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Escaping the Dreaded Doldrums of Weight Loss Plateaus

Aug 17, 2007
Here's a problem that has reared it's ugly head for all of us on our way to our healthiest, fittest, and most gorgeous/handsome weight. We have been following along on our chosen plan, doing the workouts and choosing what and how much and how often we eat very carefully and making noticeable progress. But, after a while, for no apparent reason, we seem to get stuck. The scales don't go down or the inches don't decrease or the waist to hips ratio won't budge and we stay right where we are for a week. Then another one. Then another.. And for some time, no matter how we stay the course, we seem to be stuck on this plateau.

And that's the thing. We keep doing what we have been doing, maybe even a bit more of it, and the body has adjusted in its own way. Maybe we have been eating so little the body has gone into starvation mode and is conserving energy and you need a couple of days of higher calorie intake to reassure it. Maybe you need to change the proportions of good carbohydrates to protein one way or the other. Maybe your eat-o-meter has crept up a notch or two and you need to take it back down. Or measure what you plan to eat for the day into five or six portions and keep the metabolism stoked by eating every 2-3 hours.

Maybe you need to vary your exercise routine so different parts of the body are more involved. So if your aerobic exercise is centered on brisk walking or jogging, and adding in some hills doesn't work, try some serious swimming for a while. Add in periods of high intensity. If you're walking, add in steep hills or steps, taken fast. If you're jogging, add some sprints of a minute or two at a time. Just don't let your body get too comfortable doing the same thing all the time. You need to challenge it a bit or it stops progressing.

If your job keeps you sitting or standing largely in one place, try adding in short, five minute bursts of activity every half hour to forty-five minutes. Do it long enough and hard enough to raise your body temperature. You could jog in place, do some squats, do some pushups, do some reverse pushups, practice your high front, back, and side kicks, do some V crunches, do something to get some muscle activity going, even isometrics, for about five minutes. You'll be amazed how much more work you get done and how energized you'll feel. This is in addition to your regular workouts, of course.

If you're not doing muscle-building body weight or other weight training, learn how to do it and get started. If you are, ramp up the weight or number of repetitions to give the body more to do. Make sure all your body parts are being trained. For example, you might try putting in more work on your core if you've been concentrating on your legs, really push those pushups, or do weighted pull ups.

If you haven't been paying much attention to your balance and flexibility training, try making that a bigger part of your routine. Yoga, tai chi, and related exercises have enormous benefits that may not be related to bigger muscles but do wonders for your quality of life.

If you haven't been getting enough sleep lately, try sacking out for a full 7 1/2 - 9 hours. Sleep deprivation has definite effects on weight gain that could be counteracting all your good efforts.

Does this mean you need to do all of this at once? Nah, just pick two or three things where you either seem to have slipped a bit off course and correct those or areas where you seem to always be doing things the same way and start with those. To get out of your rut, get out of your rut.
About the Author
Di Roberts runs a weight loss website that covers the many facets of weight management. You can enjoy reading articles, tips, news, and often irreverent commentary about weight loss on her site at: http://weightlossupdates.wordpress.com/
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