5 Ways to Break through Dreaded Weight Loss Plateaus

I found this on the Beachbody website today, and thought it was interesting enough to share!

5 Ways to Break through Dreaded Weight Loss Plateaus

By Justine Holberg

Originally found here.


You’re tracking calories, working out each day, then bam! For a week or two, the scale refuses to budge…and you realize you’ve hit a dreaded weight loss plateau. Now what?

Even though it’s completely normal to hit a snag in your fitness journey, a perceived setback like this can send even the most dedicated dieter off course, away from healthy eating and toward cookies, cake, and pizza. But you can be strong and start getting back on the weight-loss track again. Try at least one of the following techniques, and there’s a good chance you’ll burst through your plateau in no time.

Here are five important things to know about hydration and exercise:
1. Zigzag your daily calorie intake.
In theory, you’ve got to eat less to lose more, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you just have to shake things up. Here’s one way to do it: If your average daily intake is 1,400 calories, try dropping to 1,200 one day, going up to 1,800 the next day, and then dropping back to 1,400. The idea is to keep your metabolism guessing. There’s no magic number that works for everyone, so you’ll have to experiment until you find the right calorie levels for you.

According to Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards, what happens when you zigzag is that you force your body to choose how many calories it needs to recover from the rigors of your exercise program. “Most people who hit a plateau are undereating. If you are indeed undereating, adding calories for a few days, then lowering them again, will help you force your body into a hormonal response that will not only help you break out of a plateau, but—as you learn to recognize the signals—will teach you how much food you should be eating.”

2. Switch up your exercise routine.
If you do the same workout each day, eventually it can start to become less challenging, and (unfortunately) less effective. If you push yourself to new levels of strength or exhaustion, you’ll almost certainly see a shift. Here are some ways you can challenge your body:

  • Swap your jog for a bike ride.
  • Try weights with your cardio routine. (ChaLEAN Extreme® or RevAbs® can help you do this.)
  • Add intervals of high intensity to really make you sweat. (INSANITY® is a great workout for this.)
  • Drop to the floor for 10 push-ups right now!

The idea is to try something different. According to Edwards, “The better you get at something, the easier it becomes. That’s why we’re always telling you to add more weight as you get stronger, and to move faster and jump higher as our programs progress. But it’s also why all of our programs have phases of training. As your body adapts to stimulus, you need to change that stimulus in order to keep results happening.”

3. Eat some almonds.
Almonds are a great snack, plus there’s some research that indicates that they can help you burn fat. That’s because they contain fiber and fatty acids—the good kind of fat that helps you lose weight. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity compared two groups of people who ate a 1,000-calorie-a-day diet. As part of their daily diet, one group ate 3 ounces of almonds every day. The other group ate a mix of complex carbs. What happened? The group that ate the almonds lost more weight.

So next time you grab a snack, try a small handful of almonds, or as Edwards says, “Any nut, really. While almonds are one of the better nuts, all of them have a similar nutritional profile and make excellent snacks. That research probably would have turned out similarly if they’d used walnuts or filberts or whatever.”

4. Get more sleep.
This may seem like the opposite of number 2, but the truth is is that you could be training too hard, which is about the quickest way to hit a weight loss plateau, because an over-trained body holds on to weight as if it were starving to death. There’s no better way to test this than to try and sleep more. The reason is that your body recovers much more quickly from exercise while it’s asleep, and if you’re burning the midnight oil while trying to do INSANITY, you could easily plateau from lack of recovery time.

In a recent study at the University of Chicago Medical School, researchers found that during a period when study participants were deprived of sleep, they metabolized glucose less effectively. Additionally, they had higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which has been shown to impair memory, increase insulin resistance, and slow recovery in athletes. “There’s a good reason why five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx said, ‘The Tour is won in bed,'” says Edwards. Your body’s recovery response during deep sleep is only rivaled by performance-enhancing drugs. When you’re on the borderline of overtraining, getting more sleep is the first thing anyone should try.”

5. Relax.
Believe it or not, the one big thing besides diet and exercise that can cause you to plateau is stress. When you’re stressed, your body sends out higher levels of the hormone cortisol that, as stated in number 4, can encourage your body to hang on to fat. “Cortisol is actually a performance-enhancing hormone,” says Edwards. “But it’s gotten a bad rap because we’ve begun living our lives at too high a volume. Cortisol is released at times when the body is in an emergency state. It increases performance, but only over a short period of time. When cortisol is released and forced into action at regular intervals, it causes your body to wear down and switch to more drastic means of survival, like holding on to excess amounts of body fat. Your life shouldn’t feel like one big emergency. As a society, we need to learn to be more tranquilo, as the Spanish say.”

