Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How To Overcome Weight-Loss Plateaus

“Heidi Luong thought she was doing all the right things to lose weight. She did her time on the elliptical trainer and the weight machines at the gym she joined in May. It paid off — she lost 5 pounds in the first few months. Then the scale stopped moving. ‘I was doing OK at first, then I just hit this wall. I wasn’t losing anything any more,’ says Luong, 30. Luong had encountered the infamous plateau, a common — and dreaded — phenomenon that occurs when weight loss temporarily stalls. Starting an exercise program or a healthier diet can cause weight to come off quickly, but after several weeks or months, the body has adapted to the program. ‘People get on their little routine and they just stick to it, which is good, but then the body says, ‘This is easy now,’ says Donovan Fogt, an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Plateaus are frustrating, but there’s a simple solution: change your routine. Then change it again. And again. Luong started losing weight again when she began working with Zachary Tagle, a certified personal trainer at Anytime Fitness on West Avenue. He increased the intensity level on her elliptical machine and the amount of weight she was lifting. She dropped 20 pounds. When her weight loss began slowing again, Tagle challenged her even more. ‘With him I was consistently losing because he would change x up the routine and punch up the intensity level,’ Luong says. Seek out new sports and activities to help keep your workouts interesting. Who knows — you might fall in love with cardio salsa or racquetball. Try exercising with a personal trainer or a workout buddy to keep you on track. Don’t give up. Be realistic about how fast you can lose weight. One or 2 pounds a week is a healthy rate of loss. If the numbers on the scale aren’t dropping as rapidly as you’d like, focus on the other health benefits you’re reaping from exercise, such as increases in strength, endurance and muscle (which weighs more than fat). Your clothes will fit better too. Even if your weight loss slows or stops, keep exercising consistently to maintain your fitness level. ‘A plateau is better than no exercise,’ Fogt says.”


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