Have you been eating right, exercising regularly, and still, you're not seeing progress? Weight-loss plateaus are normal, especially when you're getting close to your goal weight, but they can be so frustrating.
Before fitness trainer Jaime Morocco shares her six suggestions for busting through a weight-loss plateau, make sure you've actually hit one. There are many ways to measure progress besides the scale. So even though the numbers may not be moving (or maybe they're even increasing), check out your body composition, body measurements, how strong you feel, and how your clothes fit. You may have decreased your body fat percentage and increased muscle, and a regular scale won't measure that.
If you're truly not seeing progress, Jaime said, "Want to know the #1 reason I see plateaus occur? ACCOUNTABILITY and failure to track all BLT (bite's licks and tastes — I got this acronym from the amazing @soheefit by the way)." If you've truly hit a weight-loss plateau, here are Jaime's suggestions:
- Decrease calories consumed: The calorie deficit that worked for you in the past may not work now, so try decreasing your daily calories "by 50 to 200."
- Increase exercise: It may be time to step it up a notch and do an extra workout per week, lengthen your workout, or try a new workout. If you've been doing tons of weight training, add in some cardio or "add 20 minutes of HIIT." Mixing things up can spark progress.
- Increase NEAT: NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, and it's the calories you burn moving around throughout the day (not through exercise). Increasing NEAT will increase your metabolic rate, so if you sit all day, make a point to get up and walk around a few minutes every hour, take a walk during your lunch break, and have an after-dinner dance party to The Fitness Marshall.
- Be honest with yourself: This is a big one! Are you tracking your calories accurately, including the half a piece of toast your kid didn't finish, or the extra fries you grabbed from your husband's dinner? All those extra bites can add up to an "additional 200 calories." Maybe you're eyeballing what one cup of pasta looks like instead of using measuring cups or using a food scale. You don't want to be obsessive about it, but you definitely want to be honest.
- Consider a break: If you've been "dieting" for a while, "Give your body a break. You can 'reverse diet' your way back to [a] maintenance (or more) level of calories by slowly increasing week over week as a means to restore metabolic efficiency so that you can successfully lose the weight in the long term."
- Talk to your doctor: Hormones could affect your weight-loss goals, so speaking to your doctor or having some tests done (full thyroid panel, for example) could rule out those issues.
One more thing to consider is having realistic expectations. If you're struggling with those last five pounds, or trying to get your body fat down to a certain percentage, it may not be possible without extreme measures. Don't compare yourself to the "perfectly" lean bodies you see on Instagram, because they're either fake, thanks to Photoshop, or showing certain angles in optimal lighting.
Or, as Beachbody trainer Autumn Calabrese shares, those people diet and exercise for four or more months straight for a competition, only look like that for one day, and only post photos of themselves "stage ready," and not "life ready." She reminds us to keep a "realistic image in your mind and as your goal, because walking around stage ready every day all year just doesn't happen."