We get stressed for many reasons, almost all of which are influenced by the society around us. One of the best ways to combat stress is to get some alone time to chill. If you’re the type who can’t let go, try some forced relaxation techniques, of which yoga seems to be one of the most effective. There’s something special about the mind/body interaction of yoga that forces a relaxed state even from the most stressed of us.

If you feel you need a lot of help, dig into an intense course, like P90X Yoga X. For others, something lighter, like Yoga Booty Ballet® Pure and Simple Yoga, will do the trick. If you’re not into yoga, then consider at least adding some stretching into your schedule. Most of Beachbody’s programs have at least one stretching session. TurboFire® even has two!


Make Money Using Free Sites



I’m in the process of becoming debt-free, but as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, I don’t exactly have time to get a job outside the home. I am a Damsel in Defense Pro, helping women find the self-defense and security solutions that are right for them, and I am a Beachbody Coach, helping people meet their health and fitness goals, but when you’re working at paying off debt at a gazelle-like speed (Dave Ramsey reference, check out his book!), you have to use every resource at your disposal.


So for me, I use a couple different FREE sites! And yes, I personally use them and have used them for a couple years, so I can certify them as 100% NOT A SCAM!


The first is Inboxdollars. I have done the surveys and made anywhere from 25 cents to $2 for 10-30 minutes worth of work. You also get two cents per email (on their page) when you click the “confirm this paid email” button. If you actually complete the offers in the emails, you can earn more money, and I will sometimes fill out the email list ones (using an email account I set up just for junk I have no intention of ever reading, like those email lists), but I NEVER complete the offers that require a small purchase to get more money. NOT WORTH IT.

But I mainly use Inboxdollars for the search bar, where I get paid one cent per two searches, with a ten cent bonus every week that I do a search most days. Another money making opportunity I take advantage of on this site are the coupons. Regular manufacturer coupons you can print, and you make ten cents per coupon redeemed. I only recommend this route if you are familiar with couponing and know how to get great deals using coupons.


The next I’m featuring today is ebates. Make internet purchases through ebates and get a percentage back. I mainly use it for back-to-school deals, Black Friday purchases (I do NOT like crowds, so if there is a deal I really want, I’m buying it online), and when I’m low on candles from Bath and Body Works (they make cleaning my house easier, and it’s one of my few justifiable splurges). There are also discount codes, and I will only buy when there is an actual need (like recently when my youngest needed new pants), and I buy clearance, use discount codes, and use ebates.


Both of those sites are FREE to sign up on, and neither cost money (except when you make a purchase from the external sites on ebates, but ebates itself does not cost a penny, ever). There are a boat load of apps I want to feature in the future, so stay tuned!


Oh, and one last note, I am NOT being paid by either site for my review. I’m pretty sure neither site knows my little just-for-fun blog exists!

My Summer-Ready Plan

summer bodies

Summer is on its way, and while I have no intention of becoming a bikini model ever, I do want to slim down a little bit

First, I very much believe fat loss comes from eating right and exercising moderately, but sometimes we all need a little boost. I know you’ve seen “those crazy wrap things” all over social media, but I’m telling you, I’ve seen a difference in my midsection’s skin tone (skin a little firmer, belly a little flatter, stretchmarks slowly fading) since I started using those wraps almost a month ago. If you’ve been on the fence as to whether to try them or not, just do it! I’ve read, “One wrap is a treat, four wraps is a treatment, and 12 wraps are a procedure.”  Find them through this link!

Second, to go along with the first link is the “exercise and eat right” part of the equation. Starting next week, in addition to my daily yoga and tae kwon do practice, I’m going to be incorporating an eating and exercise plan called 21 Day Fix Extreme. Thirty-minute workouts and little portion control containers? Sounds like a plan I could follow!

How are you prepping for summer?

The Media Fast

I forgot to mention in my last post the other thing I need to give up for Lent, MEDIA. I admit it, I’m disgustingly addicted to my phone and to social media. I start out telling myself that I am going to do a little networking for my Damsel in Defense business, maybe even snag a few pictures to use on my Facebook page. Next thing I know, it’s hours later and I haven’t even booked a party. All I did was look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers. Even worse, I ignored my kids, sending the horrible and clear message that my phone comes first. Not them, my precious gifts from God, but a piece of plastic and internet strangers. Yuck.

