Plateaus and Tune-Up Techniques

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We all encounter a few speed bumps in our healthy habits. Maybe you're trying to lose weight, but it's not falling off like you'd hoped. Or you lost a good amount of weight, but now you seem to be stuck at a plateau and you're frustrated. Or you've been maintaining a happy weight for a while, but now the pounds start to be creeping back or you just don't feel right. What to do? 

First, remember that small changes equal huge success. If you've already made some, you're on your way! Here are my suggestions that should help you get back on tack: 

  1. Make it fun / change it up. Working hard to be healthy can get tiresome. You can begin to feel deprives or if you reached a plateau you can get to feeling bored and hopeless. If you're feeling discouraged, do something positive to get back on track. Find a workout buddy, try a new class, get a new healthy cookbook, experiment with new recipes. Any of these things can give you a big boost of morale and help you reach your goals.
  2. Get compulsive about a food journal for a week or so. Be brutally honest. Are there picks and slips showing up that are adding up? Are there nuts and cheese and croutons and bacon bits in your salad? Are you pouring on the dressing? Food journals help you identify these little, sometimes hidden, culprits. 
  3. Control your volume. Focus on your portion sizes. I often find clients can get too relaxed about the volume of food they're eating. Take a week and measure your portions or choose individual containers of things (oatmeal packets, yogurt, frozen entrees, single-serve snack packs, etc.). Try a lettuce wrap sandwich instead of a salad at lunch. Don't freestyle anything.
  4. Drink more water! This really can help, I've seen it time and again.
  5. Snack carefully. Try cutting out snacks and see how it goes. If you need one, try to reduce the size or go for the lowest calories snacks like a 130-calorie bar or a piece of fruit. And watch the time of your snacks: be sure you're having them at the most useful, strategic time, not just when you're bored or distracted.
  6. Check on your exercise. Are you overexercising making your appetite soar? Lighten up for a time - reduce the length or intensity of your workout or alternate power workouts with more relaxed exercise days (go for a walk, do restorative yoga or mat pilates). Or have you become a lazy exerciser? Invest in a heart rate monitor and push yourself a little bit.
  7. Watch the oil. Pay attention to the dressings you're using on your salads and any added oil in your foods. It's very high in calories and easy to overuse.
  8. Watch the salt. Salt can make your body retain weight and make it harder for your body to let go of fat. 
  9. Are you a cream fiend? Sometimes adding too much cream or even milk to your coffee, especially if you have a few daily, can add too many calories to your daily intake. Try substituting tea with lemon if you like for any drinks beyond your first.
  10. Watch your alcohol. Try to cut down on your wine intake: have one glass instead of two or three. If you feel you need to sip something, try diet tonic water or seltzer and lime. 

Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN


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