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10 ways to keep your new year’s resolution weight loss plan!

10 ways to keep your new year’s resolution weight loss plan!

Well, you finally made it to 2016, and like most of us, you probably started a new year’s resolution! A new year’s resolution is a great way to improve you and your life. But like everything in life, change isn’t easy, and weight loss goals are even harder. Remember, they don’t have to be! Here are ten ways to help you keep that weight off and keep yourself in good shape!

1. Stay away from the weight scale and measurements.

Let’s face it. When you start to lose weight, unless you are taking progress photos you never SEE a difference, you only feel a difference. Yes you may step on the scale, but most people make the mistake of stepping on it every day or every week. You should keep the weight scale to a minimum, as feeling good is the first step to any successful adventure. Stop caring what you look like, that will come in time. Instead, pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel better after every workout? How do you feel after eating healthier? I can tell you after the first few weeks of working out your body will feel better, you will have more energy, your brain will open up, and you will no longer feel “cloudy,” and the list goes on and on!

2. Don’t go cold turkey.

Cold turkey is nice, it’s even better slapped between two pieces of bread and a piece of lettuce (no mayo, mayo is bad)! But let’s be real, sometimes you may want some mayo, or you may want that cheeseburger. So eat it! Plan for cheat meals, and keep the portions consistent. For example, if on a normal day you have one hundred grams of rice, some veggies, and one hundred grams of lean chicken, just ensure when you have your cheat meal it’s proportionate. Cheat meals are okay. Disproportionate meals are NOT okay! But remember to keep the cheat meals to a minimum (1- 2 times a week)!

3. Eat before grocery shopping.

Studies show that when you’re surrounded by food, and you haven’t eaten you are more inclined to crave food, want food and buy food. Is that surprising? No. Did they need a study; perhaps not? But the fact is this; if you don’t buy unhealthy things, you can’t eat them. Cheat days are okay, snacks are not. So next time you go shopping make sure it’s on a full stomach, it will make it that much easier to walk by the muffins, cookies, and cake, or the fresh smell of cooked pizza and breaded chicken.

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4. Break your days into six meals.

When I hired a health expert I was advised to eat six meals a day. At first I was shocked, I was surprised with the amount of food I was told to consume. The idea was simple; don’t count calories, count fat, sugars, proteins and carbohydrates. The difference between complex carbs and simple carbs, and the importance of proteins and sugars was explained to me. I won’t discuss these differences if you need more information on this stuff a simple Google search will answer your questions.

Anyway, with all this information I broke my day into six meals. One meal every three hours, with a portion of carbs 20-30g, and a portion of protein, 30-40gs and vegetables are free. By the end of the day I wasn’t complaining. Six meals a day actually allows you to eat more in a given day, but it allows your body to burn more efficiently. Think of yourself as a vehicle, when you’re hungry and you wait till lunch, or supper, you consume more because YOU’RE STARVING, and you’ve been running on empty!

But when you break your day into six meals, you eat less because most of the time you still feel “satisfied” so you’re just adding to the fuel. You are basically training your body to know that it doesn’t need to don’t worry, food is COMING. It makes it easier for your body to digest the food, and speeds up your metabolism. Most people think eating fewer calories is the way to lose weight, which is true. You must consume less calories, but eating healthy and eating a balanced meal six times a day allows your body to drop those pounds at a much more efficient rate.

5. Make it an activity, bring a friend, and get a Pre-Workout.

Sometimes going to the gym is hard, but this is a skill you will develop i.e., doing what you don’t want to do because you just got to do it. Some days you may not want to go to the gym, but if you have a friend who you go with you will be more inclined to go. Why? Because what evil person leaves their friend to walk through hell alone? (Just kidding, gym isn’t hell, it is heaven!).

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But in all seriousness, every once in a while time gets rough, you feel unmotivated, fat, unhealthy, maybe not strong enough, etc. It’s always good to have a friend to kick you in the butt and say “get your bum here now!” If you feel you need a little more than that, I suggest a pre-workout. People don’t usually recommend these because of the high caffeine content. But I just discovered one medium Starbucks coffee has 300mg of caffeine! That is more than one scoop of your average Pre-Workout!) So, when |I’m feeling tired, or sluggish, I use my Pre-Workout as a “if I take this I have to go!” mentality. However, if you take a Pre-Workout and don’t feel the effects, I recommend cutting out coffee and reducing your caffeine intake. Never go above 500mg of caffeine a day.

