Friday, May 17, 2013
I may have posted this before, but, I believe that "change it up" is such an important strategy (both to "bust" plateaus, and, even to help avoid them), that I wanted to post it again.
It's all about change.
When I experienced my first plateau, the advice that I got was to decrease calories and increase exercise.
While that is not bad advice, it immediately concerned me. Because I knew that plateaus are a normal part of dieting. And, I'd already made a lot of changes. I just couldn't see myself commiting to decreasing calories and increasing exercise every time I reached a plateau. I was already doing almost as much as I was willing to consider.
So, I started researching plateaus, and found out, that, although decreasing calories and increasing exercise are two options, it's really about "change", and, those are not the only two changes possible. When you are in a plateau, your body has likely become accustomed to the changes you've already made.
Homeostasis is a fancy word for your body's preference for staying the same. Once it figures out that is already HAS changed, it doesn't want to do anymore of that. (Because... what if you are starving it?!) So, it becomes more efficient at using calories, and hangs on to pounds and fat.
So, we need to trick out bodies into thinking the famine is over. If your body doesn't know what to do next, your plateau might be over soon.
Here's a list of things you can do to "change it up". I'll start with the 2 most obvious ones. However, others are often just as effective. Or, more.
1. Decrease your calories.
2. Increase your exercise.
3. Increase your calories. I know. This sounds counter-productive. However, it can increase your metabolism, and it can trick your body into believing that you are no longer going to be starving it. Then, decrease back down.
4. Decrease your exercise. Same reason. Then, increase it again.
5. Change what you eat.
- If you've been eating low carb, add some carbs back in. Especially the complex carbs with lots of fiber. However, avoid or limit "whites" (white flour, pastas, baked goods, too much sugar, potatoes, corn). Your body will change simple carbs into sugar. Sugar makes you fat.
- Try eating lots of vegetables and low fat protein.
- Be sure that you are getting enough fat. Good fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, almonds, peanuts or other nuts, natural peanut butter, dark chocolate, etc can actually help you to lose weight, if you eat them in moderation. You have to eat fat to lose fat. Fat grams don't make you fat. Sugar makes you fat.
6. Change your exercise routine.
- Be sure that you are doing a combination of cardio and strength training. If you are running, try biking. Add a new muscle group to work on during strength training. Maybe start some yoga or swimming. You may wish to change your routine every 6 weeks, or so.
- If you aren't doing much strength-training, muscle-building exercise, increase that to 3x per week. Building muscle increases metabolism. Increased metabolism burns fat. (Caution: Muscle weighs more than fat. You may gain pounds before you lose them. Let the tape measure become your friend; you will likely begin to lose inches before you start losing pounds again, and, that's OK.)
7. Eat more frequently. If you are only eating 3 meals a day, increase the number of times that you eat. Try for 3 smaller meals and 2-3 snacks per day, rather than 3 larger meals. Try not to consume more than 400 calories at a sitting.
8. Be careful about food additives, etc, such as artificial sweeteners, trans-fatty acids (hydrogenated oils), etc. Even calorie-free additives can slow weight loss. Sometimes, they require the liver or other body parts to work harder to remove them. Then, your body can't work as hard to remove fat.
9. Drink more water, if you're not currently drinking an adequate amount.
10. Calorie cycling.
- ** If you keep your calories above your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) every OTHER day, your body will not believe that you are starving it, even if you drop below it on in-between days. In fact, you can even get by with decreasing your calories for up to 2-3 days in a row.
- As long as you don't go longer than that before you plan a day above your BMR. The trick to calorie cycling, is that you are "cycling" your calories -- doing different things on different days. Eating low-calorie EVERY day is not a good solution. You need to alternate lower calorie days with days that are above your BMR.
You don't need to believe that, to lose weight, you have to do more and more difficult things.
Just think change, change, change. And, then, you can always change back, because that will be a change too.