Doctor’s Tips: What to Do When You Hit a Weight Loss Plateau - Halley Medical Aesthetics
Let’s be honest here: this topic has been covered ad nauseum by health journals and this is probably, like, the fifth article you’ve encountered since googling your problem this morning.

Unsurprisingly, anyone who’s tried to lose weight will be no stranger to the weight loss plateau – when we feel like we’ve hit a wall and can’t seem to lose weight any further despite continuing the diet and exercise regime that had worked for us before. Now more than ever before (we’re supposed to be masters of our own destiny apparently), the social stigma of being overweight seems overbearing – you’re fat because you’re lazy and you’re simply not trying hard enough. It’s probably the second greatest myth after success and meritocracy (you’re not successful because you’re not good enough but that isn’t always true; the world isn’t exactly full of equal opportunities) but I’m definitely digressing here.

Weight Loss Plateau What to Do
Credit: jcomp – Freepik

If you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau, you’re definitely not alone. A recent study showed that the four main barriers to weight loss maintenance were due to difficulties arising from pleasurable eating, binge eating, mental distress from stressful events, and demoralisation1. Our best efforts at reaching our weight loss goals are also stymied by genetic factors, various hormonal adaptations to weight loss, metabolic adaptation (our resting metabolic rate slows when we lose weight, unfortunately) as well as by neural factors (neurotransmitters signalling for increased food intake to make up for the deficit)2. Not to absolve our guilt from lapses in discipline, but there truly are factors that hinder us from achieving our weight loss goals.

So, let’s dive into the thick of it. What can we do?

Counting calories



Counting calories is a sure way to make sure you’re on track to maintaining a daily calorie deficit. A food journal allows us to be accountable to ourselves. Everything consumed should be recorded, and I cannot overstate how important it is to be accurate (it’s difficult but try your best!) and truthful.

As we know, our resting metabolic rate drops with weight loss which is one of the main reasons for weight loss plateaus. So, while endurance training like running help to burn calories, resistance training like lifting weights at the gym help to build muscle mass and increase our resting metabolic rate.

Often overlooked, stress and poor sleep increase cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) levels which make it difficult to shed excess weight. Fortunately, exercise helps with both reducing stress and improving sleep. About time to lace up those running shoes, it seems!

Healthy Living Workout Weight Loss Singapore
Credit: jcomp – Freepik

Drastic measures and crash diets are a recipe for failure. And they are so mentally exhausting too. Instead, the 1% rule (I’m quoting from Atomic Habits by James Clear) states that small adjustments done well and regularly compound to massive transformations. While outcome-driven habits are good and clear goals are purposeful, identity-based habits can motivate us better to be who we aspire to be. Losing 10kg is great, but becoming a healthy parent/wife/professional who loves badminton (way to go LKY!) and swimming can be so much better.

Don’t let the weight loss plateau turn into an avalanche. Weight loss is difficult but it doesn’t have to be. It isn’t just a numerical goal to achieve but a lifestyle to embrace. There is hope. And there is help.


Read more about effective fat reduction and muscle toning in Dr. Mark Lim’s previous article: Why Are My Abs Not Showing And How Do I Achieve Defined Abs



  1. Fischer M, Oberänder N, Weimann A. Four main barriers to weight loss maintenance? A quantitative analysis of difficulties experienced by obese patients after successful weight reduction. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2020;74(8):1192-1200. doi:10.1038/s41430-020-0559-x

  2. Evert AB, Franz MJ. Why Weight Loss Maintenance Is Difficult. Diabetes Spectr. 2017;30(3):153-156. doi:10.2337/ds017-0025




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