7 Tips for Breaking Through a Weight Loss Plateau

Most people who have had to lose weight for whatever reason have experienced the dreaded weight loss plateau.  Things are moving along steadily, a few pounds down a month, habits are being formed, and then bam.  A wall.  The scale stops moving in the direction you need it to move for no apparent reason.  Here are a few tips to help get through the weight loss plateau.

7 Tips for Breaking Through a Weight Loss Plateau



1) Don’t weigh yourself too often - Maybe that’s cheating since it won’t actually help you lose any weight, but it is an important step to make sure your monitoring has consistency.  If you have a scale in your bathroom and step on it every time you walk in the room, put it away.  Knowing generally how much you weigh is a good thing, but knowing how much you way at every second is not healthy and invites eating disorders and body dysmorphia.  Weigh yourself ONCE per week, at the same time of day. Weighing constantly might disguise an overall trend by the constant (and normal) fluctuations it reveals.

2) Add strength training - A very, very common mistake in the weight loss game is to focus entirely on cardio.  If weight loss means burning more calories than you take in, then it makes sense that more cardio means more weight loss because it burns the most calories, right?  Not quite.  More important to long term weight loss is raising your Basal Metabolic Rate, also known as “how many calories you burn when doing nothing at all.”  Muscles use a lot of calories when resting, so building muscle along with a solid cardio plan helps your efforts continue long after you step off the elliptical. 

3) Switch up your routine – Do you have a great, healthy breakfast you love so much you eat it every day?  Do you always go to the gym at the same time and do the same workout?  These aren’t bad habits per se, but if you’ve hit a weight loss plateau it is worth exploring the concept of changing things up a bit.  Try different healthy foods, go to the gym at a different time of day, and hop on a different machine while you’re there.  Sometimes your body just needs to shake things up.

4) Try a cleanse – I am not a fan of long term juicing, but there is definite value to trying something that is both different and difficult for a few days.  Just last week I did a two day “juice fast” because I was eating a ton of junk food and needed to reset things a bit.  If juice isn’t your thing, try smoothies, a “fruits and veggies only” cleanse, or going meat-free.  For me it just helps me get my mind cleared out and focused on my long terms goals again.

5) Move more – Outside of dedicated exercise time, try to work movement more into your daily schedule.  If you work in an office setting, rather than standing in the break room with a cup of coffee, spend your break walking around the halls.  If you spend your days caring for children, make an effort to get more involved in their physical activities, like with a game of tag or a dance party.  Moving more often will help keep your metabolism up and burning for longer periods during the day.

6) SLEEP  – Lack of sleep is guilty of a multitude of crimes, including causing the weight loss plateau.  Regular, consistent, undisturbed sleep keeps the body regulated and functioning properly.  (Sorry everyone with small children.)

7) Drink more water – Another point I harp on consistenly here at Simply Fit & Clean is the importance of drinking enough water.  Water helps keep all the body parts working properly.  It helps fight cravings.  Being properly hydrated helps ward off illnesses that can hamper your efforts.  Check out THIS infographic if you need more convincing on the amazingness of water. Do you have any tips for breaking the weight loss plateau? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share these 7 tips for breaking through a weight loss plateau with your friends.

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What I’m Loving in BLUE Fitness Gear – Light it Up for Autism

Autism Speaks has designated April as “Autism Awareness Month” and encourages everyone to “Light it Up Blue” to shine a light on Autism.  I decided to light this blog post blue with links to some cute, blue fitness gear that has caught my eye.*

What I'm Loving in Fitness Fashion - Light it Up Blue for Autism (Fundraiser) | Simply Fit & Clean


Nike Premier Wristbands   

I  never understood sweat bands until I started running in Houston when it gets warm. OH the Hu-MIDITY.  Sweat bands are awesome for mopping sweat off the face and keeping it from stinging your eyes without having to carry a towel.

Columbia Fusion I2o Half Zip      

We are mostly back to tank tops and shorts down in the American South, but I imagine a lot of the country has spring weather where a wicking half-zip would be perfect for a walk or run.  (Also only $12 on Amazon for a quality brand like Columbia?  Don’t mind if I do.)

Athleta Sweetness Skort

Admission: I love working out in these type of skorts because they are fitted enough for comfort but don’t show so much that I can’t run to the grocery store in my workout clothes after.

adidas Unincorporated Tee      

I can’t help it, I love a man in a well-fitted shirt, especially one by adidas.

