At first a plateau seems like a perfectly happy place to be. Comfortable, familiar and doesn't require any uncomfortable compromises or harder work. Great, right?
It is, until you start having trouble fitting into your jeans again. Your thighs are now starting to rub together. Everything starts to feel squishy and bloated. With a shock of recognition you realise that you must have gained weight. So you run, no sprint to the nearest scale and jump on it.
No change. Wait, no change?
You weigh the exact same amount you did weeks ago. At that time it felt like a huge milestone, an epic accomplishment. You were quite the proud peacock.
However, as time has passed maybe you have been shaving 15 or 20 minutes off the end of your workouts. Maybe you have been grabbing the drive thru salads instead of freshly prepared ones from home. Maybe that once a week cheat meal, has turned into a cheat day.
Welcome to the Plateau
Here you sit, contemplating whether to make your way down or keep climbing this mammoth obstacle. This is one of the most frustrating stages of weight loss, for everyone. From the obese to the athlete.
A plateau can be a physical limbo where you are completing virtual the same amount of cardio and/or strength exercises, eating a similar diet and your body has decided it just needs a break. No more progress until it's good and ready.
However, getting over or through a plateau can be extremely tricky. We primarily see them as a physical obstacle, we must not be pushing ourselves hard enough. So instead of listening to our bodies ques and giving it the rest it needs, the general reaction is to drastically cut calories and increase our burn. In the end, all this is going to accomplish is a burn out.
This in turn results in a mental blockade. The determination and willpower we once had is now in doubt, and it is directly reflected in our physical output. And so on, and so on. It becomes this vicious cycle of self sabotage.
Why would we stand in our own way?
Because we feel entitled to immediate results. Like everything else in our lives from communication to information, our goals should be within arms reach whenever we choose to reach out and grab them. However our body doesn’t subscribe to the age of instant gratification.
A quick lesson.
Our bodies are hardwired to do one thing …. survive. Survive the harsh winters, growing and birthing offspring, sudden famine or drought, etc. You know what our bodies chemistry doesn’t care about? Fitting into skinny jeans. So when someone is very overweight or even obese and has more than fifty plus pounds to lose, the body is going to play along. Carrying that much excess weight on our body not only mentally weighs us down, but it significantly affects our internal organs, our joints, and our respiratory and circulatory systems. Our body sees this as hindering our chances at survival.
Though when you’re in a position of only needing (or more likely wanting) to lose ten to fifteen additional pounds, it’s going to feel like a game of tug of war. Our bodies see these pounds as fat stores incase we suddenly were without food sources, or became pregnant. It doesn’t know how annoying it is to try to stuff those last few pounds into a bikini. Or how self-conscious they make us when they dare to giggle as we run. All the body cares about it is making it to the next sunrise.
You’ve got two choices.
Now that we know why these plateaus exist, we need to figure out what we’re going to do about them. You have two choices: head back down or keep climbing.
Heading back to where you’ve come from is just sabotaging yourself all over again. It’s flushing all that hard work and sacrifices down the drain. So let’s pretend it doesn’t even count.
Continuing the climb is tough. You’re going to need to change your course because the terrain will no longer be the same. It will require a tweak here and a tweak there, preferably from a trained professional who knows what your body needs and not a google search. But when you finally reach the ultimate goal you had set out for yourself, all the blood, sweat and tears will be worth it.
Then of course there is also a third choice, that often gets lost in translation. How about, for just a moment you stand still. You take a seat and swing your legs over the ledge of that plateau, pull a long deep breath into your lungs and exhale out all of the negativity that has been weighing down on you. Look out over how far you’ve come, and positively revel in your accomplishment so far. Glance above your head and re-establish how much further you still want to go, finding purchase in your own personal motivators. Then close your eyes and for once, just feel satisfied.
Published by Eden Boudreau