Have you been eating healthy and working out hard, yet find yourself stuck at a certain number on the scale or fitness level and cannot understand why? You may have hit a plateau. Here are a few effective things you can do to get out of it and reach that health and fitness goal you’re striving for!
1. Calories Count!
Don’t get me wrong, I am the last person to count calories, but they do come into handy when trying to break a plateau or lose the last 5 to 10 pounds. Even when eating a healthy, whole, plant-based diet, you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. Pay attention to the types of calories you are eating. Fats can be a calorie culprit. 138 calories for a tablespoon of oil can easily add up. While it’s not healthy to cut out all fats (fat is essential for brain development, healthy skin and reducing inflammation), keep your eye on exactly how much you are consuming on a daily basis. Try consuming more plant-based fats, like nuts, seeds and avocados, which are more filling than other oils, and focus on eating mindfully.
You’re at the gym, day in and day out. Working harder than ever—yet you still can’t seem to lose weight. While there can be many factors at play, there are two main points to consider. First, are you taking breaks? If you’re over-training and not giving yourself active rests, your body may be producing too much cortisol (stress hormone) which will stop weight loss and strength gains in their tracks. Take breaks and switch up your routine. Try switching up your workout by trying new machines and repetitions, or attempt to do a functional workout like squats, push-ups and plank using your own body weight. If you need inspiration, find a good personal trainer to help you get more creative.
Getting enough rest and time to recover is essential when losing weight and breaking plateaus. Not getting quality sleep may lead to an increase of the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to weight gain.1 Get into a healthy sleep routine. Using an eye mask or earplugs may come in handy if you live in a noisy area. 7 to 8 hours is an ideal range of sleep, depending on your own body chemistry.2 Hitting the sheets 10:30 p.m. or earlier, if possible, will allow your body to reach its natural delta-phase, which is deep, quality rest. You will feel more energetic and uplifted the following day—I promise!
Overall, it’s evident that breaking a plateau and reaching your goals takes planning and effort. Identifying which area of your routine may need a little more focus and planning is crucial. The combination of sleep, proper food intake and mixing up your exercise routine will allow you to bust through your plateau, reach your goal and thrive! Share your experiences below (before and after using these tips) and identify which element you found helped you best!
- Kondracki NL. (2012). The Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain — Research Shows Poor Sleep Quality Raises Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk. Today’s Dietitian 14 (6); 48. Accessed 8/20/13 from http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/060112p48.shtml
- National Sleep Foundation (2013). How much sleep do adults need? Accessed 8/20/13 from http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/white-papers/how-much-sleep-do-adults-need