Don’t Stop Now! Tips for Getting Over Your Weight-Loss Plateau

You've been carefully dieting and exercising for months now.

Maybe you've lost a lot of weight and feel healthier in your daily life. Yet, when it comes to losing those last few pesky pounds, you're at a loss about how to keep going. Don't worry! You might have hit a temporary weight-loss plateau, but there are plenty of strategies for how you can break through and continue losing weight.

Getting Over a Weight-Loss Plateau

You’ve dropped a lot of weight, you’re feeling great, but then, the plateau hits. Weeks go by and the scale doesn’t budge. Here are science-based strategies for getting over a weight-loss plateau from the faculty at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

The three pillars of the Pritikin Program are exercise, the Pritikin Eating Plan and a focus on mind/body/education. If you are nurturing each of these three areas of your life, you're on the right path toward safe and lasting weight loss. It can be discouraging to keep following the same process and not see the same level of results. But don't give up! Keep your eye on the prize and remember how good you will feel to be at a healthy weight. If you need an extra boost, get back to the Pritikin​ Longevity Center, but if not, use these four tips to get over your weight-loss plateau:

1. Consume fewer calories than you burn

One of the primary reasons for a weight-loss plateau is that the calories you take in are equal to those you are burning through your regular physical activity. Essentially, you can't keep losing weight if you aren't working off more calories than you're taking in. With this in mind, you need to further reduce your calories and/or work out harder or with more frequency. You want to aim for the sweet spot: Burn more calories than you eat.

A simple way to see if your eating habits are keeping you from shedding those extra pounds is to ask yourself these five questions. If your answer is no to one of or more of them, work toward turning your answer into a firm yes.

  1. Are you avoiding highly processed, dry foods? This may include dried cereals, breads, chips, cookies and pretzels.
  2. Are you avoiding high- or empty-calorie drinks, such as alcohol, fruit juices and sodas?
  3. Do you dine out less than four times a week?
  4. Do most of your meals contain foods prepared without sugar, fat or salt?
  5. Are you limiting your meat intake to less than four ounces a day?

2. Go wild on vegetables

Vegetables are among the best foods you can eat to promote healthy weight loss, so go wild with them! Say yes to every color vegetable, from dark green to red to orange to yellow. It's even okay to green light starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and yams. Just make sure to steer clear of vegetable juices as the juicing process strips essential fibers and nutrients from the veggies.

As we teach in our education program at the Pritikin Longevity Center, add more vegetables to every meal. For example, you might double the amount of veggies you put on your sandwiches, toss in a few extra vegetables to your soups and only order nutrient-rich veggie sides when you're out to eat.

When you go out for lunch or dinner, fill up on a vegetable-heavy salad before your entree or in place of one. This way, you'll be less likely to fill up on a calorie-rich meal. When it comes to dressing, however, Dr. Jay Kenney, Nutrition Research Specialist at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa, said you need to be cautious.

"Use a dressing with lots of vinegar but little or no oil," Dr. Kenney advised. "Beans and whole grains are good additions to salads, but leave off croutons, fatty meats, mayonnaise salads, creamy dressings and cheese. They can dramatically increase the calorie density and undo most of the benefits of eating a salad."

3. Add some spice to your routine

Maybe you've been diligently doing cardio at least five times a week and strength training two to three times a week. Have you even included one bout of interval training? If so, it may be time to mix up your workout routine and movement patterns. After all, when you move your body differently and work out different muscles, your workout becomes more challenging, even if you are exercising for the same amount of time or with the same frequency.

For example, maybe the chilly winter weather drove you to solely use the treadmill or elliptical for your cardio workout the past few months. While not detrimental, maybe you could try swimming or signing up for high-intensity workout classes, such as Zumba or kickboxing. Not only will you be working out different parts of your body, thus increasing your heart rate, but you can have fun while doing it!

Other ways to keep shedding pounds and switching up your routine include exercising at different times of the day or trying something new every week. You might want to stick with the consistency of using your step climber, but want to start playing tennis on the weekends or start your days with a relaxing yoga session. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you're adding a little bit of fun to your everyday routine to keep you interested and moving through that weight-loss plateau.

4. Listen to your hunger cues

An essential part of moving pass the weigh-loss slump is listening to your body's hunger cues. In a webinar about getting past this plateau, Director of Nutrition Kimberly Gomer discussed three helpful nutritional and exercise tips. Gomer's third and final piece of nutritional advice centers around learning to listen to your body's signs that "it's time to eat."

She says to constantly ask yourself, "Am I hungry and how do I feel?" If hunger is on a one to 10 range, with one being famished and 10 being "Thanksgiving dinner"-stuffed, Gomer says you never want to sit down to eat when you're at a one because you will consume everything in sight. On the other hand, you don't want to start eating at a nine or 10 because you'll be too full. The sweet spot is to start when you're at a three and stop when you reach a six or seven.

"That last 10 pounds, or that plateau may be that you're eating really healthy food, but you're really overeating even the healthy food," Gomer explained. "Pay attention to hunger and satiety. And that may be the key you need to get off of your plateau."

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