How to Break Through a Plateau

Posted on 11. Apr, 2012 by in Mom Fitness and Nutrition, Weight Loss

Follow These Tips to Get You to Your Weight Loss Goal – Fast!

You’ve been working out and eating healthy consistently for months now. In the beginning the weight just fell off and continued to every week. Your confidence soared, your clothes fit better and you were getting compliments left and right. Then it happened – the plateau. This happens to everyone at some point along their journey. Unfortunately, this is where most people get frustrated, quit and resort back to their old habits of sitting around and eating more than they should. But that’s not where the story ends for you. Just because the scale didn’t budge this week, or even the week before, doesn’t mean that you didn’t work your butt off. You will and can break through it! It’s going to take time, some patience and a different approach. It is possible and fairly simple – you just have to stick through it and not let discouragement get in your way. With a couple diet and exercise changes, you will get past what you think might seem impossible. Lets get started so you can get out there and show the scale who’s boss!

Successful Diet Plateau Strategies

  • Rotate your calories

When a plateau happens, play around with your caloric intake a little by varying it day to day while keeping the same weekly total. Our bodies can’t slow down our metabolism to adjust to a reduced calorie intake if the intake isn’t fixed from one day to the next. In other words, your body never knows what to expect, and therefore cannot “streamline” your metabolism. By zig zagging calories, our body keeps our metabolism constantly revved up. An example might look like this: Mon 1,200 calories, Tues 1,500 calories, Wed 1,200 calories, Thurs 1,500 calories, Fri 1,200 calories, sat 1,400 calories, and Sun 1,700 calories. Make sense?

  • Rotate Your Macro Nutrients

This is something that really worked for me and where (through my diet) I saw the best results. When I first started working out, low carb was the craze, so naturally I jumped on board. My exercise activity was way too high to be on such a low carb “diet.” I would roller blade for a half hour before breakfast, eat, then go to the gym for almost two hours, almost six days a week! I took it to an extreme looking back, but I was always one who really enjoyed being active, sweating and feeling good. Little did I know though, that when you cut down on your carbs too much, you begin to feel sluggish, your energy dwindles and your brain becomes foggy. Not to mention how easily irritated you can get. Our bodies need (the right) carbs, and if you deny them, you will pay. My goal was to tone and build some muscle. Something I also didn’t know too much about was that not only do muscles need protein to grow, they need carbs just as much. Once I introduced just one more complex carb source in to my “diet,” I almost immediately began to feel much better. My workouts improved along with my energy and attitude. I began (and still do) rotate my carbs to something like this: 150 grams on one day, 100 grams the next, 50 grams for the next two days, then repeat back to day one. I feel more in control and very rarely do I ever get those crazy cravings for carbohydrates. Eating more protein will help keep you fuller longer, so incorporate this on lower carb days to make up in calories and clean food.

  • Eat More Often

If you don’t already do this, eating 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day will keep your blood sugar stable, your cravings under control and your metabolism in high gear. I know everyone’s schedule is different, but try to eat every 3 to 4 hours if possible. By taking your daily caloric intake and dividing it by 5 (meals), your body will be a continuous burning machine!

Successful Exercise Plateau Strategies

If you find yourself going to the gym and only doing a few things the same way as you’ve been doing for the passed two to three weeks, it’s time to step it up! Start playing around with – reps (the number of times you lift your weight), weights (how heavy you lift), tempo (the speed at which you lift, press, squat, etc.) and/or sets (the number of times you do each exercise). If we put different stresses on our body, it has to adapt to this new stimuli – that’s where the change begins!

  • Find a Workout Buddy or Hire a Personal Trainer

Both of these can get you out of a slump, make things more fun and challenging, and recharge some much needed motivation. Ask a friend, family member, co worker or neighbor if they’d be interested in working out with you – even if it’s only two or three days a week. Healthy competition and having someone there to root you on can do wonders. Participate in weekly challenges and see who can lift more, run longer and lose the most weight. Personal trainers can be a little expensive, but with the knowledge they have, they will help push you farther than you’ve ever thought you could go – and they will monitor your progress. Even if you can only schedule a session once a week, you will learn a ton, and they won’t let you quit on yourself.

  • Take a Class That Interests You

Switching up the scenery and surrounding yourself with people who enjoy the same things as you can be invigorating. Classes can burn anywhere from 500 – 1,000 calories and can be one of the best ways to break through a plateau. Try resistance training three to four days a week and incorporating a high impact class once or twice. This break up of low impact and high impact exercises will keep your body burning calories long after the session ends. Most gyms have a dozen different options, from Zumba, kick boxing, step aerobics, and belly dancing. Find one you enjoy and get moving.

  • Avoid Over Training

This is one of the most common mistakes people make when first starting out (I did). We live in a world where we think doing more is better when it comes to exercise, and less is more when it comes to “diet.” This can be misleading. Working out for four hours everyday, or even every other day is not smart – at all. You’re more likely to break down muscle and increase your risk of injury. Your body will have less time to build and strengthen muscle, and your attitude and energy will be running on ‘low fuel.’ We need breaks, physically and mentally. If we don’t we’ll find ourselves frustrated and wondering why our goals aren’t being met. It’s most likely due to over training syndrome (OTS).

Things you’ll need to do…

  1. Re-think your goals – write out ‘why’ you started and ‘what’ you’d still like to accomplish
  2. Be honest with yourself – both with diet and exercise
  3. Keep a food and exercise journal – this will help you stay on track and hold you accountable
  4. Make sure you get enough rest at night and eliminate as much stress as you can
  5. Listen to your body

Have you ever experienced a plateau? What did you do to try and get past it? Leave me advice or comments below. 🙂

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One Response to “How to Break Through a Plateau”

  1. Jennycash

    26. Apr, 2012

    question about over-training:  i have been doing workouts during the weekdays, M-F, and taking off on the weekends to recover.  it just works better for my schedule.  i do a round of high intensity tabata-style cardio, and then do a few rounds of circuit training (lifting weights, burpees, and, etc).  the entire routine is about 30 – 35 minutes, pushing pretty darn hard most of the time.  am i overdoing it?  i feel sore but not bad enough that i can’t work out the next day.  any thoughts?

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