If you've been running or taking aerobics classes regularly but are no longer losing weight, you might need to shake things up. Hitting a plateau is not only common, but expected. According to Mayoclinic.com, plateaus occur because your metabolism slows down as your weight decreases. In many cases, this is a result of losing muscle -- rather than fat -- so adding muscle-building exercises is key to rev up your metabolism and lose weight again.
Try a different type of activity every time you do cardio. If you run on Mondays, hit the stationary bike on Wednesdays and try a step class on Fridays. Because each of these activities affects your heart rate differently, you keep your metabolism pumped and working at a high efficiency rate. Also, each activity targets slightly different muscles, so your body doesn't get used to a specific workout.
Add something new to your workout every couple of weeks. As your body gets used to a certain workout, it becomes more efficient at it. That means you eventually can complete a workout with a loss effort than you used to. The result? Fewer calories burn and slower weight loss. By switching things up, you're challenging your body again. Increase your workout by 10 minutes, increase the resistance or the amount of weight you're lifting or add a new activity to your routine.
Combine cardio with weight-training workouts. Weight training helps build muscle, which in turn can help increase metabolism so you lose weight faster. Aim for two to three weight-training workouts a week. And don't worry -- you won't turn into a muscle beast. Women lack the hormones necessary to get too big, particularly without tons of supplements and extra-heavy workouts.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.