Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Breaking the Weight-Loss Plateau

This article is a kind of follow-on to an earlier blog-post called :
The Top 8 most common-sense ways to lose weight fast

Even the most dedicated dieter may be hitting a wall. Why? After a few weeks or even months of steady weight loss, it’s common for the scale refuse to budge. When this happens, you’ve hit a weight loss plateau. The problem is that our bodies are very efficient energy-burning machines and, after a while, they don’t have to work as hard because they become used to your workout routine and diet. With some simple changes, you can start losing weight again. Here are a number of ways to rev up your metabolism, burn calories, and continue to shed pounds.

Find a Workout Buddy
Studies show that when you exercise with a friend, you’re more likely to stick with it. To get over a weight loss plateau, find a friend who is at a more advanced fitness level than you are, says Jim White, RD, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. Your friend will push you to do a little more and work a little harder – and the extra effort should kick-start your weight loss again.

Add Intervals
Interval training is a good way to up your calorie burn. Interval training is exercising at high intensity for a period of time followed by low intensity exercise for a period of time. For example, you might add sprints to your run or steep hills to your bike ride. You can get similar results with fartlek training - fartlek is Swedish for “speed play.” With fartlek, you vary your walking, running, or cycling routine at random to provide an aerobic and anaerobic workout. This method keeps your muscles and metabolism guessing.

Eat Less Carbs
Eating just a little bit less can allow you to push past your weight loss plateau and start dropping pounds again. Eating less carbs can enhance and speed-up this process. It is an undeniable fact that carbs are our modern-day suicide bombs. We consume more than a hundred times more carbs today than a century ago. Cut those carbs and cut your waist-line.

Learn a New Skill
If you’re stuck in a treadmill or bike rut and can’t seem to do any more weight loss work than you already are, switch activities. There are a wide variety of physical activities with huge fitness benefits that you can explore. Among them are tennis, swimming, boxing, kick-boxing and kayaking. Even if you’re not bored, you should change up your routine somewhat every eight to 12 weeks to get the most benefit from exercise and end your weight loss plateau.

Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself
Most people cannot stay on a diet that severely restricts calories for long. Introduce a “cheat meal,” where, once a week, you eat what you want. Studies show that a cheat meal can increase metabolism, which could jump-start weight loss. A cheat meal is not only good for your psyche, but also it probably ensures that you get certain fat-soluble vitamins that you may not have consumed during the week. Be cautious, though: make sure it’s just a cheat meal and not a cheat day.

Stay Hydrated
Drinking water is essential. Even if you’re just slightly dehydrated, it can affect your athletic performance. Drinking water also can curb your appetite and increase your metabolism, again helping you burn more calories and end a weight loss plateau. Researchers in Germany found that test subjects who drank just a few extra glasses of water a day boosted their metabolism.

Be Honest With Yourself
You might be at a weight loss impasse because you’re eating more than you think you are. Be honest about how much you are eating. Look around and observe how much you eat per serving compared to others. Forget about calorie-counting, because no-one can keep it up. Just reduce your usual food-intake.

Set Up a Reward Program
Sometimes when you hit a weight loss plateau, you just have to wait it out. Eventually, you will start losing weight again. To stay motivated during the plateau, set up a reward system  with rewards that are something other than food. Good ideas are a new dress or a new pair of shoes, a trip for you and your spouse, or a night out with your friends. Celebrating when you reach your weight loss goals will keep you going through any plateau phase.

Don't Skip Meals
A lot of people mistakenly think that if they skip the calories of breakfast, lunch, or even dinner, it will help with weight loss. Not true, by skipping meals, you’re slowing down your metabolism even more. Your blood sugar drops and you’re more likely to be famished and overeat at your next meal. If you want to start losing weight again, be sure to eat enough throughout the day and don’t starve yourself.

