is certainly alive and well in our culture today. It is fueled by modern devices and immediate access to information. I don’t believe that it is all bad, but it may interfere with timely and realistic expectations.
The journey to fitness and good health does not fit well within one’s impulsive quest for immediate results. I have known people who want to “go to the gym” because a beach trip is imminent. Others rely on tummy tucks and similar quick (and expensive) fixes.
New fitness devices or supplements promise significant results without the “sweating” and lack of comfort associated with working out. I can somewhat relate to this, since I am a “sucker” for hair regrowth products. (They don’t work).
Anyone who has consistently done fitness training will know for a certainty the following:
- Results will be forthcoming
- They will generally vary with effort
- They will not be immediate
- There will be pitfalls
- Results will justify the effort
WHAT IS A FITNESS, WORKOUT OR WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAU ?
I am experiencing one now, of a sort. The notion of getting on my treadmill for a boring 30 minutes does not appeal to me now. Nor does the idea of sweating through my abdominal routine or straining through my upper body workout. My energy is lacking. I also have a cold. Maybe I got the cold by overworking my body. Maybe the cold is why my usual routines do not interest me. My fitness gains have leveled off and I am at a plateau.
Instant gratification does not apply here. This may be a psychological plateau. But I know that after a few days of rest and maybe a doctor’s appointment, I will be energized again.
A better explanation of a fitness plateau:
- It may be simply that initial gains have leveled off in a normal way
- Or our bodies may have become accustomed to the same stimuli
- Or we may be “victims” of our own success and may have unrealistic further goals
- Or lack of sleep may be an issue
- Or poor nutrition may be the cause
Whatever the reason, we are doing generally the same training but without the same results. Our line of progress is not a hill nor a valley. It is a plateau. We are stalled.
HOW DO WE BREAK THROUGH ?
First, we need to be realistic. We can’t expect to lose 2 pounds of weight or increase our resistance by 5 pounds each week. Progress inevitably slows down. We should expect this and should not “freak out”.
But if we have gone 2 -3 weeks without desired increases or decreases (depending on our goals), we may want to consider some changes. Here are some suggestions:
TAKE A BREAK – Rest for 5 days to a week. No workouts at all. Let your muscles grow. They don’t grow from the constant and grueling stress. That is when they are torn down. “Listen” to your body. I have done this and have always found renewed energy after time off.
CHANGE YOUR WORKOUT – We have a finite amount of time and energy, yet a seemingly infinite amount of beneficial exercise options. We should experiment with new exercises, new levels of resistance, different sets and reps. This will not only improve our fitness and physiques; it will boost our attitudes and refresh our minds.
TRACK WHAT YOU ARE DOING – To accurately gauge our progress or lack thereof, we need records. I may be obsessive, but I journalize weight to tenths of a pound, blood pressure, pulse, calories consumed per meal, total calories per day, aerobic exercise and resistance exercise. Every day.
It is also important to track specific exercises and accompanying sets and reps and / or minutes.
Here are a few suggestions from Amazon to simplify the tracking process:
Fitbit Inspire Heart Rate & Fitness Tracker (under $100.00)
Fit bit Smart Scale (measures weight, body fat %, lean mass and BMI)
CHANGE YOUR EATING HABITS – Eat more lean protein. Eat at least 1500 calories (for men) and 1200 calories (for women) per day. By all means, don’t celebrate weight loss or fitness gains by rewarding yourself with heavy meals. Drink water and not calorie – laden sodas or alcohol with empty calories.
Cut back on carbs. Eat more fiber. Eat vegetables at every meal.
GET SUFFICIENT SLEEP – Try to go to bed and wake up consistently at the same time. Also, try to set a schedule for 8 hours of sleep.
Try this book – The Sleep Book: How to Sleep Well Every Night
MANAGE YOUR STRESS – Try yoga, meditation, tai chi, massage. This simple meditation eases my stress and promotes a restful sleep: close your eyes, remove any restrictive or tight clothing and sit or lie calmly. Then take a deep breath and release it slowly. Count 1,2,3,4 breaths and then start slowly counting again. So refreshing!
DON’T DESPAIR – fitness plateaus are to be expected and are not indicative of faulty training. They are nothing more than challenges to be undertaken and overcome. Note these bits of inspiration:
- “Work out. Eat well. Be patient. Your body will reward you”.
- “It’s pretty simple. Either you do it or you don’t”.
- “Change may be just around the corner. Keep on, you will get there”.
- “Your body can handle it”.
- “Sweat is magic”.
- “Fit is not a destination. It’s a way of life”.
- “Making excuses burns zero calories
AMAZON FREE TRIALS
Please be alert to the possibility – actually the inevitability – of fitness plateaus. They are bumps in the road and should not detract from anyone’s ultimate target. Deal with them. It’s not difficult. Then continue on with your fitness journey.
Leave any comments or questions in the “Comments” box below. Or e-mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Be well!