Every dieter’s experienced it: The dreaded weight loss plateau. You’ve been cruising along smoothly for months, and suddenly, your weight loss stops. Plateaus can be incredibly frustrating. You may not feel as though you’ve made any changes to your diet and fitness routine, but you’ve stopped dropping the weight. If you’ve hit a plateau, it’s time to check and recheck your behavior so you can jump-start your weight loss and get back in the game. Let’s look at some ways you can increase the effectiveness of your diet plan, so that you can continue to drop weight.
Revisit your food journal
Beginning dieters are often advised to keep a food journal, so that they can stay aware of what they’re eating each day. Often, though, as weight loss picks up, the food journal falls by the wayside. When you hit a plateau, it may be time to start writing down everything you eat again. You may find that certain foods trigger small binges that are holding you back, that you’re eating more calories than you’d estimated, or that you’re right on target. Keeping a food journal for a week or two will provide you with the information you need to start getting back on track.
Measure your portion sizes carefully
Once you’ve been dieting for awhile, it’s tempting to stop counting calories and measuring portion sizes. You’ve got the hang of the system, after all, and you understand the correct portion sizes for most of the foods that you eat. If you hit a plateau, however, it may be time to reevaluate your portion sizes and start to measure and count again. It only takes a few extra calories per day to stall your weight loss plan. You’ll quickly end up maintaining your current weight instead of dropping the pounds you want to lose.
Switch to a different physical activity
If you find yourself skipping workouts, having trouble dragging yourself to the gym or simply not exercising as much as you need to for weight loss, it may be time to consider switching up your physical activity. If you’ve been jogging, consider swimming or hiking instead. Regular cardiovascular exercise is key to weight loss, so choose a physical activity that you enjoy and will look forward to doing, instead of one that you hate the thought of. This will make it easier to exercise on a regular basis.
Check your food labels
Take the time to check your food labels thoroughly, even if they’re foods you’re familiar with. Manufacturers change package sizes from time to time, which could make a difference in calorie counts, fat content and more. If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, it may be time to assess the foods that you consume on a regular basis and re-read their labels. You may be surprised to learn that a serving size has changed, or that a food simply has more fat, calories or sugar than you’d remembered it having. Careful calorie counting is one important key to weight loss, and label reading is an important part of this process.
Diet plateaus are almost always temporary, so don’t stress too much about yours. Instead, focus on healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating cleanly and getting regular cardiovascular exercise. It’s only a matter of time before your weight begins to drop again, and you’ll soon be well on your way to achieving your weight loss goal.