Tuesday, August 23, 2011

weight loss plateau?

Hello my lovelies,
I was thinking it'd be a good idea to do a post on plateaus. While I am not a qualified nutritionist, I speak from experience. I am someone who's had trouble losing weight all her life and even when I transitioned to veganism, I still struggled. In my aerobics classes (which I teach at Curves in Toronto and at York University), I talk to many of my participants who have had similar struggles.

From a vegan's perspective (health-focussed), one can be a successful 'junk food vegan' but like any diet (vegan or not), junk food is never the answer; nor is giving up. So I've comprised a list of things that have helped me break out of a plateau in the past.
  • Read your labels! If you can't identify what is on a list of ingredients on the back of the can or box of food you're about to buy, don't eat it! My rule of thumb is to stick to whole foods (a.k.a. things you can find in your garden or at least something that you can identify i.e. a head of broccoli, apples, lettuce and brown rice). So hydrogenated-what'sawhoozits are off the list of real food and on the list of 'fake food'. If you're going to a restaurant, first look at their online menu if they've got one. Secondly, stick to things that you know are generally healthy such as steamed vegetables and baked tofu, etc. Also, ask the waiter or cook if you're unsure about what something is on the menu, don't be shy. Sometimes restaurants use excess oils and dairy products to make their menu items taste richer so double check with the waiter and/or cook.
  • Update your food diary! If you don't already have a food diary, make one. Just pick up a notebook from the dollar store or even start one on your laptop/other mobile device and without changing anything in your diet, write down everything you eat for about a week. You may be eating more than you realise. Speciality coffees at Tim Hortons or Starbucks might be the culprit for your plateau or recent gain so write it down and make changes accordingly the following week. Buy small single-sized treats rather than a whole chocolate bar or whatever your guilty pleasure is. This has worked for me in the past because I can't buy a large chocolate bar and not eat the whole thing. Know thyself.
  • Increase your activity level and/or add weights. If you workout 3-4 days a week, try to increase the length of time of your workout and/or the intensity. Changing your workout after about 4 weeks of the same activity is pertinent for weight loss success because once your body gets used to an exercise, it's no longer challenging. For instance, if you jog 4 days a week for half an hour each session, try doing some sprinting (jog for 2 minutes and sprint for 30 seconds, jog for 2 minutes and sprint for 30 seconds, etc.). Or change your workout entirely, if you do a step class 4 days a week, then try 2 step classes and 2 kickboxing classes, etc. You want your workout to be hard; if it's easy you're not going to see the results you want. If you really enjoy your workout but you'd like it to make it more challenging, add ankle and/or wrist weights. When your body has more weight to carry, it burns more calories trying to do the same amount of exercise.
  • Remember the old adage: burn more calories than you take in, BUT sometimes you need a metabolism kick-start. If you're feeling heavy and unmotivated, try a detox. You can do a green smoothie detox or you can find one in your local healthfood store. I like this one. Sometimes it's the opposite problem, sometimes you've been restricting too much and in this case, a 'cheat meal' is the best cure. One cheat meal a week can actually help rev your metabolism but don't overdo it! Enjoy your cheat meal and then get back on track.

So there's a post for this week. More tips will come next week! :)

Happy weight loss! And remember, WHOLE FOODS!