Every weight loss plan is going to come across a plateau. It’s very natural for your body. What happens is, the minute you start losing weight, your body kicks in your appetite a little bit. It doesn’t really like to lose its fat reserves.
You have to fight the body to do what you want it to do. Sometimes it might be just shocking the body with a new workout routine. Your body does get used to what you are doing and if you have been doing the same exact routine for one full year, your body absolutely needs a shock. Sometimes, you have gotten lazy with your good eating habits and your portions have become a little bit bigger than they used to be. Or, your body is just fighting you with all its might to get those fat reserves back.
No fear, perseverance is key!
Although a plateau can be really frustrating, if you trust that doing a few key things can help get you through it and you don’t give up, you will train your body to a new set point and get past that frustrating plateau.
Here are seven ideas to consider when you need to break past a plateau:
1. Kick up your workouts a notch. If you don’t already, start wearing a heart rate monitor and calculate how many calories you are burning during your workout. If, for example, you are used to burning 300 calories per workout, bump it up to 500 by adding weights, more cardio or simply more intensity. Also try adding another day to your exercise schedule.
2. Get back to basics. Are you getting enough water? Maybe you started out with a gallon or 120oz. and now you are back down to 32oz. Get that water in! It can be the difference between definition in your muscles and 5-7lbs on the scale of just water weight from sodium. Ironically, water will actually help you shed water weight and unnecessary toxins in your body.
3. Be sure your meals are balanced. Are you combining your protein with your carb at every meal or have you slipped back into your old habits of eating too many carbs? Eating protein with every meal will help you to feel more satiated without extra carbohydrates. If you just eat carbs, especially the white flour ones like crackers, pretzels and bread, you are not getting any nutritional value from them and your body will not feel satisfied. If you go to whole grains and then add a protein, you will be able to eat less of the carbohydrate and feel very satiated with great energy all day.
4. Add some fat! Are you taking an essential fatty acids supplement to help burn fat more efficiently? Things like flaxseed oil, omega 3 oil, castor oil, cod liver oil and coconut oil all help you feel more satiated throughout the day; cut down on sugar cravings and give you the fat you need to burn fat efficiently. If you are not eating fish like Salmon every day, you really need a good omega supplement!
5. Be sure to monitor your portions. Are you watching your portions and calories? Maybe you are still eating the healthy food and good ratios of protein-to-carb, but your portions have gotten larger and your calories are up by 200-300 more. Try to start measuring things out again and start logging your food down to see where you are at every day and regain that control. MyFitnessPal is a great website that helps you to stay on track when managing your calories and daily activities.
6. Go easy on the booze. Are you drinking alcohol more than once a week? Maybe you need to cut back a little to get past the plateau. Alcohol is sugar and if you are drinking and eating a lot of carbs at night, you are most likely storing them as fat. If you are going to drink, cut out that pasta or brown rice with the meal and use your wine as your carb so the meal is still balanced. That will help your calorie intake as well. But if you find alcohol to be a gateway to eating unhealthy food, then maybe it needs to go until you reach your goal.
7. Eat small, eat more. Are you eating often enough to make your metabolism fast enough to keep those calories burning throughout the day? Maybe you have slipped back into old habits of only getting two square meals in a day and those meals are huge because you are starving. Remember that eating little meals every 3 hours, will help you eat less at a sitting, get your metabolism really working hard, and will set you up for success so you won’t overeat.
When it comes to breaking through a plateau, often times it’s as simple as getting back to basics and changing up your workouts and eating habits. The most important thing is to be diligent and keep a positive attitude. The power of the mind can do wonders. If you stay positive and know you will get through this time, you will! But if you give up and start being negative with yourself, it will be a very fast downward spiral that will only take you back from where you started.
Trust and believe in yourself and you will continue on with this healthy lifestyle for life!
Jessica Janc has been a part of the Fitness Industry for 20 years. She attended the University of Utah where she studied Exercise Sports Science with an emphasis on Nutrition. She has been an ACE certified Aerobic Instructor and Personal trainer for nineteen years. She studied under the Stott Pilates Method, is Bosu Certified, Madd Dogg Spin certified and teaches many other fitness classes at Purefitness Sports Center in Carlsbad. Jessica is Ace Certified in Lifestyle and Weight Management and is a Sports Nutritionist certified through the National Association of Sports Nutrition (NASN).