Push Past that Plateau – Part 2
Push Past that Plateau in 4 Easy Steps
Welcome back! I hope you took the time yesterday to recognize the value of the plateau and to offer some praise and appreciation to your journey, your previous accomplishments, and your body. Let’s jump right into step 3!
STEP 3: PLAN
While originally climbing that plateau, you were probably working with a plan. You didn’t really have to think too much about the plan itself; you just had to follow it. Now that you are atop the plateau, you need a new plan. That’s why we pause first. When (not if) the plan stops working and you keep working the same plan, you will fall off the other side. I have 36 years of experience and see this all the time. Unfortunately, people tend to reach out after they have already fallen off the plateau and we have to start over. So, repeat after me: pause, praise, and plan. A new plan does not have to be drastic. The body loves variety, but subtle shifts is all it takes.
Here are a few things to try:
- If you have lost a lot of weight on your plan but are now staying the same, recalculate your macros to see if you need to decrease your calories.
WHY? Contrary to what many popular diet books claim, your metabolism SLOWS DOWN when you lose weight. Think about it. The more you weigh, the more calories you need to maintain that weight.
- If you have not lost a lot of weight but have stopped seeing the number on scale go down, have your bodyfat checked. (Not your BMI – that is simply Bull Malarkey Indeed. Never go by BMI as it only looks at your height versus your weight which tells us nothing about your lean mass to fat mass ratio. It is useless and dangerous.) Find someone in your area with an In-Body scale (if you are in the Hampton Roads, VA area, we have one) so you can see your body fat mass versus your lean mass. If you are gaining muscle, you will likely lose inches but gain or maintain pounds.
WHY? Lean muscle tissue is denser than fat, which means that for the same amount of weight, muscle tissue will take up less SPACE. If you are gaining “weight,” check in with your clothes. If they are fitting better or you are needing smaller clothing, celebrate the weight gain. It’s muscle baby!!! Oh, and remember that the more muscle you have, the easier it is to keep the fat off!
- Change up your nutrition plan. If you are eating a heavy meat diet, take a few weeks and focus primarily on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and non-glutenous grains. If you are eating a vegetarian diet, consider adding some fish or meat occasionally. Try intermittent fasting for a short period of time.
WHY? In a word, variety. And intermittent fasting will allow the digestive system to rest and heal.
- Stop eating like an athlete.
WHY? Athletes need regular food, often. So, if you are practicing 4-8 hours a day or are prepping for a body building or a power-lifting competition then go ahead and eat, you are an athlete! The rest of us need a different plan. The dance between insulin and leptin is a crucial step in keeping weight off. Insulin stays in the blood stream for approximately 3.5 hours after you eat. Wait at least 4 hours between food intake and stick to 3 meals and no snacks per day. Can’t give up your snack foods? Fine, just add them to one of your 3 meals.
- Make lunch your biggest meal.
WHY? According to Ayurveda, the digestive fire (agni) is the strongest between 12 noon and 2 pm. Eating your heaviest meal during this time creates better digestion and provides enough nutrients to stave off that afternoon hangriness (angry hunger).
- Buy organic produce, grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, cage-free chicken and eggs, dairy from grass-fed animals.
WHY? If your body has too much of a toxic load, the next best thing is to store the toxins in the safest place – bodyfat. In an attempt to keep you safe, your body will not want to let go of the bodyfat because it will release the toxins into your body again. It is important what the animals eat. The healthier their food, the healthier the meat will be for you. One example is that grass-fed beef is full of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) but grain-fed beef has little to no CLA present. CLA is important for us because it helps us reduce fat, build muscle, increase energy, and decrease stress. Also, animals who are mistreated have higher levels of stress hormones and alters protein composition, vitamin content, and minerals.
- Change up your workout every 6-8 weeks
- Do the opposite of your last plan. If your last plan was heavy with cardio, do less (or no) cardio and more weights. If your last plan used split workout routines, do full body routines instead. If your last plan used mostly machines, switch to predominately bodyweight exercises or free weights.
- Add some mind-body work. Throw in a yoga class. Take some time everyday to meditate. Journal.
- Take a dosha quiz – you can find this with explanations in my book, “Healthy Living From A-Z” but you can also find a free online quiz.
- If your body type is predominately:
- Kapha – your keyword is SWEAT! Extra cardio may be necessary for you, but whatever you do, you need to sweat.
- Pitta – your keyword is HOOAH! Get in the weight room and lift – preferably heavy!
- Vata – your keyword is CENTER! Take a yoga class or anything that helps you to stay centered. Do not overstress your body for long periods of time.
- If your body type is predominately:
- Change your weight, reps, rest time, or even stance – only change one variable at a time.
- Increase your weight (decrease the reps)
- Increase your reps (maintain the weight)
- Add an extra set
- Decrease your training time but work harder – for example, cut your workout time to 30 minutes but make it hard enough that you couldn’t do 31.
- Decrease your rest time between exercises or sets
- If you train bilaterally, switch to unilateral work.
- Narrow your stance – the core will have to work harder.
- viii.Stand up. For example, if you normally do seated bicep curls, stand up. The neurological system will have to adapt.
- Add an extra workout day.
- Take a week off from your workout and focus on recovery.
- Manage your stress. A stressed person will often stress-eat. But more importantly, stress increases cortisol which increases fat storage, particularly in the abdominal area.
- Get enough restful sleep. Shoot for 7-9 hours
All of these ideas and more are covered in my book, Healthy Living from A to Z – the guide to finding who you really are and feeding who you were created to be.”
STEP 4: PROGRESS
If you follow the above steps, you will successfully progress past your plateau. Remember that your next plateau is your cue to pause, praise, plan (again), and progress!
I would love to hear how you have overcome plateaus in your life! Please leave them in the comments below. And please share this information with your family and friends!