Sneak More Exercise Into Your Day
The more active you are, the more calories you'll burn. In addition to a morning workout, add some calorie-burning activities to your day. Park at the end of the lot rather than near the door when going to the mall or the office. Stand up and walk around the room when talking on the telephone. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Bring grocery bags in from the car one at a time to make more trips. Burn a few hundred calories more a day and you’ll see the scale move again and find yourself leaping off that weight loss plateau.
- Every Little Bit Counts
Most adults should be doing a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, at least five days a week. Not only is physical activity an essential component of weight management, but it can also lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, reduce cholesterol, alleviate arthritis pain, prevent or delay osteoporosis, and relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The best part is that there's no need to join a gym or buy a special DVD - you can get all the exercise you need through your daily activities.
- Schedule 10-minute workout sessions. 
If blocking out time for a 30-minute aerobic exercise workout seems impossible at first, start by finding 10 minutes three times a day. For example, instead of sipping another cup of coffee in the break room at work, take 10 minutes to walk around the block or up and down a few flights of stairs.
- Do Simple Housework!
Whether you love or loathe housework, it can help you burn some serious calories and keep you in good shape. For example, when you spend 45 to 60 minutes washing your windows or floors, you're not only giving your house a super cleaning, you're giving your body the benefit of exercise. So grab that mop and go!
- Start Walking
See : Walking helps with weight loss, improves fitness
Brisk walking is a good way to get around town, boost your heart rate, and stay physically fit. Walking 1.6Km burns the same amount of calories as 1000 sit-ups, get walking. Walk briskly for 30 minutes or break it up into short but vigorous 10-minute sessions. Walking strengthens your bones and muscles and improves your stamina and your fitness. It doesn't have to be a chore - invite a friend or relative along and use the time to catch up on each other's news!
- Start Climbing stairs
Too busy to hit the gym? That's okay - any staircase will do! If you set aside 10 minutes of your day to go up and down a set of steps, you can burn some fat. So get off that elevator and take the stairs every chance you get!
- Get into Gardening
Making your garden beautiful is another good way to be physically active. Weeding, mowing, and gardening for 30 to 45 minutes can burn fat and up to 200 calories. Be sure to stretch your arms, back, and legs beforehand to help you prepare for digging holes with a spade or shovel, planting seeds, or laying sod. Another trick: Get even more exercise by using a push mower to cut your grass. Raking leaves for 30 minutes can really work your upper body. But don't overdo it, especially if you don't exercise frequently - you could injure yourself. To minimize this risk, keep your feet and hips shoulder-width apart and rake by shifting your weight from leg to leg rather than twisting your back. Wear gloves to prevent blisters, and bend at the knees to bag and move piles of leaves.
- Wash & Wax Your Own Car
Washing and waxing a car for 45 to 60 minutes is one of many activities that will burn fat, use calories and get your heart rate up. Once again, do not overdo it. If you feel pain in any of your muscles once you start working on your car's exterior, be sure you stop.
- Dance Your Fat Away
Kirstie Alley says that dancing around her living room helped her slim down to her new, hot physique. So why not put on your favorite CD or radio station and shake your booty for 30 minutes a day? If you want to go the more formal route, you can try classes in ballroom dancing (or another kind of dance) - they'll rival any gym workout!
- Go Swimming
If you own a pool or have a public swimming-pool close-by, jump in and swim. Swimming is an ideal workout. This low-impact exercise can relieve stress, improve posture, and tone your upper body. Swimming laps for 20 minutes a day builds endurance and strengthens your muscles. It's also good for your heart and lungs and increases your flexibility. Swimming is the perfect exercise if you have an injury that prevents you from doing other activities - it puts minimal stress on the bones and joints.
- Play for Fun
Do your friends, kids, or grandkids like to play basketball or netball? Then consider joining them the next time they play. If you've never tried the sport, why not start now? Don't worry - it's not about skill, it's about moving! Try practising some free throws and lay-ups for 30 minutes, or participate for 15 minutes in a full-court game.
- Skipping / Jump Rope
Always ask yourself why skipping / rope-jumping is the exercise of choice for boxers. Boxers are among the fittest of all sportsmen and women. Jump ropes are a cheap and easy at-home exercise option. In fact, jumping rope can burn as much as 11 calories per minute. Few exercises can equal that. Before you start, make sure you have a rope that is long enough for the handles to reach your chest when you are standing in the middle of it. If you get bored, vary your routine by jumping backwards or playing music.