How to Break Through Your Weight Loss Plateau

When you’ve been losing weight steadily and suddenly hit a plateau, it can be really discouraging. Feeling like your progress is stalled is frustrating, but it doesn’t need to be a temptation to give up or turn to extreme measures. Instead, try these six healthy and effective means for getting back on a straight path towards your weight loss goals.

Get Back on Track with Tracking

It feels great when our eating habits start to feel so second nature that we can stick to them without a plan or tracking. Sometimes, we let little things slip without noticing when we neglect to track.

If you are one of the many who are experiencing a weight loss stall, I recommend revisiting tracking and food journaling. The goal of tracking is to be sure your calories intake and macro distribution are on point. With consistent food journaling, you just might notice that little changes in your eating are having an impact on your progress, which will allow you to adjust course and get back on track.

Take Note of Portion Sizes

As you keep your food journal or record in an app, it’s a good time to take note of your portion sizes. Even if you’re eating all the right things, too much could keep you from dropping weight.

More specifically, there are a few foods that require a little extra care that are still super healthy for your body. Healthy fats like nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado should be a part of your balanced diet, but they should be consumed in their recommended portion size. Without careful monitoring, you might be eating more than you intended!

One way to control your portions, especially if you’re busy with work, school, or taking care of a family, is to portion out snacks in advance.

Be Mindful of Your Hunger

Eating at certain times of the day can become a ritual as much as it can be about hunger. If you’re not losing weight, mindfulness might help you spot the problem.

Mindful eating takes the time to note your hunger, your cravings, and the emotions you are experiencing before moving ahead with a meal or snack. Sometimes, we reach for a snack because we’re bored, nervous, lonely, or tired. If you find that to be the case, honor those emotions by accepting them for what they are instead of trying to mask them with food.

Eat More of the Right Foods

How’s your veggie intake lately? Sometimes life is busy, and that keeps us reaching for convenience foods. Even if those foods still meet your calorie goals, your body needs a well-balanced diet to perform at its very best.

Get back to the basics as you plan your meals, focusing on plenty of variety in the foods you eat—starting with a ton of vegetables. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

And Less of the Wrong Foods

Artificial sweeteners might be calorie free, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good choice, especially when you’re trying to make lasting changes to your health and your body.

What we know about sweeteners is that they can actually create cravings, even though they’re sugar-free. This is because the brain responds to sweet tastes the same way, even if that sweet taste comes from a sweetener instead of real sugar. Cravings are hard to manage and might have you reaching for treats and snacks that aren’t a part of your plan.The same less-is-more approach should be applied to alcohol, even low-calorie or low-carb cocktails can stand in your way of reaching your weight loss goals.

Be Prepared

A big part of the healthy living battle can be won with preparation. By prepping your meals and snacks before your busy week begins, you can eliminate the pressure of decision making on the go. Your decision to eat good foods has already been made, all you need to to do is reach in the fridge and grab what you’ve prepped.

The same goes working out. If you’re having a hard time getting to the gym, do everything you can to prepare the night before. Lay out your clothes, get the coffee pot programmed, and set your alarm.

Food Freedom: Breaking Up With Junk Food

Breaking up with junk food isn’t easy. Overeating is one of the reasons many people spend so much money on weight loss products and gym memberships without seeing the body transformation they wish for.

For some, eating clean is much more complicated than coming up with the right meal plan or prepping their food in advance. There are actually those who are so hooked on food, they feel like that can’t say no. That’s why groups like Overeaters Anonymous exists, and it’s why we need to talk about health in a more nuanced way, giving less attention to fad diets.

I want to take a closer look at food addiction. I wanted to share a little research on this struggle that keeps people from reaching their health goals and share how to start taking steps towards freedom from food addiction so you can start living your life on your terms.

Facts About Food Addiction

Food addiction hasn’t been technically defined. You won’t find it in the DSM-V alongside other mental health disorders.

That being said, there is emerging research that indicates that there are certain eating behaviors that mimic a substance abuse disorder. Some of the most convincing evidence is summarized in a research review published in the journal Nutrients in 2018. They gathered years of research on food addiction and carefully examined it against the criteria that exist for evaluating substance abuse disorders. These criteria included consuming more than healthy or more than you planned, making risky choices like consuming foods even when you are observing adverse effects, and experiencing withdrawal when you’re not consuming the substance.

