It’s February, and many of us have stuck with those New Year’s resolutions, shedding pounds and making better choices about diet. But right about now, your weight loss may  also have stalled. This is called hitting a plateau, and it can happen for a multitude of reasons. One of the most common is that we don’t increase our physical activity as our bodies’ needs change.

Changing Habits, Changing Metabolism

As we get into shape, our bodies begin to use energy differently. As your system gets used to increased physical activity, it also adjusts how it burns calories. Eventually, your body can reach a sort of equilibrium, where you’re eating exactly enough calories per day to sustain your current weight and make it through your workouts.

This is especially common when people start out slowly—a good idea if you’ve been sedentary for a long time. If you started out with walking around the block, for instance, and now you’ve hit a weight-loss plateau, it’s probably time to increase the intensity of your workouts to match your new metabolism!

Increasing Workout Intensity

There are two ways to increase the intensity of your workout. The first is to increase its duration, and the second is to make the workout itself more strenuous. Since most of us simply don’t have the time to make our workouts longer and longer, making your workout more strenuous is often the way to go.

Talk to a personal trainer about ways to “step up your game” and push past your body’s equilibrium. Some methods to try:

  • Add weights. Even if you’re just walking around the block, carrying weights or wrapping weights around your ankles will make walking a more demanding task.
  • Go a little faster. If you walk on the treadmill, try increasing the speed or even the incline. You don’t have to do an 8-minute mile, but even sprinkling some jogging into your walk will help you burn a few more calories.
  • Switch it up altogether. If you always hit the elliptical, try out the rowing machine or the free weights. Adding new activities is also a great way to keep yourself from getting bored with your routine.
  • Commit to an extra day at the gym. Maybe right now you work out once a week. What would happen if you made that two?