Fitness plateaus are a sign of progress
You've been exercising regularly, trying to get that summer body ready.
Your clothes are looser, people are noticing and, most importantly, you feel healthier and more confident than you've ever felt before.
Then, a couple months go by and your progress comes to a screeching halt.
Hitting a fitness plateau can be frustrating, but it's a positive sign that you are making progress in your programme. You just need to take your training and meal planning to the next level.
Plateaus usually occur after initial weight loss and again when you need to lose those last few pounds.
Plateaus can last several months, which can be very discouraging, especially when you've been working hard, however they are not unusual.
As your body composition and weight change, so do your nutritional and fitness needs. Below, a few ways to address specific problems:
• You are losing muscle
When your weight goes down you lose fat, but also a small amount of muscle. Losing muscle can lower your metabolic rate and it is critical to weight loss.
Try adding a strength-training programme along with your existing cardio programme to give your metabolism a boost and help you preserve and build muscle.
• Your caloric needs may need to be adjusted
You may need fewer calories to sustain or surpass your goals — this is normally the main cause of a weight-loss plateau. Exercise burns calories, but you won't see the results you want if you are taking too many calories in.
It may be that you are indulging in high-calorie foods more than you should; track what you are eating.
You'd be surprised how the random bread ends from our children's lunches, or treats at the office add up.
You can use various apps to help you; taking pictures of your meals is another great way to keep your eye on your intake.
• Eating too little
This can also cause you to hit a wall with your weight loss.
If you are not giving your body enough of the right foods, your body will sense that it is not getting enough food and your metabolism will slow down and hold on to fat.
Be sure not to skip meals or go below 1,200 calories unless recommended by your physician.
• Medical conditions
Certain medications, quitting smoking and problems with your thyroid or adrenal gland can all affect your weight loss goals.
Please see your doctor if you suspect that these or any others are hindering your goals.
Accept that plateauing can be normal, but does not have to be permanent.
Try tweaking your diet and exercise programme, reaffirm your commitment, regain the determination you had when you began and B-Active For Life!
Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than a decade of experience. Check her out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/B.ActiveForLife