When you're following a healthy diet and making it a point to move more, it can be crushing not to see your efforts reflected on the scale. The reasons for it can vary — even lack of sleep and abundant stress can stall weight loss, for example — but that doesn't mean it's hopeless. Practice self-care, show yourself some grace, and try making these expert-approved tweaks to your diet and exercise routine to start shedding stubborn pounds.
Take Inventory of Your Diet
Even if you've consciously made it a point to eat healthier — for example, by swapping a burger for salad at lunch — you could still be underestimating your calorie consumption, Scarlett Full, MS, RD, nutrition scientist at Growing Naturals, told POPSUGAR. "[Putting a] half-cup of shredded cheese and quarter-cup of ranch dressing on a salad might make it as dense as the burger and fries."
Another thing that often goes uncounted are the tiny indulgences you give yourself throughout the day, such as a couple squares of chocolate from the work cafeteria or a glass or two of wine at the end of the day. "There's nothing wrong with enjoying these indulgences, but women may be unaware that those are the extra calories sabotageing their weight-loss efforts," Scarlett explained. To get a better sense of how many calories you're eating on any given day, she recommended food journaling for a few weeks, which can help make you more aware of exactly what you're putting in your mouth and where you need to make adjustments.
Once you have a good sense of your caloric intake, take it a step further and practice intuitive eating. "Learn to trust your body on when to eat, what to eat, and how much to eat, whether it's tofu and veggies or chocolate cake," Scarlett said. "Preliminary research indicates that intuitive eaters have less anxiety about food, enjoy food more, and even have lower body mass indexes."
Mix Up Your Workouts
"Many people get trapped into the same workout routine all the time — most commonly some sort of cardio activity," Scarlett said. "While this exercise might have initially helped you lose weight, as you get fitter, the same exercise is no longer as effective," since your muscles adapt.
Even if that weren't the case, it's not enough to do cardio alone. Resistance training is also essential for weight loss, according to Matt Kite, CSCS, USAW, director of education for D1 Training. "If fat loss is the goal, muscle building or at least muscle tissue maintenance is going to be key, as lean muscle mass aids metabolism," Matt told POPSUGAR.
To help bolster your efforts in the gym, make sure you're getting enough protein, too. Matt recommended a minimum of 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight for someone looking to maintain or lose weight, and 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight for someone looking to add muscle. "Anything in between is a good range for supporting lean muscle," he said.