6. Make a workout journal.

Workout journals are great and everyday journals are better. Plan your meals, write down times and what you ate, etc. Not only will this help you keep track, but it will allow you to adjust your meals. Also, if you have a piece of pizza, or ice-cream write it down! At the end of the month when you go to do your weigh in you can look back at your meals, and portions (it helps if you use a weight scale for food too). Referencing your journal will allow you to see where you can cut back, what you need to work on and where to improve. Weight loss is a pretty simple variable; you must consume fewer calories than what your body needs. So if you see that your consuming 1500 calories a day, 240g of protein, and 180g of carbs, and only 5g of fat per day and have lost a total of three pounds over the course of a month (which is actually really good), then you may want to keep what you’re doing, and up the fitness intensity. If you find that you are losing too much weight too quickly (you should look to lose about 0.5-1lb of body fat a week) and you lost 10lbs at the end of the month, then you can increase your calorie intake. A journal removes the need for a guessing game. If you don’t guess, you can reach success!

7. Set realistic goals.

You may want to bench press 350lbs, squat 400lbs and run for 10km, that will happen in time, lots of time. These are good goals to have, but those are long-term goals. I’m talking years of weight lifting. So when you set a goal, make sure you set a goal that can be obtained in a reasonable amount of time i.e., run 5kms, do 20 pushups and don’t set a time limit, it will come when it comes!

Let’s say you aim to be able to do 20 push-ups without stopping, write it down in your journal from #6 and bring it everywhere you go. When you do your fitness workouts, write down your weights, and remember this, DON’T aim for weight, aim for good form. Knowledge is success, and you can waste your time doing exercises wrong, and you can HURT YOURSELF. Injuries are no joke, and can lead to long term problems and ongoing issues. If you want a free workout, head to www.bodybuilding.com. They have hundreds of videos that show you proper form and the correct way to do exercises. In my gym there is a little motto “Don’t train harder, train smarter.” and remember this… goals are for you and only you. So don’t cheat at the gym, don’t try to impress, go to the gym and focus on you. Focus on your goals and your aspirations, and focus on why YOU’RE there. You’re there to improve you, and to smash those goals into oblivion

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8. Throw out all those big plates and over sized cups.

Believe it or not, your eyes play a big part of food consumption. That old saying, “are your eyes bigger than your belly?” holds weight. If you eat off big plates and drink from larger glasses, you will find yourself eating more before feeling satisfied. If you limit yourself to small plates, and small glasses you will eat less but feel fuller.

9. No processed foods.

Do you ever crave a pizza, a microwave dinner, perhaps a Kraft Dinner? STAY AWAY!! Processed foods are never good for you. Firstly, all those unreadable ingredients are hard on your body’s digestion system. A little saying goes a long way… “If you can’t read it don’t eat it!” I’m not saying don’t eat that pizza, don’t have Kraft Dinner; I’m saying make your own Kraft Dinner or your own pizza (from scratch) and if you don’t have time, please step away from the microwave dinners. Anything frozen and packaged to be microwaved is the worst thing for you. They are always high in fat, sodium and other preservatives.

10. Join a community.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you this isn’t hard. There will be times when you feel like you’re in a rut, and your body will be screaming to have cheat foods. Those skills take time to develop and old habits to break, just remember this; you’re not alone. I suggest you join a forum based community to help push you along, to post photos of your adventure, and to share your challenges and success stories with others. Once again a good website to visit is www.bodybuilding.com. They have a great community and tons of educational resources.

Remember this… Knowledge = success. The more you know the more places you’ll go!

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Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Published on August 29, 2019

How to Get Through a Weight Loss Plateau (Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Get Through a Weight Loss Plateau (Step-By-Step Guide)

Having a weight loss plateau is perfectly normal. Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating though, and it feels like all your hard work has ground to a halt.

