It’s coming. I’m just letting you know, like the Jon Snow of fitness…the plateau is coming. If any of you have ever been on a healthy lifestyle conquest, you may be familiar with the term plateau. If you don’t know, it’s almost as bad as an army of frozen dead guys (and now I’ll be done with Game of Thrones references).
1. An area of relatively level high ground.
synonyms: upland, tableland, plain, mesa, highland, coteau
“a windswept plateau”
2. A state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.
“the negotiation process had reached a plateau”
synonyms: quiescent period
When it comes to fitness, definition #1 does not even matter and wasn’t even worth mentioning, but I just did it for fun. I’ve been working my buns off (literally) to get in shape and lose weight, and it has been great! I’ve seen results, I feel better, and I’ve LOST WEIGHT…however, I know that my progress will begin to slow substantially…hence definition #2. This is a good thing! It means your body is adapting to stresses and changes of a healthy lifestyle…and it likes what you’ve done with the “place”. The human body is pretty cool!
Yet, it doesn’t mentally feel good. Continuing working hard for my goals with no results?! It can be so frustrating, instill a sense of failure, and often times drive one to give up on their fitness quest.
I’m not ready to quit! What I am ready to do is prepare for my plateau and get ready to spank it when it shows its ugly face!
Usually there are five reasons for a plateau. I’ve compiled a list of plateau causing actions, and how to address them. When you know what the perp looks like, it’s easier to take them down!
5 Causes of a Fitness Plateau
- Equal calories consumed and calories burned. Sure, it may seem as though you’re eating really well and exercising a lot…but if you really look at what you’re eating vs. what you’re doing it’s likely pretty equal. Food tracking/exercise apps can help visually put the balance into perspective. If you’re on a weight management journey, diligently tracking calories consumed and calories burned are key in ensuring success!
- Lack of engagement in your exercises. Repetitive routines may become “boring” or “mindless”…which can prevent you from getting the entire benefits from a workout. It’s important to stay focused on the exercise, muscles, and intensity instead of just punching the proverbial workout time card. I’ve noticed I’ve been doing this with my Six Pack in 30 Days program. This last program is pretty darn hard…sometimes I halfheartedly do v-ups because they are the worst…but that’s the point! I remind myself to slow down and engage because it’s just a waste of time if I’m going through the motions.
- Not enough sleep. Sleep is important for mind and body recovery. Lack of z’s can cause mental stress and prevent your body from rebuilding after strenuous workouts. The body needs to be sufficiently rested to reap the full benefits of the next day’s exercise. This is tough when you’re up with kids, work, pets, or FUN…but take some time to catch that sleep. “I regret that good night’s sleep” said no one ever…except your plateau maybe.
- Natural physical limitations. I was consistently losing about one to two pounds per week at the beginning of my weight loss journey. I realize that I cannot do that forever…or I will be nothing. Nobody wants to be nothing. Progress does not continue indefinitely, and it’s important to have realistic goals, reach those goals, and make new healthy goals when the previous ones have been met. Zero pounds is not a healthy goal (and, quite frankly, not achievable). I haven’t quite reached my goal weight, but when I reach it I will probably aim for toning goals and running distances/times.
- Stagnant workout routines. Getting in shape is awesome. Once you are in shape, the exercises that got you there will not be as effective…because you have dominated them! Getting new routines will challenge your body in a different way and produce diverse results. I am guilty of doing the SAME thing over and over because it works with my schedule. Little did I know that shorter and more intense workouts can yield better results for my fitness goals (and shorter is ALWAYS good for my schedule). Therefore, I’ve been researching circuit training! It’s a different way to work the body and achieve my healthy lifestyle objectives!
Now that you are equipped with plateau knowledge, you’ll be ready to address it head on and continue on your fitness journey! Have you ever experienced a fitness plateau before? How did you tackle the problem?