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 especially 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 Calorie burning capacity), 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 you can do to jump-start your metabolism:

1) Start your 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 unsweetened almond milk, 1 T chia seeds, 1 scoop whey or plant-based protein powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt and a few ice cubes. Blend and enjoy!

2) Divide meals into 6 smaller meals a day and make sure to include lean protein and veggies or fruit with every meal and snack. Eating actually raises your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day, plus you tend not to get over hungry.

3) Drink plenty of cold water or unsweetened Iced green tea to help boost metabolism.

4) Change your workout routine. Instead of walking at a steady pace, every 5 minutes, speed up for a minute or two and then resume your regular pace. 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.

6) Keep a food and exercise log. This keeps you highly aware of what actually goes in your mouth. This is probably the single best tool for keeping yourself on track. Try one of the food diary apps such as MyFitnessPal.

7) Cut out added sugars such as table sugars, agave, honey, syrups, jelly, jams. Some sugars hide in foods such as ketchup, BBQ sauce, salad dressings, baked goods, cereals etc., so make sure to check the ingredient declaration on the back of packaged foods.

8) Eat fewer processed foods with added sugar refined carbohydrates: white flour, white rice, white bread pasta, processed snack foods, cereals. When choosing grain -based foods, choose whole grains such as quinoa, steal cut oats, brown rice instead of white/wheat flour pasta and white rice. Be careful of oversized portions – for example a typical bakery or deli bagel equals 5-6 slices of bread, even the whole grain ones.

9) Plan your meals and snacks for the week, make a list and go shopping. Carve out some time to prepare meals and packages snacks to have ready during the week.

10) Don’t go long periods of time without eating as this usually backfires and results in depressed metabolism, poor nutrition, poor choices, and excess calories.