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Published on July 25, 2018

Unique Solutions to Try Today When You’ve Hit a Weight Loss Plateau

Unique Solutions to Try Today When You’ve Hit a Weight Loss Plateau

In a parallel universe, dieting might be easy. In our sphere – it’s sadly not.

I’ve done plenty of short and long diets in my life, successful and not-so-successful ones. What do all of these attempts have in common?

In every single one of those endeavors, I’ve hit a weight loss plateau after a certain period of time. How I reacted to that weight loss plateau determined if the diet was turning out to be fruit-bearing or not.

In this article, you will learn how to overcome these guaranteed setbacks on your journey and how to come back stronger than before.

Why you hit a weight loss plateau

Our bodies do not like to give away our energy storage.

It’s very unlikely that we had an ancestor that was happily exhausting himself, in an environment where food resources were scarce. Instead our hunter and gatherer predecessors have evolved to shun energy loss.

That’s why the first few minutes of exercising are always a pain in the neck, even for the most advanced of athletes. David Goggins, Ex-Navy-Seal and finisher of multiple continuous 100-mile races, said this about running:

I hate to run. — David Goggins, experienced ultra endurance runner and probably the toughest man alive

What Mr. Goggins is telling us with that thorough statement is that excess energy usage for no apparent survival-related gain, produces negative feelings in his brainstem.

What I want to get across is:

Hitting a plateau is normal. Our genomes have evolved to store energy instead of being energy wasters – and that’s a good thing.

But first we have to find out if we’re truly hitting a plateau or our mind is tricking us into believing so.

Are you objectively stuck?

In the fitness center I manage, a young and ambitious lad once complained to me about his lack of weight loss results.

After 2 months of being on a strict and sustainable diet, his weighing scale still showed him a rather small decline of 2 kilos. He strictly followed the advice of me and our trainers yet couldn’t see the results he hoped for. He felt cheated on and even asked for a refund.

Promptly I inquired if the weighing scale was the only way he measured his progress. It was.

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It turned out that the frequent gym-goer in fact did see results. He was extremely satisfied with the view in the mirror and even got compliments from his friends and family.

But he based the results of his success solely on the reduction of his body weight, which means he based his happiness of an irrelevant number on a weighing scale.

This is not the way to do it.

When starting a diet, try to get at least 2 variables that you can measure. For example:

  1. Your body weight and before and after pictures.
  2. Before and after pictures and circumferences of your body parts.

This way you make sure if you’re truly hitting a plateau or your mind is simply playing tricks on you.

How to break through the weight loss plateau (Step-by-step)

Once you’ve determined that you’ve indeed hit a plateau. Here are a couple steps that you can follow to break through:

1. Take a look at your goals and your why

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. — Seneca

This is an old saying yet so massively true in our day and age. You have to know where you’re going, to be on the right path. That’s why it’s so crucial that you’ve written down your goals before committing to this weight-loss journey.

If not – this is the time to do it. Reassess what you’re trying to reach and why. Humans are reasonable creatures – for the most part – we need a reason why we do what we do.

Action:

Take at least 10 minutes out of your day, sit in a quite corner with a pen and paper and get this step sorted.

Do this right now. It’s the easiest step and probably the one that will create a big change in your life.

2. Readjust your habits accordingly

If we’re following a diet long enough, we often let our habits slip without even noticing it. We unconsciously increase the portion size, decrease our effort in the gym and buy unhealthier foods.

Just recently I did a diet for a short vacation to Italy and hit a weight-loss plateau. I struggled to find the reason until I noticed that I started to eat two reasonably-sized breakfasts every morning, instead of the usual one. One before the morning workout and one after.

This is quite common on a diet. We’re deluding ourselves and then rationalizing our behaviour. “It’s just a one-time thing”, we say. Or: “I’ve earned that donut – it’s the way I treat myself.”

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As weight-loss is going against our ingrained nature, our brains are great in leading us subtly yet surely off-path. That’s why we need to reassess our goals and our why in step 1, to now readjust our habits accordingly.

Action:

Take a picture of all the meals and beverages that you put in your body during the day. Are these aligned with your goals? Are you happy with what you put in your body?

Be honest with yourself. Our goals are not our goals if we don’t back them up with the right actions.