So starting Wednesday, I’m going offline, sort of. I will still blog, I will still do Facebook parties (I have some scheduled, and I can’t not work). I will not hang out in the groups, I will not obsessively check my news feed, I will not go to the various humor sites I enjoy. I will limit the blogging/ Facebook party, work-related stuff to 60 minutes per day. I will have a timer next to my computer.

Going a step further, the TV will stay off. Even though we don’t have cable, the TV seems to stay on all day, every day, and the noise makes it hard for me to focus. So, no PBS Kids, no Netflix, no DVDs, even the educational ones. I will somehow figure out how to keep the younger kids quiet and entertained while I’m working with the older kids, and that will be the biggest hurtle. The exception to the no TV/DVD rule is my yoga workout DVDs. I’ve made a commitment to do yoga every day, and the DVDs are helpful to me.

Saying no to media/electronics will be a real test, but I believe the blessings will be IMMENSE. More time focused on family? More time to read Scriptures? More time to write letters to far off friends and family? All good things to come out of fasting from electronics 🙂

For further reading on the subject of giving up TV/Internet, I strongly suggest you read the book “7, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker

The Daily Yoga Challenge

Even though I haven’t written in a while, what few posts I wrote previously should give you a good idea about what I love, tae kwon do (I got my black belt recommend, BTW, and test for my 1st degree at the end of March! Squeee!) and running.

A million years ago, I practiced yoga a few times a week. I used to be flexible, and one could argue I’m still pretty bendy. As I’ve gotten older, had more kids, and started cramming more into each day (in addition to homeschooling my four, I’m also teaching tae kwon do a few nights a week), I’ve put yoga on the back burner. The less yoga I practice, the more aches I notice (this could be because I’m a busy mom over 30, but I’m going to say it’s because I’m not stretching enough and maybe sitting too much).

So starting tomorrow (who says you have to start ANYTHING on a Monday?) and going through my birthday on April 21st (yep, totally arbitrary time frame), my goal is to do at least 30 minutes of yoga a day, every day.

And because I like video workouts, here are the DVDs I have so far (in no particular order):

– Kathy Smith Project You Core/Flex Yoga

– Rodney Yee’s Power Yoga Collection

– Yoga For Stress Relief And Flexibility

– Shiva Rea Core Yoga

– Yoga For Back Care

– Back Care Yoga With Rodney Yee

– Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown

– Ho’Alake Kino “Awaken The Body”

Since some of these DVDs have more than one workout on them (I counted 18 in all), I could in theory go more than two weeks without repeating a workout, which is pretty cool. I like variety. And if I don’t feel like doing a DVD, I have a couple Yoga Journal special issues, including one with a 6-week yoga guide. I think I can do it! And hopefully I’ll have some accountability through this blog.

The Declutter Project

I’m not Catholic, but I love participating in Lent every year. In the past I’ve given up coffee (hard), caffeine (even harder), and decluttered forty bags of random stuff in forty days (not as hard, but way more rewarding).

Fast forward to now, I no longer drink coffee, I’m still a caffeine addict (I love you Red Bull, even though you are horrible for me!), aaaaaannnnd I still have loads of clutter. The Red Bull thing is sorting itself out since I’m on a 30-day no spend challenge (and what a challenge it is! I’ll blog about it some other time), and energy drinks are most decidedly NOT an essential item. So this year I’m focusing on the clutter again.

Recently I’ve read, and reread, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which is not so much about “getting rid of stuff you don’t need” as it is “only keeping what you love.” She works by categories, not rooms or spaces. I’ve already gone through my clothes and my books, and when you gather up everything in your house that belongs in your current category, it’s overwhelming, if not a little horrifying. You don’t truly know how much you have until it’s all piled on your bed or in the middle of the kids’ playroom floor.

I’ll be honest, the next category on the KonMari method list is papers, and I’ve been procrastinating for a couple weeks on this. With Lent coming up, and my goal to complete another 40 bags in 40 days, I should be tackling those huge stacks and boxes soon. And until I get the courage to attack the paper, I’ll be working on the rest of the stuff in the house.

My secondary goal is to post 40 blog posts during that time. Ha ha! Wish me luck on that one!

