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You've Hit a Weight Loss Plateau: Now What?
There's nothing more frustrating than hitting a plateau in your weight loss journey. You're working hard and sticking to your eating and fitness plans when out of nowhere it seems that your progress stops dead in its tracks. The scale isn't budging and your measurements aren't dropping, even though you haven't been slacking. You've hit the dreaded plateau. Yes, it's a real thing and it happens to almost everyone. But there are ways to bust out of that plateau. Here are some tricks to get you moving in the right direction again:
1. REASSESS YOUR FOOD NEEDS
As you lose weight and size, your body requires less food. And depending on your activity level, you may need fewer calories to maintain your new weight as time passes. For example, if you begin on day one of your plan at 170 lbs and several months down the road you weigh 140 lbs, to maintain the weight loss and stay at 140 lbs you can keep eating the same way. But if you're looking to drop even more weight, you may need to adjust your calorie intake after the initial weight loss.
2. INTRODUCE VARIETY IN YOUR CARDIO
Our bodies are very adaptable. When you're starting out, running six miles may feel challenging. Over time these same six miles become relatively easy as your body adapts to the workload. In sports medicine, it's called the Overload Principle and it's based on the idea that if you want to create physiological changes in the body, you must challenge it at a greater intensity than the body is used to. If you find that you've been doing the same cardio workout day in and day out, it's time for a change if you want to continue to see real results. You may want to try a totally new piece of cardio equipment or fitness class if you're a member at a fitness facility. My three personal favorites are the stepmill, treadmill and Jacob's Ladder. If you only have access to one at-home piece of equipment or you're performing cardio outdoors (running, for example), you can alter speeds, add intervals, inclines, or hills, or even put on a weighted vest. The important thing is to add some variety and challenge yourself again. Here's the bottom line: change your workout, change your body.
3. GET STARTED WITH RESISTANCE TRAINING
If you're not already performing resistance training, now is the perfect time to start. Resistance training will put on lean muscle mass, increase metabolism, and transform your body proportions and composition. Some women feel intimidated entering the weight room for the first time, but I think it's important to remember that every single person was unsure of what to do on their first day. There is no exception to this rule. There are fitness classes in many gyms now that teach and incorporate resistance training, as well as many useful websites, such as bodybuilding.com. There are also program plans and detailed descriptions (with photos) like my guide, which is available for sale through www.liftologie.com. For those of you who are already lifting, make sure that you're increasing the demand on your body over time as you get stronger. Increase the weight you're lifting, add to the number of reps you perform, and incorporate new exercises and training techniques to keep your workouts fun and challenging.
4. KEEP A FOOD LOG FOR A FEW DAYS
So, let's just say you've been challenging yourself physically, lifting weights, and doing everything right in the gym. But you've still hit a plateau. Then it might be time to take a closer look at what you're eating. I call it reality check time. You may be underestimating what you're eating as well as how much you're eating. This is a common problem. Often people think they're having one tablespoon of olive oil on their salad when they're really having a quarter cup, for example. Maybe your "one bite" while making dinner is really eight bites, or you've been slacking doing your food prep more often than you realize, and ordering take out instead. Track your eating habits and measure your food portions for several days to correct these common problems. But don't forget to be proud of how far you've come and the positive lifestyle changes you've already made. Incorporating some of these tricks into your already healthy routine might just get you moving toward your weight loss goals again. Heather Marr and Tatiana Boncompagni's new book 28 Days to Strong includes a 4-week fitness plan, healthy recipes, and a mindfulness practice. You can get it at liftologie.com for $29.95.
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