Even the most diligent exercisers sometimes hit a weight loss plateau -- that moment when your body stops losing weight, even though you're still doing the same things that helped you slim down to that point. Plateaus may happen when you do the same type and intensity of exercise for a long time, or simply because as you slim down, it gets harder to burn the same amount of calories. Bust through plateaus by adjusting your exercise habits to challenge your body in new ways, and tweaking your diet to ensure you’re still burning off more calories than you consume.
Consider cutting your daily calorie intake by about 200 calories. If this leaves you feeling hungry, reach for protein- and fiber-rich foods, which help you feel fuller longer. Examples include low-fat Greek yogurt with berries, whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, an apple with low-fat string cheese, oatmeal with a side of egg whites or a chicken breast with brown rice.
Add an extra 15 to 30 minutes to your workouts to blast additional calories. If you’re already exhausted at the end of your routine, try adding on just five minutes for a week, then tack on an additional five every week. If you don't have any extra time in your day, add a few high-intensity intervals into your workout instead.
Change up your exercise routine. If you’ve stuck with the same workouts since you began your weight loss plan, your body may no longer be challenged by your usual routine. Choose some new aerobic activities or lift heavier weights during your strength-training workouts.
Reconsider your "cheat days," if they're part of your current plan. Many dieters set aside one day each week to enjoy whichever foods they like, regardless of calorie content. While these indulgent days are great for preventing that deprived feeling, they can hinder weight loss if you eat too much. Instead of having a weekly cheat day, cut back to a single cheat meal to keep your calories under control.
Don’t cut your daily calories below 1,200, or this will leave you hungry and possibly push your body into starvation mode -- which actually makes it harder to burn fat. Instead, exercise more to burn the extra calories you need to break through your plateau.
If you’re not already lifting weights or doing some form of strength-training, start now. Not only does lean muscle give your body a tight, sculpted look, but the more muscle you have, the busier your metabolism will be, even at rest.