5 Ways to Push Past a Fat-Loss Plateau

5 Ways to Push Past a Fat-Loss Plateau
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It’s inevitable: Every fat-loss journey hits a few bumps in the road. Often, a “bump” means the number on the scale quits budging.

Yes, it’s frustrating. And it’s tempting to look for a quick fix, but unfortunately, there are none. “Losing weight just takes a lot of time,” says Holly Janiszewski, personal trainer and founder of Holly J Fitness. Though you might not want to hear it, patience and consistency are often the best methods for fat-loss.

That said, there are a few other tweaks you can use to kickstart your fat-loss progress once again.

Keep in mind: If you measure fat loss solely by the number on the scale, you could be setting yourself up for frustration — especially if you strength train regularly. If the number on the scale doesn’t budge, it could simply mean you’ve added muscle. So, look to the scale, but look also to other ways of measuring progress: “Look at how you’re feeling physically and emotionally, how your clothes are fitting, and how your workouts are feeling rather than fixating on a number on a scale,” Janiszewski says.

1

REEXAMINE YOUR PLAN

If you’ve reached a plateau, it’s possible the tactics you’ve used thus far haven’t been sustainable. Have you been cutting your calories too drastically? Gone from zero exercise to working out six or seven times per week? Making too many big, drastic changes or choosing diet and workout plans you don’t enjoy can easily lead to burnout and — ultimately — a fat-loss plateau. “If you’re feeling burnt out, then it’s probably not a good fit,” Janiszewski says. “In that case, look elsewhere for other options, other types of workouts or a different coach or trainer.”

Once you come up with a new plan, give it a minimum of three months of consistent effort to start seeing actual changes, Janiszewski says.

2

TRACK YOUR FOOD

If you’re not already tracking your food intake, or you haven’t tracked your food for a while, try writing down everything you eat for one week. “A lot of times we eat so much more than we think we do,” Janiszewski says. Use food tracking as a way to check back in with yourself, and ensure you’re actually eating as much as you need to encourage continued fat loss.

3

FOCUS ON STRENGTH AND FITNESS GAINS

Not only are performance goals more rewarding than aesthetic goals, but these often lead to fat loss in the end.

If the scale is no longer budging, consider shifting your attention from aesthetic to performance-based goals.

“My suggestion is always to focus on strength and fitness goals, not the number on the scale, because that’s going to go up, it’s going to go down,” says Maryam Zadeh, owner and founder of HIIT BOX in New York City. So, instead of “winning” a 2-pound loss, focus on doing 10 extra pushups or running an additional 5 miles one week. Not only are performance goals more rewarding than aesthetic goals, but these often lead to fat loss in the end.

4

MAKE SMALL CHANGES

Instead of trying to overhaul your entire life (diet, exercise, sleep, etc.), focus on doing just a little bit more every week, and/or making slight improvements to your existing habits. “It’s important to start small and build up to bigger goals,” Janiszewski says. As long as you’re more active and eating a bit healthier than you were before, you’ll see progress. Smaller changes are much easier to make and sustain than drastic ones.

5

CHECK IN WITH A FRIEND

If you’re having any trouble staying consistent with your healthy habits, find a friend (or group of friends) who can help you stay accountable. Ideally, you’ll keep each other accountable. This could mean checking in regularly via text to find out if the other person has followed through with their goals, and/or meeting up for a workout.

Don’t underestimate the power of including your friends in your weight-loss journey; they can motivate you to follow through with healthy habits you might not want to follow through with. “I may go to a class begrudgingly, but once I show up, there’s three of my friends and we’re all in this together, and there’s a little more energy,” says Zadeh. Plus, chances are you won’t want to be the person who cancels on your friends.

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