It’s Not a Plateau: 5 Reasons the Scale Isn’t Moving & How to Fix Them

It's Not a Plateau! 5 Reasons the Scale Isn't Moving and How to Fix It!

This post is by OYS writer Alexis from Trading Cardio for Cosmos. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram sharing her awesome weight loss tips and motivation!! She’s lost over 100lbs so she has lots to share!

I have a new coaching client who began her weight loss journey about a month ago. She’s been going along GREAT, losing 1-3lbs per week. Until this week. This week she “only” lost -.4lbs. She was horribly disappointed and immediately asked “What do I do to get over this plateau?”

I had to break it to her gently: this is not a plateau. Weight loss plateaus typically arise after prolonged weight loss – not after just a few weeks, and plateaus are 3+ weeks of maintaining or having small gains/losses.


There are several reasons why the scale might not be moving. Let’s discuss:

#1. What she was experiencing was likely the bounce back effect – her body’s way of adjusting to losing -10lbs in three weeks.

The bounce back effect typically lasts one weigh-in and then the body goes back to losing. This is especially true if you have a week with a big loss – 2 or more lbs.

SOLUTION: If you can manage your expectations and be prepared for this small losses or even small gains, you’ll be less likely to become depressed, dejected or worse, give up.

#2. She was not drinking enough water.

Medical professionals agree – we need at least eight , 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Soda, iced teas and coffees do not count.

SOLUTION: Try adding lemon, citrus fruits and other “flavor” to your water to help make it more exciting or enticing to drink.

#3. She may have been retaining water due to her sodium intake.

When we went over her food log, there were several items that had a lot of sodium – prepackaged frozen meals, canned soups, popcorn and even sushi with soy sauce. The high sodium content in these foods can cause water retention that causes weight gain.

SOLUTION: I recommended an extra glass of water when eating these foods, and I also recommended avoiding these foods for the two days preceding her weigh-in.

#4. She was exercising heavily right before her weigh-in.

Exercise is key to effective weight loss and good overall health. But when we exercise, we tear our muscles and to repair them, our bodies retain water. By doing a big workout the night before her weigh-in, she may have been retaining water that made her weight loss appear smaller than it actually was.

SOLUTION: Rest day or a cardio workout with plenty of water the day before a weigh-in reduces the likelihood of a negative impact from working out.

#5. She wasn’t being honest with herself about what she was eating.

My client was not tracking her BLTS. I don’t mean the sandwich, I mean her Bites, Licks, Tastes and Sips. These small portions of food add up to big calories, and need to be accounted for. You know what else adds up? Trying to measure your food by sight rather than with measuring tools. It never fails, I always have fewer egg whites on my plate and more wine in my cup than I think when I don’t accurately measure my food.

SOLUTION: Measure, weigh and track everything that goes in your mouth. What we eat in private we wear in public, and the scale always knows.

What do you think? What are some other reasons the scale doesn’t move, and how do you get past them?

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  1. I am going through this right now – I’ve upped my exercise the last 6 weeks and the scale does not seem to be following suit. I’m a WW member and I track religiously. Last week I was up .6, today I’m down .4. I’m working out 5-6 times per week.
    Going to keep on keepin on – what’s the alternative?

    You’re my new fave blog and I love your emails – I’ve been a follower for a few months now. I love all of your meal planning tips – it definitely makes a difference to cook and freeze!

  2. All this is so true! Once I was so disappointed because I’d been working out and the scale wasn’t moving. I was like, does muscle weigh more than fat? But my leader said what you did about them retaining water.

  3. Sheila Mixter says:

    I have hit the dreaded “50’s” and I can not seem to loose any weight. I track my food, as I have for the past 3 years on MyFittness Pal. I go to the gym every other day without fail. My original 66 lb weight loss is now at 41 lbs. I keep telling myself that is still a huge accomplishment, but I am so frustrated. Any suggestions for fighting what I am assuming is menopause weight??

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