Nike Free 4.0 Print (Women)

A minimalist running shoe that is just plain pretty. (Men’s version here.)

Saucony Ride 6 Running Shoes (Men)   

Saucony Ride 6 are a great shoe for distance runners who opt for comfort cushion over minimalist.  (Also available for women.)

Toddler New Balance 420 Sneaker

My daughter got a pair of New Balance sneakers and calls them “my run-so-fast shoes!” Even in kids, new fitness gear is a fun excuse to get moving.

Forever 21 Triple Blocked Workout Capris   

I’m kind of feeling dumb I didn’t know Forever 21 made workout clothes.  Time for a trip to the mall.

PUMA Archetype Backpack    

Perfect for people like me who prefer a small gym bag that I can keep at my workout station if I need to.

Nike Golf Tech Colorblock Polo    

I love these wicking polos for the summer.  And colorblocked?  Where have I heard that is on trend…?

Polar FT2      

An affordable heart rate monitor good for running, gym work, or at-home workouts. As

I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Autism Speaks is my favorite foundation, and I am happy for the chance to offer some support.  If you would like to donate directly to their cause, please click HERE and learn how. Also, be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to help light it up for Autism. 

*These products are linked through my affiliate program at ShopStyle.  Any profit generated through this post will be donated to Autism Speaks. This is not a request to click links.  Please only visit the product site if you have interest in the items linked. 

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What Does 200 Calories Look Like? by asapScience

We are just rolling in from a lovely (and exhausting) weekend of camping, and I returned to find this lovely video and accompanying link in my inbox asking me “What does 200 calories look like?”

 What Does 200 Calories Look Like? | Simply Fit & Clean



“This is 200 Calories” by asapScience, which incidentally makes a lot of great, easy to watch videos to make you feel a little smarter in less than five minutes. adidas Springblade Running Shoes were $180 / now $150 + Free Shipping If you’d rather see 200 calorie comparisons in picture form, click HERE to visit wiseGEEK for a bunch of “what 200 calories looks like” photos.  200 calories isn’t some sort of magic number, just an example to show how junk foods, oils, and refined carbs can spike your calorie intake without making you feel very full (since they take up almost no room in your stomach.) This photo comparing 400 calorie servings is another good demonstration of that point: Caloric Density So if you’re feeling snacky and monitoring your weight, consider filling up on a clean option like apples or grapes where you get a whole bowl full guilt free instead of a half a candy bar with a hard-to-resist second half.  If your healthy options are limited, pay attention to portions.  A bottle of sugary cola and a bag of chocolate candies will feel like a snack in your stomach but contains the same calories as a full meal. What’s your favorite healthy snack? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share the what 200 calories really looks like.

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10 Bad Exercise Habits to Break

Time Magazine recently published “10 Exercise Cheats to Blow Your Calorie Burn,” click HERE to read the full contents.  If you feel like you’ve been working and working to reach the next level but aren’t making any progress, you might have fallen into some bad habits. Breaking those bad habits can help you break through a plateau, exercise more efficiently, and better prevent injury. Here is there list of ten things to avoid while exercising:

Stuck at a plateau? Here are 10 Bad Exercise Habits to Break (pin now, read later) | Simply Fit & Clean

  1. Swinging movements – maintaining control through a move increases effectiveness, especially in weight lifting
  2. Holding the handles – letting your arms swing on the treadmill or elliptical encourages calorie burn
  3. Short stretches – stretching moves should be non-bouncy and held for 20-30 seconds each, not 2-3 seconds
  4. Waiting for equipment – if someone else is using your machine or weights, find something else to do
  5. Stretching between exercises – stretching mid-routine can decrease the amount of weight you can lift immediately after
  6. Not pushing through the tough times – if you want to run for a full minute, run for the FULL MINUTE.  Staying in the comfort zone makes change harder to realize “Tell yourself, ‘I am strong’ or ‘I can do this’ to get through tough spots.”
  7. Skipping warm up or cool down – arrive to classes on time and don’t leave early (same applies to workout DVDs)
  8. Reading/Texting/Facebook on a machine – if you are moving slow enough to read comfortably, it’s probably too slow and un-focused
  9. Channel flipping – entertainment is great for a workout, but if you spend half your gym time finding the right channel or album, you probably aren’t working out as much as you think you are (think: I exercised for an hour! reality: I was at the gym for an hour and exercised for twenty minutes)
  10. Not enough time spent in high-intensity mode – the “fat burning zone” is sort of a deceiving name

…while 60% of the calories you burn come from fat at a low intensity and only 35% come from fat at a higher intensity, you burn more calories total at the higher intensity, which is the by far more important factor for weight loss.


