08/05/2012 10:24 am ET Updated Oct 03, 2012

Preventing The Dreaded Weight Loss Plateau


Everyone has experienced it. You're cruising along on your weight loss journey, the scale is consistently going down, you've found your groove and then, BAM! You hit a wall and nothing will budge. The stories are numerous. Everyone seems to do so well on a diet for the first 3-4 weeks then it "stops working," and they throw in the towel. More than likely, the diet didn't stop working, their body adapted and caused a plateau.

Plateaus happen, at least to those who don't plan so they can prevent them! Our bodies are actually so amazing that they learn to adapt themselves to their environments. While slowing the metabolism down may be helpful if you're trying to survive in the wilderness, it's not so helpful when you've trimmed the calories and are trying to trying to burn that fat and your own body sabotages your plans. Fight back and prevent the plateau, or if you're already hitting that wall, it's time to trick the body and relight your metabolism.

First off, shake up the calories and CHEAT! Yes, I said the cheat word! And there are a couple of ways to cheat. Each week, you should plan for a free day to indulge in your cheat meals. This helps you both emotionally and psychologically enjoy foods you love while still sticking to your carb cycling plan the rest of the week. Enjoy anything you want (yes, even pizza or potato chips!). Just don't bring it home and leave it there to tempt you the rest of the week. Enjoy, then toss out any leftovers or go out to partake of it somewhere else.

If the thought of ingesting a lot of sugar and "sinful" food doesn't appeal to you (congrats if you're at this point!), aim to increase your caloric intake by about 1,000 calories higher than what you normally eat during the week to achieve a similar result on your fun day! The goal is to do something radically different to throw off your body and what it is expecting to take in on this day.

Secondly, mix up your weekly eating plan with a "slingshot week." While we often can't remember what we did last week, our bodies have a long term memory that's very sharp. If you've been following a carb cycling plan for three weeks and alternating low carb/high carb with a free day on Sunday, then come week four, guess what? Your body will be expecting another similar week and will burn calories accordingly. So trick it! Make this week all high carb days (aka slingshot week) to mix it up, then return to your low carb/high carb schedule. This is so important because if you don't mix it up, you will be setting yourself up for a plateau. Keep in mind you may not lose any pounds during this week (you may even gain slightly) but remember the big picture -- you're psyching out your body to avoid a stall long term.

Lastly, wake up those workouts. Okay, by now you get the picture that you need to mix things up. That includes your workouts! If you have done the same routine more than six times in a row, it's time to try something new! Get on the stair stepper if you typically get on the treadmill. Take a yoga class if you normally do Zumba. If you are a walker, try bike riding. Check out a gym that offers a free trial and experiment if you've never gone to the gym. If you use a gym, take a new class. Conversely, if you are already doing some serious working out and not seeing any progress, take a few days off from any workouts. You're body won't know what to think!

Switching it up will not only help you avoid the dreaded weight loss plateau, but it will also prevent you from getting bored on your transformation journey. When you keep your food plan, eating routine and workouts ever changing, you will be fueling your success!

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