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You’ve been hitting the gym for months, your diet has never been cleaner and you’re so close to your goal weight that you can practically taste it (sorry). So why is it taking so long to shake those last few pounds? Before you throw out your scale and collapse into a bowl of Nutella, read these ten common culprits behind weight-loss plateaus and adjust accordingly.

last10 nobreakfast

You skip meals

That extra push in the homestretch can come from breezing past a few breakfasts, right? Wrong. Skipping meals actually has the opposite effect, since having a coffee-only morning meal will make you more likely to splurge at lunch and dinner. A protein-rich breakfast kick-starts your metabolism for the day, so get things going with a healthy, filling meal.

last10 elliptical

You’re chained to the elliptical

Cardio is great and all, but on its own it’s pretty inefficient. Running and spinning may torch calories, but they don’t build much muscle. The less muscle you have, the lower your metabolism is. More muscle means your body will burn calories even when you aren’t working out. (And no, you won’t look like a bodybuilder after a few leg presses.) The key here is to balance cardio with strength-training exercises like squats, planks and push-ups

last10 routine

You never switch it up

Even if you regularly incorporate cardio and strength training, your body gets used to a particular routine and that’s where progress plateaus. Try a new dance class or pepper your long jogs with bursts of full-out sprints to keep your body on its proverbial toes.

last10 cocktail

You’re drinking your calories

Just because you aren’t chewing doesn’t mean you aren’t ruining your hard-earned progress. Alcohol, soda and fancy coffee drinks are all culprits when it comes to consuming mindless calories. Just say no to stick to your goal.

RELATED: How to Stick to Your Diet at Work

last10 water

You’re dehydrated

You know what drink has zero calories? And what drink you’re probably not getting enough of? Water. H2O is important for a number of reasons, including that drinking water before a meal encourages portion control and makes you feel full faster. Also, sip a glass before you do anything else in the morning to rev up your metabolism.

last10 healthy

You eat too much of a good thing

Just because a food is healthy doesn’t give you license to go overboard. All too often our seemingly harmless snack of an avocado and raw nuts enters full-on meal territory without us batting an eyelash. Or one salmon steak turns into three. You should always practice portion control, regardless of what you’re eating.

last10 dressing

You’re dependent on condiments

Salad dressings, sauces and even good old ketchup are secret diet-wreckers. What seems like an innocent way to spice up a boring salad is often a complete sugar bomb. This is where checking labels--or making your own version of store-bought favorites (like these nine delicious dressings)--comes in handy.

last10 lowfat

You eat only low-fat foods

Those food industry tricksters! Low-fat foods are typically loaded with sugar and salt and other bad-for-you things that make up for the lack of fat, flavor-wise. As an alternative, eat the full-fat version, just in smaller, more moderate doses.

last10 tired

You don’t sleep enough

When you’re sleep deprived, your body’s level of ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) gets all out of whack and makes you think you’re hungrier than you are. In addition to the hormonal issues a lack of sleep causes, it also makes you much more vulnerable to making bad food choices.

last10 stress

You’re stressed about losing those last 10 pounds

We know, we know. You want to reach your goal. But stressing about it too much is counterproductive. When you’re stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol, an excess of which causes an increased appetite. So just relax and be proud of all the good choices you’ve made for your health already. And drink a glass of water, dammit.

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