Breaking Through Your Weight Plateau

You exercise regularly. You watch what you eat. And, still you can’t seem to lose those last few extra pounds. Is it hopeless? Is there no solution to the weight plateau problem?

Don’t get discouraged. I, too, have found myself in this predicament in the past. And, it is possible to overcome. But, there are a few things that need to be considered.

First of all, are you constantly stepping on your scales to see if you’ve lost any more weight? If so, STOP! Avoid weighing yourself too frequently, or you may find yourself feeling a bit despondent. Even if you lose several pounds rather quickly in the beginning of your weight-loss program, the closer you get to achieving your weight-loss goal, the slower the weight tends to fall off. This is partly due to the fact that your body likely hasn’t as much fat to lose! It now has more lean tissue.

Also, as you work out, the muscles in your body become more developed. And, as most of us know, muscle weighs more than fat! Then, there are days when you simply retain fluids and weigh a pound or two more than you did the day before! Let’s face it! The scales can be deceptive. I try my best to stay away from them!

A better way to judge whether you’re slimming down is by monitoring the way your clothes fit. If a pair of pants fits looser now than it did a couple weeks ago, then, chances are that you’re making progress towards your goal! Something else to consider, too, is whether your weight-loss goal is reasonable for your body type. Are you trying to lose more weight than your body can afford to lose?

Keep Track of What You Eat

Secondly, keep track of what you eat, and be sure to exercise. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume! In fact, to lose just one pound of fat, you need to burn approximately 3,500 calories! This generally takes from 3 days to one week. You may try to control your weight by merely controlling your food intake. Ideally, however, you should both watch what you consume and burn calories through exercise, if you really want to drop those last few pounds.

By tracking what you eat, you may discover that you’re actually consuming a great deal more calories than you had imagined. Stay away from those potato chips and soft drinks! But don’t starve yourself, either! If you eat too few calories, your body will try to protect itself by slowing down its metabolism and hanging onto its fat for survival.

If you continue to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet, but those last few pounds still won’t fall off, perhaps, you need to give your metabolism a little boost by increasing the amount of exercise you get or by increasing the intensity of your workouts. If you usually walk for 30 minutes, why not try to add another 15 minutes to your walks? Or, instead of walking, how about giving jogging a chance?

Add weight training to your workouts, as well, if you haven’t already done so. Lifting weights helps build muscle mass, which, in turn, burns more calories than does fat. Sometimes, simply by changing up your exercise routine a bit, the weight-loss will start again.

If you seem to be stuck on a weight-loss plateau, don’t give up hope! Just remember:

  • Avoid weighing yourself everyday! Once a week, or even less, is often enough!
  • Pay attention to your diet! Eat healthy, balanced meals. Avoid too much fat and too many calories. Don’t under-eat!
  • Drink plenty of water! Water helps speed up the metabolism. Additionally, if you drink a glass before each meal, it will help to decrease your appetite, and encourage you to eat less.
  • Get plenty of exercise. If necessary, increase the length of your workouts and/or the intensity of your workouts. Vary the types of exercise you incorporate into your workouts, as well.

Good luck on your weight-loss endeavors!

The Ideal Running and Walking Surface

I have been running for approximately 30 years. I realized some time back that if I were going to continue this form of exercise into my later years, I would need to consider the ramification of the constant impact to my legs, ankles, knees and joints. These days I avoid running on any hard surface like asphalt or concrete. When I travel to an urban environment, and I am forced to run on a non-forgiving surface, I pay the price the next day.

When I was in my 30’s I would run on asphalt streets in da great city of Chicago. I started having trouble with my right knee. It got to the point where it was painful to even cross my legs. I went to the doctor and he suggested that I was beginning to suffer from arthritis from all of my previous years of running. That was not an acceptable answer. I switched my running regimen to a well-rutted dirt path at the local park, and joined the local health club to use their treadmills when Chicago winters prevented outdoor exercising. Gradually the aches and pains disappeared.

As I edge towards 50 I limit my running to wooded trails or a treadmill. Although I may not jump out of bed as quickly as when I was in my 20’s, I can say that all of my joints are in reasonable working condition. I seldom suffer from any strains or stress.

According to a clinical study of 4,000 runners by the Southern California Podiatrist John Pagliano, one of the five leading causes of injury is an improper running surface. The other four are “training errors, inadequate shoes, faulty biomechanics and muscle dysfunction/inflexibility.”

Of course, no one surface fits every runners needs. Some prefer trails, others desire treadmills, and then there are those who favor the feel of sand under their feet. Each surface has its’ virtues and drawbacks. Overall, the best surface is one that is moderately smooth and level. The worse surface is one that is rock hard and irregular. An unforgiving hard surface creates the most shock to your joints. An irregular surface is a minefield for twisted muscles.

Below are the pros and cons of various running surfaces. This would also apply to walking.

Dirt/Grass Surface

Pros – Running on dirt or grass will offer the lowest impact. There is that natural absorption. Nothing beats running on a smooth manicured lawn, like the kind you would find at a city park or golf course fairway. Beware of flying little round white balls.

Cons – Unfortunately most dirt trails or grassy fields are rough and uneven. You are more prone to twist an ankle. On trails it is important to watch out for leaves that cover rocks, exposed roots or pinecones. You rarely get to view your surroundings since you need to focus on each step you take.

Treadmills

Pros – On quality treadmills you have a surface that is smooth, level and cushioned. In fact, many of the high-end treadmills offer an optional extra thick orthopedic treadbelt (just like running on grass). With pre-set and user designated programs you can vary your workout with different speeds and inclines. And you can watch CNN or the Comedy Channel. The added advantage of running indoors is that you avoid the uncertainties of the weather. Running on snow and ice sucks.

Cons – Running on a treadmill can be boring and you seem to never get anywhere. You are always where you started. Also, you can’t compete with the exhilaration of running in the great outdoors on that perfect spring/summer/fall day.

Asphalt/Concrete Surface

Pros – For outdoor running in an urban area asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks are the most accessible surface. And except for an occasional pot hole (which are very occasional in Chicago), you are assured of a smooth well-maintained surface.

Cons – Road running on asphalt can beat on nearly all of your lower body muscles and tendons, in addition to straining your lower back. In particular, concrete is 10 times harder then asphalt. It batters all your bones, muscles and connective tissue. Can you say stress fracture?

My preference is running on trails. It gives me that rare opportunity to be outdoors. Over the years I have learned to tread lightly and react quickly to unseen, uneven obstacles. When the weather does not cooperative or my time is limited a treadmill is my alternative choice. I can get both my exercise and my daily dose of news at that same time.