If you’ve ever tried to lose weight you know that there are times when our body hits a plateau and the scale just won’t budge. It’s frustrating. You feel like you’re working so hard but yet the results just aren’t good enough.
First of all, quit using only one tool as your method for tracking results. The scale is one of the worst actual indicators if you’re truly making progress or not, but that’s a topic for another article. But if you find your body is stuck and you just aren’t seeing the changes you want to see, here are the top 3 things you could be doing wrong:
- You’re Working Out Too Much Or Too Hard
That’s right, you heard me. You’re working out too much. Most people who hit a plateau expect to see changes in their body because they are constantly working out or because their workouts are extremely difficult. Immediately when you don’t see the results you want, the natural instinct is to think that you’re not doing enough and you should be doing more. So instead of four training sessions a week, now you’re doing seven. Instead of a 45-minute workout, now you’re staying longer just to burn more calories. Instead of doing the typical challenging workouts, you constantly want them to get harder because if they don’t you assume you won’t see results.
If you’ve hit a plateau it’s time you took a break. What you probably don’t know is that your results don’t come from the actual workout. Your results come from your body’s ability to recover from your workouts. If you don’t give it a chance to recover, or you’re always trying to do more, you’ll end up setting yourself up for a plateau.
One of the biggest myths in fitness is that if the results aren’t there you need to do more. More is not better. Harder is not better. Do you really want a super hard workout every single time you train? Maybe in your head that’s what you think you need, but I guarantee you that is not what your body needs. Your central nervous system won’t be able to handle it. Eventually your body will break down. Eventually you will be forced to take time off because you overdid it.
So if you have hit a plateau and you think you need to start doing more exercise to bust through it, think again. Scale back for a week to 10 days. Cut back on the intensity. You can’t go balls to the wall all day every day. Get the rest you need and let your body recover by cutting your workouts in half. As long as you’re not eating boxes of mac and cheese and drinking 32 oz of Mountain Dew each day, you won’t gain weight. Your body will thank you for the much needed time off.
- You’re Avoiding Making Changes To Your Diet
Here’s what happens when you hit a plateau – you automatically think you’re not working out enough so you constantly think you need to do more. But the reality is you’re not addressing the real issue, and that’s your nutrition.
I get it, it’s much easier for you to stay an extra 30 minutes after your workout or to add a couple more days to your routine than it is to change your eating habits. You try to make up for the extra calories by trying to burn more. So in essence you end up trying to do more (longer duration, more frequent workouts, harder, more intense workouts) instead of putting the extra effort into your nutrition plan.
If you have hit a plateau, the best way to bust through it is to take an honest assessment of your diet. Are you eating enough protein? Are you eating enough vegetables? Are you drinking enough water? Are you getting enough healthy fats? Are you eating out too much? Are you preparing your meals or are you just winging it? Be honest with yourself. More than likely your nutrition has gotten lackadaisical.
To break through your plateau you’ll need to plan and prepare your meals. If you don’t, you’ll end up winging it, and you’ll be stuck on that plateau for even longer.
- You’re Not Eating Enough Calories
Yes, you can plateau by not eating enough calories. If you constantly give your body a low amount of fuel, eventually it will make the adaptation and become efficient. So if you eat 900 calories every day, your body will catch on pretty quick and downregulate your metabolism. If food is scarce and your body doesn’t know when the next meal will come, it’s got to do something to preserve energy.
So if you have hit a plateau and you’re not overtraining and you feel your diet is really “good” because you hardly eat anything, you’re going to need to start eating more. Each one of our bodies is different and we each need a certain amount of calories just to function internally. When you restrict calories below your base metabolic rate you end up slowing down your metabolism, losing lean muscle, and making it harder for you to get the body you want.
If you have hit a plateau take a long, hard look at your current training schedule and give yourself an honest assessment with your nutrition. If you need my help in determining which one of these areas you need to address first, please don’t hesitate to ask.