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Friday, September 12, 2014

“I’m Doing Everything Correctly but…” 12 Overlooked Obstacles that Create Fat Loss Plateaus

Break on through!
“I’m stuck,” she wearily said, taking a huge sip of hazelnut Dunkin Donuts. “I’m doing everything you say. I mean, come on: Look at that journal! I’m not cheating. I’m working my butt off. And nothing’s happening.”

If I had a hundred dollars for every time a client complained they’d hit a plateau, I could comfortably retire in a Maui cottage overlooking the sea. Okay, maybe not Maui; Florida. Still, I could retire.

I began my business teaching frustrated, overworked clients how to break fitness plateaus. Many folks simply needed to mix things up. A few needed to workout differently; others needed to do less but more intense exercise.

At some point, many also struggled with weight loss plateaus. These people did everything correctly, yet the scales wouldn’t budge. When you put in a certain effort, you expect results. Despite herculean effort, these people weren’t getting those results and, needless to say, they became frustrated.

From experience, I know they
aren’t secretly gorging on vanilla ice cream-sandwiched chocolate chip cookies while watching Game of Thrones every Sunday night. Like my client, they worked incredibly hard to meet their goals yet consistently fell short.

A little troubleshooting and detective work solved many of these problems, and over time I became really good at pinpointing obstacles. I often found one or more of these 12 overlooked obstacles contributed to plateaus.

1.      You’re eating too much “legal” stuff. Many a low-carb dieter shows me their food journal and I reply, “Whoa, you’re eating about 4,000 calories a day there, dude!” (It’s usually a guy who does this.) Others become carried away with a caloric-dense food like almond butter. (“You’re not going to lose weight eating half the jar,” I told more than one person.) It isn’t very PC to say this, but at some point you need to start looking at calories if you’re not losing.

2.     Those healthy foods aren’t so healthy. Whole wheat goodness, fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, agave-sweetened ice cream, and soy anything often become labeled healthy foods. They aren’t, instead creating a halo effect where you think a healthy food permits you to eat three servings without any consequence. Carefully look at your food journals to ensure none of these and other so-called healthy foods are slipping in.

3.     You’re getting sneaky sugar. Glazed meat, balsamic vinaigrette, and salads topped with dried fruit and candied walnuts can load otherwise-healthy foods with massive amounts of sugar, raising insulin levels and stalling fat loss.  My friend JJ Virgin’s upcoming book The Sugar Impact Diet discusses many of these “sneaky sugars” that could create weight loss resistance. You’re going to be shocked at some places they exist. I know I was.

4.     Food intolerances are holding you back. Speaking of JJ, her last book The Virgin Diet dealt with food intolerances that can stall fat loss and create numerous symptoms. The first step involves eliminating these problem foods for three weeks to see if the scale needle doesn’t budge. If clients still suspect food intolerances after doing The Virgin Diet, I send them to a specialist for an IgG food sensitivity test. More often than not, an elimination diet does the trick.

5.     You’re a massive stress case. Stress does more than make you a bi-atch. (Talking to both genders here.) Staying constantly stressed dials up cortisol, a hormone that should be highest in the morning and gradually taper throughout the day. Stressing over every minor frustration that gets in your path keeps cortisol ramped up. Chronic levels of this stress hormone stall fat loss, break down muscle, and diminish immunity.

6.     These offenders keep cortisol jacked up. Just because you’re not constantly stressed doesn’t mean cortisol can’t stay elevated beyond its prime. Crummy sleep levels, too much sugar, sucking down giant vats of coffee, and having one too many drinks can all keep cortisol raised. Figure out your trigger and see if eliminating it doesn’t move the needle.

7.     You’re got adrenal burnout and thyroid issues. These frequently go together, and both can seriously stall your metabolism. If you suspect either (or both), ask your doctor for a full thyroid test (not just TSH, which they frequently do) and a salivary adrenal test. Work with an integrative practitioner to rebalance these hormones.

8.     You’re under-sleeping. I will write about sleep until I retire because it’s that important for fat loss. Even losing a few hours’ sleep every night can knock numerous hormones out of balance and stall fat loss. One study found even a partial night’s sleep loss could trigger insulin resistance, paving the way for obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Learn more about how sleep loss can derail your efforts here.

9.     You’ve fallen into the same routine. I see people in my gym doing the same things over and over, never improving. Same deal with diet: Sometimes the biggest way to break an obstacle is to mix up your eating routine. If you’re constantly grazing on salads, have a steak with some spinach and sweet potato. If you’re on a low-carb diet, add some quinoa or other healthy higher-carb foods and see if that doesn’t get things going.

10.  You’re over-exercising. I see these poor people in the gym, plugging away for hours on elliptical machines or doing silly aerobic classes because they think the instructor is hot. They look miserable and they never hit their goals. Too much exercise or the wrong exercise (looking at you, low-intensity cardio) can increase stress hormones and stall fat loss. Ironic, right?

11.   Birth control trips you up.  Birth control pills contain chemical estrogens and progestogens that can knock your body’s hormones out of whack, depleting nutrients, potentially creating insulin resistance, and stalling fat loss in the bargain. Talk with your integrative physician about birth control alternatives.

12.  You’re a toxic ticking time bomb. In our massively polluted age,   everyone walks around with toxic overload. These toxins can wreak havoc on your liver and stall fat loss. Consider a comprehensive, professionally designed detoxification plan twice a year that includes detox-aiding nutrients and incorporates plenty of clean protein, healthy fats, high-fiber foods, and leafy and cruciferous greens.

While I don’t want to imply these obstacles always become easy to solve, once you’ve pinpointed your issue, you can create effective strategies to remedy your problem. Next week I’ll share my four-tiered approach to address nearly any obstacle and lose fat, build muscle, and crank up your metabolism.

While some of my clients’ journeys to improved health haven’t been easy, I can confidently say with this four-tiered approach, I’ve helped nearly every client find light at the end of the tunnel.

If you’ve ever experienced a diet or fitness plateau, I want to hear your strategies about how you overcame it. Share your story below or on my Facebook fan page.

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the article is included in its entirety:

Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at© 2014 Jinifit, Inc.

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