You're eating right, exercising, and yet you are no longer losing weight. You've hit a plateau. Plateaus are common to anybody who's been on the same diet and exercise plan for a while. In this article, you'll read about the techniques professionals use to break free of a plateau, find resources and tips to help you, and learn how to cope with the changes.
If you've been eating right and exercising, chances are you've been losing weight at a rate of one or two pounds a week. However, as you get closer to your optimum weight, it usually gets harder to lose those last few pounds. "You know you've hit a plateau when more than two weeks have gone by without any further change in your weight," says Nicole Hudson, a nutrition consultant in private practice in New York City. "Many times, people slip out of plateaus on their own, but it can get discouraging to wait it out."
What do you do then? Although it's tempting to slip into crash diets, the best way to break the plateau is to review your current weight-loss program and try to find where the problem is.
Keep a Food Diary
As you get comfortable with your diet, it's easy to stop paying attention and fall back into old habits. A nibble here, a slightly larger snack, an extra glass of wine… It's usually the little things that make all the difference. Starting a food diary will help you become more aware of what you're actually eating. Most people underestimate amounts by up to 20 percent. "I think journaling is a good idea," says Karen Sullivan, a health coach and AFPA Certified Personal Trainer. "It helps you stay honest with yourself […]. As long as you are in denial you will never reach your goals. Seeing it in black and white is the best way to break that plateau."
To keep a food diary, start with a blank notebook and for a week, record everything you eat (down to a piece of gum or cup of coffee), when you ate it, how much, and how hungry you were before and after. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a food diary must contain not only the food you ate, but also what were you doing and who you were with when you ate. "It will make you aware of any negative patterns," says Hudson.
It's important to be truthful to yourself and not change your eating habits while keeping the diary. Also, remember to be specific --A baked potato is not the same as a baked potato with gravy and butter.
Need a little inspiration? Check Diet Diaries, an online journal of people tracking their food intake in public! You can start your own food diary for free, or simply browse the website to see how others are dealing with the diet woes.