It happens. The dreaded plateau. If it hasn’t hit you yet, chances are if you are trying to make a change and meet some new fitness or weight loss goals, it will.
You’ve been on a good program, making good progress, doing all the right things and then, suddenly, it all stops. At this point, some folks get frustrated, stay frustrated and throw in the towel. If you get stuck, you can get unstuck. There are some simple strategies to consider to get you over that plateau and moving forward.
We’ll dig into three areas.
- How is your nutrition? Be Honest!
Oftentimes we think we are eating clean. Maybe we have been doing well for a few weeks and have seen progress. Then we might start to slack off just a wee bit. Perhaps it’s just one little treat here and there and just a couple of bites, another one and we fall back into some of our old habits. Even if we aren’t completely into our old habits, we have lost momentum and focus and diligence.
Personally, this one gets me every time. I know this about myself. I have to be honest with myself and check my nutrition. Another thing to think about is that for women, a big issue can be actually eating enough calories. We have been brainwashed into thinking we have to keep up an unrealistic, restrictive way of eating, existing on a limited amount of calories. Your body is a smart machine. It will adapt and hold on for dear life, so your progress will halt. On the other hand, if you are trying to gain muscle you have to make sure you are eating enough to promote muscle growth.
One trick I find often works is to add more fiber to your diet. Add some chia seeds to your smoothie, yogart or coffee. Up the ruffage (my mom used to say that all the time!).
On the other hand, if you are trying to gain muscle you have to make sure you are eating enough to promote muscle growth.
Be honest with what, when and how much you are eating. Track it, re-focus and be diligent.
2. How are your workouts? Be honest.
If you have been doing the same thing, same workouts then maybe your body needs a shock. You need to shake it up and do something different! Throw in a HIIT workout, a spin workout, a yoga class, something to get yourself out of your normal routine.
When you are working out, are you really working? Make sure you are all engaged, physically and mentally. Go all in and not just mail it in. It makes a difference!
On the other hand, if you are a seasoned exerciser, maybe you might be overtraining. There is a chance if you are working out 6-7 days a week and not allowing your body adequate time to recover, then you could be overtraining. This can stall your progress and bring on other problems.
3. How is your sleep? Be honest.
Rest is a huge and usually overlooked part of your health. Any fitness or weight loss gains require good sleep. When my boys were little we always told them they were growing while they slept. And it’s true.
If you have really been eating clean, working out smart and still stuck, then look at your sleep. In fact, the importance of adequate sleep is one of the biggest fitness and health topics for 2018. I know immediately when I am not getting good sleep. I lose energy, attention, focus, eat poorly and any workouts suffer. Lack of sleep causes increased stress, does not allow our bodies to recover from our workouts, our digestive systems to have time to do their job and our muscles to regrow from our workouts.
If your sleep is suffering, then think of what you can change. Are your dogs keeping you up? If your spouse is keeping you up, then maybe they need to head to the guest room! Turn off the TV, phones and laptops in bed. Set your timer on your phone to make you go to bed earlier. This is important people! Do what you need to get some sleep!
Other things to remember!
Progress will definitely slow at some time. You cannot always progress at the same pace from now on. For example, when you initially begin a new workout program, you will likely see quick gains. If you are losing weight you will likely lose a lot of weight if you have a lot of weight to lose. At some point that will slow down. You cannot continue to lose 2-3 pounds a week forever. It just has to slow down or your whole body will melt away. Just because you are slowing down does not always mean you have hit a plateau. You may just have slowed the pace a little bit.
This is the same with progress in any area or reaching any goal. If you are tackling a new hobby, creating a new project, learning a new skill or building a business, you will likely make big gains initially and then find yourself at a certain level. You may feel stalled at that level, but you are still moving forward, just not at breakneck speed.
Perhaps this is the time to measure your progress differently. If it is weight loss, then get off the scale. Check your progress by the way your clothes fit, how you feel, your energy. The same with your fitness. Celebrate your small successes. Did you get in four workouts this week? Fabulous! Did you avoid those donuts in the breakroom? Congratulations! Did you try a new class this week? Did you walk/run an extra mile? Celebrate those successes! It is all about moving forward, making progress and having wins, no matter how small, along the way!
Take the wins out of the fitness and wellness arena. Plateaus come in life just as well as in our weightloss and fitness journeys. It is best if we know that and understand that it is part of the growing process. Continue to celebrate those small successes daily and find ways to chip away at that plateau.
I can’t say I have EVER quoted Bruce Lee, but here it is:
“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.” -Bruce Lee
Enjoy Your Day!