Have you had to overcome any bad exercise habits? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share the 10 bad exercise habits to break with your friends.

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Healthy Smoothies – Links to over 100 Recipes!

With two young kids in the house, sometimes the only way I can get them to look at a vegetable is by hiding them in healthy smoothies.  Basically no matter the recipe, I add some spinach or kale or pour in some Bolthouse Farms Daily Greens (which on its own tastes TERRIBLE but is an easy option for pouring into a smoothie or a juice.)  I buy bulk bags of frozen fruit, add some type of green veggie, if I have them on hand I add a fresh banana, put in a handful of ground flax seed or chia seeds, and whatever yogurt I have handy.  If it needs more liquid, I pour in some Crystal Light or almond milk.  If it needs more sweet I use agave nectar or stevia.  There isn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to it for me, which is fine, but they all pour out of my Ninja Master Blender (which I love for smoothies) tasting basically the same.  I have looked around for some great lists of recipes for healthy smoothies and am sharing the links with you below.

Links to Over 100 Recipes for Healthy Smoothies! (Save this link) | Simply Fit & Clean

1 – Gracious Pantry, as usual a great resource for recipes with 46 varieties of healthy smoothies

2 – Prevention.com, 20 different options including one called the “Orange Dream Creamsicle”

3 – Clean Eating Magazine, 5 juices and smoothies with some “who would have thought?” ingredients like cannellini beans. (I have this juicer and love it for the price.)

4 – Food Network, 16 recipes that have likely gone through their rigorous test kitchen

5 – Cooking Light, 25 recipes for healthy smoothies including a peanut butter/banana/flax seed smoothie that packs a protein punch

Healthy smoothies are a great way to recover from a hard workout, an affordable way to manage weight gain, and as I said, a great trick for getting my kids to eat vegetables.

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Reebok Kid's ATV19

Reebok Kid’s ATV19

Reebok Kid’s ATV19s for $24

Do you have a go to healthy smoothie concoction? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share these recipes for healthy smoothies with your friends.

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The Best Sneaker for Every Workout via Fitness Magazine

I finally got around to subscribing to Fitness Magazine, and my first issue arrived today with their ranking of the best sneaker for every workout, titled “Fit to Be Tied.”  Below I’ll present their winners, and if you want hear why the shoes were selected top of the class and see the full list, read the whole article HERE.

The Best Sneaker for Every Workout via Fitness Magazine | Simply Fit & Clean


Running Shoes:

Stability - Brooks Ravenna 5

Trail Runner - Mizuno Wave Evo Ferus

Cushioned - New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Women’s Running Shoes
Fresh Foam 980 Women's Running Shoes | W980GYBest Minimalist - Saucony Mirage 4



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Fitness Shoes:

Cross Trainer - Asics Gel-Harmony TR 2

Spinning - Shimano SH-WR42W

Road Cycling - Louis Garneaus Women’s Carbon LS 100

Boot Camp - Reebok CrossFit Sprint TR

crossfit tr

Walking - Salamon Cove

salomon cove

The list doesn’t include basketball shoes, but Reebok  is currently promoting their two hottest models for March Madness, the Q96 CrossExamine Men’s Basketball Shoes and the Pumpspective Omni Men’s Basketball Shoes .  Both are over 50% off at $55 each with the promo code MADNESS14

Pumpspective Omni Men's Basketball Shoes

Pumpspective Omni Men’s Basketball Shoes

Reebok Q96 CrossExamine Men's Basketball Shoes

Reebok Q96 CrossExamine Men’s Basketball Shoes

Did your favorite shoe make the list? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this post with friends looking for new kicks.

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Lost at the Gym? Try One of 50+ Free Printable Workouts

When I first started venturing to the gym instead of workout DVDs or running, I was admittedly lost among all the weird looking contraptions and stacks of weight plates.  I was given two pieces of advice by one of the trainers who saw the familiar look of intimidation. First, break up muscle groups and focus on a different area each day.  Second, have a plan. But where to get a plan?  Enter printable workouts.

