If you’re trying to change your life, especially you health via diet and exercise, you will eventually reach a point where you think you are hitting a “plateau” — a spot where you’ve kind of just leveled off and it doesn’t seem like there’s much more change happening …
Let me share with you a reader question that inspired this article:
“I’ve been having great success on the Superdiet. Started on 1/3 at 188.6 pounds and have made it down to 169… with a goal of 160.
However, this week, I can NOT seem to make any additional progress.I have watched my calorie intake carefully (except for cheating on Superbowl Sunday) and continue to left weights HARD 3 days a week. I also do lots of stretching and very light aerobics on 3 other days… taking Sunday off.I fast on Tuesdays and Friday’s… till dinner. Is it possible that I am plateau-ing? If so, how to get over the hump?”
Are you REALLY plateau-ING?
Maybe, maybe not. One thing that kind of piques my interest here is that this customer said “this week — I can NOT seem to make additional progress” … and … that worries me a bit.
Judging your results on a weekly, or god forbid, daily basis might be a recipe for disaster. Sure the first couple weeks after you’ve started a new healthy lifestyle the pounds will be flying off and you’ll be feeling better than ever as you get healthy so quick (ESPECIALLY if you were REALLY bad before!)
But to expect that same rate of progress forever is not realistic. It will start to slow because your body is starting to adapt and say “hey, we’re healthy now — getting the hang of this!” so you can expect slower progress.
So first thing is first, if it’s just ONE week you didn’t see any change — you’re probably not hitting a plateau yet … If that is the case …
What IS a real Plateau?
I’d say if you go several weeks 2-4 weeks — following the same plan that got you results before — and you find that nothing is happening … that may be a plateau.
That means, in the customer’s case above:
– he’s watching what he eats
– he’s lifting weights 3x/week
– he’s lightly active on the other days of the week
– he takes a day off on Sunday
And that got him to this point now, rather rapidly as well. So the first thing is NOT to panic. See if this “stalling” lasts for more than 2 weeks. If it does, then let’s continue …
Why You Plateau:
Your body is adapting to the new, healthier you — which is a good thing!
Look at it this way: the unhealthy you before was “adapted” to sitting on the couch and watching TV every day while stuffing your face with Twinkies (that may or may not be true, but it is for the sake of this example — onward!)
You were maintaining your weight (a very unhealthy one, with all that extra flab hanging around) … OR … you were slowly gaining weight every year (you know that 20lbs that just “creeps up” on you over the course of 10 years. 2 pounds a year doesn’t seem like much … until 10 years later!)
Now you’re just simply REVERSING that same adaptation process — by living healthier.
That’s the key you see — you’re giving your body something new to adapt to …
Disrupting your body
Now, if you were living as the unhealthy you before and you one day got sad because you saw some reality TV show star you love was having a hard time and you heard about it on E! NEWS — and you were SO sad that twinkies just would NOT do!
No! You needed to cry and eat a whole pint of ICE CREAM in ADDITION to the aforementioned Twinkies!
So you did …
And you were just too tired and exhausted from “work” to get up and move any extra. That massive influx of calories “disrupted” your normal “Adaptation” to the set “Range” of calorie intake and lack of exercise/movement from your “normal” twinkie eating, couch-sitting self.
So you gained some MORE weight … more than usual that week …
You gotta do the same thing to get healthier — cause a disruption!
If you’re plateauing then your body is adapting or is adapted to your current workload (exercise/movement) and intake (calories). So you need to “disrupt” it by adjusting one or both of those things to get the fat loss happening again.
The easiest thing for the dear reader above, (after first establishing this is a real plateau — not a temporary stall for just one week or two), is to take those normal “off” days where he is doing “light aerobics” and turn that into walking days.
Or if he is already walking (if that’s what he means by “light aerobics”) on those off days, then add 15 minutes of walking in the mornings of his workout days TOO.
That might get the ball rolling again … if that doesn’t work then add another 5 minutes to all those walks. Don’t go overboard! You’re just gently “nudging” your body along here. An extra 5 minutes a day X 5 days a week is an extra 25 minutes for the week (it’s almost like adding an additional day of walking — but he can still take the Sundays off to completely rest).
See how that works?
The Bottom Line
- Plateaus do happen
- But make sure it’s a REAL plateau — as in you’re NOT cheating on anything and you “stalled” for a good two weeks or more
- If it’s real then you need to add a little more movement or eat a little less
- Don’t go CRAZY! Start with some TWEAKS first, a little bit at a time to see if it helps
- If it doesn’t help then do more of the same
- It it does work, then ride it out for as long as it is still working for you…
- If you stall again, start back at step 1!
Hope this helps you dear Reader to breakthrough any Plateaus you may encounter