03.13.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness
By Becky Johnson, Certified Personal Trainer (ACE); IBNFC Certified Nutrition Coach
After reading Jane’s great blog about weight loss plateaus yesterday, I thought I would look at it from a fitness point of view. In January, I wrote about busting through plateaus. This week, I will expand on some of the topics covered in that blog post.
Reassess Your Habits
Look back at food and exercise journals (because you are doing that, right?). Make sure you haven’t eased up on your standards, letting yourself get by with larger portions or less exercise. You may need to go back to measuring your food. Take a look at your weekly schedule and see where you can fit in one more workout. Reassess your daily habits. Record what emotions and feelings trigger certain food binges and create strategies to avoid them.
Try yoga to help avoid stress eating - and it can be a great workout! Studies show that yoga actually lowers levels of stress hormones.
Rev Up Your Workout
When trying to drop those last few pounds, it is often an issue of intensity that is causing your weight loss plateau. Exercising a little harder can give you that extra boost. It seems that the best stimulus for breaking through plateaus is to make the muscles work harder. After a while they get used to the routine and become very efficient at doing the same thing. Keep your muscles guessing and mix up your activity.
High intensity training might be the edge you need. For example, during your regular treadmill workout include a few intervals at a higher speed or a higher incline. Keep the intensity up for a minute or two then drop it down to recover….and repeat several times during your workout. Additional exercise intensity will cause you to burn more calories. Also by increasing the amount of time you workout by an additional 15 to 30 minutes can help.
Change Your Exercise Routine
Preserving, building and maintaining muscle mass is very important in reaching a healthy weight and muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat. The way you exercise can play a vital role in how you burn fat. Doing the same routine for too long allows your body to adapt and work efficiently. The human body is an amazing piece of machinery, capable of adapting to just about any circumstance or stimulus. When you start a new exercise program your body responds because it needs to make many changes to adjust to different workloads so your muscles are rebuilding themselves and this consumes all kinds of calories. But at some point your body will stop adapting to this new workload and, as a result, burn less calories for the same activity. By shaking things up a bit and varying your program by introducing new elements, you’ll likely find yourself off the plateau and back on the road to progress. If you have been doing the same routine for 4-6 weeks, it’s time for a change. You can change the exercises or just increase reps and/or sets, or change how many days a week you workout.
A plateau is an opportunity to reassess where you are in your weight loss journey. Are you trying to maintain or still want to lose that last little bit? If you chose to stop, turn your focus to maintaining what you’ve achieved and keeping your body healthy. If you would like to continue to lose, try implementing some of these ideas to get the weight loss moving again.
Stay healthy and fit,
As always, please post any questions that you may have and I can address them in a future blog.
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