Posted December 5th, 2012 under Fitness Tips

10 Tricks for Overcoming your Fitness Weight Loss Plateau

Tags: 10 Tricks for Overcoming your Fitness Weight Loss Plateau, bootcamp, personal training, boot camp, health and wellness, fitness and nutrition

10 Tricks for Overcoming your Fitness Weight Loss Plateau

At the start of a new fitness program, you clean up your diet and hit the workouts, and the weight seems to fall off. But when you get down to the last 5, 10, or 15 pounds you want to lose, the scale may suddenly refuse to budge. It's the dreaded "weight loss plateau." It's normal and merely a sign that your body has adapted to your current workout and nutrition regimen. You might be tempted to drastically reduce calories or increase the amount of time you spend working out. That could actually sabotage your efforts by putting your body into "starvation mode" and slowing your metabolism, or lead to overtraining, possible injury and burn-out. So don't do it.

Instead, try these simple tricks to help you overcome the plateau achieve the fitness results you want.

1. Tighten up your diet. The most important consideration in choosing a clean nutrition plan is the ability to stick to it. I don't believe in "diets"...the best long-term, effective nutrition plan for getting lean is healthy, clean eating. So training your body and brain to crave clean eating is key! At least 80%-90% of the time! (See my Post: Why Eat Clean? 8-Week Transition to Make it a Lifestyle). So if you've found that you've hit a fitness or weight loss plateau, start keeping a food journal - write down everything you eat over the next 4 days and reevaluate your choices and portions. You may find that you've become a little too lax & need to tighten it up again. Stick to whole, real foods - lean meats, nuts, seeds, beans, veggies, fruits, good fats, whole grains & NO processed foods. Cut down or cut out sugar too!

2. Cut down on starchy carbs. This is an easy trick! Cut down on starchy carbs and eat them earlier in the day OR before or after a workout. These include foods like sweet potatoes, corn, beans, brown rice, oats, etc. Concentrate on eating lean protein, vegetables and good monounsaturated fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts/seeds) at each meal. Another trick - Eat almonds as a snack: studies have shown they increase fat loss because they contain fiber to fill you up and good kind of fat that helps you burn fat.

3. Bump up the intensity of your workouts. Ask yourself how hard you're working! Are you getting outside your comfort zone during your workouts and pushing the envelope a bit? If not, kick up the intensity of your workouts: add power, extra reps, jump higher and farther, run faster, squat lower, and increase the weight you're lifting to burn more calories and rev your metabolism. More effort = more calories burned!

4. Relax and Get More Sleep. Overtraining and lack of recovery time is a "non-instinctual" cause of hitting a weight loss plateau. Just like drastic calorie restriction, overtraining your body causes it to behave the same as putting it in "starvation mode" - it lowers your metabolism and causes your body to hold onto weight you're trying to lose. Your muscles and body only repair themselves during deep sleep. Plus, lack of sleep causes slowed glucose metabolism and higher levels of corisol. If you're working out hard, getting more sleep is one of the first things you should try.

5. Change your exercise routine. If you've already increased the intensity of your workout program and still have hit a plateau, it may be time to change things up & try something different! Doing the same workout routine and exercises causes your body to adapt. Eventually, those same exercises and activities become less challenging, require less effort/energy and become less effective. You need to constantly confuse your body and shock your muscles by performing unfamiliar or new routines. Start pushing outside your comfort zone. Change your jog to an interval run, hills or a bike ride; add a cardio and weights circuit; add high intensity intervals, etc.

6. Get up and move throughout the day! Fidgeters actually burn as many as 350 more calories each day than those who don't move much and/or sit at a desk all day. So stand up, move around at least every 30 minutes, multi-task, stay on your feet while talking on the phone, etc.

7. Eat a little less. I'm not big on calorie counting, IF you're choosing a healthy, clean eating "diet." It's rare that people will overindulge or binge on whole foods like fruits and veggies. However, when your body gets smaller, it requires fewer calories to function properly. So try cutting back on your portions and calorie intake, just a bit - nothing drastic especially if you're working out, increasing intensity and changing up your routine.

8. Zigzag your calories. The idea behind this is similar to changing up your exercise routine. The point is to shock your metabolism. Eat more on certain days, less on others. The result, however, should still be that you burn more calories than you consume each week. For example, eat 300 calories more than your normal intake one day, 300 less than your norm the next, etc.

9. Drink more water. Drinking enough water not only fills you up and helps you eat less, but it also increases your metabolism, promotes muscle building, and hydrates your body so that it has more energy, and can efficiently repair itself. Dehydration encourages muscle breakdown. So drink up!

10. Check your Thyroid Hormone levels. If you have already tried all of the above tricks and still find that you have hit a plateau, you may want to consider having your thyroid hormone levels checked. Low thyroid hormone is called hypothyroidism. The main purpose of thyroid hormone is to "run the body's metabolism," so if your thyroid hormone levels are too low, you may have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism, making it difficult to lose those last few pounds no matter how hard you try. Other symptoms also include: fatigue, dry hair/nails, muscle aches, weaknesses, low libido, irritability.

10. Reevaluate your goal weight. Finally, if you're STILL frustrated....take a step back, relax and ask yourself - Is your "idea" weight or fitness goal realistic for YOU? The number on the scale is not always an accurate reflection of your fitness progress! Body composition is different than scale weight. When you replace fat with muscle, the scale may not budge, but your body may be leaner, tighter, firmer and more compact. Your body might be healthier and happier with a few more pounds on it. Don't let the scale gauge your progress! Congratulate yourself on the hard work and progress you have accomplished!! :)

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