How to Break Through a Weight-Loss Plateau

woman on scaleFitness plateaus are very common — and very frustrating — for those who exercise regularly. Even the most dedicated of my brides encounters times when their workouts don’t seem as effective, and their progress seems to come to a halt. Making a few small changes to your fitness routine and diet should help you break through that plateau and have you on the way to looking and feeling great on your big day!

Change up your workouts, and you can change your body.
Have you been doing the same routine for months without change? Well, your muscles are bored! Because our bodies adapt quickly to exercise, variety is the key to continued success. Never stay committed to one exercise routine, group fitness class (unless it’s mine, because I mix it up all the time),  or cardio choice. 
Use the F.I.T.T principle — frequency, intensity, time and type —  to change your workout routine; this can be adapted for both cardio and strength training.

Frequency: Increase or decrease how often you work out.
Intensity: Increase or decrease the difficulty or level at which you work out.
Time: Increase or decrease how long your workout sessions last.
Type: Change the type of exercises you perform.

Since frequency and time are typically limited by your schedule, start by playing with the intensity and type of workouts you do. For example, cardio exercise intensity can easily be varied through speed, incline, distance, etc. (check out my Pace Yourself treadmill workout). And, of course, the types of exercises are practically endless, so exercisers should never have the excuse that they have no exercise options. Good cardio examples include walking, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, and more. In addition, combining several of these exercises into one workout session can be very effective and fun. Try 10 minutes each of three different exercises.

Strength-training intensity can also easily be manipulated with changes to amount of weight you lift, number of reps, rest time, number of sets, and more. Even simply switching the order of the exercises can prove effective. Using new types of training equipment every four to six weeks can also result in big improvements because each type of equipment will work the muscle groups in a slightly different manner. Gear options include free weights, Bosu™ balls, resistance bands, kettlebells, and stability balls, just to name a few.

So, to reduce your chances of hitting a plateau, remember the F.I.T.T. principle. Approximately every four to six weeks, change at least one element of your workout routine to keep your body guessing.

Don’t sabotage your hard work by skimping on proper nutrition.
When it comes to diet, most brides think, "I’ll keep cutting calories, and then I should lose more weight, right?" This couldn’t be further from the truth. You can actually sabotage your progress by cutting out too many calories. When your body isn’t getting enough calories, your metabolism will slow down, making it harder to lose weight. The converse is true as well. Some brides think, "I’m exercising, so it’s okay to have that extra helping. I’ll burn it off tomorrow."

It’s important to know how many calories you need to reach your goal. In general, a healthy eating plan is roughly 1200 calories (more or less depending upon current weight and activity level — use this calculator for your estimate). Since I’m not a big fan of calorie counting, I’ll make even simpler: Just think about what you eat before you eat it. You know that stack of cookies or an extra dinner roll is not worth it.

Watching what you eat doesn’t have to be an "exercise" in deprivation. Minor adjustments to your cooking and consumption will effect of weight loss and can help break through your plateau. 
If you need workout ideas or advice on diet, email me at [email protected].

—Bonne Marcus

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

bonne marcusGuest blogger: Bonne Marcus
A fitness industry expert for 27 years, Marcus holds numerous certifications from the Aerobic Fitness Association of America (AFAA), including Step, Spin, Bosu™, Pre/Post Natal, Youth Fitness, Aqua, and Personal Training. She has taught for New York City’s top health clubs, including Crunch, New York Health and Racquet, and Reebok Sports Club. A recognized name on Long Island, Bonne has taught at Dany Holdstein’s Two Worlds, North Shore Health Club, LA Fitness, Sport time, Equinox and currently teaches at the Sid Jacobsen JCC in Roslyn. Learn more at