Count Your Calories
Another big reason we hit plateaus is because we underestimate the amount of calories we're eating. For example, you might think that you're only taking in 1,400 calories per day, when in reality that one trip through the drive-thru was 1,400 calories by itself! (Not to mention the 36 grams of fat in the hamburger alone.) What about the salad dressing you had at lunch? Did you count the calories that you nibbled while cooking dinner? Or the French fries you sneaked from your kid's Happy Meal?
Almost everything you ingest contains calories, and after a while they really start to add up. Take an honest look at what you're eating and drinking. If you think your diet might be the culprit for your plateau, keep a strict food journal to account for everything you're eating for a week to discover those "hidden" calories. Remember, you must add up everything! That means the dollop of cream in your coffee, the crusts from your toddler's peanut butter sandwich … even your evening glass of wine!
The Magic Pill
OK, there really isn't a magic pill, but we got your attention. Strength training is the closest thing to a magic pill we have. If you haven't started strength training workouts, what are you waiting for? Strength training is an excellent way to zap a plateau because it raises your metabolism. That means you burn calories more efficiently and burn them while resting. (Yes, we said resting!)
The proof is in the science. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), one pound of muscle consumes 35 to 50 calories per day, where one pound of fat only burns six calories. Hm ... I'll take the muscle, please! Don't worry; strength training will not give you big muscles like the guys. However, it will jump start your metabolism again and change your body composition. Not only will your body turn into a calorie burning machine, you'll look smaller too! This is due to muscle being more dense (taking up less space) than fat. Add muscle and you'll appear smaller and leaner even if the scale doesn't show any weight loss.
Plateaus are discouraging and frustrating, but they're not the end of the world. Do not give up. Do not stop. Keep up the great work!