Top Ten Thursday: Ten Ways To Bust Out Of A Plateau
Happy Thursday! Can you believe that February is on it’s last leg? Not that I’m sad, it means I am one month closer to my birthday! Which just happens to be the day of the Cooper River Bridge Run, so I am counting down. I WILL beat Dan’s PR this year!
But enough about all that, let’s move on to the really important stuff… breaking out of a plateau. Whether its weight loss or performance, we all go through them. We work hard to change up our diets and workouts, and for a while, we see amazing results. But then, all of a sudden, just like that (imagine me snapping) the results stop.
I’ve been there, I have friends there now, and chances are you have been there or you will be in the future. Plateaus are frustrating as hell. After a while you begin to wonder,
“Maybe this is as good as it gets?”
NO! It just means that something has to change… just like something had to change for results to start, something as to change to start the results again.
Instead of looking at it as a wall, look at it as a fun excuse to make some changes!
But what exactly should you change? That’s what I want to tackle right here, right now:
The Top Ten Ways To Bust Out Of A Plateau
& Get Back On The Path Of Results
Over time it’s easy to get a bit cocky with your eating as you see results. You might notice that you’re not tracking your food as much or perhaps you’re able to justify an extra cookie after dinner a bit more often. Take a few days to track your food, write down everything and see if this has happened.
Also, while it can seem upsetting the smaller you get, the less calories you need. So if you started off eating 2000 calories/day but have lost 20 pounds, it might be necessary to re-adjust them to fit your new, slimmer figure.
I know I just said to eat less, but then there is the other side of the rainbow too. If you’ve been following a VLCD (Very low calorie diet) then your body is in need of nutrients and fuel. A VLCD is one where intake is lower than 1200 calories a day. These diets are not meant for long term living and after 6-8 weeks should be re-evaluated.
Staying at such a low deficit while maintaining exercise and life is close to impossible. Not only is plateau an issue but so is malnutrition, headaches, gallstones and overall feeling of “ugh”.
Book A Fitness Vacation
It’s no secret that your body adjust to being fit. If you’re a runner you might remember the first time you ran 1-mile. It was tough, but over time, that mile becomes easier. That first time it might have burned 100 calories, now you might just being burning 70. Of course that causes issues when you’re trying to balance out calories in/out to see fat loss happen.
That’s the downfall of being fit! To decondition your body and help to get it back into the state of “Oh crap, what are we doing” it can be extremely beneficial to take a week off from training. If you haven’t done so in over 12 weeks of training, please give your body this break.
The time off allows for full recovery as well as some minor deconditioning. Once you get back into the gym, it’s on like Donkey Kong.
Change Things Up
What does your workout consist of? Is it pretty much the same thing each time? 45 minutes on a treadmill, then over to the weights for some lunges and curls? If so, it’s time to change up what you’re doing to confuse your body and force it to work differently and harder and therefore breaking out of the plateau.
Need some ideas for your strength training, I gotcha covered here. What about cardio? Play around with intervals, try a different form of cardio (bike/swimming/etc), or change up the intensity of what you’re doing now by either going faster or going longer.
Increase Water Intake
Whenever I need to drop weight, the first place I go is my tap. Drinking water has been shown to help you lose weight by keeping your metabolism going strong but by also helping to keep the calories in check.
Drink 1 glass of water before every meal. If you think you’re hungry (when you normally wouldn’t be) it might be thirst instead. Drink another glass to see if the hunger pains go away. And always start the morning off with a glass of ice water, which helps to wake up the digestive system and get your calorie burning on!
Of course exercise is one way to ensure you’re burning off calories but every little bit helps and to get out of plateau it could be as simple as moving more during the day. Small changes can yield big results!
Take the stairs (who feels safe in elevators anyways), park in the back of parking lots, hold a plank during commercials, and take time during your lunch to get up and walk around. One of my favorites, which I have mentioned before, is that Dan and I used to keep our pull-up bar on the bedroom door, each time we entered… “Do your pull-ups” would be heard from the other person. We had to knock out 5-10 before entering. This is a practice we need to get back into doing regularly.
Increase Social Support
Over time it’s easy to let motivation start to wain, but don’t let it. Find a group (FitWomensWeekly perhaps?) that can help support you and keep you fired up. If your friends aren’t that awesome at that job now, find new friends! I’m not saying to walk away from the old ones, simply to add new ones to the mix.
I love my fitness friends, I always have someone willing to run with me, someone willing to talk food, and someone willing to bust their ass with me in the weight room! This is true love.
Social support = accountability = extra “oomph” with workouts!
Sleep plays a vital role in not only helping you to feel refreshed each morning but keeping your hormones in balance. When you don’t get enough zzz’s the body may respond by increasing the levels of cortisone you have floating around. The problem with this is that it decreases your metabolism and promotes fat storage… specifically around the mid-section.
There is also the issue of eating more when sleeping less. Late night cravings or early morning pre-breakfasts can add the calories without realizing it.
Journal It All
Journaling is one of the best tools that I can ever recommend. Not only on a day to day basis in terms of writing down your thoughts (hello, LiftingRevolution) but in terms of tracking your progress.
Keep a journal, or start a blog, to log in workouts. Make sure that each workout is a bit more challenging than the previous. Are you lifting more? Running faster? Log it in.
I’ve already told you to log your food, so I won’t go more into that… except to say: do it!
And finally, what about a personal journal? Write down how you’re feeling each day, let it be a stress reliever. After all, remove stress and you’re more like to see weight roll right off.
Are You In A Plateau?
What goals did you have to begin with? Have you accomplished them? What is it that is left to do?
Many times we get into a state where we want to see the number on the scale go down and down and down some more, even if we are exactly where we should be. I’ve been there! I wanted to see the number on the scale decrease every time I stepped on it, even though I knew I didn’t need to lose any more weight. It was just a habit.
Also, check your measurements in terms of waist, hips, bicep and thighs… you could be losing inches but seeing zero changes in the scale due to a change in body composition (fat loss vs. muscle loss). Scales stink, and lead to more frustration than happiness.
Simply take a few minutes to step back and re-evaluate what you want to accomplish. There might be a chance that you’re standing there smiling saying “Oh, I did it!” In which case, it’s time for a new goal!
Questions of the day:
-When is the last time you took at least 5 days off from working out?
-What food is your “temptress”?
In other local running news, if you’re interested in doing either of the Palmetto200 or Palmetto70 relay races, the time is now to sign up. Prices for registration go up tomorrow, so grab your girls, a van some Gus and come hang out with me and my peeps on April 13th. Deal? Sweet.
P.S. Can you tell Dan helped out with my graphics today? Thanks hubs!