If you've been eating right and exercising often, you've probably been losing weight at a rate of one or two pounds a week. However, as you get closer to your optimum weight, it usually gets harder to lose those last few pounds. You know you've hit a weight-loss plateau when more than two weeks have gone by without any further change in your weight, while you still follow the same regimen! So the first thing you do is review your exercise and diet program, find out what's wrong and make amendments. Here are a few helpful tips to get you started!
Calorie Intake & Diet Plan
As you probably know by now, weight loss is all about burning more calories than you consume. A healthy diet plan is the key, so take a quick look at your food diary, or calorie intake.
Are you still keeping track of your portion sizes, even when you are dining out?
Are you spacing your meals 5 times a day, dividing daily calories between them?
have you recently sneaked in a few desserts or carbs thinking a piece won't hurt much?
Did you switch to sodas instead of smoothies and juices?
Are you drinking enough water?
It's easy to increase your calorie intake accidentally, without realizing how its hurting your diet plan. Remember, a baked potato is not the same as a baked potato with gravy and butter! So evaluate your calorie consumption; maintain a diet hhournal if you like; if you are well above the 1200(for women) or 1500 (for men) daily intake level, you can try cutting down a couple hundred calories to break the plateau. However, if you are consuming less than 1,200 calories a day (1,500 for a man), your body may react by slowing down as a self-preservation measure. This means your metabolism rate falls, and you actually store fat even if you're working out consistently.
Eat 5-6 Times a Day
Eating frequently stabilizes your blood sugar, controls appetite, and keeps your energy up. Ideally, you shouldn't go more than three or four hours without eating something. Doing so slows down your metabolism and makes your body burn fat at a slower rate. Its also very important to eat as soon as you feel hungry - a feeling of hunger indicates your blood sugar is going down, which makes you prone to craving simple sugars. If you're eating three times a day, eat five. If you're already eating five times, upgrade to six or seven. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll be eating more food; just divide your calories into 6 meals per day.
Change Your Workout Routine
"Variety is the spice of life" - and this phrase has never been so fitting to a scenario! It takes your body only four weeks to get used to a workout. Once something becomes a routine for your metabolism, plateaus are likely. The most efficient way to break a plateau is to shake up your fitness routine. Join an online weight loss program to find tips and ideas. If you are used to 30 mins on the treadmill, switch to cycling or kick-boxing instead. Instead of the stationary bike, switch to a Stepper or a StairMaster. Instead of running in the morning, try playing tennis or do some swimming. Use Interval Training to your advantage; short bursts (30-60 sec)of higher-intensity movement, such as sprint, followed by 2-3 mins of less intense exercise like walking. Adding variety to your routine brings revs up your metabolism as the body has to start adapting again.
Add More Strength Training
If you are not doing so already, start lifting weights now to boost your metabolism and burn fat! When you lift weights, your muscle fibers suffer tiny tears which causes you to experience soreness for a couple days; but that's normal. Changing the intensity of the workout helps a lot. Try to increase the amount of weights you lift, or try changing the number of repetitions. Whenever you change a workout routine your body responds by burning fat. Do not under-estimate the power of strength-training; in fact, lifting weights is the best way to conquer that plateau! Challenge your muscles with harder exercises or heavier weights (every 6 to 8 weeks), adding a set of risers during your step class, increasing the incline on the treadmill, the duration of your run/walk, etc… It might seem tough at first as your newly challenged muscles will have to work harder but you will burn more calories and build more lean muscle mass in the process. its always a good idea to do a combination of resistance machines and free-weights, as the latter can increase metabolic rate as high as 10% in one session!
Avoid Alc0hol & Drink Water
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Every time you feel the urge to snack, drink a glass of water first and see if the urge goes away. Coffee, tea or any other juices count as liquids, but add an extra glass of pure water for each cup of coffee you drink, as caffeine tends to dehydrate the body. Research has shown that BMR increase by 30%, not to mention flushing out all toxins from your body, thereby contributing to a healthy weight-loss. As for Alcohol, it is a known fact that it contains a large amount of calories, but hardly any other nutrients, and some of these are also high in sugars and fat. Alc0hol consumption slows down the fat burning capabilities of the body, as the body focuses on using the alcohol (a toxin) as fuel, rather than burning fat for energy. Alc0hol also dehydrates, which in turn, makes you hungry. So avoid Alc0hol, and start drinking more Water instead!
Losing weight requires exercise or controlled caloric intake . While its important to maintain a healthy weight, do not get obsessed by it! And plateaus in weight loss are very common; it only means you've successfully lost a lot of weight, and now you need to re-evaluate your regimen to overcome the weight-loss plateaus. Just follow the simple steps above, and you'll be ready to drop a couple more sizes the next time you buy yourself a new dress!