Using Nutrition to Bust Through Weight Loss Plateaus

Courtney is an avid runner and fitness enthusiast, but gets the best workout chasing after her three-year-old Ellie. Follow her at twitter.com/smugrunner or read her blog at smugrunner.wordpress.com.

Weight-loss plateau is a common phrase to anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight. Since losing 40 pounds following the birth of my daughter three years ago, I’ve been haunted by those elusive last few pounds. With the Chicago Marathon on tap for early fall, I didn’t want my weight struggles to interfere with the rigorous training. An increase in mileage brings a need to ensure you take in enough calories, not cut back.

Married to a personal trainer and a long-time subscriber to multiple fitness magazines, I’ve heard it all before—to bust through plateaus, get outside your comfort zone. Most recommend adding new strength moves and cardio intervals to your routine. While this is smart advice, those ingredients were already part of my fitness recipe, yet the scale remained steady.

Frustrated and in need of a plan, I met with my company-sponsored wellness expert. At her recommendation I set out on The 4 Day Diet. A bit misleading by title, it’s actually a 28-day program comprised of seven four-day modules. The title may be gimmicky, but the nutrition behind it is sound. The food lists are comprised of mostly natural, whole foods—brown rice, beans, spinach, fruits, veggies, etc. While most items were already a part of my menu, the program enlightened me to the numerous extras I had sneaked in over the course of a day. The shake-up I needed wasn’t in the gym or on the track, it was in the kitchen. If this sounds all-to-familiar, consider the following:

Pick a plan that suits your personality.

This worked for me because I’m motivated by structured goals. Without a race on the horizon, my running becomes unfocused. The book gave me a blueprint—not unlike a training schedule—laying out the formula for success. All I had to do was follow it.

Make necessary adjustments.

My first concern was ensuring I was taking in enough calories to meet my activity level. While the book provides menus so calorie counting isn’t necessary, I totaled mine to ensure the numbers meshed with my workouts. If the numbers didn’t add up, I added in an extra serving of food from the list.

Spread the word.

You don’t need to notify your old prom date via Faceook status update, but it doesn’t hurt to discuss your goals with family, friends, and co-workers. Not only can this keep you accountable, you might inspire positive changes in them as well.

Most importantly I’ve discovered that diet books aren’t only for those with 25+ pounds to lose. Most of us could benefit from a nutritional tune-up every now and then and just might uncover unexpected results. Not only did I shed 10 lbs, I also shaved 30 seconds off my pace and have been running stronger than ever.

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