The word “plateau” has two main meanings.
First, it’s also an area of flat, high ground. Have you ever seen a plateau? They are beautiful, distinct areas of the world. Over many, many years, they are formed by different means. Typically by erosion or volcanic magma rising up.
Second, a “plateau” is when you have little or no change following a period of activity or progress. During this time, it seems as if no matter how much effort you give in terms of diet and exercise, you just can’t lose weight or get any stronger physically.
It’s interesting to note the similarities between these two definitions. If you stand on a plateau, it’s flat. You get one perspective. You can’t go up or down. You just stay in the same spot. You worked hard to get up there, and while it’s nice, after a while you yearn to progress.
The same thing is true of physical plateaus. If you’re like me, when you first start a diet and exercise routine, progress is fairly easy. The first week or two, you lose a few pounds. Over time you are able to do more reps or lift more weights, or maybe you can do a lot more sit ups than you did before. You feel great! What you are doing is working.
But then after you are at it for a while, things slow down and even stop. Sometimes weeks go by and you don’t lose any more weight. You still feel pretty good, but you feel like you’re not changing your body at all. The lack of progress makes you want to quit!
Please, please don’t quit. All that work you have done has NOT been wasted. Just keep going! Here are my tips for busting through plateaus:
•Realize WHY plateaus happen.
When we exercise, we put stress on our bodies. But our bodies are very good at adapting to stress, especially when we keep putting the same stress on them. Same thing goes for your diet—when you eat healthier, at first your body loses weight, but then it gets used to eating healthy and adjusts itself.
•CHANGE how you are exercising.
If your body is used to your workouts and eating, then change them! Either try a different workout, or change your intensity, or increase the number of sessions. Another good idea is to vary your workouts during the week. That’s another reason why I love Beachbody’s wide variety of workouts. I can pick between Hammer & Chisel, Insanity Max 30, P90X3, Turbofire, 21 Day Fix and more.
•CHANGE how you are eating.
I know what it’s like to eat really healthy and not lose weight. It’s so hard to make all those good choices and not see the results you want. When people I coach hit plateaus, I tell them to go to the next level. The 21 Day Fix program is great for that. Using pre-portioned containers, it’s easy to eat exactly the right amount of different types of healthy foods. I have seen time and time again clients who have great success with it.
•Get lots of SUPPORT.
Sometimes there are other issues at play, such as illness, food issues, or other things that keep us from reaching our goals. That’s why if you suspect a problem, definitely talk to your doctor. Another idea is to get the help of a personal trainer who can customize a workout routine specified just to you. And finally—but my most favorite way to gain support—is my Facebook Group. This is where my likeminded clients can gather and talk about what they are going through. Others can give ideas about what they have done that works, and everyone can celebrate the ups and offer encouragement through the downs.
In the end, just know that we all hit walls or plateaus at some time or another. It’s hard to power through them, but never give up. Here is a quote I love that keeps me motivated: