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3 Tips to Help You Break The Weight loss Plateau

Updated on December 5, 2012

Weight Loss Plateau

Having trouble losing those last few extra pounds? Although you may have been consistent with your current eating and exercise plans, it may be time for a reassessment.
Having trouble losing those last few extra pounds? Although you may have been consistent with your current eating and exercise plans, it may be time for a reassessment. | Source

Kick Start Your Metabolism

Increasing your caloric intake by 300-500 calories for three days, then going back to your recommended daily calories for weight loss can jump start your metabolism again.
Increasing your caloric intake by 300-500 calories for three days, then going back to your recommended daily calories for weight loss can jump start your metabolism again. | Source

Determining Your Target Heart Rate

Karvonen Formula:

This is a mathematical formula to help you determine your target heart rate (HR) for maximal training results. Exercise at this rate for 20-30 minutes to get the best results from your cardio session.

Target HR (lower end of range) = [(% of intensity) x (max HR-resting HR)] + resting HR

Target HR (upper end of range) =[(% of intensity) x (max HR-resting HR)] + resting HR

Max HR can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220 (variability of +/- 10 to 12 beats per minute)

To find your resting HR:

  1. should be done a few minutes upon awakening (2-5 min), while lying down
  2. use a heart rate monitor or palpate manually by placing index and middle fingers together at the wrist (radial artery), inside of elbow (brachial artery), or at the side of the neck (carotid artery) with pointer and middle fingers, for 60 seconds. (Radial or brachial arteries are the best locations for palpation due to easy stimulation of carotid artery when touched; can lead to an underestimation of the true HR.)
  3. for greater accuracy, get a baseline measurement by taking HR every morning for a few weeks or taking an average of HR readings over 2 to 3 mornings


A 38 year old with a resting HR of 60 wanting to know training HR for for 70%-85% intensity level

Minimum Training HR

220-38 (age) = 182 Max HR

182-60 (resting HR) = 122

122 x .70 (min. intensity) + 60 (resting HR)= 145 BPM (Beats/Minute)

Maximum Training HR

220-38 (age) = 182 Max HR

182-60 (resting HR) = 122

122 x .85 (min. intensity) + 60 (resting HR)= 164 BPM (Beats/Minute)

Measuring Exercise Heart Rate:

When stopping to check your HR during exercise, using the palpation method, measure the number of beats felt in a 15- or 30-second period and multiply by 4 (for 15 seconds) or 2 (for 30 seconds) to convert to beats per minute (bpm). A 30-second count may be more accurate than a 15-second count, however, the 15-second count is typically used immediately following exercise because HR may decrease rapidly during the recovery period. When counting HR for less than 1 minute, start the count at zero (as a reference point) at the first beat felt and start the time period at that beat.

Why You May Think Your Bathroom Scale is Broken and What To Do About It

Of 1,024 people surveyed by the International Food Information Council Foundation, an education group supported by the food, beverage and agricultural industries, 54% says they are trying to lose weight by changing the amount and types of foods they eat and by increasing their physical activity. So, it’s safe to say that weight loss is something that many people struggle with. However, you may not be struggling. You've been successful thus far at dropping those unwanted pounds and you've been on track with your new eating plan (notice I didn't say diet, as this lifestyle change is permanent, right?) and your workout regimen is going well. You’re slimming down and are more toned than you've been in years, or maybe ever. However, for the past two weeks your weight hasn't gone down even a quarter of a pound. Well, don’t throw those scales out just yet — they aren't broken. You, my slim and trim friend, may have just hit a plateau in your weight loss. Now, you may be saying to yourself am I ever going to lose these last few pounds, or is this the size I’m supposed to be ? Well, that is a very good question. First of all let’s remember that weight loss is unique to every individual due to such factors as age, diet, exercise, gender, genetics and lifestyle; so with that being said your body could very well be “happy” at this weight. According to Jillian Michaels, a plateau is an integral part of weight loss and will happen periodically. It is one of our body’s survival mechanisms to guard against famine by causing our metabolism to slow down when we lower our caloric intake, in order to conserve calories. It will usually break in about three weeks but here are some things to remember and a few tips to try to help it along as you round the bend to your final goal.

