How to Move Beyond a Weight Loss Plateau

By Alison Whitfield
Losing weight at the start of your fitness program is encouraging, but reaching the plateau where you don’t seem to be losing anymore can be just as discouraging. A plateau typically is at least three or more weeks of no real loss, despite continuing your diet and exercise routines. After all the work you’ve put into your weight loss program, don’t get discouraged. Instead, try a few methods to move beyond that plateau. 
Change Up Your Routine
Consult with your doctor about your progress. Determine whether or not your plateau is actually a healthy weight for you. You may have added muscle, or some of it could be water weight. If you do need to continue to lose weight at a healthy pace, changing up your routine is a great starting place.
Maybe the pounds melted away with an intense aerobics program before, but now that you’ve lost weight and have built stamina and gained greater mobility, you need a more intensive workout. Don’t solely focus on aerobic exercise. Insert some strength training into your weekly routine to build muscle. This may add weight, but it will be healthy weight. Discuss with your doctor or fitness trainer physical activities that will target different areas of your body. This way, you can spur your body back into losing weight.
Incorporate Movement Every Day
Perhaps your previous exercise regimen is no longer enough. It might have once led you to lose weight because it was such a change from a sedentary lifestyle. Now that you have stamina and are familiar with the routine, you might only be doing enough to prevent weight gain. Rather than doing something as drastic as doubling your workout time, look for ways to add more movement into your daily life.
Whenever possible, stand rather than sit. If you are watching a TV show or movie, do some stretches, some light weightlifting or walk in place. Park farther from stores and walk the extra distance. Cut your lunch into two parts: eat during one half and take a walk in the other. Stop parking to pick up your kids after school; walk to meet them instead. 
Re-examine Your Diet
Again, talk with your doctor or a nutritional consultant about your current nutritional needs. You might actually need to eat more instead of less. Skipping meals is the frequent enemy of a weight loss plan, because your body goes into starvation mode. In starvation mode, your body is more likely to store food as fat, because it thinks it’s not going to be fed adequately. However, eating more doesn’t mean eating just anything; stay with healthy food. 
It might be that you require more protein in order to cope with your new exercise routine, or you may have to add healthier snacks throughout the day. Remember that diet and exercise go hand-in-hand if you’re serious about losing weight as well as keeping it off. Not eating right and going overboard with workouts may lead to weight loss at first, but you will quickly plateau. You may even gain weight again if you don’t eat a balanced, healthy diet with right-sized portions.
Never Give Up
Think of a person who lost weight and met his or her weight loss goals. It’s likely that person has experienced the dreaded plateau at least once, if not more, as he or she lost weight. What you’re experiencing isn’t uncommon. If you want to meet your weight loss goals, you’re going to have to expect this challenge along the way and prepare new strategies for overcoming it. 
Don’t be surprised if after you start losing weight again, you hit yet another plateau. Consult with professionals, such as your doctor, and you can continue to change weight loss programs as necessary.
About the Author: Alison Whitfield is a yoga instructor and fitness blogger who lost 30 pounds over the past year. She was able to surpass her own weight loss plateau. 

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  • The Fit VA , December 25, 2012

    When folks reach a plateau. One thing I recommend is for you to write down everything that goes in your mouth. It's very telling to see how you much or how little you are really eating. I also encourage you to relook at your workouts and make sure that incorporating weight lifting.

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