We plot our course.
We start with clear vision and a fervent drive to meet our goals.
Before we know it days, weeks, perhaps a few months have passed, and despite the natural ebb and flow of motivation, we continue to move forward.
With the understanding and constant reminder that it will not be easy, we often stand frustrated with hands in the air when the inevitable happens,…fat-loss comes to a screeching halt.
You can imagine the slow-motion scream heard around the world as another steps on the scale…
Perhaps part of the problem is we’re bombarded with shows like The Biggest Loser, that in an effort to advocate health and taking responsibility for one’s journey, unfortunately present an unrealistic view of the average fat-loss experience. Thus, we nearly kill ourselves from the start, excitedly jump on the scale after a 9 day personal boot-camp, and then remain shocked why the number is not a multiple of 3. I hear this struggle All. The. Time.
Fact is, initial fat loss is completely different person to person, and depends on many factors such as current nutritional habits, amount of fat needed to lose, testosterone and other hormone levels, and the beloved genetic factor. Even still, there comes a point when we hit a plateau. It’s the dreaded word in the figurative, and quite literal, uphill climb of losing weight. But it happens. There are a few things at work here that we have to understand to ultimately bust through the plateau and spark progression.
First, the leaner you are, the harder it becomes to lose fat.
Putting ourselves in a position to lose fat is actually quite stressful on the body and metabolism. It involves consuming less energy (calories) than you burn (through exercise and lifestyle), and that alone is enough for the body to want to conserve itself. Meaning that, we were made for survival. This becomes an even greater factor as bodyfat decreases to an athletic and essential-for-living level. When our bodies sense a drop in bodyfat and energy consumption, our metabolism “comes to the rescue” by slowing down. Oh the irony…
Second, the body is very adaptive.
This hints at what we just discussed, but also shows up in our ability to tap into fat stores during exercise. Our bodies are very smart, in that, they want to find the most efficient way to do something and use minimal energy (burning calories) to do so. While an excellent survival capability, this very trait can hinder fat loss. Why? The body becomes very efficient when the same exercises are repeated over and over, thus burning fewer calories over time. NOT ideal when we’re still pounds away from our goal.
So how can we bust through a plateau and ignite that fat-burning flame again?
LOOK AT YOUR PLATE.
The fact is that no amount of exercise makes up for a poor diet. You can swing a kettlebell until you get whiplash, but if your energy consumption does not put your body in a state to consistently burn fat, you won’t. Period. Quite honestly, I find this is where most people reach a plateau in the first place. They’ve taken all the right steps, continued on the journey, and then begin to slip ever so slowly back into poor habits. Portions creep up a little, an extra splurge or two during the week,…you get the picture.
Bottom line: to maximize results when it comes to losing fat, what goes in your mouth is over 80% of the equation.
HIT THE ELIPTICAL.
..or treadmill, or bike, or stair-climber…
I rarely meet anyone who has the problem of too much cardio. Yes, there are always exceptions, but for my average fitness client there is always room for a few more laps.
Increasing cardiovascular exercise ultimately means burning more calories, and sometimes it’s simply a matter of adding an extra 30 minutes here and there to spark change. Particularly for those of you with sedentary jobs/lifestyle, it’s imperative to do something active nearly every day to keep that fat fire burning.
MIX IT UP.
We have to keep the body guessing.
When it comes to your weight training and cardio, you must change the variables to continue to see change. This refers to intensity, duration, sets, reps, method, order, etc. Mix it up. Get on the treadmill for a 10 minute jog, then move to the row machine and go all out for 5 minutes. Then back to the treadmill for an incline hike. Do your standard leg workout in reverse order. Add 2 sets of a different exercise to Monday’s workout. Your body does not have time to adapt, and that is the point. We want it to WORK to complete the WORKout.
Hitting plateaus is an inevitable part of the journey.
They become a wall in the middle of our path, and like it or not we must figure out a way to literally get over it if we desire to see more change.
Stop. Assess. Then MOVE.
…The vantage point from that plateau was not meant to be your destination.
– Meredith Falcon