The Three Main Components: Diet, Exercise and Holistic Strategies

Diet Tips

  • Do you know your metabolic type? This will help you not only determine how many calories you should be consuming for weight loss and weight maintenance, but also the types of food you should be eating for your metabolic type: fast, balanced, or slow.
  • Eat clean and green as much as you possibly can. Try to eliminate processed foods and opt for fresh fruits and veggies, low fat dairy, healthy fats, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds, lean meats. Try sprouted whole grain bread instead of regular whole wheat bread. Sprouted whole grain breads are lower in calories and higher in fiber and protein content. Also, no alcohol. I know, I know, but you have to tighten the reigns if you want to lose those last few pounds.
  • Detox. Just like you get a tune-up for your car, your body needs one too. Periodic detoxing can help you get rid of an accumulation toxins, of which some symptoms are cellulite and water retention. Toxic waste is stored in fat cells as well as other places throughout the body. Our bodies use fat to hold toxins, which in turn protects our organs, thus sometimes making it hard to lose weight. When we detox, our bodies can release the waste, thereby eliminating the need to hold on to the fat.
  • Water, water and more water. Water helps eliminate toxins from the body that cause bloating and best of all, its calorie free! When exercising Jillian Michaels suggests drinking 12 ounces of water two hours before working out, again 30 minutes before beginning exercise, 4 to 8 ounces every 15 min during exercise and another 12 ounces within 30 minutes of ending workout. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends weighing yourself before and after each exercise session to determine the amount of water that must be replaced, at a rate of 16 oz. of fluid for each pound of weight lost.
  • Reduce sodium intake (should be under 1500mg/day). This can easily achieved by omitting processed foods from your diet and remember to check sodium contents on canned and frozen foods before purchase, even the “natural” ones.
  • Think you've reached a plateau? Vary your caloric intake. Increase your calorie intake for three days (not with junk and processed foods), then go back to your suggested caloric intake for weight loss.

Exercise Tips

  • Vary your exercise routine to keep your body guessing: alternate amount of weight; light weight, high reps one week, then heavy weight, low reps the following week. Change up the exercise that works the same area. For example, if you’re working the chest; one week do push-ups, the next week do chest flies and the next week do chest presses
  • Boost the intensity of training to burn more calories; 30 second blasts of cardio in between strength training during circuit training or 30 seconds of interval training if you’re in the gym, which would be high speed on the treadmill or stationary bike.
  • Make sure you're exercising at your target heart rate for best results. The American Heart Association recommends exercising at a maximum heart rate of 50%-75% for most healthy people, whereas the American College of Sports Medicine's recommendations vary based upon individual fitness levels. In general the American College of Sports Medicine recommends intensity levels for exercise between 64% and 70% to 94% of maximal heart rate. Consider your health history as well as your health goals to adjust the range. For apparently healthy individuals the range would be narrowed to 70%-85% of maximal heart rate, 60%-80% for moderately active, and 40%-50% for beginners or more deconditioned individuals.

Holistic View

  • Self monitoring: are you keeping an exercise and food log? Studies show that people are more successful at weight loss when they write it down because it enables us to be accountable for our actions and eliminates mindless eating.
  • Meditation: are you keeping stress at bay? Stress releases cortisol in the body which can inhibit weight loss. Find 15 minutes per day to sit quietly and restore calm and balance.
  • Creative visualization: are you self sabotaging yourself with negative words and thoughts? Remember the mind is very powerful and our thoughts aid in creating our lives and our experiences. Be kind and gentle with yourself on your weight loss journey. Reward yourself for the accomplishments along the way (not with food). Find a photo of yourself at your ideal weight to use as inspiration. If you don’t have one, then find a magazine tear sheet that realistically represents your goal weight or fitness goal. Visualize yourself at your goal weight and fitness level and most importantly feel good about where you are right now and that you are working to make a better you! References books and DVDs to refer to for more in depth information on creative visualization and the power of the mind: The Secret and What The Bleep Do We Know.

Creating Your Reality...

The Power of The Mind...


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    • profile image

      Charon 7 years ago

      Fab-ooo Darling!!! So many great tips.. Thank you!

    • profile image

      necieb1 7 years ago

      This article definitely has some very helpful tips that I'm going to try!!!

    • profile image

      Naimah 7 years ago

      What a very informative article... Very good advice, points and references... Are you sure you are in the right profession?... I detect a wealth of experience here...!!

    • profile image

      TerriM 7 years ago

      This is really great advice, Ty. Good looking out!!

    • profile image

      Damani 7 years ago

      I agree. Knowing your metabolic type is important if you truly want to see results. Knowledge is just as powerful as the weights you lift!!