like throwing in the towel, but no … you stand strong. For a while. Then soon, everything crumbles.   As you are driving home from work you pull into the closest drive-thru and order enough food for a family of four. Two meals are gone by the time you get home, and the other two follow shortly thereafter.

binge cyclesThe next day continues in much the same way. I mean, you already blew your diet, so what is the point in forcing yourself to eat egg whites, spinach and carrot sticks today? You skip the morning jog and hop in the car and head off to Dunkin Donuts. The box of 6 donuts doesn’t even live to make it to the office…

So, these binges may be different for every person. They may last for a day, a week, or even longer. They may involve fast food and donuts, or maybe peanut M&Ms and pizza. The outcomes may vary widely, but the causes are probably strikingly similar, and they almost always will involve restriction….

The good news is, there is something we can do to help control or even eliminate these binge cycles. The even better news is that these issues are addressed by some of the core beliefs of Eat More 2 Weigh Less.

The primary cause for binging involves restriction … restriction of both calories and specific foods.

When we start a new diet, we often start by dropping our calories to a rock-bottom level. I mean, the less we eat, the faster we will lose, no? This can binge cyclesbe a true recipe for disaster. Dropping your calories too low, and taking an overly aggressive cut, will result in cravings that will soon become overpowering. You can use willpower for a while to overcome these feelings, but eventually your willpower will run out and these cravings will win. Those cravings are much like a slingshot. You can use willpower to avoid the temptation to eat for just so long (as the slingshot is pulled back further and further), but once it gets to maximum tension, it’s all over… The rock is propelled through the air, and then it’s just you and the fridge. And, trust me, it won’t be pretty!

Overly restricting your caloric intake and taking too steep of a deficit is one of the quickest ways to cause a binge. Your body (and brain) will fight against you tooth and nail. The good news is that Eat More 2 Weigh Less addresses this issue by promoting that we eat at only a small deficit from our TDEE. By keeping this deficit small, it is often possible to reduce or even eliminate some of these cravings that result in binges.

So what to do if you are experiencing these binge cycles as the result of eating too little? Find out what your TDEE is and simply gradually start increasing your intake until you are eating either at or slightly below your TDEE, based on your goals. Most people will find that once they are adequately fueling their bodies and eating closer to maintenance calories that they feel more in control. They feel satiated and no longer have that constant gnawing in their bellies that reminds them that they are starving (literally) 24/7.

Another common cause for binges involves restricting certain foods or even entire food groups. Now certainly if you have a medical reason to avoid certain foods, then by all means, do what you need to do for your health. But, if you are eliminating specific foods from your diet simply because you feel as though they are “off limits” or “bad,” then you may want to reconsider.  When you completely eliminate certain foods from your diet because you think they are “bad,” then over time the desire to eat these foods will become overwhelming.

Butter Bean BurgersWith EM2WL, no foods are considered to be “off limits.”  In fact, we encourage everyone to enjoy eating a well-balanced diet, complete with treats! Now, is this an invitation to eat cookies and ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as long as it is within your calorie goals?  Absolutely not. EM2WL recommends that everyone monitor their macros (using a tool like My Fitness Pal) and set them at 40% Carbs/30% Protein/ 30% Fats. Eating healthfully and concentrating on eating whole, unprocessed foods is certainly going to be best for one’s health, but that does not mean that there is no room for treats! Concentrate on hitting that 30% protein macro each and every day. Make that a priority. If you do that, the other two macros will often just naturally fall into place. Once that protein macro is met, if there is room for waffles, a donut, dinner out at your favorite restaurant, or chocolate, then enjoy! As long as it fits within your caloric and macro goals for the day, it’s all good! You will most likely find that once certain foods are no longer considered “off limits”, and you are able to enjoy them in moderation that those intense cravings will subside… Remember, the fastest way to feel like you absolutely have to have something is to be told that you cannot have it… (Think of a little toddler being told to not absolutely not touch something. We all know how that ends up! :- )