Instead of seeing a weight loss plateau as a roadblock, you need to see them as speed bumps that may get in the way from time to time but, can still be navigated.

This article will look at what causes these plateaus and how you can get through them the next time they may strike.

What Is a Weight Loss Plateau?

The basics of this plateau are that weight loss or fat loss has stalled after a period of progression. But what is the real reason this has happened and why does it occur when it does? Weight loss, or fat loss, has seemed to stall and the first thing to do is to recognize if this is a plateau.

If you weigh yourself daily, you know that there are fluctuations that occur each day. If you are weighing yourself every day, you want to at least be consistent with it. Your true weight will be first thing in the morning after you’ve gone to the bathroom. You want to weigh yourself at the same time and also make sure your scale is calibrated properly. Even a floor that is not perfectly even can give you an inaccurate reading.

It’s important to do this first thing as your weight can fluctuate just over one day, with people often seeing variations of 3-5 pounds. Since there are these daily changes, you want to take a different approach and look at your weekly averages week after week. This will give you a better snapshot at your progress and if you’ve actually reached a plateau or not.

True weight loss happens over weeks and months and that’s why tracking is important. You should see a gradual decrease over this longer time period. Healthy and sustained weight loss will be around 1-2 pounds per week. It’s a linear path that will have small up and down spikes over the time period but should still move progressively downward.

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When you see that the weight isn’t gradually dropping the way it had been over the past weeks and months, that can be your sign you’ve hit a true weight loss plateau.

The Issues with the Scale

A scale gives you some data but doesn’t always show the whole picture. You will not get an idea of true body composition as a regular scale will not show a balance between lean muscle and body fat. You may have lost 5 pounds of body fat, but gained 5 pounds of muscle and the number on the scale would stay the same. That body compositional change, however, would show some great physical results.

The body fat loss would help you appear leaner and the lean muscle gain would also enhance your overall appearance. You could look significantly different while the number on the scale hasn’t changed.

The scale is also not going to reveal issues surrounding water retention or bloating along with the hormonal fluctuations that can cause these issues. You can still check the scale, but a better indicator of weight loss will be with a tape measure.

When you’ve lost body fat, you will notice your clothes fitting differently and tracking your body part measurements can be a great way to monitor results. If you are going the tape measure route, measure these main areas:

  • Hips
  • Right thigh – at the midrange point
  • Waist – just below your ribcage and above your belly button
  • Chest – measure under the armpits
  • Right bicep – unflexed
  • Right calf
  • Neck

You can take measurements on your right and left appendages, but this is a good base of measurement to track progress.

Why Is Your Weight Not Going Down?

This may be because you are doing too much and not getting enough calories at the same time. If you are overdoing it in the gym, it can be like taking a few steps backward. Your workouts shouldn’t be over 75 minutes (30-40 may be all you need) and you want some rest days throughout the week. If you’re working out every day and exhausting yourself, your body will go into that self-preservation mode, raising stress hormones and, again, making weight loss difficult.

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If you are involved in an adequate exercise program (3-4 days per week) and going for a reasonable amount of time, you may need to add in a little more physical activity if you’ve reached a weight loss plateau. This doesn’t have to be overly intense but some extra cardio may help. This can be another 5-10 minutes on to what you are normally doing, or one or two 20-minute walks added on to your weekly amount.

You also want to make sure you’re eating enough and getting into a bit of a calorie deficit[1] if weight loss has stalled. You need not count every calorie but it’s a good idea to take a few days to track your nutrition intake so you at least have a good idea where you’re at.

Many people do not understand how many calories they are taking in each day. Calorie counting is far from a perfect science but to get a rough ballpark figure, the average woman needs around 2000 calories a day to maintain. An average man will need around 2500 calories.[2] There are many factors that can alter this requirement but this is a good starting point.

If you’re not losing weight, you’ll want to reduce that amount by around 300 calories each day and see how this is going after a week or so. If there has been no change, you might need to drop another 200 calories. You don’t want this to go lower as not enough calories can have a negative effect on your metabolism and will lead to stalled weight loss.

Is 1000 Calories a Day Too Little?

