Breaking Plateaus

When trying to lose weight, it is very common to have some weeks where the weight seems to come off quickly and some weeks where you feel like you’ve done everything right, but it doesn’t show up on the scale.  If you have one or two weeks where the scale doesn’t show the work you’ve done, stay calm.  Sometimes our body seems to need to adjust to a new weight before you continue to lose.  However, if several weeks pass and the scale doesn’t budge then you may have hit a plateau.  When this happens, try the following tips:

1.)    Keep food journals.  Writing everything down can help maintain awareness of what you are consuming to ensure you are at an appropriate calorie level.

2.)    Measure food for a few days.  Just naturally, portions tend to grow over time.  What you thought was a cup of cereal, may end up being closer to 1 ½ cups.  These gradual increases in portions can really add up over time.

3.)    Adjust calorie levels.  When we lose weight, our calorie needs decrease.  This is because it doesn’t require as much energy to do your daily activities at 150 pounds as it does when you weigh 175 pounds.  So you may need to make some slight modifications to your calorie goals.  Try cutting back 50-100 calories a day and see if that makes the difference.

4.)    Make sure you are eating enough.  If we don’t eat enough calories, we can end up slowing down our metabolism.  This makes continued weight loss more difficult.  For women, I usually recommend staying at or above 1,200 calories to keep the metabolism running efficiently.  Men will want to stay above 1,600 calories per day.  If you are active, you will need more calories than this.

5.)    Mix up your workout routine.  Our muscles adapt quickly to exercise and become very efficient.  Try a different exercise routine or even doing your exercises in a different order.  (For example, if you usually do cardio and then strength training, try lifting weights first instead.  If you lift weights, do your typical workout in reverse order.)

6.)    Start strength training, if your not doing it already.  Lifting weights strengthens muscles, which ends up increasing your metabolism.  FYI- Increasing muscle mass is the ONLY way to increase metabolism.

7.)    Move more.  Try to walk or move more throughout the day or add an extra work out each week.

8.)    Try eating more frequently.  If you eat three meals a day, try breaking up your eating into 5 or 6 small meals a day.  We burn calories by digesting food.  Therefore, eating regularly throughout the day helps to keep the metabolism up.  Remember that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

9.)    Drink more water.  Aim for around 8 8-oz glasses a day.

10.) Include low-fat dairy products.  Studies have found that the calcium, a nutrient found in dairy, plays an important role in metabolism.

11.) Get some sleep.  Getting too little sleep can promote the storage of fat in the abdominal region and make weight loss more difficult.  Aim for a minimum of 7 hours.  For most people, 8 hours is even more ideal.