What their research determined was that there is a lot of convincing evidence that food addiction is a real problem because individuals who were over-consuming were exhibiting these “tell-tale” behaviors of addiction. They also determined that foods that have added sugar or sweeteners and are high in fat result in the most addictive behaviors.

Fighting Food Addiction

All of us build emotional relationships with food whether we know it or not. Often, we eat as a result of a stressful situation in life that triggers us to seek immediate alleviation or pleasure. For example, you have a bad day at work, and the first thing you do when you come home is pouring a glass of red wine. Maybe that’s not you, perhaps you experience anxiety and look for comfort with one of your favorite sugary snacks.

Certain foods elicit chemical responses in the body that possess the power to change our emotions and the way we feel. If you find temporary relief or refuge in food, this can become a vicious, unhealthy cycle. The good news is that there are ways to gain freedom from your food hang-ups, starting with knowing your triggers and changing your lifestyle and reaching out for help.

How To Find Food Freedom


Know your trigger foods. We know that certain foods are linked to addictive behaviors, specifically those that are high in sugar and fat. If you’re a food addict, you might not be able to eat those things in moderation, at least for now. Keep foods that are especially tempting out of your house.


Know your trigger situations. The foods we eat and the emotions we feel are definitely linked. If you pay close attention, you just might notice that you are more likely to overeat when you’re lonely, stressed out, or in social situations. Being mindful of this can help you gain some ground and you might benefit from a little accountability when you are put in these situations.


Start a new habit. Have you ever tried to break a habit but found yourself returning to it over and over again? Sometimes it is helpful to replace an old habit with a new one. If you mindlessly snack at night, find a new way to fill that time.


Try Whole30. One of the things I love about Whole30 is that it helps individuals pay close attention to their food habits and gain freedom from addictive behaviors. If you’re looking for a good place to start, I highly recommend Melissa Hartwig’s Food Freedom Forever which not only details the program, it also provides insight into dealing with being hooked on junk food.


Get some outside help. For some, learning to avoid foods that trigger us and being mindful of difficult food situations is enough to move forward towards a healthier relationship with food. For others, outside help and accountability is needed. There are counselors and nutritionists who specialize in disordered eating and accountability groups like Overeaters Anonymous. I highly recommend both of these approaches to anyone who feels like food is controlling their life.

How to Perform a Bridge Press

Combining a glute bridge with a dumbbell chest press is a great minimal equipment exercise option if your training at home and don’t have access to a bench, or looking for new ways to challenge the core, hips, glutes, and chest muscles. One of the things to focus on during this exercise is maintaining the position of the hips—not allowing the hips to tilt to one side or the other as your perform the press or drop downward towards the floor.

Step 1

Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on your back with your knees bent and arms extended out in front of you. Drive through the arches of both feet to lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line.


Step 2

Keep your glutes tight and hold your hips elevated off the floor, slowly lower the arms and allow the hands to separate, keeping them just inside the elbows.


Step 3

Continue to lower the arms until the upper arm is about parallel with the floor, with the hands slightly inside the elbows.


Step 4

Keep your core strong, hold the down-position briefly, slowly exhale, and press the arms and dumbbells back to the starting position.


Step 5

Be sure to engage your abs throughout the exercise. Try to keep your hips pelvis throughout the exercise—your hips shouldn’t tilt or sag as you perform the dumbbell press. Repeat the bridge press for the specified amount of reps or time.

Bridge Press: SHOCK App

Should I Do Cardio Or Weights First in My Workouts?

Building a workout routine is a big undertaking, especially when there is so much information available online. Performing both strength and cardio are important if you wish to lose weight and build lean muscle. If you’re planning to tackle both kinds of exercise on a single day, here’s what you need to know about which of the two should get priority at the start of your routine.

CONSIDER YOUR GOALS

There are many variables to consider when you’re building a workout routine. One of the most important questions to answer is: what are your fitness goals?

Most of the time, people are working out for one of three reasons — they want to lose weight, they want to build muscle, or they want to improve how they feel. The right exercise routine will help you accomplish all of these things, but deciding which is more important to you will help you decide on the order of your routine.

If building muscle is your top priority, it is a good idea to consider doing your strength training as soon as you hit the gym. One study showed that individuals who paired endurance with strength training but did their strength training first were able to pull off more reps at higher weights than those who did their cardio workout first. This is supported by another study which included different combinations of endurance and strength training performed in that order. Compared to their control group, the participates who were doing cardio before their weight training saw their performance decrease.

