Ah, the dreaded weight loss plateau.
Actually, you should embrace the plateau for many reasons. But that’s the topic for another day.
For now, we’ll concern ourselves with breaking a weight loss plateau.
Has this happened to you?
You’ve been puttering along with your usual dietary plan and fitness routine. Then progress seems to slow, then seemingly halt. You feel like you are at a standstill. You’ve hit a weight loss plateau.
The shape won’t shift, the pudge won’t budge. Now what?
Ally wrote to me 3 weeks ago with this same dilemma.
She was 5 lbs away from achieving her 20 lb weight loss, 2 sizes down body shaping goals. She’d been “stuck” there for the last month.
First, I assured Ally that plateaus are a natural part of the adaptive process of the body. It can decide its own pace of change at times. Sure, that can seem most inconvenient to us. Yet our body has its wisdom. As I often say, our bodies do everything for a reason. Even with the weight loss plateau.
At the same time, if the situation persists, it may be time to take a closer look and shake things up to get them moving again. This is what I suggested to Ally. She implemented a few of my suggestions and now, 3 weeks later, her weight loss plateau has broken and she is down another 1 1/2 pounds.
Time to budge your plateau? Then it’s time to exceed your reach!
Actually, this is just like it is with life. What do you do in life when you have stalled, lack of creative energy, and a slip from your ideals? You exceed your previous reach.
Reach past what you’ve done before.
For actually, when you are not reaching beyond your comfort zone and presenting yourself with continuing challenge, whether in fitness or in life – you are slipping backwards.
It’s called a “stretch”. You can do the same with a weight loss plateau.
Focus on six areas of improvement and change
If you find your fitness stalled at weight loss plateau, there are several avenues you can take to get things going again. All you need to do is shake things up. Disturb the status quo. Make your body sit up and pay attention.
1) Vary the speed: if you are walking, or biking, hiking, or swimming as part of your fitness rotation, pick a couple of your sessions during the week and pick up the speed a little. Keep safety in mind and focus on correct alignment, and you will present a new challenge to the body to which is necessarily must adapt.
2) Amp up the strength challenge: are you doing any kind of resistance training as part of your weight loss or fitness program? If not, you should be. And if you are, now may be the time to increase the strength challenge. That doesn’t mean you have to lift more weight, necessarily. Strength challenge can be increased by cadence. You slow it down, you can keep the use of lighter weights and changes in strength and shape will follow. Either way.
3) Add more time to your workouts: Are you used to pooping out at about the same time every session, week after week? Your body may be just used to it, like getting restless after 27 minutes of programming because the TV show ends at the half hour. Catch your body by surprise by adding a little more length to a couple of your workouts during the week.
4) Vary the intensity of your workouts: This is a big one for mixing things up. Research has shown that building intervals into your training – with the use of interval training in whatever type of workout you do – is a powerful way to increase strength, endurance, and fat loss.
5) Shake up the balance: Maybe you need MORE time stretching and less time lifting weights? An increase in targeting body sculpting, such as the Fit Quickies or the Bar Method? Sometimes playing with the balance makes your body scramble and step up to the challenge, resulting in visible results in your physique.
You can’t out train a bad diet
6) Last but not least: improve your nutrition. Take an honest look.
- How many times in the past 2 weeks have you had dessert? Keep in mind that includes pastries, energy bars that masquerade as cookies, cakes that masquerade as muffins. You get the idea.
- How much fatty or oil-based dressing are you really putting on your salad? 1/4 cup of bleu cheese adds up to a whopping 30 plus grams of fat and 320 calories.
The easiest way to improve your diet is to eat more vegetable, whole grains, and fruits and reduce fat, oils, and the foods that contain them in your diet. You can eat a lot more, get a lot more fiber, have improved satiety, and encourage fat loss.
Pick 1, 2, or more of these areas for putting a new “stretch” into your weight loss and fitness routines and see if you, like Ally, start to see yourself pull out of the weight loss plateau station and move forward on your weight loss and body sculpting goals.
Lani, thanks for the great ideas. This will come in handy when it comes to staying a little bit ahead of things during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanks for the article, it is perfect timing for me!
@Suzanne: Hey Suzanne, so glad the timing is good for you! Just a few tweaks can make the difference.
Thanks for your post!