It happens to the best of us: You’re cruising along, attending a weekly spin class, going for a daily run, watching what you eat, and then — BAM! — your pants are tighter in the waist and the number on the scale has crept up. You can either accept it — blame changing hormones and give yourself over to a slowing metabolism — or you can tweak your workout and break through the stagnation.
If you find that your body seems to have developed a resistance to your diet and exercise routine, here are four ways to hit reset and get back on track.
Ditch the Cardio Rut
We know you love Zumba (or SoulCycle or trail running), but it’s possible that you’re stuck in a workout rut. As our bodies become more proficient at a particular exercise, they adapt to a point where the exercise is no longer challenging. Unless you step it up, you might stop seeing results. Does that mean you have to give up your favorite thing altogether? Not at all. But variety is the spice of life. Shock your system with a different form of cardio once or twice a week and chances are you’ll start to see results again.
If you aren’t weight training, there’s no time like the present. Many women are afraid of bulking up, but unless you are eating and lifting like a bodybuilder, that simply isn’t going to happen. What will happen is that you will stoke your metabolism: Muscle burns more calories than fat, even while the body is at rest. Plus, studies show that weight training is particularly beneficial for women, as it can help maintain and even increase bone density, which tends to decrease as estrogen drops during or after menopause.
Take Advantage of Rest Days
Our bodies need time to recover, but if the only exercise you get on your rest day is moving from your desk to your car, that could be a problem. Try active recovery instead. A short walk, a Pilates class, or even a few laps in the pool can be beneficial to your overall health and fitness goals.
Look at Your Lifestyle
Yes, the metabolism slows as we age, and changing hormones can wreck havoc on our waistlines, but are you unwittingly helping them along? Do you throw back a couple of glasses of wine every night? Find yourself eating a whole bar of dark chocolate in a single sitting instead of just two squares? That’s a lot of extra sugar and calories to let slip in. Try limiting yourself to a couple of glasses of wine per week or really sticking to the two squares limit. Also look at your sleep. It’s easy to overestimate how many hours you’re getting. Sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels and, by extension, appetite. Invest in a sleep tracker and aim for seven to eight hours a night.
Try some — or all — of these tweaks and we bet you find your way back to where you want to be.
Bonny Osterhage is co-founder and small-group trainer at BodyArchitecture Personal Training and Fitness in San Antonio, Texas.