Are you experiencing a plateau in your physical fitness and looking for new exercise?
The first step is to stop focusing on the bathroom scale. Often a change in the scale reflects the pounds of body fluid you lose and gain every day rather than how much fat you've lost or gained. Also, because muscle weighs more than fat, you can lose inches of fat without losing weight.
So if you can't rely on the scale to tell you how you're doing week to week, what can you count on? Many experts recommend a measuring tape or a tight pair of jeans.
But don't go to extremes. Don't keep trying on those jeans or measuring yourself every week. Instead, check your progress once every four weeks and chart the results. This will give you a better idea of how you're doing, and will help keep you from getting frustrated at not seeing dramatic weekly improvements.
Get the Heartbeat Up
Losing weight requires exercise or controlled caloric intake -- and optimally a combination of both. In order to lose one pound of fat, you must burn about 3,500 calories. For most people this process takes at least three to seven days; experts consider one to two pounds a week a reasonable target.
In any weight-loss program, exercise is a crucial part of the formula. If you've stopped losing weight, it may be time to start exercising more or increase your workout intensity. Here are several ways you can alter your training routine to push you past the plateau:
- Add variety. If you've been walking, try cycling or swimming.
- Increase the intensity of your cardiovascular or aerobic exercise by adding short bursts of higher-intensity movement, such as sprinting.
- These intervals should last 30 to 60 seconds and be followed by less intense exercise for two or three times the length of the burst.
- Start by adding one or two of these intervals to your routine, then increase the number as you improve your conditioning.
- Work out with a personal trainer. This may motivate you to pick up your pace.
Watch Your Food Intake
A strict exercise regimen is crucial in a weight-loss program, but the fat won't come off if you're hitting the potato chip aisle on a regular basis. Here are simple dietary changes you can make to help you lose the fat:
- Increase your water intake. Drink a glass before you treat yourself to a second helping or an unnecessary snack. This helps you feel fuller.
- Eat foods that are high in fiber; they, too, help fill you up (the body doesn't digest fiber).
- Eat foods high in vitamins and minerals; they will make you feel energetic and quick witted.
- Re-evaluate your eating habits. Make sure you're controlling portion sizes and making low-fat choices.
Keep Your Chin Up
In the end, you should view hitting a plateau as a good thing. Why? It means your body has less fat to lose, which explains why the weight isn't coming off as readily. And remember: It's best to lose weight slowly and sensibly so you can make changes that you'll keep for life.