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10 Ways to Move Beyond a Weight Loss Plateau

Experts share tips on how to get your weight loss program back on track.
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WebMD Feature

Hit a weight loss plateau? It's hard to fathom that for weeks your weight loss program was taking the pounds off. Then, suddenly, the scales won't budge another ounce.

Take heart. A weight loss plateau is normal. No matter how diligent you are in following your good health regimen, from time to time you'll fall off the wagon. The key to getting back on the program, experts say, is to acquire the skills and self-knowledge that will enable you to recover after a relapse.

We've pulled together the top 10 plateau-busting strategies for you to try right now.

1. Imagine You: Healthy and Vibrant

Have a vision of success. According to Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, author of Diet Simple, the mind is a strong tool -- use it to achieve what you want.

"Visualize yourself dancing at an upcoming celebration in a fabulous black dress," Tallmadge tells WebMD, "and then apply that vision every day to stay motivated."

While you're imagining, remind yourself of reality: excess weight is unhealthy, as is yo-yo dieting. Make sure this is a lifetime commitment for optimal health instead of a temporary plan to drop 10 pounds before bathing suit season -- which you may regain again once you stop your program.

To stay compliant to your weight loss program, Tallmadge suggests keeping only healthy foods in the refrigerator, so you're less likely to stop and grab something greasy on the way home from work. "Even if your family isn't dieting, you can still keep tempting foods out of the kitchen

2. Understand Your Weight Loss Personality

According to Thomas R. Przybeck, PhD, personality plays a role in our attitude towards food. As an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Przybeck recommends that you know your tendencies and tailor your plan to conquer the unproductive inclinations.

Impulsive. "If you have a tendency to be impulsive, you might see a pint of Ben & Jerry's in the freezer and go for it," Przybeck says. Clearly, you are a dieter who needs to remove those temptations. 

Oblivious. If you tend to not pay attention when you eat -- maybe you're a TV snacker? -- you need to avoid such situations if you want to control portions. 

Uptight. "If you are highly anxious, you will probably have more difficulty," Przybeck says. "Those who are anxious, nervous, and depressed might eat to feel better."

Tenacious. Certain personalities don't find it that difficult losing weight. "If you are highly self-directed,cooperative, and have a lot of stick-to-it-ive-ness, you are going to have an easier time," Przybeck says. 

Sociable. Przybeck also found that if you tend to monitor your food intake better than others, you may be more sociable.

3. Record Every Food Morsel You Eat, Taste, or Lick

Underestimating just how much food you've eaten is a common mistake, one that can lead to a weight loss plateau or weight gain. Yet keeping a diary of your daily food intake (every bite, taste, or lick) can help you see where you're going wrong. Try these food diary tips:

  • Track the time of day and your feelings when you eat to discover problem times and emotions that cause you to binge eat.
  • Recognize your eating triggers and find healthier foods to satisfy your hunger or better alternatives than food to cope with your emotions.
  • Monitor your progress, track your new behaviors, and reward yourself with a manicure or movie for all your hard work.

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