Perhaps the most frustrating point in everyone’s weight loss journey is the dreaded plateau. You’ve worked so hard, cleaned up your diet, you’re exercising every day, and you’re just stuck. Those last pesky pounds will not budge. Fortunately, this is common and there are some simple tricks that will work to get you past the plateau, as long as you work at it.
Break the routine
We talk a lot about the value of routines, but there are times when the routine can actually deter you from achieving your goals. Routines help us to establish healthy habits. We get into a rhythm that keeps us working out and eating right every day. It’s just easier. This very rhythm that helps you stay motivated is a major contributor to the plateau. Your body gets comfortable when your routine stays relatively the same day in and day out. If you’re not seeing results or if your exercise routine isn’t challenging you anymore it is time to amp it up. If you’re just doing cardio, add weights (more on that over at the benefits of lifting weights blog.) If the treadmill is your thing, add some incline and speed it up a bit. If you’re already lifting weights, bump the weight up a bit and add on some reps. You don’t have to go ham, you just have to change it up for your body to respond.
Reevaluate the calorie intake
I know. It feels like you have to watch everything you eat all the time. You’ve cleaned up your diet, you’ve made a lot of sacrifices, and the stubborn pounds stay on. The funny thing about food is that it works differently for everyone. Some people’s bodies handle carbs like a champ, some bulk around the middle with a higher carb intake. As you continue on your fitness journey, you must refine your diet based on what is working for you. If you notice certain foods give you more energy, take note. If certain foods cause you to bloat, reduce it in your diet. At Fit Farm, we often say food is your fuel, but finding the fuel that works best for your engine takes a little attention to detail. So, get out your nutrition notebook and start documenting how food makes you feel. It could be that a few tweaks are all you need to get over the hump and reach that weight-loss goal.
Increase protein and fiber
It’s well known that protein is a powerhouse for the exerciser’s diet. The thermic effect of food refers to the metabolic increase that happens as you digest food and our good friend protein boosts your body’s ability to burn calories by 20-30%! It also helps you to feel fuller and more satisfied for a longer period of time. And, as if that weren’t enough, protein also guards your hard-earned muscles against atrophy. Just be sure to increase your intake of lean proteins and expand on your protein types. If you’ve been leaning on chicken, give fish a try. And don’t ignore nuts, hummus, and legumes for a healthy snack. Speaking of legumes, fiber intake is also crucial for weight loss. You want to shoot for at least 30 grams of fiber per day and you can get that from fresh fruits and vegetables. Apples, strawberries, raspberries, exotic fruits, and dark, leafy vegetables are all very high fiber and also add a lot of color to your plate (check out this complete list of fiber-friendly foods over at the Eat This, Not That blog.)
More shut-eye, less stress
We are huge proponents of sleep at Fit Farm. Sleep is so insanely beneficial to your body, as we outlined here. A body low on sleep doesn’t have time to properly repair and reset hormone levels in the body, which are essential to performing at and feeling your very best. Stress is also a detriment to weight loss, and it goes hand-in-hand with lack of sleep. When you’re stressed, your body releases increased amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can throw your weight loss plans completely out of whack as it encourages fat storage across your midsection. De-stressing isn’t always easy; life keeps coming at you no matter what. But, the one thing we can control is how we react to the stressors in our lives. I really love this list from Dr. Sheila Patel at The Chopra Center, which outlines 7 simple ways to bring calm to your life. Meditation and deep breathing can bring focus and clarity to your day and can be done at home, at the office, or even in your car. If that’s not your thing, I also recommend journaling. It’s so important to document your progression along the way. Not only does it get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, it allows you to reflect on your growth as an individual over time.