Q: What is the best way to break a plateau? I’ve lost 40 pounds, but now I’m stuck. Any suggestions?
A: Plateaus are a fact of weight-loss life, so don’t get down on yourself. In fact, now is exactly the time to pat yourself on the back: Look at how far you’ve come and be proud of it! Then you can determine if this is really a plateau — or if you have simply reached your ideal weight.
If you’re still 70 pounds more than what most weight tables recommend for your height, chances are you’ve reached a plateau. If you’re merely 10 pounds more, then it might be time to accept your weight. In between? Here are some things to consider before deciding if you should lose more weight:
- Are you weight training? Muscle weighs more than fat, but looks a heck of a lot better.
- Where’s the weight? If it’s around your middle, you could be at risk for heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
- Do you show signs of having high cholesterol, high blood pressure or high glucose?
- Is it realistic to eat any less or exercise any more?If, based on your answers to these questions, you think you’ve truly hit a plateau, try these modifications to your fitness regimen:
- Shake up your exercise routine When muscles become used to the same activities they become more efficient. Translation: They burn fewer calories.
- Intensify your workouts Adding a few extra minutes to your routine, occasionally picking up the pace or tackling a hill or two can help you burn extra calories.
- Lift weights You’ll build more muscle, which burns more calories than fat, even when you’re sleeping.
- Check your eating habits Sometimes when the pounds start coming off, we’re not as diligent as we were at the beginning. Portions start to creep up in size, and more sweets find their way into our diets. A food log is a good way to keep track of what you’re putting in your mouth.