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Break Through Your Fitness Plateau
You made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get pumped for the outdoor construction season. You started off strong, but as the winter months dragged on, your progress slowed down. Now it’s March, and you’re not shedding the pounds like you did in January. It’s easy to get discouraged, give up and allow your goals to fall by the wayside. As spring approaches, you need to jumpstart your physical activity and your diet.
“It’s important to understand that weight loss plateaus happen to everyone,” says Noel C. Borck, the LHSFNA’s Management Co-Chairman. “When one hits, it’s time to reassess your fitness and nutrition program.”
With effective weight loss, metabolism slows, making it difficult to burn calories as well as before. Muscle gain can also plateau. Your body will eventually adapt to workouts that contain the same exercises. In order to break through your plateau, you must add variety to what you eat and how you exercise.
That extra doughnut or piece of candy may not seem like a big deal, but eating unconsciously adds up quickly. Be mindful of the “what, when, where and why” of your eating habits. Keep a food journal and observe how much you are consuming. Note the circumstances of your eating (e.g., time of day, mood and location). You may recognize situations that trigger your cravings and learn better ways to manage them. Also, you can find ways to cut calories.
Continue to watch your portions, particularly at restaurants. As you get more comfortable with your diet, you may feel the urge to dine out more often. Restaurants generally serve large portions, so consider appetizers or salads as an alternative to a heavy entrée. Ask for a doggie bag – split your meal in half at the beginning and put some away to take home.
For more tips on better eating to beat that plateau, read WebMD.
Exercise is obviously an essential key to getting in shape. However, staying in shape requires you to continually take your fitness to the next level. Strength training will help you build strong muscles through any plateau so long as you lift weights properly. Add weight gradually. Starting off too heavy can cause injury.
Remember to incorporate intervals into your training. For example, if you’re a jogger, incorporate short sprints in your longer run. You will build endurance and boost your cardiovascular system.
“A lack of motivation can also contribute to plateau woes,” Borck adds. “Find an exercise buddy, and you can push each other toward your goals. If it becomes necessary, invest in a trainer or a local gym membership.”
The Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America publishes manuals such as Nutrition and Fitness for Laborers and Laborers’ Building Better Bodies. These are available in our online catalogue.
[Jennifer E. Jones]