Breaking Plateaus

breaking plateausHitting a plateau is a very common thing when it comes to a weightloss journey.  For a while you’re doing great, losing lbs and inches and you feel like momentum is on your side.  Then all of a sudden it just stops.  And you can’t really figure out why because you haven’t changed much of anything in your routine.  You’re eating the same, doing the same workouts, etc but the results just don’t continue like you’d expect them to.  I’ve been there and I know a lot of other people who have struggled with this.  So how do you go about breaking plateaus?

Breaking Plateaus – Your Nutrition

When you’ve hit a plateau, the first thing I would look at is your nutrition.  Are you tracking what you eat?  If not, how can you expect to know what to change about it?  I can’t stress enough how important tracking is, because it gives you valuable information.  If you just say that you typically eat healthy, what does that really mean?  When you start tracking every bite that goes into your mouth, you’ll have a better understanding of how your nutrition is affecting your weightloss.

One very common issue I see is people under-eating.  Many people think that if they want to lose weight, they really need to restrict their calories.  Initially, this will probably work.  They will drop a few pounds, but then everything stops and they can’t figure it out.  I see people talking about 1200 calorie diets all the time.  That is way too low for almost everyone.  Unless you are very petite to begin with and are very light, you need to eat more than that.  What happens when you under-eat is that you slow your metabolism down, which is the exact opposite of what you want to be doing.  When you properly fuel your body, your metabolism will get faster, helping you shed the unwanted pounds.  So if you are under-eating, then slowly add back in calories every week.  You don’t want to make huge jumps, but if you increase what you’re eating by 200-300 calories every 2 weeks, that is a good place to start.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may be over-eating and not realize it.  When you start tracking your nutrition, you’ll realize how much those “little” snacks really do add up.  It’s incredibly easy to eat 400-500 extra calories a day without it really seeming like much.  If you’re going out to eat, you’ll also notice that calorie counts are extremely high.  The best advice I can give here is that you need to plan your meals ahead of time, so you know exactly what you’ll be eating, and track everything to make sure you stay on track.  Sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re actually just thirsty.  So try drinking a tall glass of water first, and see if that quenches your hunger.  Staying hydrated will help keep you from over-eating.

Breaking Plateaus – Your Workouts

After your nutrition, the next place I’d look to help break a plateau is your workout routine.  First off, are you working out regularly?  Regular exercise has a ton of benefits for your body, including helping you manage your weight and keep your metabolism high.  So if you’re trying to lose weight and you’re not working out, I highly recommend you start exercising.  If you have been working out for a while and are still hitting that plateau, then it’s time to take a good hard look at your current routine.

Do your workouts challenge you?  Do you get a good variety in your workouts?  When you do the same exact workouts over and over, your body adapts and doesn’t change as much.  You’ll start seeing smaller incremental progress from your workouts the more you do them.  That’s why it’s critical to mix it up with your workouts and get some variety in. That’s why I love Beachbody workout programs.  Many of them offer a great amount of variety, like P90X3, and there are also lots of options.  So no matter what your fitness level, there’s a program for you that can challenge your body to make changes.

Even if you don’t switch your workout program, it’s also important to make sure you’re really pushing yourself in the workouts.  Are you just going through the motions?  Or are you challenging yourself and pushing hard through the moves?  It can be easy to get complacent and not really go hard.  So check yourself in this area when you’re working out and make sure you’re focused and going hard.

Breaking Plateaus – Other Areas Causing Weight Retention

If your nutrition and workouts are spot on, then there are still other areas that can cause you to hit a plateau.  The two biggest ones I’ve noticed are your stress level and how much sleep you get.  If you are sleep deprived and have a high stress level, your hormones can work against you.  Your cortisol levels will be very high and that can cause you to retain body fat and weight.  It can also lead to unhealthy eating as well.  So these two things can play a big role in hitting a plateau.  Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night if you can and use exercise to deal with your stress.  I know it’s not easy, but these can really be hurdles to overcoming your weightloss plateau.

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly why you’ve stopped losing weight, but hopefully this has given you some ideas on how to break a plateau if you’re there.  Feel free to leave a comment if you’re currently in a plateau or if you have other tips on how you get past plateaus yourself!

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