We've all been there: You're on a roll. You've lost weight, gotten stronger, and are feeling strong and confident. You think "I have finally conquered my weight problem and nothing is going to come between me and my favorite jeans!"
And then it happens, we hit a plateau. We don't start gaining weight but we stop losing it. And not because we stopped working out or have gone back to our old eating habits, but because our body has seemed to become adapt to what we are doing.
It doesn't seem fair, but quite honestly, it's just our bodies way to tell us to try something new, to shake up the workout, or perfect our eating habits even better. And in the long run, it will only make you stronger and healthier (and looking even better)!
So what do you do? It doesn't necessarily mean you need to work harder or spend more days at the gym, but you do need to make a few changes. Here are a few ideas that may help:
1.) Spice it up. If you don't vary your exercise program your body will eventually run on cruise control. Your body is so smart, if you continue to do the same workout it will find ways to do the same exercise routine and require less effort. Try new cardiovascular activities or a new workout video, or use free weights if you always use machines for strength training. Do a run/walk instead of just walking. Do a lower intensity workout and exercise longer. Changes in your routine will surprise the body and force it to adapt, bringing you to new levels of fitness.
2.) Take an active rest. Take a week off from your structured workouts, and instead take a walk with a friend, play ball with the kids, or do yoga. Active rest rejuvenates the mind and the body and allows for overworked muscles to rest and rebuild. You will return to exercise stronger and ready for new challenges.
3.) Adjust your diet. As you become more fit and stronger, your body's metabolism may increase and so will your calorie needs. If you hit a plateau, evaluate how much you are eating. You may need to eat more than you have in the past for your body to continue to increase its fitness level.
4.) Vary the intensity. While varying the type of activity is important, it is also important to change intensity of your workouts. Specify different days of the week as low, medium or high-intensity days. Try interval training work at a low intensity for a couple of minutes and increase to a high intensity for a couple of minutes, and repeat.