If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, made progress and then hit a slump where the numbers on the scale refuse to budge, you know how frustrating it can be. Before you give up hope, try incorporating these key strategies into your training schedule to help you push past a plateau. To learn more, we turned to Michael Stout, trainer at Downsize Fitness, for his tips on hitting your weight loss goals – despite a slump in progress.
The first thing to do is recognize how much time and effort you’ve put in so far to achieve the goals that have brought you where you are today, Stout says. “Remember that the journey of weight loss does not occur overnight. Take a look at any physical evidence you have from the beginning of your weight loss journey and compare it to the physical evidence of today,” he advises. Adjust your goals as you see fit and then use the following tips to help move past the weight loss plateau.
Change the variables of exercise
There’s no way to continue making progress if you don’t alter what you’re doing. Once your body gets used to something, losing more weight or building more muscle becomes difficult. “Changing the resistance, speed and difficulty of exercise will aid in changing the composition of the body,” says Stout. Try incorporating new movements and methods of exercise that will recharge your workout. “By doing this, your workouts will show better physical and internal results. Your metabolism will increase, blood pressure and oxygen intake will improve and lean muscle mass will grow as fat is lost,” he explains.
Keep a food journal
Starting a healthy eating plan is one thing – sticking to it is entirely another. You might think you’re still on track, but if the weight is no longer coming off, you might need to readjust. “By keeping a food journal, you will be able to see the quality and quantity of food you consume in a day. The timing of the food consumed also plays a key role in understanding how it either helps or hurts your body,” Stout explains. “Use this tool to see what kinds of food are hurting your body and adjust them to create a healthier diet.”
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
You might not think sleep has an effect on weight loss, but lack of rest can impede progress. “Not getting enough sleep can interfere with the body’s metabolism. It also affects a hormone in your body that regulates feeling hungry when you are full,” Stout says. “Sleep apnea and insomnia have been linked to the inability of moving past a weight loss plateau.” If you’re having trouble sleeping, try changing your diet, exercising at different times of the day and balancing your life (working less, asking for help around the house) — those all can help with the quality and amount of sleep that you get.
Do things that make you happy
Hitting a plateau can lead to depression and doubt, which then creates a vicious cycle. To avoid this, think of things that you really like to do or liked to do when you were younger, advises Stout. “Go outside and take a walk on a sunny day, go for a bike ride or spend time with friends in a place that energizes you,” he says. “Engaging in activities that make you happy will enhance your mood and give you the motivation you need.”
Stress not only makes life more difficult, it also stands in the way of your weight loss goals. “When you’re under a lot of stress your body may actually gain weight rather than losing it due to hormonal imbalance,” Stout explains. To help keep anxiety at bay, he offers the following tips.
- First, tune into your body and be aware of when you begin to feel stressed or anxious.
- Once you find the trigger that causes stress in your life, create goals to help overcome or stop them before they start.
- This will not happen overnight, but until your stress is gone, try meditating, doing breathing techniques to calm your body or get a massage to reduce stress.