So Close, Yet So Far: 7 Ways To Break Through The Weight Loss Plateau

by Stefani Pappas

It's that point where — all of a sudden — those last few stupid pounds just won’t budge anymore.

Not only is hitting a weight loss plateau frustrating, but it is also very discouraging. When you have been working day and night to lose weight and get into shape, hitting a plateau can leave you feeling hopeless.

When you have a small amount of weight to lose and your body is already relatively healthy, those few extra pounds are even harder to get rid of.

However, there are some simple tips to help you break through a plateau and reach your weight loss goals.

These tips primarily revolve around one concept: changing things up. One’s body often gets comfortable and complacent when it performs the same workout, consumes the same thing and takes in the same number of calories every day.

Changing up one or all of these components will help you break through that barrier and lose the bulge.

1. Don’t Weigh Yourself Every Day

Weighing yourself every day and overanalyzing every ounce just does no good. Relax, weight loss is a process and your weight will fluctuate from day to day, based on a slew of factors.

Stick to weighing yourself once or twice a week, at the same time during the day, wearing the same amount of clothing. This will give you a far more accurate picture of how your weight loss efforts are progressing.

If you feel that you need to weigh yourself every day to stay on track, don’t get caught up in tiny fluctuations — just focus on the big picture.

2. Change Up Your Workouts

If you haven’t run a mile in a year, that first attempt will probably be pretty challenging. However, if you run every day, that mile will eventually become easier to manage.

The body gets accustomed to the activity and becomes very efficient. Unfortunately, such adaptation means that you burn fewer calories when you’re doing the same type and amount of exercise.

Make sure that you change things up in your workouts. Try incorporating a weight-training day into your regimen if you haven’t already.

If you already have a lifting routine, change up the rep scheme or the order in which you perform the exercises. Maybe try one week of heavy lifting with few reps and the next week of lighter weights with higher repetition.

Going to the same fitness class, doing the same routine every day and logging the same amount of calories on the treadmill are all recipes for a weight loss plateau, so change it up.

3. Cut Calories Without Noticing

When you are trying to lose those last few pounds, those little hidden calories count and certainly add up. The mayo on your sandwich, the soda with dinner and the beer all contribute to a plateau.

There are alternatives to common condiments and foods that you can use to swap out the higher calorie items for lower ones. For example, swap mayo for mustard on a sandwich.

Try salsa instead of a high-calorie dip. Sip on seltzer water with a dash of fruit juice instead of flavored soda. Try popcorn as a crunchy snack instead of chips. Choose lower calorie condiments, spreads, sauces and dressings — you get the idea.

4. Get Your Zzz’s

When you’re deprived of sleep, lack of energy can seriously affect your day. First, you are exhausted, so you order a large latte at the local coffee shop to wake you up.

Once you get to the gym, you’re still tired, so you either skip the workout or don’t put as much effort into your gym session.

You end up munching on snacks throughout the day, and finally, don’t have enough energy to make dinner and end up ordering takeout.

This is just a scenario, but lack of sleep does set your brain up for bad decisions. Try to get into a routine sleep cycle and get enough shut-eye to keep you active throughout the day.

5. Maximize Your “NEAT”

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, aka NEAT, is energy you spend on everyday tasks. NEAT encompasses everything from walking to class, to dancing when out with friends.

Try to walk to class more often or take the stairs up to your apartment instead of the elevator. Carry your groceries, bike to class, go out dancing with friends at night.

Even a small change is significant, especially when it comes to breaking through a weight loss plateau. Increasing your NEAT can be just what you need to lose those last few pounds.

6. Vary Your Caloric Intake

When you’re trying to lose weight, reducing the amount of calories you consume is the natural course of action.

However, decreasing your caloric intake too low can actually put your body into starvation mode and halt your weight loss efforts. Once a week, try to increase your calories a bit to prevent this starvation response.

Now hold up; don’t take this as advice to eat a whole box of donuts. Try to add 100 to 300 calories through fruit, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats or other nutritious sources once or twice a week.

7. Find New Inspiration

When you first start a weight loss program, you’re completely excited and motivated. You get to the gym every day, portion out all of your meals and feel totally invigorated.

When you hit a plateau or results aren’t happening as fast, it’s easy to lose your motivation. An easy way increase your motivation is to make an inspiration board from cutouts of pictures and words from magazines.

Put this somewhere you can see it every day to help you remember why you are on this weight loss journey. Maybe hang up your favorite dress in the front of your closet for a constant motivator.

Get competitive and sign up for a race to spark that fire. Remember to never forget how far your have already come already in your journey.

Try one, a few or all of these tips to break through that dreaded weight loss plateau. Listen to your body and only do what feels right and manageable.

Always appreciate every piece of progress you make on your journey, live your life to the fullest and focus on the confidence and strength you are building each day.