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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.

8. Push the Envelope Past That Plateau

Hitting the treadmill every day for a 30-minute walk or doing the neighborhood loop with your buddies gets your body into a groove. After a while, your muscles get used to the routine and become very efficient at doing the task at hand.

To keep your muscles guessing -- and performing the ultimate calorie burn -- vary your physical activity. And push the envelope to power past that plateau!

For example, during your 30-minute treadmill session, include a few intervals at higher speed or at a higher incline (climb hills if you're walking outside). Sustain this higher intensity for a few minutes, and then return to your comfort level. After you recover, do it again -- and again. This will help you burn more calories and blast through the plateau.

Also make sure your routine includes strength-training exercises (like weight lifting), which help counteract muscle loss due to aging. Building and preserving muscle mass is a key factor in reaching a healthy weight, as muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat.

9. Wear a Pedometer

Wearing a pedometer each day and having a daily step goal can boost your activity level and burn more calories. Wearing a pedometer may also help decrease blood pressure.

Put the pedometer on first thing in the morning. Then make it a point to be more active: pace while you talk on the phone, take the dog out for an extra walk, and march in place during television commercials. Each 2,000 steps burn roughly 100 more calories, so aim for 10,000 steps daily for weight loss.

If you thrive on feedback and praise, buy a talking pedometer that rewards you by reporting aloud (and loudly!) the number of steps you've walked.

10. Try Yoga to Avoid Stress Eating

Stress eating is bingeing on food -- homemade chocolate chip cookies, salty chips, a handful of this, a fistful of that -- to soothe your inner emotional turmoil, not your real hunger.  Studies show that yoga lowers levels of stress hormones and increases insulin sensitivity -- a signal to your body to burn food as fuel rather than store it as fat.

Britt Berg, MS, research manager and therapist at Emory University Medical School, recommends the "child's pose" to clients who want to avoid stress eating.

Start by kneeling on the floor on your hands and knees, making sure that your hands are under the shoulders and your knees under the hips, with toes touching. Stretch your neck forward and lengthen your spine through the tailbone. Gently rock the weight of your body back toward your feet, allowing your hips to stretch farther back as you continue to lengthen and stretch your spine.

Now, stretch your arms forward and walk your fingertips as far forward as they will go on the floor or rug, lengthening your arms fully. Extend your hips back until they come toward your heels. If you're very flexible, you may be able to rest your hips on your heels and your forehead on the floor.

Berg recommends putting your forehead on the rug or pillow to calm your mind. Do the "child's pose" any time you feel the urge to binge on high-calorie snacks.

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Reviewed on January 24, 2008

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