How to Beat The Week Two Weight Loss Plateau

by Jen on January 10, 2014

How to Break Through The Week 2 Weight Loss Plateau


Last week, you were feeling gung ho and ready to tackle your weight-loss goals head-on. This week? Not so much. You’re tired, you’re hungry, and you’re aching in places you didn’t even know existed. But before you lose all motivation, take heart—the second week is supposed to suck. In week two, your body is generally in a state of severe breakdown.  After all, you’re eating less, going hard, and your body needs some time to adapt to your new lifestyle. Here are a few slump-proof strategies for pushing through Week 2.

Don’t panic if you plateau

You’ve busted your butt all week and been downright virtuous about your diet. So when you hop on the scale, you’re ready to see the results of your hard work. But here’s the kicker: during week 2, it’s not unusual to get stuck or even gain a pound or two. Why? As your body adjusts to exercise, cortisol—a performance-enhancing stress hormone—is released. Part of cortisol’s function is to promote water retention as a defence mechanism for survival. This causes you to feel puffy and gain some weight.

So, let’s recap. You’re achy, you’re starving, and the number on the scale is now moving in the wrong direction. It’s no wonder you feel discouraged and are tempted to bail altogether. But hang in there, because your body will eventually get the memo.

Track progress, not just weight loss

While there’s plenty of science behind your plateau, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. So when the number on the scale isn’t budging, how can you tell if you’re still on the right track? Start recording your healthy habits—whether that means keeping a workout log or posting Instagram shots of your meals—so you can see all the changes you’ve made. Track the behaviour, not the outcome.  Track the food you eat, the steps you take, and the calories you burn, and make those your markers of success.  Seeing these changes can give you just enough motivation to power through this week’s plateau. Think of motivation like a tank of gas. The tank doesn’t need to be full to move, but you can’t run on empty.

Focus on the process

Sure, your biggest motivation might be squeezing into smaller jeans. But this week, it can help to focus on all the touchy-feely stuff instead. Reframe the way you think about working out so it becomes your escape, your path to wellness, something you do for you.  Our thoughts can powerfully affect our ability to tackle a new weight-loss routine.  If you’re too focused on the scale, a second-week plateau may feel like a huge failure; if you focus on the “me time” you get while working out, you’ll achieve that no matter what.

If that doesn’t help, just acknowledge that this week won’t be your favorite, and keep on trucking. Belief in the process helps at this stage.  You cannot make a total body composition change without suffering through a period where all of your goals seem like they are going backwards. Compare it to scaling a mountain or running an Ironman—it’s miserable while you’re in the thick of it, but insanely rewarding once you’re done. So hang in there, because it’ll be next week soon enough 🙂

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melody Moore November 18, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Hi Jen, I just wanted to thank you for this particular blog. I have now completed week 2 of the 21 Day Fix program that I had started and cried when I stepped on the scale and didn’t see any pounds, not even an ounce, come off. In my first week, I lost 5 pounds, but then NOTHING in week 2 and this was the week the I didn’t miss a workout and actually did 2 workouts on several of those days. I was really expecting a great weight loss and was very upset and disappointed when I had nothing to show for it. Your post about the 2nd week plateau stopped me from feeling defeated. I am really hoping that my body will “eventually get the memo” sooner than later. I have a hard time keeping my motivation, so your blog helped me realize that it’s okay for week 2 and that it is expected. I will keep truckin on and working hard, fingers crossed that I don’t have a 3rd and 4th week plateau as well…Thanks again!



2 Jen November 19, 2014 at 9:45 am

Thank you Melody! I’m so glad you found that post…because it’s so true…our body wants to rebel because it thinks it needs to help keep us alive. But don’t worry, it will get the memo and start behaving like you want it to…just keep going 🙂


3 April Butler January 31, 2017 at 7:47 am

I know it’s been a while since this has posted but I am so glad I found this today. I’ve busted my butt all week after a 3lb, 6.5″ loss my first week. Been doing C25K and have done it daily, some days I do it twice and I have been so proud of my progress with running (hard to do as a 217lb asthmatic person in the middle of winter). So when I stepped on the scale this morning to see not only a 2lb gain but a gain in my bust and midsection, I cried. I didn’t budge in my hips and actually lost in my arms and neck. Still I was devastated. I instantly wanted to give up. But I trekked on, had my healthy breakfast, went for Week 3 Day 1 run and then read this and I feel so much better. Thank you for that. I could use all the motivation I can get (my MyFitnessPal is like crickets…I need some motivators!).


4 Jen February 1, 2017 at 9:38 am

Thanks for your comment April! Glad I can help cheer you on 🙂


5 Georgina July 13, 2017 at 4:11 am

Great post! Laughed out loud when I googled ‘week two diet weight loss plateau’ and saw all the results come up and realised it was an actual THING! Feel so much better. Have simply been making healthier choices and not snacking and walking the dog as normal and lost 2kg in first week (not what I was expecting at all). Was buzzing and then stepped on scale this morning to find that it had stayed the same this time. Downer. So very happy I saw this. Will ignore crappy week two and look forward to week three and beyond! 🙂 Thanks.


6 Jen July 13, 2017 at 7:01 am

Glad I could help ease your fears! Best of luck to you, I know you’ll do great!


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