FIND YOUR FORMULA

The best method to ensure you get the most out of your strength and cardio training is to break up your workouts. For example, lift weights in the morning and go for a run in the evening or vice versa. If breaking up your workouts isn’t an option — I suggest to start with strength training to ensure you get the maximal muscle-building benefits and perform cardio after.

In terms of fighting off fat, both resistance exercises and cardiovascular activity are critical. When you gain muscle, it raises your metabolic rate, which helps you burn fat faster. Muscle tone requires muscle growth, a much harder fitness component and one worthy of your focused time and effort. Avoid the common mistake of prioritizing cardio over lifting. Muscle growth boosts fat metabolism. The more muscle you have the more fat you burn. Each pound of lean muscle burns up to 50 calories per day. By adding 8 pounds of lean muscle, you will burn up to 400 more calories per day you weren’t burning. For a better perspective, walk on the treadmill and see how long it takes to burn 400 additional calories. Compare that to the potential of burning these calories while doing nothing!

What does this mean for you and your workout routine? Prioritize strength or cardio based on your goals. If you have a personal preference to get one workout over with first before you move on to the next, that’s OK too. The most important thing is that you are using an exercise routine you can maintain over time that benefits your health for the long term.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Fasting isn’t a new practice, it is something that humans have been using for centuries. However, it has recently blown up in the health and wellness space. It’s a trend that certain fitness professionals and coaches are suggesting for weight loss, but it may be oversold as a magic solution for struggling dieters.

There are a few different approaches to intermittent fasting.

The first and perhaps the most common is the practice of shortening your eating window. This can be done by skipping breakfast, eating an early dinner, and avoiding all before-bed snacking. Others might take an opposite approach, eating an early breakfast, a healthy lunch, a snack before 3 pm, and then fasting for the rest of the day until breakfast. The primary goal, whether you’re fasting in the morning or evening, is to fast for 16 out of 24 hours a day.

Other, less commonly used approaches to intermittent fasting include fasting for a full 24 hours, twice a week or drastically reducing calorie intake to roughly 500 calories twice a week.

Proponents of intermittent fasting push this lifestyle change for a few specific reasons. They believe that a shorter eating window will help control appetite, result in fat loss, reduce hunger cravings, and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

If you want the short answer, I say intermittent fasting does work for the right people.

The longwinded answer? There is research to back this claim up. For instance, in 2018 a study was published in Food Science and Nutrition examining weight loss experienced by women using intermittent fasting compared to women who were restricting calorie intake consistently. Researchers found that weight loss between these two groups was comparable. It is also worth pointing out that the group that practiced intermittent fasting didn’t practice overeating as compensation for restrictive days, which is a concern many people express about fasting.

Insulin sensitivity refers to how responsive your cells are to insulin. Improving it can help you reduce insulin resistance and the risk of many diseases, including diabetes. Another 2018 study published in Cell Metabolism took a close look at intermittent fasting for the purpose of increasing insulin sensitivity in individuals. The results were pretty convincing, reporting increased sensitivity in individuals who practiced intermittent fasting in the morning as well as a decrease in blood pressure. Interestingly enough, even individuals who didn’t lose weight experienced these results.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

The fitness community is quick to oversell a diet or lifestyle change as a magic fix. The truth about intermittent fasting is that the way it works is so much more common sense than we make it out to be.

The least-scientific and most straightforward explanation for how IF works is that it helps you naturally eat less. One study found that young men ate 650 fewer calories per day when their food intake was restricted to a four-hour window. Another study in 24 healthy men and women looked at the effects of a long, 36-hour fast on eating habits. Despite consuming extra calories on the post-fast day, participants dropped their total calorie balance by 1,900 calories, a significant reduction.

At its most basic, weight loss is always about taking in fewer calories than we are burning each day.

Think about it like this — if someone were to eat five Big Mac burgers from McDonald’s every day, they’re probably not going to lose any weight. However, if that person starts practicing intermittent fasting and cuts down their Big Mac intake from five to one or even two burgers a day, they’ve drastically decreased how many calories they’re eating, and they’re most likely going to lose weight—at least for a period of time.

Creating a caloric deficit is one of the simple ways intermittent fasting works as a weight loss (fat loss) tool. Whether you’re shortening your eating window each day or fasting for 24 hours, twice a week, you are consuming fewer calories.

Should Women try IF?

Intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women as it is for men. To reduce any adverse effects, women should take a mild approach to fast: shorter fasts and fewer fasting days.

For more information regarding IF specific to women, I encourage you to read Mark Sisson’s (founder of Primal Kitchen) excellent piece titled “Should Women Fast?”  His conclusion to this question as it stands for now:

“I’d be inclined to agree that pre-menopausal (and perhaps peri-menopausal) women are more likely to have poor—or at least different—experiences with intermittent fasting (at least as a weight loss tool). That said, it appears to be a potentially gender-neutral therapeutic tool for chemotherapy, cancer, and age-related neurodegeneration patients.” – Mark Sisson

Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?

Intermittent fasting isn’t right for everyone. I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who has a history with an eating disorder. I think individuals who have made a habit of over-restricting in the past should look for alternative options.

In a 2014 study published by the International Journal of Obesity, a point is made that I think is worth pointing out — whether you’re using intermittent fasting or some other weight loss measure, what successful weight loss strategies share in common is that they are simple to stick with long-term. More specifically, they need to be safe, not requiring extreme calorie reduction. They also need to be satisfying, if a diet feels overly restrictive or boring, it is so hard to stick it out for the long term.

This means that, before you commit to intermittent fasting for the long term, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Can you stick with it for the long-term? Does it provide you with a satisfying method for reducing your calorie intake? Can you use intermittent fasting with indulging in compensatory overeating when you’re done fasting?

I don’t like to see anyone using intermittent fasting as their only tool for healthy living. Fasting should be paired with eating a diet low in sugar, rich in whole foods, high in protein and blended with regular strength workouts and cardiovascular training.

Consistency is everything when it comes to fat-loss, but don’t beat yourself up when you face obstacles. If you slip up and eat a donut for breakfast, don’t think, “I’m a failure.” Acknowledge that while you may have gone off course today, you will do better tomorrow. Intermittent fasting may work for you! If you’re in a rut, consider giving IF a chance.

Intermittent fasting is one of many potentially useful fat loss methods. That being said, it is only a tool. It is not a magic fix or the ‘perfect diet.’ There isn’t a single dietary solution that works for everyone. The ‘perfect diet’ is the healthy dietary lifestyle that is sustainable for YOU! This is the type of diet that is going to give you weight loss and an overall increase in your well being, which is our real goal for any lifestyle change. If intermittent fasting happens to work for you, great!  If it doesn’t, there are plenty of other dietary solutions that may be more fit for you and your fitness goals.

A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO THE KETO DIET

These days, the keto diet gets a ton of attention. This diet promises big weight loss results for those who stick with eating high-fat and low-carb foods. At face value, it almost seems too good to be true, but there is a lot of science (and real results!) to back up these amazing claims.

In a world that was once obsessed with low-fat foods and low-calorie diets, the ketogenic diet might seem foreign and unfamiliar. It has real potential for both women and men who are struggling to meet their weight loss goals. Here’s what you need to know about the ketogenic diet, including the pros and cons of committing yourself to keto, and how you can make it work for you and your specific fitness goals. 

GETTING TO KNOW THE KETO DIET

The keto diet is all about putting your body into ketosis by eating fat — and lots of it. Typically, the body runs on carbohydrates, burning glucose as a source of energy. However, if your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn, it will burn fat as fuel. As a result, the liver produces ketones. This process is known as ketosis. 

Ketosis is a completely normal process in the body, but most people eat enough carbohydrates so that their body doesn’t enter a ketogenic state. It is possible to intentionally trigger ketosis by eating roughly 50 grams of carbohydrate (or less) each day and increasing your fat intake. This allows your body to run on fats, which means you burn more fat, and lose weight as a result.

At its most basic, following a ketogenic diet requires you to comply with a very unique ratio of macronutrients—carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Your carbohydrate intake should only account for 10% of your calories each day. 20% of your calories should come from protein. What’s left is dedicated entirely to fat. This means that 70% of your caloric intake each day should come from fats. 

PROS AND CONS OF A KETOGENIC DIET

Like any nutrition plan, there are both pros and cons to a ketogenic diet. There is no one-size-fits-all diet, so it’s important to understand the limitations of any diet plan before you get started. Let’s look at the downsides of the keto diet first and then we’ll discuss the benefits. 