What are you giving up/doing for Lent (which starts this coming Wednesday)? Let me know in the comment section!

Born to shine!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” ~~Chinese Proverb


It’s getting to be that time of year! I know, we still have to get through Thanksgiving and Christmahanakwanzika, but still! It’s almost New Year’s Resolution time! The time of year we make promises to ourselves that we’re going to break in less than six weeks.


“This year will be different!” you say. And I agree. I really, truly, madly, deeply (ha!) believe that 2015 will be better than 2014, and 2014 rocked pretty hard! I went from white belt in Tae Kwon Do to red belt decided in a year. “What does that mean?” It means that I am 6 months away from my first degree black belt. Think about it, black belt in EIGHTEEN MONTHS! I am already an assistant instructor, and I’m in the process of learning down-and-dirty self defense with plans to be an assistant instructor in that!


This year I ran my first half marathon, and I am very close to completing 100 miles run for the sake of running (I’m not training for anything right now) in November.


My kids are rocking their school at home, and my 8 year old, who may or may not be on the spectrum (I’m too afraid to get a diagnosis), is thriving in our quiet, less chaotic environment. He’s making progress in his ability to process loud noise and excessive activity, and I credit a lot of that to time at the dojang (tae kwon do studio), lots of prayer, and the essential oils I’ve been using on him.


I am loving life!


But I feel like I’m not accomplishing as much as I could be. I have so many goals, but I lack the ability to schedule time to work on all of them on any given day. Like blogging. It should be easy enough, right? I’m on the computer all the time anyway, it shouldn’t be hard to bang something out. No, seriously, I may never have one of those super-popular blogs (I kind of lack focus), but it still requires 30 minutes AT LEAST of uninterrupted time (that’s the key, with four little boys running around, it’s hard to get much writing done during the day).


I keep telling myself that I’m going to do 30 minutes of yoga every day, both to help with my flexibility for my martial arts and for run-related injury prevention. And I tell myself I’m going to do the first nine forms twice through every day. It should take like 20 minutes. And then there’s the running. Even after the 100 mile challenge is over, I’d like to keep going because I have noticed a marked improvement in my focus and ability to memorize forms and fighting combinations. But that takes an hour to an hour and a half. A thirty-minute run isn’t enough for me.


More than anything though, I want to succeed in business. I am a Damsel in Defense Pro, and I am on a mission to educate, equip, and empower women to protect themselves and their families.


Also, I have a debt that I’m working on eliminating. I’m following the Dave Ramsey Program, and I have baby step number one done, but it’s hard to pay down debt when you’re not bringing in much money.


I am confident, however, that 2015 will be the year that I accomplish more of my goals, because I have had success in 2014 in some of my other goals. I have successes to look back on and say, “Look, you’ve accomplished other stuff then, you certainly can accomplish stuff now!”


Sorry for the rambling! The TL;DR version is “I accomplished stuff in 2014, but I’m going to straight up SHINE in 2015!”


What are your goals for the next 12 months?


I’m back, kind of? Maybe?

So I’ve been working on my fit project, which I tried to turn into a blog, but ended up doing a Facebook page instead.

Lately I’ve had a few things floating around in my head and I thought, “I should write a few blog posts about this stuff!”

So, I’m not going to promise amazing, informative content seven days a week, but I would like to make blogging a habit over the month of December. Until then, I’ll post a few things here sporadically, like the art projects and food crafts we have planned over the next couple weeks, with plenty of links back to the original source (I’m not *that* creative on my own!).

Thoughts that go through my head while running

lapping everyone on the couchedit


On Saturday, my planned 4 mile run turned into a 4.8 mile run, and near the end I got to thinking about the things that go through my head when I run.

One minute in: “Yeah! I’m feeling great! I’m going to rock this run!”

5:00 “Seriously!? I’ve only gone that far?”

5:15 “Okay, okay, person with a dog coming toward me. I should be that nice person who says hi. I hope the dog doesn’t jump at me. I sure would hate it if the owner blamed me for their dog flipping out.”

5:15 “‘Good morning!'”

10:00 “I could have sworn I ran a mile by now.”

11:37 “Okay, there’s the mile announcement. I do love Runkeeper!

12:15 “How long until the fifteen minute announcement?”

12:49 “Finally, the park. How long until the 15 minute announcement?”

12:56 “Okay, another person on the trail, better say hi”

13:00 “‘Hi!'”