In a word? Yes. Your body needs more than that just to carry out its basic functions of living – and that’s not including you getting up and moving around. Even if you were just to lie on the couch all day, your body will need at least 1200 to 1400 calories just to exist. If you are not giving your body sufficient calories, it goes into panic mode. Your metabolism will drop as your body needs to hold on to every precious calorie to sustain itself. When this happens you can kiss weight loss goodbye. The other problem is eventually you will snap because you are so hungry and will eat everything in sight.

When you flood calories into a body with a slowed metabolism, you can guess what they end up being stored as.

Keeping yourself fed with high-quality, and nutritious foods will allow your body to run optimally and provide you with energy to be active, burn body fat, and bust through those weight loss plateaus.

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What to Do When You Hit a Weight Loss Plateau

This is where it’s important to take a step back and have a look at what’s been going on in your life. Tracking your info can be helpful because it gives you some data to observe. You don’t have to be obsessive about it but recording your workouts, sleep, stress levels and understanding your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and basic metabolic rate (BMR) will help give you an indicator where the problems may arise.

If you’ve noticed you’ve been overly stressed with work and life lately, this may be the culprit. When your body experiences stress, it elevates stress hormones such as cortisol. When cortisol is constantly elevated, it can slow weight loss to a crawl. Stress hormones are released in the body as a way to preserve itself. The body will be more likely to hold on to body fat as it believes some sort of trauma is happening and it needs all the backup fuel it can get. At this point, your body is not interested in burning body fat, or building muscle – it’s interested in preserving things.

Higher stress may also lead to a lack of sleep which causes the same issues, and when you add these two together, they compound their negative effects. If you’re seeing this to be the case, it means you will have to slow things down a bit. Make getting extra sleep a priority and you may have to back off the workouts for a bit. Even better, taking some time off from the gym can be a great way to let your whole body, central nervous system, and immune system recover.

This could be a good time to focus on relaxing, meditation, or yoga. You also want to make sure you’re keeping your diet as clean as possible as eating things like refined sugar and carbs when stressed can easily lead to weight gain.

Listen to your body and give it a breather when needed. Doing this will allow it to come back stronger than before.

How to Get Past a Weight Loss Plateau

When you hit a plateau, it’s a sign that your body is becoming complacent. There is no longer enough stimulation to warrant a response from your body. If you remember back to high school biology, you’ll recall homeostasis. This is a state of balance and it’s the preferred state your body wants to be in. Your body is all about self-preservation and keeping things stable. This is an evolutionary response to conserve energy for those times when it may be more needed.

Your body will learn to do things as efficiently as possible and therefore, you will progress with weight loss, and muscle and strength gains for a while – but then it hits a wall. Your body has figured out how to efficiently manage what you’re throwing at it, and this means it’s time to switch things up.

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For workouts, you want to always keep your body guessing. The best workout is the one you haven’t done yet. Your body needs an ever-changing stimulus in order to get more results. The good news is this doesn’t have to be a drastic overhaul. If you’re exercising, you just want to make changes to your routine, exercise order, duration, or repetitions. At the very least, you want to do at least what you did last workout – plus a little more. If you ran for 30 minutes, go for 32 next time. If you did 10 repetitions of an exercise, go for 11 or 12.

You can change the order of the exercises you do, perform some cardio before strength training, add in some high-intensity intervals, or shorten your rest periods between sets. The main thing is to give a bit of a shock to your body in order for it to change.

Final Thoughts

Weight loss plateaus will happen, it’s just all about being prepared for when they strike. Getting an understanding of why they happen is important to progress past them. What’s also important is realizing how your body works, and what it needs in order for it to respond favourably to exercise and diet.

A weight-loss plateau can be overcome with changes in activity, addressing lifestyle issues, and keeping the diet as clean as possible. Recognizing when stress has overwhelmed you, sleep is being neglected, and you need a break will go a long way in helping combat weight loss plateaus.

You also need to be aware of consuming enough calories per day and the issues that come from not nourishing your body properly. Healthy weight loss is all about combining exercise, diet, rest, recovery, and an overall holistic approach for it to happen.

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Featured photo credit: Gesina Kunkel via unsplash.com

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