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Avoiding Weight Loss and Fitness Plateaus

Have you ever been on a weight loss and fitness program for a few months, everything is going great and then suddenly you stop losing weight? Sometimes this is termed a"plateau," and it can happen in some people who are trying to lose weight.

This period of no weight loss happens because the body gradually learns to adapt to the lower calorie and/or higher activity levels of weight loss plans. In times of famine, this was a very important adaptation, as it helps ensure survival, but when you're trying to lose weight, it's not very helpful at all! Fortunately, there are a few tips for getting through a weight loss plateau. When this happens, instead of getting frustrated, try to figure out what is causing it.

One common reason for a slowing rate of weight loss is that people may think they're eating less than truly they are; they under report their calorie intake and over report their activity levels. If this sounds like you, try keeping a journal for a few days and take an honest assessment of your food intake and activity. You might be eating enough calories to maintain your current weight, but not the amount necessary for continued weight loss. As an experiment, compare your serving sizes to the portion sizes in Jenny's Success Made Simple guide. Is a half-cup of brown rice the size you thought? Keeping a food journal is a great way to check if you're still on track with your plan. Our online journal is part of your Dashboard when you sign up for eTools.

Another option is to increase the amount of time you spend being physically active. Set a goal for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, nearly every day of the week. The best exercise routines are ones you will enjoy doing on a regular basis. You can also break your 30- minute periods into three separate 10-minute periods if it helps to fit activity into your schedule.

As your fitness level grows, gradually and safely increase the intensity and duration of your exercise sessions. Change your walk by adding some hills, add resistance training, work with a personal trainer or buy a new workout DVD. Wearing a pedometer is also a great way to monitor your physical activity and challenge yourself to do a little more each week. If you've been exercising for a while but are feeling uninspired by your workouts, start thinking of ways to mix things up. Now might be the perfect time to sign up for that new dance class or 5K — variety is the spice of life, so why not mix it up?

Have you stopped losing because you're not motivated to follow your plan? Weight loss is a journey; it changes over time, as does exercise motivation. To keep your program and your desire fresh it's important to revisit and renew your personal motivators on a regular basis. What motivated you to take the first step might be different from what's motivating you today.

Take a minute to check-in with yourself and capture your new motivator in your journal. Next, write it on a piece of paper and post it where it will be a constant reminder of the health and vibrancy you deserve. Also, reward yourself and celebrate every small win and milestone. We all need a little pat on the back for everything we've achieved and what better way than with a personal treat? If you've been regularly rewarding yourself with a new book or magazine, give yourself something bigger as an extra motivational push. How about a new pair of running shoes or outfit? You know yourself the best so give yourself something extra special.

So, the next time your rate of weight loss slows down, don't panic — instead solve ways to shake up your routine. Take a look at your Food, Body or Mind components and make some changes. Before you know it, your clothes will feel looser and you'll be back on your way to meeting your goal weight!