14:55 “Dang, 15 minutes is sure taking forever to get here. ‘Good morning!'”

15:00 “Finally!”

15:27 ‘Good morning!’ “Oh, carp, they responded with, ‘How are you?’! Must try to respond!”

16:52 “Aww, come on people! Stop asking how I’m doing! Can’t you see I’m bright red, huffing and puffing?”

17:12 “Ugh, I need new shoes. I know I gained weight, but dang, I didn’t think my feet got fat too.”

17:20 *Stops to untie shoes*

17:26 “Ah, much better.”

18:05 ‘Good morning!’ “I’m surprised that person didn’t say anything about my untied shoes.”

18:30 “Seriously? No one is saying anything about my untied shoes?”

20:13 “How am I going to explain to the shoe guy at the running store the type of shoe I’m looking for? I’m too heavy for minimalist shoes for longer distances, but clearly these heavy bulky things are not working out for me. They are for forefoot strikers, but are there any shoes that a cushiony and for forefoot strikers?”

20:20 “How do I explain to the shoe guy that yes, I do land on my forefoot, that I may be fat, but I have run in the past, and I trained myself to run this way. No, I do not need motion control, I do not over pronate, I have a very neutral gait, normal arches, and yes, I do know this, don’t let my size fool you!”

25:00 “Holy carp, it’s only been 25 minutes? It feel like I’ve been at this 45!”

27:10 “I can’t believe how sweaty I am! When was the last time I got this sweaty? Yeah, I got pretty sweaty at TKD rank camp, but really I think it was back when I was really into group fitness classes at my gym in Texas. Wow, that long ago? I kind of miss my trainer. I don’t want to train like that any more, even though I got some amazing abs.”

27:40 “I really believe I’m training my abdominal muscles to protrude outward. I know running distances like this isn’t really good for weight loss, but I can dream right?”

29:57 “Mark says chronic cardio is bad (and Mark knows everything!), but dang it, I want to run this marathon just so I can say I did it!”

31:23 “Running requires serious mental toughness! So tired, old lady hips ache, but I’m only 15 minutes from home so I gotta keep going.”

35:00 “Ugh, sounding like Shaun T. ‘Dig deeper!'”

35:25 “DIG DEEPER! You’ve got this!”

36:36 “You rock, Arley! You need to tell people about the power of cheering yourself on!”

38:12 “You have a cheering section in your head! You’re not crazy! Woo hoo!”

38:13-54:10 Variations on, “You’re a rockstar Arley! Get it! Yeah, we can do this! So close to home!” Yes, at one point I was having a conversation WITH myself, referring to me and myself as WE. I’m not crazy!

54:11 “Okay, your street it just ahead. Get ready for your victory lap! Victory lap? Really? YES!! VICTORY LAP DOWN YOUR ROAD TO YOUR HOME!!!! WOOO HOOO!!!!”


56:03 “Oh, neighbors outside. Aren’t they the ones from that house that Dave insists is inhabited my many single males? I must look crazy with sweat flying and hair frizzing.”

56:04 “Who cares what they think. VICTORY LAP! ALMOST HOME!!!”

1:01:02 “I MADE IT!!!!”

1:01:03 “What? 4.8 miles? Wow, was mapmyrun wrong!”

Am I the only one who cheers myself on during a run? What random things go through your head when you run?

Rank Advancement Camp

I know I’m a week or so late posting this, but yay! I had a ton of fun at Petitto’s ATA Black Belt Academy‘s rank advancement camp!


There was a ton of running, pushups, squats, and stretching toward doing full splits (ouch!). I was the only adult, but I was probably in better shape than the kids! Or maybe it was my mental toughness that pushed me through when I was tired and achy. I definitely felt my age (I have old lady hips that hurt after a while).

The most important thing I took away from this training is that I can memorize multiple forms in a short amount of time (I memorized two, and started on a third before I ran out of time). At this point I’m not sure what’s holding me back from memorizing choreography for PiYo or Turbo. I can’t help but wonder if deep-down I’m afraid to fail. Ugh, I need to get over it and just do it because even if I fail, who’s it going to hurt? There’s a huge difference between forgetting a section of choreography and forgetting how to perform open-heart surgery after you’ve already opened the patient up!


99% of the time, failure will not kill you or others.

I need to remember that.

Oh, and yes, I did get promoted! Yay yellow belt!

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