I was conducting some worksite wellness seminars recently and a question was raised several times: “How do I jump-start my weight loss?” For each person the scenario was slightly different: “I lost weight a while ago, gained back a little that I just can't seem to shed and the tactics I used before just aren't working anymore,” “I never had to lose weight before, I turned 50 and all of a sudden it seems extra weight popped up expecially around my middle,” “I exercise regularly, generally eat a healthy diet so I don't know why I don't lose weight,” “I follow a very strict diet but the weight won't budge anymore, what can I do to get it started again?”

There are several reasons why these folks are struggling to lose those unwanted pounds. Here are a few that may be wreaking havoc with their efforts:  As you lose weight you may lose precious calorie-burning muscle tissue along with some fat. When that happens, you now require fewer calories than before to maintain and/or lose weight. If you do the same workout all the time, the body adapts and this becomes your norm. Some people take in too few calories and actually lower their metabolism, so it gets more and more difficult to lose weight and get all the nutrients needed to stay healthy and energized. And that dreaded weight that shifts to our midsection as midlife approaches! This is partially due to hormonal changes, but you don't have to give in to mother nature.

Here are some things I do to jump-start my metabolism and quickly drop a few pounds when I get stuck in a rut:

1) I start my mornings out with a high-protein, high-fiber shake that is loaded with powerful nutrients and antioxidants.

Here's my basic recipe:

Put in a blender: 1 cup frozen blueberries or strawberries, 1 cup low-fat, low-carb milk, 2 T ground flax seeds, 1 scoop whey protein powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt. Blend, pour and drink. Makes 2-3 servings.  (optional: if you like it a little sweeter add 1/2 packet sugar subst.)

2) I divide my meals into 6 smaller meals a day. Eating actually raisies your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day, plus you tend not to get over hungry.

3) Mid-morning and mid-afternoon I have 1/4 cup of unsalted nuts with a few dark chocolate chips or a half of whole wheat lite English muffin with I T all-natural peanut butter. The nuts are high in healthy fat, fiber and satiety value.

4) I change my workout routine. Instead of walking at a steady pace, every 5 minutes I will speed up for a minute or two, or stop and do 20 jumping jacks then continue my walk. This speeds up your metabolism and facilitates after-burn (burning more calories for a period of time after you stop exercising). If you walk or run all the time, change your routine by switching to biking or swimming or kickboxing for one of your workouts each week.

5) Lift weights or do other resistance exercise that adds calorie-burning muscles. If you already lift weights, change up your workout. Do fewer reps with more weight or alternate in 20 minutes of cardio between circuits. Do a power circuit 2-3 times. For other ideas, contact me at kj@bodybykj.com.

6) Write down everything you eat as you go through your day. This keeps you highly aware of what actually goes in your mouth. This is probably the single best tool for keeping yourself on track. I have a great food and activity tracker for sale on this Web site. You can use it over and over again — a great gift or investmentment for your health at only $9.95. Contact kj@bodybykj.com for more info.

7) Cut out sugar, foods high in added sugar, white flour and other refined, highly processed carbohydrates.