By: Amanda Cubello
We've all been there. The first ten pounds came off easy. You got into the swing of your workout routine. Your sets became easier. You even started feeling that infamous endorphin boost everyone talks about, making you actually enjoy going to the gym.
Fast-forward to a few weeks later and your body is in a stand-still. The weight doesn't seem to want to come off and you've stopped gaining muscle, even though your diet and exercise have remained the same.
Welcome to the dreaded and disheartening plateau.
What is a Fitness Plateau?
Over time, our body becomes more efficient at the exercise we do. This causes our bodies to burn less calories for the same activities, slowing down our metabolic rate. This usually happens at the 2-3 month period and can last a week to about a month.
How do you break through a plateau?
Lower your calorie intake: When we lose weight, our body requires less calories, causing a depletion in the amount of weight being lost. The only way to lose actual fat is to get calorie intake lower than calorie expenditure. Aim to decrease your calorie intake by 500 calories. If you think you can decrease your intake a little more, try eating 1200-1400 calories per day.
To help keep yourself consciously aware of the calories you're consuming, try keeping a food log! While it's tedious to write down every meal, it'll help you cut out the hidden calories sneaking into your diet.
Sleep Better: You could be eating right, exercising frequently and still not be getting the results you once were if you're not getting the proper amount of sleep. Sleeps helps to rebuild our muscles, decrease stress, and prepare our mind and bodies for the next day ahead.
When you sleep better, you'll perform better.
Switch up your Workouts: Performing the same exercise for weeks will not only be boring, but your body will adapt to the workouts, making it harder for you to lose the weight. By switching up your gym routine every 6-8 weeks, you're body will be in constant flux, allowing you to burn the maximum amount of calories during your workouts.
While steady cardio (running one speed on the treadmill) will make you sweat, you're only reaching about 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. To help you reach your max heart rate, try incorporating HIIT, or high-intensity interval training into your workouts. The major reason HIIT works so well for dropping body fat is due to the greater calorie burn (or EPOC—excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) that’s maintained after the workout is over, according to The Huffington Post. This means that you're body will continue to burn calories and fat even after your workout is over. By constantly alternating between short bursts of high-intensity and moderate activity, your body will never have time to adapt to the exercises, giving you the ultimate benefits every time you hit the gym.
Stay Hydrated: Water, water, and more water! By keeping your body hydrated, you'll have more energy, flush out toxins, and keep your body feeling fuller for longer -- helping you fight against food cravings and overeating. For the average person, doctors recommend drinking 8-9 cups of water per day.
Cut Carbs: You could be plateauing because of an excess of carb intake. "When you eat more carbohydrate than your body immediately needs, you store the leftovers in your carb piggy bank, known as glycogen," according to Shape Magazine. "And, for every gram of glycogen you stockpile, you also put away about 3 to 4 grams of water." While this may not be noticeable on the scale, the extra carbs will make you feel sluggish and cause bloating, resulting in less effective workouts.
While these tips have the ability to get you back on the weight-loss path, they may not work for everyone. The key is to listen to your body and figure out what works best for you. If the tips don't seem to make an impact, meeting with your doctor or dietician might be the best option. Keep in mind that we all lose weight at a different rate and you're weight loss goal might be unrealistic for your body type.
Remember, everyone's body is different and that's ok! Be proud of your accomplishments and the weight you've already lost.
Fitness is a journey not a destination. Keep being a healthier version of yourself and always be happy with the progress you're making.
By: Amanda Cubello | @amanda_cubello
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Nikki Foxx grew up in the small town of State College and graduated from Penn State University. Itching for bigger things for her life, she moved to Dallas to challenge and evolve her professional career as a Creative Director. She uses her own story of personal, professional and fitness struggles to help motivate others to never give up. Read up on Nikki and see some exclusive photos here.