Here's Exactly What to Do When You Hit a Diet and Exercise Plateau

Photo: Free People

Have you found you've hit a weight-loss plateau? Despite your dedication to cutting carbs and hitting up every exercise class that fits into your schedule, do you find that you just aren't seeing the results you're hoping for? This phenomenon is more common than you'd think. So common that New York magazine's Science of Us asked Shawn Arent, a professor of kinesiology at Rutgers, to share his insight on how to deal with plateaus both mentally and physically.

Arent says that if you stop seeing progress—"weights don't go up anymore or you're not losing weight,"—you've hit a plateau. When this happens, you should ask yourself two questions. "One: Could you be doing more?" he says. This could mean switching up your workout, as variation is key to getting your body to show results. Maybe you're sticking to a healthy diet but bingeing on the bad stuff after hours. If there are more steps you can take to get back on track, this is what you need to consider. "And second: Are you doing too much?" says Arent. If you've suddenly stopped seeing results but have remained devoted to your workouts and healthy eating plan, it could be that you're overexerting yourself.

Whereas Arent and his team use heart rate monitoring and bio markers to determine what's happening in the body, you can pick up on cues by assessing your progress every step of the way–and eventually, you'll be able to determine what's working and what's not. "I am a big proponent of the notion that if you're not assessing, you're guessing," Arent says. His three-step recommendation?

1. Set goals for yourself

2. Track your progress

3. Adjust if you stop seeing results

Doing these three things will help you tune in to how your body is reacting to your exercise and eating efforts. Keep a journal to log your progress, and don't be hard on yourself if you don't see results right away. If something isn't working, drop it from your lifestyle, and pick up something else. There's no shame in adjusting your path and moving forward.

Boost your motivation with these three fitness apps.