Has your body been at a plateau? If so, I can identify with the frustration and I am offering you some tips to help you break through!
Years ago, I spent countless hours reading magazine and internet articles trying to figure out why my body hit a plateau and what I could do about it. From September 2005 until February 2009, my body only changed slightly, dropping one size, despite pretty healthy eating and very consistent exercise.
Back in 2002, I hit my highest weight at 200 pounds. That’s a lot of weight on a small-framed girl. In the first 3 months, I lost 25 pounds. In the next 2-3 years, I lost another 15 pounds.
In 2005, I began running consistently. I trained for a marathon. I did not lose any weight and my body didn’t change much. Between 2006 and 2008, I ran 3 marathons and 3 half-marathons. To be honest, I became a runner for these two reasons: 1) it was a great time to think about life and relieve stress, and 2) I wanted to be smaller (Let’s be honest… this was the #1 reason).
It turns out that I could have saved myself a lot of time if I knew that:
- Training for a marathon and getting leaner are two goals you do not want to approach simultaneously.
- Long-distance running does not burn off body fat, at least not at the expense of losing muscle as well. Losing muscle creates a slower metabolism, which plays a big factor in the plateau.
In February 2009, things got good. My friend Caitlin introduced me to an amazing woman at our gym who changed my life. Lynn is a personal trainer, and was offering a free Metabolic Resistance Training class with groups of three women. Lynn explained how strength training could help me to get leaner. She explained how I should abandon all of the traditional cardio equipment because it does not accomplish my goal, and it is a giant snooze.
In just a few months, I was able to do 3 sets of 15 pull-ups with a little assistance from the slightly bouncy Bosu trainer. I knocked out step-ups, inverted rows, push-ups, squats, lunges and planks. I did these workouts three times a week for about 45 minutes each session. We added in some interval training twice a week. I could recall all the years I would spend 60-75 minutes on the elliptical or in an aerobics class. I was a blown away at how I cut my weekly workout time in half and got results significantly faster.
Besides adding consistent strength training and subtracting steady-state cardio, I had another astounding reality check. My diet needed to be polished big time. Shocking, considering I was a dietitian-in-training. I eliminated things I thought were healthy like granola bars and apple cinnamon oatmeal. Lynn told me I needed to be eating healthy 90% of the time and showed me how to keep track of my consistency with a compliance chart. It is, without a doubt, the greatest tool I have ever used.
The main reason why people give up when they start to eat healthy is because they don’t see results. Research shows that when people say they are eating healthy, it is really only about 75% of their meals for the week. Yes, that is the majority of the time. However, it is not consistent enough.
To summarize, there were four things I did to bust through my plateau:
- I ate a clean diet on a consistent basis, following the 90% rule.
- I added strength training and interval training on a consistent basis.
- I eliminated steady-state cardio.
- I believed I could do it.
We impose our own limitations on ourselves. When I was my heaviest, I didn’t believe I could be smaller than a size 12. The body I have now is one that I could only dream about having several years ago.
If you want to get out of your plateau, then implement things that work and subtract what does not work. Even the right baby steps will begin to make a difference.
What has been keeping you from getting results?