|"Variety" is the key to keeping off weight (and rolls.)
Q: I’ve been losing weight and working really hard but lately the scale hasn’t changed, how do I break this plateau and get back on track to my weight loss goal?
-T, Skidmore, Ladera Ranch, CA
A: First off, plateauing is an integral part of weight loss. It is your body's way of protecting you for survival purposes. The weight-loss plateau occurs because your body thinks there is a famine and has slowed your metabolism in order to conserve calories. This will happen periodically throughout your weight-loss program. It is also common when one is on a regular weight-training regimen. The body adapts to the routine and needs variety to break fitness plateaus. With that said, a plateau will usually break on its own after about three weeks, but here are a few pointers to help get your metabolism back on track quickly.
Variety: We often get into an exercise routine in which we do the same workout regimen for weeks at a time. Think of it like this: if you do 10 push-ups after not working out for months, you will be sore, but if you do 10 push-ups a day for 10 days in a row, you will no longer be sore. This is because your body adapts to your exercise program, and as it adapts, the workout becomes less challenging and unfortunately, less effective.
The solution is variety. You have to mix up your exercise routine in order to consistently shock your system. Here are a few different ways to mix up your workout:
1. Alternate the weight. One week lift heavy, and the next week lift light.
2. Change the number of repetitions. This usually goes hand in hand with the amount of weight you are lifting: one week you may lift heavy weights performing low repetitions (6-10); the next week lifting light weights doing high repetitions (15-20).
3. Change the exercise for that muscle group you are working. For instance, one week do push ups, the next week do incline chest press, and the following week do a cable chest fly.
Intensity: The best way to speed up your metabolism is to boost the intensity of your training. By picking up the intensity, you'll burn more calories, challenge your body, and force your metabolism to work at a higher level because of all the energy your body needs to complete your exercise routine.
1. Eat more: The first mistake people make is that they tend to eat less. Ninety percent of the time plateaus are caused by your body's survival mechanism of protecting against famine, which is triggered by calorie reduction. The best way to fix this quickly is to give your body a little more food so it feels secure. Vary your calorie intake to keep your body from a plateau; for the next three days vary your calorie intake between 1,800 and 2,400 calories. Then after three days go back down to your low calorie allowance.
2. Reduce your sodium and drink a lot of water: Try to keep your sodium under 1,500 mg a day for as long as you can. You can achieve this by cutting out all processed food from your diet and not adding extra sodium to food for about two weeks. Drink lots of water!
Follow these tips and your weight loss plateau will be broke in no time!! Remember to throw your body a curve regularly; variety and change is crucial for any weight loss and fitness training regime.