Question of the Month: I’ve hit a plateau

Question: I’ve been exercising and eating right and have lost 20lbs, I still have 10lbs to go and I’ve hit a plateau. What can I do?

My Answer: It’s normal to hit plateaus when losing weight. It’s a result of losing muscle mass associated with eating less calories. When we lose muscle mass our basal metabolic rate (the rate at which we burn calories at rest) goes down. This
means that in order to lose more weight, it’s necessary to eat even less, not a good prospect in my opinion.

The other option (and the one I prefer) is to add some resistance training to your workout program. Doing some sort of regular resistance training will add back some of the muscle lost through dieting and then add some more, especially if you’re lifting
heavy. By adding more muscle, you’ll be able to increase your metabolism, allowing you to eat the same amount while losing weight.
If you are already practicing resistance training and have hit a plateau, then try increasing your cardiovascular training. My favorite way is to add some interval training into your weekly mix. This is where you can vary the intensity of your work
intermittently. For example,

  • Warm-up for 15 minutes. Starting at an easy intensity and build to moderate intensity for those 15-minutes.
  • Begin your interval training by completing 30-seconds of hard work followed by 90-seconds of easy-to-moderate work for 10 sets.
  • Finish your workout with a 10-minute easy cooldown.

So now you’re thinking “I’m doing all of that and the weight is still not coming off!” It could be that your diet isn’t what it should be.  It mya be time to clean things up, or at least get an accurate picture of what you’re actually eating. I always have
my clients do a food journal. It’s very simple, you write down EVERYTHING that has calories that goes into your mouth! (This includes food and fluids) Write down the amount (be honest), the time of the day, your hunger on a scale of 1-10 (1 is not hungry, 10 is starving). Write down also how you felt after you ate and how you ate (standing at the fridge, watching TV, while reading etc).
Once you have a better idea of what you’re putting in your mouth, then it’s time to see what’s going wrong and where you could improve. Remember, a diet high in fruits and veggies, low in saturated fats, high in fiber and whole-grain products, has low-fat dairy products like yogurt and cheese and incorporates lean protein sources will always be the best way to eat. Here’s the key…Everything in moderation! Moderation leaves room for the occasional treat, so without being ‘perfect’ you can still enjoy your favorite foods, keeping in mind that calories do count, so enjoy your treats in small portion sizes.

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