KETO CONS

We live in a world that wants everything to be instant. But when it comes to strength training and diet, it just doesn’t work this way. There is no magic pill. It takes hard work and dedication! For many, the biggest drawback of eating keto is that it takes time for your body to adjust. Remember, ketosis is something you have to trigger in your body. Until your body knows burning fat for fuel is the new norm, it will burn glucose (sugar) first. On a high fat, low carb diet, it could take between one and two weeks to become adapted into a ketogenic state. 

It’s important to know that, at face value, the keto diet looks like an opportunity to eat as much cheese, bacon, and steak as your heart desires. This is NOT the case! The truth is, this is still a diet and requires you to not only restrict your carbohydrate intake but also pay attention to serving sizes and your overall calorie intake for the day. For some, having to live even one day without high carbohydrate foods is torture! 

Lastly, the keto diet requires a good amount of planning and prep work. You can’t just leave the house for the day and assume you’ll find foods that fit your needs. This doesn’t mean you can’t stick with keto if you’re busy, but it does mean you are going to have to be smart and plan ahead. Meal preparation will make or break your success on a ketogenic diet.

KETO PROS

The most obvious benefit you’ll experience while on a ketogenic diet is fat loss. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that high-fat, low-carb dieters were able to achieve significantly more fat loss than those who complied with a low-fat diet. That’s one of many studies I could mention.

When you eat fat, your body releases key hormones that trigger a feeling of fullness and satiety. This is why ketogenic dieters often report reduced food cravings, a lower appetite, and more energy. Additionally, there is research that supports the use of a ketogenic diet for reducing the risk of diabetes, because it lowers insulin resistance, and reducing the risk of heart disease.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

Without planning, it is difficult to succeed on the ketogenic diet. Here’s what you need to know before you get started. 

  • Meal planning and meal prep will be your best friend when you’re on a ketogenic diet. Nothing sets you up for failure like getting too hungry or too busy without easy meal options. I suggest sitting down once a week, mapping out every meal and snack, and doing as much prep work as possible on the weekends.
  • For incredibly busy days, it is so helpful to have keto-friendly convenience food options. I’ve been doing the research (and testing many products!) and reporting on the best keto-friendly snacks on my Instagram account.
  • Using ketone testing strips is an excellent way to make sure you’re eating the right macros to get into ketosis. You can purchase testing strips on Amazon, and this is a great way to stay on track. 
  • The ketogenic diet is all about eating plenty of fat. Don’t fear saturated fats, choose fats that are as unprocessed as possible, and avoid fats and oils found in processed, packaged foods that were made in a factory. The fats that get the green light when it comes to the keto diet—and good health in general—can be broken down into four categories: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), and naturally occurring trans fats. The truth is that all fats contain a mixture of these types, but the one that’s dominant is how we categorize them. You’re going to want to stay away from processed trans fats, and artificial trans fats, both of these can be damaging to your health. 
  • When you’re eating low-carb, the water-stores in the body are more quickly depleted. This means you need to drink a lot of water to make sure your body stays hydrated. I suggest using this calculator by Bodybuilding.com to figure out just how much water you need to drink each day. 
  • Stick with it! A lot of ketogenic dieters experience what they call the “keto-flu.” Weaning your body off of tons of sugar and processed food is rough. And, as your body is adapting to burning fat instead of glucose, you might notice your energy is low. This feeling won’t last, I promise. 

TAKE AWAY

When you look at studies, a lot of the research is biased for or against high-fat diets, low carb, high protein diets. Finding unbiased studies is tough. Most studies are looking for a particular outcome. But a lot of current nutritional science (and real results!) back up the amazing claims made by keto diet proponents. 

Just like any other diet or nutrition plan, you should approach the keto diet with your individual needs and goals in mind. It may be necessary to adjust your macros or your daily calorie intake until you find what is a good fit for your body.

Be patient, stay the course, and don’t be afraid of fat! Dietary fat can be perfectly healthy and can play a primary role in a fat loss diet. Be sure to vary your sources of fat intake. Listen to your body! Eat when you’re hungry and prepare foods that taste good. You may notice you need to supplement with fiber or you may need to add a little protein to enhance your exercise performance and results. It might take time to make this change, it’s a learning process, but the potential for life-changing results on the ketogenic diet can be well worth the effort.

Keto Diet Resources

Intermittent Fasting

Keto Calculator

Healthline: Ketogenic Diet

Diet Doctor: Keto Diet For Beginners

Keto Dash: Keto Recipes and More