By Raphael Calzadilla
eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
Most of the time, my biggest struggle with people is getting them to be consistent. It’s not possible to lose fat at a steady pace if you’re constantly going on and off your diet or fitness plan. I’m not suggesting perfection, but there must be a level of consistency.
This is very frustrating for individuals trying to shed fat. Although they want to succeed, they struggle with self-discipline. The end result is guilt and shame — two bad boys on the emotion list.
There’s an even more frustrating situation then this, however. What about the person who’s been on a specific diet and workout plan for a period of time but finds that nothing is happening? What then?
Breathe a sigh of relief because I’m here to tell you that there is a solution. Here is my eight-step plan for breaking through the dreaded weight-loss plateau:
1. First, there must be a plan for food intake — aka your diet. If you eat haphazardly throughout the day, then I honestly can’t help you. However, if you’re using one of the eDiets food plans, then you can easily determine the amount of calories you take in per day, as well as the ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats. In fact, all that work is already done for you by eDiets.
This is vital because you need to know what you’re consuming in order to manipulate your program; you can’t make wild guesses.
2. You must have a workout plan that includes weight training, cardiovascular exercise and flexibility. The number of workouts need not exceed five days of cardio (no more than an hour) and three to four days of weight training, unless you’re a competitive athlete.
3. Make sure you know and record your scale weight and measurements. Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing wrong with weighing yourself once per week. Even if you get a body composition test (also called body fat tests), you’ll still have to step on a scale.
4. Remain on the program for three weeks and don’t make any changes at all. If you start reducing food or increasing activity before the three-week point, you might sabotage your efforts. It’s important to have a clear starting point.
Some people stay on a specific program for months and never make a change — that’s insanity. After three weeks, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t have some degree of fat loss.
If you’re losing up to 1 to 2 pounds per week, you’re on the right track. Even a bit less is fine.
If you haven’t lost weight, it’s time to make a change.
5. At this point, I do not recommend adding more activity and manipulating calories. Do one or the other — not both. It’s vital to have an understanding of what’s working. The change in parameters needs to be tightly controlled. Reduce your daily caloric intake by 150 (assuming it does not fall below 1,200 calories).
Here comes the tricky part. In some cases, you might not be eating enough, so calories would need to actually increase. You can’t work out six days per week for 90 minutes and take in 1,200 calories per day. You most likely won’t lose fat — the body will rebel. This is one of the reasons I always tell members to call eDiets nutrition support and always mention their activity level. We need that information to increase or decrease calories.
I realize you may be confused as to the lowering or increasing of calories, but that’s why we’re here.
6. If you haven’t lost weight in two weeks, I would then increase activity –but do not decrease or increase food intake. Again, exercise tight control — you want to know the formula that works for you.
7. Allow 10 days to pass. Most people are losing fat by now and have the formula for their personal success. It may sound like a hassle, but it’s actually not that many weeks when you consider your entire lifetime.
8. If you’re still at a plateau, it may be time to shift the ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats. It’s possible that the food plan you’re using isn’t working efficiently with your biochemistry.
It may take 6-8 weeks to break the plateau (for some), but there is a solution. Yes, it takes some work and effort. However, once you have the formula, you’re home free. Always check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program.