The Puzzle of Plateaus

Grilled salmon

Enjoy the health benefits of salmon year-round!

It’s February and like many people in January you may have started a new plan to get to a healthier weight. At some point you may find you’ve hit a plateau and just can’t seem to lose any more weight. Here are some ideas to consider as you probe what might be contributing to the stall in your goal.

10 Tips for Getting Past the Plateaus

  1. Review your habits.Make sure you haven’t slowly reverted back to some of your old habits, like eating larger portions, stopping at the coffee shop for a mocha Grande and a muffin, or deciding to skip your exercise routines.  An honest review may find relaxation of some of your good habits is contributing to your plateau.
  2. Eat lean proteins at each meal and snack.Protein foods suppress ghrelin, a hormone secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite. Foods high in fat actually raise this hormone causing increased hunger. And eating meals or snacks that are mostly carbohydrate often make people feel hungry shortly after eating. It’s the protein foods that really help to keep people feeling full.
  3. Step it up.To burn more calories, increase your workout by 15 minutes, add another day to your weekly routine, or increase the intensity of your exercise. Try alternating intervals of high and moderate intensity. Adding strength training will increase your muscle mass which helps burn more calories even at rest. And to give your muscles a new challenge, vary your physical activity.
  4. Think outside the gym. Increase your general activity throughout the day by walking more, using your car less, taking the stairs, doing more gardening and yard work, and cleaning your house.
  5. Wear a pedometer or other activity tracking device. 10,000 steps is the goal for overall good health, but you may need to aim for 12,000-15,000 for weight loss.
  6. Cut more calories.You could try reducing your daily calories by 200. Just make sure you’re not going below 1,200 calories if you’re a woman or below 1600 calories if you are a man.
  7. Get 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night. Turn off your electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Keep your room at a comfortable temperature. Try to go to bed about the same time every night.
  8. Manage stress eating. Use a distracting activity like drinking a cup of hot tea, going for a walk, calling a friend, or writing in a journal. Cravings usually only last about 45 minutes. If you distract yourself, you should find you’ve gotten past them without the need to eat.
  9. Watch restaurant overeating. Share food with a friend or order a takeout container with your meal; put half your food in the container before you start eating and you have lunch for tomorrow!
  10. Reassess your weight goal. If you’ve tried all these tips and you still are unable to lose more weight, you may want to revisit your weight-loss goal. Celebrate the success you’ve had and the weight you’ve lost. Perhaps the number you’re striving for is unrealistic for you. Consider a consult with a registered dietitian to discuss your concerns.

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Salmon

Serves 6

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare salmon in the winter when the outdoor grill is covered with snow


  • 6 4-oz. salmon fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the fish fillets in an oven safe shallow casserole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, mustard, and rice vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Brush the salmon fillets with some of the marinade.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes. Brush with more marinade.
  6. Turn oven to broil and broil for about 3 minutes until marinade is bubbling and starting to caramelize. Enjoy!

Sharon Lehrman, MPH, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian with a private practice and corporate wellness business in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can read health-related articles, subscribe to her free monthly nutrition newsletter, or contact her at

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