If you are one of those people that feels as though if you have one bite of a food that you have previously considered off limits that you will lose all control and have it turn into an all-out binge, remember this: once you are eating closer to your TDEE or maintenance calories, those feelings will not be so strong. If you try to enjoy one cookie or a piece of chocolate while eating at a steep caloric deficit, then yes, it will be very hard to resist the temptation to eat more, simply because your body is craving more calories. However, if you are properly fueling your body and eating at only a small deficit, then those urges will not be as strong, because you will not be ravenously hungry. Adding back in previously prohibited foods will be much easier once you are well on your way to eating more. Adding them back in while still restricting calories may be a like playing with fire…

If you are still feeling a bit out of control, and still not “safe” around those tempting foods, here are a few things to try that may be helpful:

Don’t keep those tempting foods in the house. Yes, it’s okay to have them (in moderation and if they fit within your caloric and macro goals), but it may be necessary to not have them in your kitchen cabinet. If you are going to splurge on a treat, try eating it at a restaurant (or an ice cream or frozen yogurt parlor). Order your serving, enjoy, and then leave … not taking the temptation with you.

○ If you do bring foods into your home and fear losing control with them late at night, only buy a small quantity, and enjoy it in its entirety, not leaving any leftovers for later temptation. If you want to indulge in some chocolate, pick out the best quality in a size that fits your goals and enjoy it guilt-free. By limiting the package size, once it’s gone, it’s gone…

Try finding “healthier” alternatives to your trigger foods. If it’s ice cream you crave, try experimenting with other dessert options. My personal favorite is one cup of Greek yogurt with ½ scoop protein powder stirred in (I love peanut butter cookie flavored Protizyme) topped with one cup frozen berries, slivered almonds (or try pecans or walnuts) and a spoonful of dark chocolate chips. It makes a huge bowl and the fiber in the berries will keep you full, as will the protein (from both the yogurt and the protein powder) and it even helps you reach that protein macro!

If it’s pizza that you are craving, maybe try making your own. You can buy whole wheat pizza dough in many stores (check the deli or freezer Homemade Pizzasections) and top it with flavorful cheeses (parmesan and feta are great choices) and grilled vegetables (think onions, asparagus, mushrooms, yellow or zucchini squash). Add some meat if you like and enjoy! By using high quality, flavorful cheeses, you can use less and get a huge flavor punch for less calories. The veggies are very filling and will help you reach that fiber macro.   Plus, you get to eat pizza!

Craving a sandwich? Try replacing the mayo with hummus or smashed avocado with a touch of lemon and salt. Want some chips? Try sweet potato chips or make your own kale chips in the oven with some olive oil and sea salt. Standing at the check-out line at the grocery store and feel like grabbing a candy bar? Reach for a protein bar instead.

You can have tons of yummy foods in your diet, just try to make some small tweaks to make those choices a bit healthier. You may find that you can satisfy those cravings while at the same time you are able to reach your macro goals.

Binges are generally caused by restriction. If you can avoid restriction, you can often stop those binges.

○ Overly restricting your caloric intake and taking too steep of a deficit is one of the quickest ways to cause a binge. Eat closer to your TDEE or maintenance calories and you may find that those urges are greatly decreased. On the other hand, starve your body and those cravings will become so strong that eventually no amount of willpower will be able to overcome them.

○ Restricting or eliminating specific foods or food groups can tend to make them even more enticing. Once you are eating closer to your TDEE, allow yourself to indulge on a previously “off limits” treat (in moderation) and work them into your daily or weekly goals. Just knowing that you can have those treats somehow takes away some of their “power”….

 If you think you have an eating disorder, then certainly seek professional counseling, but if you are just stuck in a rut of repeated “falling off the wagon” caused by severe caloric restriction, then perhaps some of these tips will work for you and help you gain some control over your life and your food.

STOP Spinning your wheels and Get OFF the Rollercoaster!



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