How to Break Through a Plateau
It is extremely frustrating when you have been plugging away to lose baby weight, are exercising every day, having your smoothies and eating healthily and all of a sudden everything comes to a screeching halt! You stop losing weight and inches. It’s as if your body has closed up shop and you feel like screaming!
What happened? This halt in your progress is called a weight loss plateau. Plateaus are very discouraging. But they are also very normal, so don’t panic! Everyone will experience a plateau at some point, and with some effort, you can break through it.
There are a few simple reasons why people experience plateaus. One reason is the body’s ability to adapt. That’s when your body gets used to what you’re doing and needs to be pushed a little.
You may need to throw it a curve ball every now and then with a new form of exercise or change your food slightly (a good tip is to use water not milk in your Lose Baby Weight smoothies or do 50/50 – you still have fruit in them so will still be getting around the 250 calories but without the milk will be dropping 50 calories). You have to keep your body guessing!
It is also a good idea to work out your BMR on our caclulater so you can see how many calories and exercise you need each day so you can be more in control of calories in versus out – without being obsessive and calorie counting.
Let’s say you’ve been doing the same 45-minute walk for the last four weeks. You may have noticed that it seems to be getting easier, and you’re not as tired or sweaty as when you began weeks ago. This is because your body is adapting and is no longer physically challenged. You’re stronger and fitter than you were a few weeks ago. You’ve got to step it up to continue to make progress.
When things start to feel easy, you need to give your body a kick up the butt Instead of walking the whole 45 minutes, you could try alternating between walking and jogging for few minutes at a time. Take a different route that includes some steep hills. Or get some ankle weights (1kg each leg) which will give you an extra work out.
Also, don’t be afraid of change or to try something new. How about trying a new class? Instead of walking three times this week, how about walking twice and trying a kickboxing class at a gym? Ask your girlfriends to borrow their old fitness tapes, see if your library has any in its collection, or buy a couple of inexpensive, gently used ones from eBay to try a new workout in your living room while the kiddos nap. Dust off that bike in your garage and go for a ride on the weekend. Find fun activities that challenge your body!
Another big reason we hit plateaus is because we underestimate the amount of calories we’re eating. What about the salad dressing you had at lunch? Did you count the calories that you nibbled while cooking dinner? Or the French fries you sneaked from your kid’s Happy Meal?
Almost everything you ingest contains calories, and after a while they really start to add up. Take an honest look at what you’re eating and drinking. If you think your diet might be the culprit for your plateau, fill out the Lose Baby Weight Food Diary and account for everything you’re eating for a week to discover those “hidden” calories. Remember, you must add up everything! That means the dollop of cream in your coffee, the crusts from your toddler’s peanut butter sandwich … even your evening glass of wine!
Finally, if you haven’t done your strength training workouts up to this point, what are you waiting for? Strength training is an excellent way to zap a plateau because it raises your metabolism. That means you burn calories more efficiently and burn them while resting.
The proof is in the science. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), one pound of muscle consumes 35 to 50 calories per day, where one pound of fat only burns six calories. Don’t worry; strength training will not give you big muscles like the guys. However, it will jump start your metabolism again and change your body composition.
Not only will your body turn into a calorie burning machine, you’ll look smaller too! This is due to muscle being more dense (taking up less space) than fat. Add muscle and you’ll appear smaller and leaner even if the scale doesn’t show any weight loss. So do things like mini push ups, Squats, lift your baby, lift your ankle weight – anything which will build muscle and requires strength – see some good examples here.
Plateaus are discouraging and frustrating, but they’re not the end of the world. Do not give up. Do not stop. You’ve come this far, so keep up the great work and contact us at Lose Baby Weight if you need more help!
And if you need a more detailed plan to follow with shopping lists and daily food plans see our 28 Day Diet & Exercise plan