You’ve come a long way from where you were at this time last year. You’ve traded cheeseburgers and fries for lean protein and veggies, you’ve been lifting weights instead of lifting the TV remote, and you’ve kickboxed, lunged, and dieted your way into a whole new wardrobe that’s two sizes smaller than your old one. In fact, you’re feeling so good that you just know those last ten pounds will melt away in no time … and then you step onto the scale and the self-doubt sets in: Why do I weigh exactly what I did two weeks ago? I’ve been eating healthy stuff and working out like crazy. What happened to losing a pound per week? What if I don’t reach my goal weight after all? Oh no!
If this scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone—weight-loss plateaus are part and parcel of dieting for most people. But for dieters who have been consistently disciplined about following a healthy, active regimen, hitting this wall often feels like cruel and unusual punishment. Just when you can almost fit into the fabulous new dress you bought to reward yourself for all your hard work, the zipper—and the scale—gets stuck. It’s enough to make you want to wave the white flag (or the carton of ice cream, as the case may be) and stop torturing yourself with salads and long sessions on the elliptical. But before you put on your most forgiving pair of sweatpants and make a banana split to comfort yourself, take a moment to consider these steps for rejuvenating your routine and finally summiting that weight-loss mountain you’ve been climbing.
Variety Is the Spice of Diets
If you’ve been on a diet for a long time, your body no longer feels like it’s adjusting, so it becomes complacent—and voilà, plateau. A promising means of beating your body at its own game is to confuse it by varying the number of calories or the types of food you consume each day—even if that means eating more than you have been. For example, if you’ve been ingesting 1,600 calories daily for the past six months, try indulging in an extra two-hundred-calorie snack one day, limiting yourself to 1,200 calories the following day, and so on.