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Hit a Weight Loss Plateau? Don't Sleep Through These 7 Tips

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By Joe Cross

For years, I was in denial about my weight. I would look in the mirror and see the same healthy guy from my early 20s. It wasn't until my 40th birthday that I had my "aha" moment. It looked like I had swallowed a sheep!

Years of guzzling processed foods and dodging exercise had caught up to me. I wasn't just fat. I was sick too and taking prescription drugs to try to maintain a normal existence.

I know firsthand that weight loss can be a long journey, and sometimes it makes you feel like you're losing a battle. You may commit to new habits and lose a few pounds. But suddenly the weight loss train that was cruising along at high speeds slams on its breaks. You feel like you're doing everything "right," but the weight won't budge. When the plateau hits, many people give up and convince themselves they have a slow metabolism or something is wrong with their new healthy lifestyle changes and they quit.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and get some new ideas to get the weight-loss moving forward. Here are 7 things to try:

1. Hit the Hay Earlier. A new study suggests that the link between sleep and weight loss is closer than we ever thought. University of Colorado researchers found that losing just a few hours of sleep a night can lead to weight gain. The sleep-deprived people ate far more than people who got 9 hours of sleep. They also tended to crave carbohydrates and ate more calories from after-dinner snacking than any other meal in the day.

2. Change your style of exercise. Just as our bodies can grow accustomed to our eating plans, they can get stuck in an exercise rut. Try mixing it up more. If you always walk, try running for short intervals, riding a bike or going for a swim. Light weight-bearing exercises can also give the metabolism that extra boost.

3. Learn to relax. Stress can have a negative impact on your weight loss goals. While some people might lose their appetites from a stressful situation, like a break-up or moving, chronic stress can pack on the pounds. The body releases a hormone called cortisol that can increase appetite and drive you to want more food.

4. Drink more juice. Taking in too few calories can slow your metabolism down, but increasing your nutrients and calories may give the metabolism that extra kick that it may need. You can try a Reboot, consuming only fruit and vegetables in fresh juices or for a set period of time. Or you can swap out a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack for a fresh juice. The USDA recommends eating at least nine servings of vegetables and fruits each day, so if you can't eat all that, get to juicing.

5. Practice patience. Research shows that your body's internal environment will often change faster than your weight. Your blood pressure may be less, your cholesterol or blood sugar may be lower, you may have more energy, clearer skin or stronger nails and hair but that darn scale doesn't show any of these achievements. Don't despair! Your weight will move in time. Weight loss is a very complex process.

6. Think healthy rather than thin. Are your clothes fitting looser? Have you lost inches? It is not unusual to see body composition changes before weight loss. Remind yourself of all the positive steps you are taking for your body and your long-term health. The weight will follow.

7. Get Connected. We are all in this together! When you are feeling down about your weight, please remember to reach out. You are not alone. If you talk to most people who have lost a significant amount of weight and reached their goal, they have likely experienced two or three weight loss plateaus. Support can keep you motivated throughout the process.

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.

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