Updated: Aug 4
This blog post was inspired by the conversations I have had with my clients over the past three months. In the past 90 days I have worked with several new clients on health and weight loss. And while each has experienced phenomenal results, about a month in to their program each one expressed the same fear: "I'm losing weight and I feel great. What happens when I hit a plateau?"
I realized they were so focused on the scale that they were waiting for it to stall, and that anxiousness was leading them to worry, what if they weren't doing enough?
That is when I realized, we needed to chat more about plateaus, because plateaus happen. In fact, they're perfectly normal and quite a lot can be gained from them.
Think about climbing a great mountain. When you climb a mountain with a guide, he will take you up to a certain point and then bring you back down to base camp. The next day, you go higher than you were the previous day, and then you go all the way back down to base camp.
It reminds me of the board game Chutes and Ladders: you keep going up and coming back down so your body can adjust to the extreme altitude and climate changes. Similar to your weight loss journey. It's all about allowing your body to adapt.
Why you want to embrace the plateau:
Create Your Own Base Camp
Whether you experience a plateau with eating better, losing weight, or pursuing a specific goal, it’s okay to run really fast toward your desired results, and then slow down. It’s okay to pause and regroup before you start running really fast again.
A guide leads his group back down to the base camp to rest, rejuvenate and mentally and physically prepare for the next day. Why not establish your own base camp in life?
Let’s say you’re on a weight loss program. You can choose to practice balance and achieve that weight loss at a slow and steady pace or you can push for four weeks, and then have a week or two of maintenance. Either way, you can learn the ease of maintenance and promote a healthier balance versus the typical restriction and deprivation of "dieting" and in doing so, take the pressure off yourself by realizing the benefit of rest time – that “base camp” time.
Plateaus Are Great
I see clients drive themselves crazy when they step on the scale every day. When they hit a plateau, they freak out a little bit because they really want to lose the weight. I tell them, “This plateau is awesome. You’re getting a picture of maintenance.” Yet their mindset immediately goes to what am I doing wrong?? Nothing. Your body is adjusting and adapting to all the changes and improvements you've been making. Give it a bit of grace.
Hitting a plateau doesn't mean you need to further restrict your calories or cut out all the foods you love. In fact, when people go to these types of extremes, it typically backfires. Stay the course and trust the process (and your body). There is so much going on inside the body that we can't see. When you hit a plateau think of it as a beautiful opportunity to work on empowering your mindset. Because let's face it, mindset is a HUGE part of achieving lasting weight loss.
When it comes to exercise, I’m adamant that people take a rest day. It must be one FULL day of rest per week. Depending on your fitness level, this could be active recovery (such as hopping on your beach cruiser and riding to your favorite spot for a bite or taking a stroll around your neighborhood), but it shouldn’t be anything strenuous. A rest day is your time – your mini-plateau – to allow your body to rest and restore.
Embrace The Plateau
Who says that you have to go from A to Z directly at full speed? Why not adopt a pace that feels better to you? There’s nothing wrong with taking a break, or saving your energy for what matters! In fact, oftentimes, after you’ve given yourself a break, you’ll come back stronger, smarter, and more motivated.
My dog, Pacey, does this all the time. I drive a Jeep Wrangler, which means it's a big jump to get in and out of the back of the vehicle. Unless she's well rested, energized and ready to go, she will often use a ramp to get in, saving her energy for the adventure we're headed out to. And you know what? She always makes it in and is raring to go the minute her paws hit the trails, and she's less stressed putting her energy into the adventure rather than trying to figure out how to make that high jump happen perfectly each time. She is focused on the journey ahead, it isn't a big deal how she gets there.
Are you are a busy man or woman who's ready to feel strong, live healthy, and get fit? Discover how to take small steps to get healthy & fit without cutting out the foods you love or spending countless hours on cardio. Come join me inside my online Facebook Community - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where busy folks go for tips, tools and support they need to eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!