Over 50 Free Printable Workouts - No need to feel lost at the gym! | Simply Fit & Clean

There are a variety of different sites that offer printable workouts, usually separated into muscle groups.  Some come with suggested numbers of sets and reps and some don’t, but either way you can custom tailor these plans very easily.  For example, I have one plan for “sexy summer arms” that involved me criss crossing the gym multiple times to get to the right equipment, so I adjusted the order to be a little more convenient.

Click the links below to explore some of my favorite sources for printable workouts (with over 50 different workouts total):

Printable workouts are never going to replace a personal trainer, but they are free, easy to find, and a great place to start learning which moves work which muscles.

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What are your favorite sources for workout guides? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this post with friends who could use 50+ free printable workouts.

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A Mile is a Mile – The Danger of Comparison

Almost from the moment we are born we are taught to compare ourselves against our peers.  Baby weights go onto a graph and parents compare percentiles and growth curves.  The silent competition continues our whole lives, and perhaps it is nowhere more pronounced than in how we look and physically perform.  I am inclined to think there is something in our nature as humans that compels us to look at the others in our species and say, “Am I better or worse than him? Is my child progressing on the same schedule as that other child?”

A Mile is a Mile - a post on the dangers of comparing ourselves to others. | Simply Fit & Clean


To our pre-agricultural revolution ancestors, this comparison was vital to survival and creating strong progeny. Being the fastest sprinter could mean the difference between eating and starving. Today, though, whether I can run quickly doesn’t influence whether Kroger has bananas in stock.  My survival doesn’t depend on the performance, shape, or fitness level of my peers.

But I still compare.

We all do.  I see snapshots of Garmin watches on Facebook showing running paces and distances that are well beyond my current capabilities, and I have a hard time not feeling bad about it.  Just a few days ago I was next to a girl at the gym who was doing all the same dumbbell work I was doing but with 25 pound weights while I used 15.  Again, I felt like I was not doing enough.  After I have felt the frustration of not being as “good” as someone else, I have a harder time wanting to go back to the gym and subject myself to more possible comparisons, more tiny failures.


And that is the danger of comparison.  I was 1) at the gym and 2) using 15 pound weights when I used to use 5.  Both of those are victories, not failures.  Yes, there are people who thrive with a little healthy competition, but when it comes to our bodies much of the competition isn’t really healthy.  If you are an Olympian or a bodybuilder, go ahead.  Wrap that measuring tape around your bicep or stress about cutting five seconds off a lap.  If you’re like most people, though, you just want to be healthy.  You want to fit into your favorite jeans.  You want to run up a flight of stairs without getting winded.  You want the health benefits of exercise.  Comparing your progress to anyone else other than yourself is just another way to talk yourself out of lacing up your running shoes or turning on that exercise DVD.  It’s hard enough to keep to a good fitness schedule without feeling bad about yourself.  Not only is it a mental road block, unnecessary comparison can encourage injury by pressing you to pick up weights that are too heavy or ramp up your mileage/pace too quickly.

No matter how fast you run or walk, a mile is a mile.  A pound lost is a pound lost.  Try to be your best self, not someone else’s.  Set goals based on your capabilities, your starting point, and your end desires.  We are all on our own journey and every path is going to look different.  And that’s a good thing.

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What small victories have you celebrated lately? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this post with friends who need a little reminder that a mile is a mile, no matter how long it takes.

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Five Spring Trends for Fitness Fashion

This spring’s fashion trends can easily be interpreted in fitness fashion.  Here are five trends for spring 2014 as interpreted in gym wear:

Five Spring Trends in Fitness Fashion | Simply Fit & Clean



1- Pastels 

 

2 – Contrast Collars 

 





3 – Wide Legs

4 – Bomber Jackets

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5 – Tuxedo Stripes

What are your favorite fitness fashion trends this spring? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share this post with your friends.

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Health & Fitness News Roundup – March 2014

Here are some health and fitness articles that caught my eye recently:

Health & Fitness News Roundup for March | Simply Fit & Clean

Any health & fitness news articles you’ve read that you want to share? Be sure to subscribe to the blog, like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and use the social media buttons below this post to share these health and fitness articles with your friends.

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