Let’s face it. In the world of nutrition & fitness, the word “plateau” has a bad rap. In essence, it suggests a lack of progress, stagnancy, a sign of something going wrong. Sure, it’s frustrating to go from seeing improvements & changes regularly to not seeing any at all. But what if a plateau was really just your body’s way of telling you it’s time to change it up?
Our bodies are amazing and they adjust to new habits and routines. What was once challenging can become relatively easy, but that’s a sign that we are getting stronger, faster, or better! A plateau could also mean that we are mentally bored and no longer putting in the same amount of effort.
Sometimes we need to change things up a bit. If you’ve stopped seeing changes, (and your goal is NOT maintenance) here are some questions you should ask yourself:
1. Are you getting enough sleep?
Try turning off those electronics when climbing into bed (phone, tv, computer) so you can get the recommended 7-8 hours a night. Sleep is essential to recovery, fat burn and muscle growth! If you are functioning on less than ample sleep, your performance and weight loss could suffer.
2. Are you staying hydrated?
Make your goal to drink a minimum of 80 oz of water per day. Water is involved with every metabolic process, which means you need to stay hydrated to ensure optimal metabolism (burning calories throughout the day). Also, dehydration can cause fatigue and if you’re hitting a wall, you’ll need all the energy you can get.
3. Are you overtraining?
Yeah, it’s great to go all in. If you have the energy to push past your limits, and/or train for several days back to back, that’s amazing! Just don’t forget that your body needs time to recover in order to build strong muscles. Make sure you’re not stifling improvement by overworking yourself. Again, if your body is constantly exhausted, it will not be operating at its full capacity, and as a result, performance and weight loss may drop.
4. Is your level of intensity too low?
If you’re working out regularly, but you are able to hold a conversation throughout most of your routine, you might need to pick up the pace. Get that heart rate up! Dipping into the “discomfort zone” more frequently and for longer periods of time will ensure that you’re not coasting through a workout (coasting = minimal calorie burn). Remember, our bodies adapt quickly, so a workout that had you dying 6 months ago might feel like a cake walk now. Which means that you’re on the right track! Nice job!
5. Are you tracking your food, meeting your caloric & macro goals?
Tracking & logging your food/macros is one of the most important aspects of successful weight loss and muscle gain. If you have started working out with the goal of becoming healthier, we applaud you! But remember that fitness takes up about one hour of your day. That leaves 23 hours for you to decide: Will you support your healthy lifestyle with good food choices, or sabotage it with unhealthy food choices?
Really, the initial goal is to start putting more thought into what goes into your body. Once you have mastered that, (you’ll start to memorize approximate calorie counts of the foods you eat regularly, make more conscious food choices, and remember how certain foods make you feel) you can start getting more specific about meal times, serving size and frequency.
Next, you will start to look more closely at that general calorie count and dive into WHAT your calories are made up of (carbs, protein, fat, etc). If you’re logging your food, but are unsure of whether or not you’re eating the right amount for your body and your goals, it’s time to call in an expert. If you have reached a plateau, chances are, one of these five things will be the missing link to your success.
Here’s to OBLITERATING plateaus!