New Year’s Resolution: Moving Past the Weight Loss Plateau

See what four local experts have to say about overcoming weight loss plateaus

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Has your New Year’s weight loss resolution hit a plateau? Don’t worry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who lose weight steadily and slowly — about one to two pounds per week — tend to keep it off successfully. One pound of body weight equals roughly 3,500 calories, so to lose weight, a body needs to negate 500 to 1,000 calories per day by eating less and burning more to achieve the goal of one to two pounds lost weekly.

If a couple weeks pass and the scale won’t budge, take heart, try these tips from area experts.

Tips from Jill Murphy, certified personal trainer with a master’s in exercise science, co-owner of Mission Fitness Corp., East Syracuse:

• “A couple of plateau breakers I recommend is increasing cardiovascular activity, as it places a demand on burning more energy.

• “Look at the diet for things you can cut back on, like sugars and non-complex carbohydrates.

• “Another thing we do is the ketogenic diet, which emphasizes lowering carbs. That causes ketosis, a state where your body burns stored fat more quickly.

• “We do intermittent fasting, which allows your body to be more insulin sensitive. You fast intermittently for 14 hours or so.

• “A lot of times, I give these specific rules to clients and they have a hard time implementing them because a lot of times when they hit a plateau, they’re internally dealing with things that prevent them from losing weight. These emotional issues can keep them from moving forward, so they have to address, ‘What is preventing you from moving forward? Is there self-sabotaging behavior hindering you?’”

Tips from Joanne Wu, an integrative and holistic medicine and rehabilitation physician who specializes in wellness and practices in Rochester and Buffalo and teaches yoga as a certified instructor in Syracuse:

• “Many people, when they work on weight loss, work on only one part. It should include what you eat, well being, stress management and exercise — what they do for movement.

• “Set reasonable goals and take steps toward them. If you still plateau, we look at what we can refine.

• “Don’t just look at the New Year to make short-term changes, but a long-term wellness program for mind, body and soul. You want to enhance a healthy lifestyle. If we always approach weight loss with that approach, we’re much more consistent at weight loss.”

Tips from Mallory Wisniewski, certified personal trainer and certified yoga instructor at Elevate Fitness, Syracuse:
• “Try circuit training. You can do timed training, where you do the activity for a certain length of time, or by reps, where you do a certain number of repetitions of a movement. It tricks the body into losing weight because you use so many parts of the body.
• “Don’t keep doing the same thing and working the same area of the body all the time. If you run marathons, but suddenly notice you’re gaining weight, try boxing and you’ll notice losses since you’re using different muscles.”

Tips from Laura Kirkpatrick, nutrition and health coach with Metro Fitness and physical therapist with Onondaga Physical Therapy:

• “Practice mindful eating and enjoy your food through your senses. Don’t eat in front of TV or computer as this tends to lead to overeating.

• Plan, prepare, and pack meals and snacks ahead of time.

• If dining out, steer clear of items that are deep fried, shallow fried or pan fried, sautéed, or made with heavy sauces/breading. Look for steamed, roasted or baked cooking methods.

• “Drink plenty of water. A general rule of thumb is to aim for at least half your weight in ounces of water consumed. I like to start my day off with a big glass of warm water with lemon

• “Aim for two to three cups a day of unsweetened tea.

• “Sugar substitutes give the false sense of satisfaction and can lead to greater caloric intake and weight gain. Avoid aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame, agave, brown rice syrup, concentrated fruit juice, corn syrup and cane juice.

• “Consuming more healthy omega-3 and monounsaturated fats are key to mobilizing and burning fat. They’re in foods such as avocado, hemp seed, almonds, walnuts, salmon, chia and flax seed and olives, nut butters. Studies support consuming citrus with healthy fats to aid in metabolism boosting effects as foods work synergistically, such as combining grapefruit with avocado toast with a drizzle of olive oil for breakfast or a snack.

• “Get plenty of sleep. Aim for at least seven hours of good quality sleep and practice good sleep habits.”