Break Through That Plateau

Stay motivated and get back to seeing results.
Persevering through Plateaus

Though it may be discouraging, it's totally normal for your results to slow down after months of constant weight loss. In fact, the National Institutes of Health's guidelines for treating overweight and obesity in adults say there's often a predictable plateau after about six months. Here are eight ways to kick it back into gear.

1. Change your routine
"Eventually, your body will become accustomed to the diet and exercise it's being exposed to," says Thomas Bruno, CSCS. of Training Effects in Grand Canyon, Arizona. Trick your body with new movement patterns like two weeks on the treadmill and then two weeks on the bike, followed by two weeks in the pool.

2. Challenge yourself
"A year into the program I decided I wanted to take up running," says Torry Brouillard-Bruce, who has lost 100.2 pounds.* "I started training for a 5K. and the weight literally started to melt off." Set reasonable goals for yourself that you normally would never think twice about. You're more likely to stick to something if you have a big event, like a marathon, in your future.

3. Keep a food diary
After making progress, it's easy to let your food — and PointsPlus® values — get away from you. "I got back to consistently tracking my food," says Joe Adelantar, who has lost over 40 pounds* but hit a plateau after the first 30. "I had gotten lazy and just kept a general diet diary, but when I stopped losing weight, I started writing down everything to an extreme point."

4. Pump it up
In this case, "it" refers to resistance and frequency. Adelantar began a cardio routine seven days a week (instead of just a few days) and added weight training to his repertoire. Both are great, proven ways to stimulate calorie-burning during downtime.

5. Eat less
"The more weight you lose, the lower your caloric demand will be," says Chris Leavy, CSCS, of Steel Fitness Premier Health and Wellness in Allentown, Pennsylvania. As you lose weight, you'll need fewer calories. So, if you were eating 2,700 calories a day last month, you should try eating 2,500 calories this month.

6. Organize your life
Exercise is fantastic, but if you’re under stress, you may find it harder to lose weight. Maybe you’re subconsciously snacking more or forgetting to track. Make it easier on yourself by minimizing stress and improving your time-management skills.

7. Have realistic expectations
Of course you'd like your weight to melt off overnight, but that's not going to happen, and that's a good thing, too, because it's not healthy. Normal — and healthy — weight loss is about 1 to 2 pounds a week, says Leavy, so don't set a goal to lose 30 pounds the month before your high-school reunion.

8. See a trainer
When you're desperate to lose weight, it's easy to go to the gym and run yourself into the ground on the treadmill or weight machines, but that might be the worst thing for you, warns Bruno. Instead, he suggests consulting a personal trainer who can create a workout plan that's right for you.

*Results not typical

About the Writer

Lisa Freedman lives in a tiny apartment in New York City and has written for Maxim,, Golf Magazine and Prevention. She tries not to gain weight so she can fit in said tiny apartment.

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