Workout Rut: Are You In One?

Workout Rut: Are You In One?
  I hear it all the time. "But I am doing everything I can and I just can't seem to lose this last 5-10 lbs!" In fact, many of my celebrity clients originally came to me trying to break out of their own workout plateau in need of losing those last pounds - got to love Award Season here in Hollywood! Even though I’ve been able to help my own clients reach their goals, this is one tricky topic! You’ve probably heard all kinds of advice these days which can be overwhelming as well as confusing. Plus, it can all seem so contradictive. RELAX. I plan to give you a much better understanding on what you can do to break out of the feeling of that hopeless plateau. Reaching a plateau occurs for many different reasons.  What I see most commonly is an individual who has been cutting calories (too low) and exercising the same exact workout for several weeks but with no longer seeing the results like they did in the beginning.  Sound familiar? If so, chances are your body has certainly hit a weight-loss plateau. This occurs because your progress has come to a standstill for many reasons mentioned below. So let’s see if we can SHAKE THINGS UP! Both in the kitchen and with your workouts!  
Moni Meals!

A great start: - delicious and nutritious.

There is no better time than NOW.  It’s never too late and my best advice is to try and ditch the “ALL OR NOTHING” attitude. Deal? I have five questions to ask yourself plus BONUS TIPS at the end to help you on your way. You might find there are some very simple changes you can make both mentally and physically to start getting your hard work to really pay off.  Time to ask yourself the following questions…


Honestly ask yourself about your Diet (maybe too little caloric intake or are you mindlessly eating too much?) and your Workout Routine (same exact workout every time, no challenge, body is always achy, or just boring?). First: Have you cut down on strength training? Do NOT cut out weight training from your regimen! I can’t stress this enough.  It is a vital component of a well-rounded fitness program. The more muscle you add to the body, the better your body is able to burn calories, even at rest. Strength Training is something every single one of my clients ALWAYS incorporates in our training program. Second: Are you focusing too much on the number on the scale? A scale only measures total body weight- fat, muscle, bones, and organs.  It doesn't tell you a thing about body composition, which is a far better measure of overall health and fitness. Third: Are you confused about fat and muscle? A pound of muscle and a pound of fat both weigh… A POUND. The difference is that muscle is a lot more compact and takes up less space than fat. A 130 lb. woman who is fit and has a low body fat percentage is going to look slimmer and leaner compared to a 130 lb. woman who has a high body fat percentage and not much muscle.  But they both weigh 130 lbs. Make sense? Fourth: If you have hit a plateau, that’s a sign you need to change up your exercise routine. Over time the body will adapt to an exercise regimen and you will stop seeing additional benefits. You need to be tricking your body and “confusing” your muscles on a regular basis in order for them to get stronger and to continue burning fat and calories. Just ask my clients on this one! I switch up our workouts all the time - hardly ever doing the same routine. Fortunately, it’s easy to get out of a rut.


  1. Change up your cardio. Go for at least one day per week of “HIIT”~High Intensity Interval Training. All that means is that you’re exercising at a moderate pace for a minute or two, then cranking up the intensity for 20-60 seconds, to the point where you’re really huffing and puffing, then come back down and recover for a minute or two. Repeat several times until you've done at least 20 minutes (and the beauty of HIIT is that you only need about 20 minutes to burn serious calories and really strengthen your cardiovascular system). Do this once, or better yet, twice per week, alternating these tough sessions with longer, more moderate cardio sessions. Doing long, easy cardio is a waste of precious time, can lead to overuse injury, and make it so easy to hit a plateau, so try High Intensity.
Moni Working-It-OUT!

Moni Working-It-OUT!

  1. Change up your weight training. Many people, women especially, make the mistake of thinking that lifting light weights with a lot of reps is the way to go, but in fact, you should be lifting all manner of weights-high weights to failure, moderate weights with moderate reps, and if you want to do light weights with high reps, try to do compound move (i.e. combining squats with bicep curls, or lunges with shoulder presses) so that you also get your heart rate up.  Don’t be afraid to lift heavier. Personally, people are surprised at how much weight I can lift yet I look like “Monica the Trainer” and not “Monica the Terminator.” My point is that I lift heavy yet I look small. So try to up the weights when lifting and see your body change! I recommend at least once a week. Safely lift the heaviest weights you can until your muscles give out (make sure you have good form or have a spotter to help you so you don’t injure yourself!). We will talk about “bulking up” on another day but just know it is pretty hard to do, especially for the majority of you females.
Plank Workouts are great to work the entire body.

Plank Workouts are great to work the entire body.

FIFTH: Are you OVER TRAINING? This may not seem like this is something easy to do but it can be. You would be surprised at how many people are over training their bodies thinking they will lose more weight and become faster as well. Not the case.  A great example is Olympic athletes. They incorporate a workout routine planned around several rest days. Our bodies need to recuperate and if the body doesn’t come out of continual practice, the system doesn’t have the time to catch up and start patching everything back up.  Plus, it is your muscles that grow on rest days not on your workouts! I highly recommend always at least 1 rest day a week. Depending on what you are training for, my expert advice is to try to aim for 2 rest days a week. If you think you may be overtraining, add in one to two rest days a week.  You will be thrilled at how better you feel, better you look, and that plateau may just be very soon gone. I did want to point out how this can be tricky to understand. For example, working out can cause  serious muscle fatigue but this is actually what you WANT to most degrees. You see, when you “feel the burn” you are causing your muscles to get stronger. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it and give your heavy-lifted muscles at least 36 hours of rest so they can recover (again, because muscle building occurs during recovery, not during exercise).  Also, make sure you are getting enough calories and always strive to meet your minimum NET calories per day to lose a pound a week. If you go too low it can back fire on you majorly. Remember we are striving to build a fast metabolism that is a fuel burning machine! This is why I can eat so many of my “Moni Treats.” Exercise burns more calories, so make sure you’re “eating back” those calories.  Starving yourself is totally counterproductive to weight loss and muscle building. I have seen this and continue to see this all the time. Short Cuts and Quick Fixes NEVER LAST, trust me.


Finally, try to stop stressing so much about what the scale is telling you (or your BMI). Judge how you’re doing by how your clothes fit, what your body measurements are and by how you feel. If possible, consider getting a body composition test at your gym, which will give you a better sense of where you are. Make sure you are indeed actually drinking enough water and make sure you are getting enough protein.

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you can now focus on how you are one step closer to possibly getting out of your fitness rut.

I would love to hear from you! Do you find yourself currently in a workout rut? What tips have you learned to break through it? What are you still struggling with?
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Moni xx
Love Monica Nelson

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Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not a Registered Dietitian. While my advice relies on my own personal experience and research, what has been successful for myself and others may be not best for you. You should always consult your doctor when making changes to your diet. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at

One Comment to “Workout Rut: Are You In One?”

  1. Thank you so much for writing back. Yes, I would appreciate your help. I think not knowing how many calories I should take-in daily has been my problem. I think for the last 3 months I have been eating between 1200-1400 and some times I wonder if I am not eating enough. 3 months ago when I really dedicated myself to eating very healthy 6 times a day eating protein,carbs, and veggies (however not realy cycling the carbs) I went from 17% to 12% body fat. However my weight never changed. I started at 139 and I am still at 139. I am defininately more defined and have more muscle but my clothes are not any looser. Anyway, if you could help me out with my diet and calorie intake I would really appreciate it.

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