3. Be urgently patient

Once you’ve readjusted your nutrition and workout habits, the chances are pretty high that you’ve broken through the plateau already.

It’s the time to be urgently patient. This is a term Gary Vaynerchuck uses regarding to the business world. Meaning: On the bigger scale you should be patient, on the smaller, minute-to-minute scale, you should act urgently.

Action:

Follow the proven steps noted before for at least 2 weeks and give it your best effort.

If you’ve seen a difference, go to step 1 and reassess your habits and goals.

If you haven’t seen a difference, proceed to step 4.

4. Add one of the seven plateau-breaker strategies

After you’ve made sure that you’ve certainly hit a plateau, you can implement one of these seven plateau-breaker strategies.

This is the last step of these 4 because it can be used to break through future plateaus. Let’s proceed with caution:

We may not be blessed with the best genetics, but if there’s one thing we can control, it’s our effort. Work hard, friend!

Following are 7 unique solutions which helped me and countless of our clients to reach their dream bodies, by obliterating a plateau. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Caffeine Is Your Friend

There are numerous studies on green tea and its effectiveness on weight loss and health.

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While green tea is an antioxidant rich beverage that has been shown to slow down aging, it can also decrease your satiety and increase your overall weight loss.[1]

Implement 2 cups of green tea every single day to break through the plateau.

The mysterious seeds

Chia seeds

are your friends. They have been shown to be effective in helping you lose weight. Even in studies controlled for fiber levels.[2]

Add a handful of chia seeds to your breakfast.

The high calorie food for weight loss

Nuts contain a lot of calories yet they’ve been shown to increase your weight loss by raising your calorie expenditure at the same time.

In fact nuts, in addition to its dietary fiber, have been shown to be negatively correlated with weight gain over time.[3]

Add a handful of nuts to your breakfast to increase your satiety over the day.

Get your heart working

Burning more calories by upping your work-load is one of the easiest ways to break a weight loss plateau. Yet also one of the hardest ones.

In addition to breaking through a weight-loss plateau, this can help you have more energy and decrease your recovery time. I had to learn this the hard way.

Add 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio 2 times a week to boost your weight loss.

Extra accountability leads to extra progress

We’re social creatures. A lot of the things that we do on a daily basis is to increase our reputation in the tribe that we live in.

Use this fact to your advantage. One of the easiest actions to exploit this natural human tendency is to post your progress pictures on Facebook.

To put your accountability on steroids, train with a friend or best: hire a coach .

Hire a coach for 3 months to kick-start your weight loss success.

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Decrease obesogenic chemicals in your food

Animal foods have been shown to be correlated with weight gain. But is it because vegetarians eat more plants, or less meat?

There was a study in 2012, observing over 3900 men and women, that found the group with increased meat consumption to experience more weight gain. Even when both groups were controled for fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, grain consumption, physical activity and even calorie intake.[4]

Chicken was the meat most closely related with obesity. Decrease your intake of animal foods by substituting 3 chicken-based-meals per week with beans or legumes.

Take the stairs

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I stress sustainability and consistency.

If we truly want to keep the weight off long-term and avoid the Yo-Yo effect, we need to adjust our habits.

Implement basic, physical activity in your day. You don’t need to run a marathon in the morning at 4am. But try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to the supermarket instead of using your car.

Little changes go a long way. Avoid the elevator for the next 7-days.

Summing it up

Hitting a weight-loss plateau is normal when doing a diet to get to the best shape of your life. The question is just how you react to these setbacks along your journey.

We have to first make sure that we truly hit a weight-loss plateau and our mind is not playing tricks on us. To do that, we have to reassess our goals and readjust our habits accordingly.

Only after we’ve been urgently patient, we can then use one of these effective 7 Plateau-Breakers to increase our diet success:

  1. Green Tea
  2. Chia Seeds
  3. Nuts (Beware of Cashews)
  4. Cardiovascular Training
  5. Accountability or Coach
  6. Less Animal Products
  7. More Activitiy in Your Day

Dieting is not easy, it’s hard. But if it’s easy, everyone would do it.

We may not be blessed with the best genetics but if there’s one thing we can control, it’s our effort.

Work hard, friend!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Florian Wüest

Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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