There’s nothing like that feeling of seeing progress toward your fat loss goals…until it stops, that is. One day, your tight jeans are feeling a little saggy and you’re starting to notice your poochy belly is looking a bit flatter. But then that’s where it stops. Sure, you were excited for those changes; however, if you’re still putting in the work, but your body and health now seem at a standstill, the fun comes to an end. You, my friend, have hit a plateau. They happen for all kinds of reasons. Here’s a few tips to get forward progress back in motion.
Change Your Ways: When you started on your path toward a healthier you, you likely had fat to spare, weren’t eating the best, and maybe were a bit couch-bound. Healthier eating and more exercise was new to your body, and it responded generously by shedding fat and giving you more energy with relative ease. However, now that you’re in better shape, your body is onto you and wants to hold onto what it has. The plateau you’re on means it’s time to up the ante. Look at how you’re eating and how hard you’re working out and see if there are improvements you can make. Portion sizes are a good place to start, as is adding more strength training.
Trick Your Body: If you’ve severely cut back your caloric intake, your body might mistake your health ways for starvation. Instead of shedding fat, it will hold onto it as a much needed energy source. But since you’re not stranded on a deserted island, you need to give your body the permission to let go. That comes with eating–do it early and often. Eat small meals all day long, and your body will understand that it’s getting what it needs and can release what it doesn’t.
Check Yourself: The say old habits die hard. Even if you’ve made great changes, it’s easy for old ways to sneak back in without even realizing. Take an inventory of the food you’re eating. Have your portions grown a bit in size? Are you still adding fiber-rich vegetables and lean proteins to your meals? As for exercise, are you skipping a sweat session or two a week? Compare what you’re doing now to what you did when you first started. It might be time to clean up your routine.
Do Something New: If the bike ride you were putting in previously made you feel like you were riding the wind but now just feels sluggish and old, then it’s time for something new. A plateau can come when your body (and mind) get bored, so trying something completely different–maybe a type of exercise you’ve never done before–will challenge your muscles and brain in new ways. You’re also likely to be more alert when the activity is new, as you need to be on your toes to expect the unexpected–which is just about everything for something you’ve never done before. Not sure what to do? How about taking a log-running class at a pool, signing up for a hip-hop dance class, or giving rock-climbing a go? You might love the new workout so much that it doesn’t even feel like exercise.
Plateaus will come and go, but you’re never really as stuck as you feel. Make changes–even small ones–and you’ll be back in motion toward the healthy body your first began working toward.
What do you do when you hit a plateau? Share with others in the comments!