Throughout my ongoing journey of living a healthy lifestyle, I've experienced plateaus more times than I can count and I'm thankful for each and every one of them...yes I said thankful. Why? Because I know that's my body sending me a message and I make sure I listen and you should too.
Let's get this out there from the start...plateaus happen to everyone, they are normal, they are common and the best thing you can do is accept them and learn from them. You don't plateau because you're doing everything right, you plateau because something in your fitness or nutrition regimen is too easy, not working, stagnant or in need of a change. So be honest with yourself when answering the following questions:
Am I really giving 100%?
Am I enjoying/satisfied with my fitness/nutrition plan?
Am I putting forth a lot of effort but still not seeing results?
Am I doing the minimum instead of the maximum?
Do I allow myself to quit early?
Do I make excuses where I could be making progress?
Do I lie to myself and think less efforts will lead to more results?
Am I being realistic about my goals?
Am I allowing myself sufficient time to realize results?
Understanding the answers to those questions and the message your body is sending you is the first step. The second step is to regroup, reassess, refocus and make a plan for a changed or new path. The third step is to move forward and put that plan into action!
If plateaus didn't happen, we would all keep doing the same thing over and over and eventually get bored, stop seeing results or simply exist somewhere in the maintain mode. Plateaus force you to grow, to learn, to break through and most importantly, teach you about what you are capable of accomplishing...and I'll bet it's so much more than you ever thought! So next time you hit a plateau (and you will), be thankful because your next break through is just around the corner!
What types of plateaus have you experienced?
I enjoy a cocktail just as much as the next person but in the past year or so I've cut down substantially on the amount of alcohol I drink. Mainly because I was so confused by my lack of results. I was eating healthy, exercising daily with a mix between strength training and cardio training and I was either maintaining my weight and body fat or sometimes gaining depending on the time of year and many of my clients were suffering from the same. So after assessing my regimens (and my client's) I finally figured out that the common denominator was alcohol. It's a quick and easy way to reverse all that hard work and effort not to mention the results you stand to achieve when otherwise living a healthy lifestyle -- starting with empty calories (and lots of them), interference of a good night's sleep, messing with your metabolism, decreased inhibitions (aka...splurging on chips and pizza), consuming more increased sugar intake and inflammation in the body which leads to bloating, muscle pain and decreasing the body's ability to absorb nutrients from other food. Once I decreased the amount of alcohol I consumed I started to realize the results I was working so hard to achieve. I'm not trying to be a party pooper by any means but it's important to understand the adverse effects that alcohol can have on your body and your results. Your best bet is to drink in moderation with adequate hydration via increased water intake before, during and after you drink to offset all of those less than healthy effects of alcohol. Cheers to moderation and results!
What do you see when you look at someone who is overweight or obese?
It wasn't until I became a personal trainer and started meeting with clients who were overweight or obese that I stopped looking at just the physical aspects and started seeing and hearing about the emotional aspects too. I've met with tons of clients and I can tell you there is always some traumatic incident, life altering situation, major injury or illness/disease that has occurred throughout their life that set them on the path to obesity and/or fueled their dependence on food for the purpose of emotional comfort.
My sister recently told me about a documentary she watched on Netflix called Obesity: The Post Mortem, where a team of pathologists in the UK perform an autopsy on a clinically obese donor to examine how excess fat damages the human body. I've already watched it three times and will most likely watch it again. I was completely fascinated and mesmerized by seeing what an obese person's major organs look like on the inside. In addition, the documentary also highlights five overweight or obese individuals who share their stories, their struggles, their body shaming experiences and how they hope that by being a part of this documentary they can help others who are experiencing some, if not all, of the same.
This documentary was so impactful to me on multiple levels. From the standpoint of the living overweight or obese person, who is well aware that they are overweight or obese and certainly don't need strangers staring, whispering, mocking and judging them as a reminder of what they see every day when they look in the mirror. And from the standpoint of how living an overweight or obese lifestyle on a daily basis negatively affects your body's ability to function efficiently and substantially increases so many major risk factors including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, liver disease and so on, which ultimately can lead to an untimely or early death.
Obesity is an epidemic in our country that is getting far worse before it gets better. I highly recommend everyone take an hour to watch this documentary but be warned, it is graphic and you need to have a strong stomach (definitely don't watch it while eating). If you are overweight or obese, maybe if you see what's actually happening to your organs on the inside of your body it will motivate you to start making lifestyle changes to your activity level and nutrition habits before more damage is done and if you aren't overweight or obese maybe it will motivate you to keep working hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Here's a link to a preview: (https://youtu.be/LW9WmnNrfQ8)
If you decide to watch it, please share your thoughts!
I used to be just like you...I use to weigh myself daily, sometimes even multiple times a day. It's so easy to fall into the trap of letting that number on the scale determine so many things that have absolutely nothing to do with that number on the scale, like what kind of day you're going to have, whether you are happy, whether you like yourself, how you evaluate your self-worth, the measure of your self-esteem, your confidence level and so on. Did the number go in the right direction or are you left devastated by the slightest change in the wrong direction?
In my profession, this is a subject that is discussed often with my clients and I've finally decided to weigh in on the subject and give you my answer: Emphatically, 150%, adamantly NO, please do not weigh yourself on a daily basis. Do you think you are managing your weight better by doing this? Or are you really driving yourself crazy because you can't seem to find the magic, quick fix solution to make that number go down consistently and therefore thinking negatively of yourself?
Physiologically speaking, your weight can fluctuate as much as 5.5 pounds per day - yes that's per day! You gain fluid from eating, drinking and from your body metabolizing nutrients and you lose fluid from breathing, sweating and from relieving yourself in the bathroom - it varies by person. Now are you sitting down?? Because here's the real deal, as you replace that fat with muscle, you may even find the scale going up a bit (and no it's not because muscle weighs more that fat...that's a myth and a subject for a different blog post).
Now let's look at this from a different perspective - do you consider yourself a good friend, mom, dad, sister, brother, spouse, employee? Do you go about your daily life with the intention of doing good deeds, being positive, having an admirable work ethic and trying to help others when you can? Okay, so let's say the number on the scale goes up by one pound or three pounds tomorrow morning, does that change any of those things, does it make you any less of those things - no it does not! Guess what, that number does not make you good or bad, it makes you human. And as you move along your journey to a healthy lifestyle, though that number may be used as a factor to determine your progress, you may also find that your "magic" number changes along the way too. That number is just a small part of the multitude of changes you'll discover as you move through life and your health and wellness journey.
It doesn't matter what other people think! All that matters is you, your path, your journey, your goals. That number on the scale does not define anything other than what you weigh physically, unless of course, you let it. Screw the scale and that number, it's about how you feel, your energy level, your mobility, your accomplishments and what your body is capable of doing.
Whether that number on the scale goes up or down...it's more important to look at the reflection of yourself in the mirror looking back at you rather than the number the scale reflects back at you!
My true passion is health and wellness and helping others achieve and maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle through strength training, cardio training and optimal nutritional choices. Everyone has what it takes to achieve their goals - all you need is the right motivation, guidance, and education to help get you there.