How to Love a Plateau and then Get Over It
As a collective, we like steady progress. We like quick results. This is especially true when we think we’re doing everything right.
So you’re working out? You’re eating better, right? You’ve given up nights of drinking, late-night snacks, and all the sugar in your coffee drink, right? Clearly, you’ve made some sacrifices and it’s paid off. Until that moment when you realize your body stops changing. This causes frustration and it’s a very sensitive, vulnerable time where you either choose to throw in the towel, or figure out how to make it better.
My Plateau Story
I’m 70 pounds lighter than I was 12 years ago. I lost it all in spurts between plateaus. I’ve had some really long plateaus though. Long time periods where I wore the same jeans despite consistent workouts, tons of running, and hours of analyzing my diet and counting calories. I’ve had 1 year plateaus, and even a 4-year plateau. I wrote about it here. I never gave up. I’ve never re-gained any weight in these 12 years, which is rare.
Love the Plateau
In retrospect, and even occasionally during a plateau, I treasured these maintenance periods. I didn’t know what needed to be fixed, but I saw it as an opportunity to learn how to maintain my new habits. As we all now, any kind of habit is hard to change. Habits related to our relationship with food are especially hard to change. That’s why I didn’t care that it took months and months for me to solidify my healthy lifestyle. To me, it was assurance that I’d be successful in the long run.
I like to call plateaus “maintenance periods.” Because that’s what they are.
How to Get Over a Plateau
I foresee a book in my future about busting through plateaus. Really, there is ONE simple answer: FINE TUNE.
If you stopped getting progress, then you haven’t uncovered the best practices of fat-loss. If you’re in a plateau, and you feel clueless about what to do, you have more to learn about fat-loss. Commonly, people in a plateau need to change two things about their diet, one thing about their exercise, and one thing about their mindset.
To get over a plateau, you’ll need to fine tune within these four categories:
Food Quality: What are the ingredients in your food? Hint: Granola bars and apple cinnamon oatmeal get in the way of results.
Food Quantity: Excess calories of real, fresh, whole foods will still get in the way of fat-loss.
Type of Exercise: You must do strength training regularly to get fat-loss. Two hours on the elliptical cannot do what 30 minutes of strength training will do.
Mindset: You must have a winning mindset. Carefully examine how you talk about yourself. Words are powerful. Change “I always get stuck at this point” to “I’m figuring out how to get un-stuck.”
Do you recognize any changes you need to make?
Where can you improve?