Have you hit a wall with your weight loss?

Last week’s blog featured my local client’s status of her 12 week Lifestyle Challenge.  One of the issues she was plagued during the first six weeks was normal to all of us – she hit a plateau and fought with her attitude to stay focused.  She did it and prevailed.  

I decided that this would be a good time to reprint an earlier blog from this year.  
If you missed it the first time, here’s what you need to know.  Even if you’ve read it before, read it again for a refresher course!

a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.

I tread this word lightly because, even though your body has hit a plateau, that does NOT mean it’s not changing and moving in the right direction. Yes, the scale is a good measurement but not always the ACCURATE measurement of what’s really going on. I rely mostly on the way my clothes fit and my waist measurement. If your waist is getting smaller yet the scale is stalled, congrats- you are WINNING!  Why? You are not losing precious muscle but you are losing body fat!

But, it’s still a good idea to always evaluate and re-evaluate where you can make changes or possibly tighten up your current plan to keep results moving along.

Why does our body plateau? Simple- it’s the body’s natural reaction to diet and exercise. When we begin a fitness regimen, your body responds to it immediately and all those fun changes are taking place.  But, after some time has passed, the body will resist the change and do everything possible to maintain homeostasis – a constant state of internal function. Time to take a hard look at your current routine and make those changes necessary to keep progress moving along! 

1. Continue to keep your nutrition plan at the top of the list: 

This is the first part of the your program to re-examine. A few things can go a long way to keep success moving along….

-Keep a food journal. Are you sure you haven’t loosened up a bit in your eating pattern? I always recommend my clients keep a food journal or use an online app to keep track of their food for one week. Once we start to see results, it’s easy to rely less on food scales and labels and “think” we know what we are putting in our mouths. This is where “calorie creep” comes into play and can really slow down your progress. Honestly, most of the time the plateau can be fixed with a closer look at the daily consumption of food.

The body is now working at a lower body weight but you are still giving it the same calories every day? Maybe it’s time to shake things up with your meal plan. Consider zig zagging your calories/carbs for a couple of weeks. I’ve used this method for myself as well as many clients. The goal is to eat less calories one day & more on another day, in the form of carbs. Here is the plan:

Keep your calories the same for the week. But, instead of eating the same calories every day, eliminate 100 calories one day and add an extra 100 for another day. Try this for 2 weeks. The increase/decrease of calories should come from carb sources. On the days you go with lower carbs, limit your starchy carbs and fruit. Keep your vegetable intake high.

Get your water in everyday. A hydrated body keeps the metabolism functioning properly.

2. Change the Intensity/Duration of your Cardio : 

Another possible culprit is your cardio routine. The fact is that our bodies adapt to the cardio first. So, maybe you need to change it up? If you’re knocking out 30 minutes of cardio, add another 15 minutes. Or, consider adding 20-30 minutes of walking before you start your day in addition to your current cardio routine. If you’re not currently using HIT (intervals) in your routine, start now. Here is a sample workout I provided to ‘Maximum Fitness’ magazine a few years back (Click on the pic to enlarge):

3. Don’t wimp out on your strength training ! 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain your routine with weights in the gym.  So many times in the quest to break a plateau or save time, I will see people ignore their strength training in order to make more time for cardio. NO- WRONG CHESS MOVE!

Building lean muscle is the backbone of a supercharged metabolism so now is not the time to slack off but changing things around can help with muscle confusion and work your muscle groups in new ways. 

-change the ORDER of the exercises
– change the TYPES of exercises used in the workout
– change the MUSCLE GROUPS that are exercised in the same workout
-change the NUMBER of sets
-change the AMOUNT of weight used
 Bottom line- the more lean muscle you have the faster your metabolism will work. Lift to lose fat!

4. Get your ZZZZ’s :  

One sure way to screw up your progress is to regress on your sleep.  If you’ve been working at a level above your normal routine, then your body needs the sleep to recover.   What happens to our body when we don’t get enough sleep?

– Increased levels of cortisol ( the stress induced hormone that LOVES to hold on to fat! ) 
– You may still be losing weight but burn the midnight oil and you will burn muscle – which will stall your metabolism in it’s track.
-Decreased sleep leads to increased hunger so be aware of triggers that lead to the wrong choices.

5. Last but not least, keep your head in the game:

As the famous quote goes: 90% mental and 10% physical.

This is the part of the game that separates the boys from the men and the girls from the women.  It’s time to realize that changes are not going to take place every day.  You must be patient with the process, remember how far you’ve come and don’t let the thought of quitting even enter your mind.

Remember that this is a lifestyle change and stay focused on the big picture.

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