Weight Loss 101

Plateaus Happen. Be Patient and Reboot.


I’m going to skip over the obesity statistics for the moment. Let’s just sum it up by saying that every third person in the country is trying to lose weight. It’s not on everyone’s mind—some folks are joyfully roasting chocolate-covered marshmallows over campfires—but with so many millions of American’s dieting, you get tons of people who lose... lose... and then they plateau. The needle gets stuck.  

In spite of your best behavior—eating real food and smaller portions, exercising more—suddenly, your body simply stops losing weight. It’s a very common problem and also very frustrating. Oh Lordy, what’s happening?

The first thing to know is that plateauing is normal, not personal. You might as well accept it and stick with the program. Attitude matters. You need patience and understanding.

Your body is a complicated organism. It can resist change and hold onto additional weight you’re trying to lose. Best spin to put on it? Your body is temporarily at rest, getting ready and stronger for the next set of challenges.

Meanwhile, your most personal trainer is offering a few strategies to help get you over the hump, past the slump, beyond the plateau.

TRAIN HARDER, NOT LONGER. Don’t let this one scare you. Interval training—also known as HIIT, for high-intensity-interval-training—isn’t just for big-time competitive athletes who want to knock it out of the park. It’s for all mortals who want to see that needle on the scale slide south to a lower, lighter number.

To encourage that miracle, do something bold: Pick up the pace of your workout. Make it more intense, for short periods of time. You can do it in a general way: e.g., hike up hills instead of walking on the flats. Or you can do it in a specific way: e.g., pedal a stationary bike at a casual pace for several minutes and then go as fast as you can—harder! harder!—for 30 seconds.  Then back off to an easy pace for 90 seconds... and then max out again for 30 seconds... and repeat for six or eight cycles. There are many formulas out there, waiting to be discovered.

Interval training is one of the hottest trends in fitness today and an excellent way to reboot your weight-loss program. It’s also a great way to make your workouts much more efficient in a lot less time. (Another miracle. You’re welcome.)

LIFT WEIGHTS AND LOVE IT. Another way to power through a weight-loss plateau is to start lifting weights and building muscle. The more muscles you have, the more calories you’ll burn.
But you can’t simply walk, run or bike more to build muscle. You need to get involved in a smart, targeted strength-training program, using weights, machines, resistance bands or your own body weight. (Hello, yoga.)

Find a way to make it fun, or at least tolerable. That’s the key to sticking with it. Routines that feel like a grind rarely last. Focus on proper technique. Learn to lift with awareness, in alignment, without stressing your joints or screwing up your back.

Join a class; buy some time with a trainer; read a book. And breathe! That’s crucial. So is getting involved in a safe routine that delivers a strong flexible body that’s in balance front to back, top to bottom and side to side.

ADD SOMETHING NEW. A body that isn’t losing fat anymore—even though you’re eating well and exercising regularly—is a body that will benefit from a wake-up call, a surprise, a shock with benefits. Why? Because when you call on your body and mind to do something new, to move in different ways, it burns more calories than it’s used to burning. That’s why cross-training—doing a mix of sports instead of focusing on just one—is a well-known way to jumpstart continuing weight loss.

So add something that is challenging and new. Zumba? Soul Cycle? Aerial dancing? That will fire up the engines that move us over obstacles, into action and ignite another round of weight loss, if that’s your goal.

And don’t forget to spend some quality time with friends and family around the campfire—chocolate-covered marshmallows and all.

Adopt the pace of nature: Her secret is patience.  —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America’s longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more.
For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com. © 2017 ENERGY EXPRESS LTD

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