You increased your exercising and decreased your calories each day and most likely saw the pounds drop when you stepped on the scale for the first couple of months. Now, you have 15 more pounds to lose and the scale is not budging. It is common to hit a weight loss plateau and just requires some changes to your diet and exercise routine. Before you get discouraged and completely give up, try these tips for getting back on the weight loss wagon.
1. Track your food in a diary. This is the best way to get back in check with yourself and figure out what your diet may be lacking in terms of nutrition. If you write all your food down and realize that every single meal is very high in carbohydrates, and low in protein and vegetables, it is time to make some changes. Aim for more meals with mostly greens and vegetables, with a side of whole grains.
2. Count your daily calories. It may be harder to lose weight the longer you diet since your metabolism starts to slow down, so you may need to drop 100 to 200 calories each day to beat the plateau. On the other hand, it is important to consume enough calories, especially if you are increasing your exercise time. If you are not giving your body enough calories, chances are your metabolism will really slow down and you will be unable to burn fat.
3. Switch up your exercise routine. If you have been doing the same workout since you started your weight loss program, it is time to switch it up. Your body will get used to the same 45 minutes on the elliptical so you will no longer see results. Try adding intervals to your cardio which means increasing the speed and resistance for short periods of time during your workout. If you only do cardio, it is time to add weight training into your regimen. If the weight machines at the gym intimidate you (like they do me), bring a friend to teach you, hire a personal trainer, or try a strength group fitness class.
3. Pick your liquor wisely. If you have been losing weight, you may be inclined to reward yourself with a few cocktails. This is okay, but be sure to stick with drinks that are low in sugar and around 100 calories such as light beer or a vodka mixed with seltzer. Drinks like Margaritas and Cosmopolitans are loaded with sugar (and may give you more of a hangover).
4. Keep trigger foods out of site. If there are foods that you must eat as soon as you see them, keep them out of your work desk and home. We tend to mindlessly eat when stressed out at work, or at night while watching television so it is important to keep healthy snacks on hand. While foods such as almonds and dark chocolate are known as healthy snacks, it is important to watch portion sizes, as they can be high in calories if you overdo it. Make your kitchen off limits after dinner to avoid any late night binges.
5. Be patient. If you feel like you are doing everything right and the weight loss is not coming off as fast as you wish, do not give up. Weight loss is a slow process, and making the changes above will help to speed things up. If you have an off day where you fell off of your healthy diet bandwagon, jump right back on the next day and do not beat yourself up. The weight loss will happen if you are eating right and exercising, and when it does, you will feel amazing.