By Miguel J. Ortiz

So, you’ve dropped a couple of pounds but your starting to plateau. You keep the same diet, if you cheat its accounted for, and you have been crushing it in the gym.

Chances are that because of your consistency you have come a long way so don’t get discouraged. If anything, look at this as a compliment to your hard work. If you’re stuck at a certain weight or body fat measurement it’s because the combination of your diet, exercise and sleep have been able to maintain that metabolism. So, before you make any changes be proud of getting to this point and let’s do some reflection on what your program has been consisting of, making changes too soon without looking at previous behaviors could have you moving in the wrong direction.

The first thing you absolutely need to look at is getting more sleep. If sleep has been lacking then changing some routines to add more stretching, getting a massage or adding more foam rolling could all be helpful to aid in recovery. Which is exactly what sleeping is for, to recover. Every program – whether weight loss, strength or muscle building – requires quality recovery. So, make sure you are recovering well from exercise and your day-to-day work activities.

Next, let’s take a brief look at exercise. We don’t want to over think it. It could be as simple as adding another day to your program like a yoga class, Pilates, HIIT training or changing little variables like sets and reps. Keep in mind that adding more exercise can be helpful, but make sure you’re not over doing it. This extra day can challenge you, but it must compliment your goals and your current routine. For example, if you’re doing lots of yoga and want to start doing more weight training. then adding in one day a week of strictly strength training can be very helpful as you increase training days. If you’re doing a lot of strength training and need to add some stretching, then adding one day of yoga can be helpful. All training routines need to have a quality warm up, training routine, cool down/recovery and quality fuel.

When to change your diet isn’t always the easiest thing to determine. There are many different diets to try and that can lead to more confusion. If you’re not talking to a dietician or health professional, the only thing I personally would focus on is if you’re getting enough fiber? You can personally never go wrong with more greens. Maybe your metabolism needs a little boost. Try cutting out unnecessary sugars or processed foods, drink only water, avoid alcohol and consume appropriate portion sizes. Take your time and be sure that when changing your diet that you are making small changes and know that you might need to try something for more than a week or two before you see any change. Keep your head up, be patient and enjoy the process as you learn about your body. And, always have fun!

Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.