Probably the most dreaded word, when it comes to health and fitness goals. Plateaus get a really bad wrap. And, justifiably so, when you have been working so hard to push yourself and it seems like all that hard work is for naught. Like you’re you’re going nowhere and making no progress. Like you’ve hit a wall. Plateaus are ROUGH.
I just recently listened to a lecture in which the speaker made a metaphor about living into your life’s purpose by likening it to crossing a desert. I am definitely paraphrasing here but, he said something along the lines that most people succumb to dying of thirst when palm trees are just beyond the horizon. In other words, he was saying that most people give up in the final stretch, right before reaching what they are looking for. They give up just when their goal is within their grasp.
It made me think of plateaus. Plateaus do not need to be a barrier to your goals. They may just be an indicator of a “block” that you have to get up and over to propel yourself towards your goal. A sign that you either have a final push ahead of you or that, perhaps, you are not taking in what is around you to acknowledge the progress you have made and how very close you are to your “next level.”
Progress can look like many different things, when it comes to becoming a healthier version of yourself. Perhaps you have more energy. Maybe you have finally gotten off those blood pressure or diabetes meds. Are you sleeping better? Are you lifting even just a little heavier weight in parts of your workout and getting stronger? Maybe you are a runner and shaving seconds off your miles, indicating that you are getting faster. Losing inches...not just pounds...is another HUGE win. Who doesn’t want their clothes to fit better?! Toning up and slimming down may not be reflected on a scale, but that loose waist on your favorite pair of jeans shows you have been putting the work in.
But, if you really truly are not seeing the results that you hoped for, here are some things to consider if you have indeed hit what seems like an insurmountable plateau:
1. Your Workouts - Are you lifting more weight, moving more quickly? Have you been tracking your workouts, so you can see your progress? Are you adding in a few more reps here and there during your HIIT workouts? Can you run for even just one minute longer? Have you timed yourself doing a plank lately? These are all measurable differences to show progress in your fitness level.
2. Your nutrition - Are you simply "eating clean" or do you need to track your macros for a few weeks? You may be eating “all the right things” but just in the wrong proportions or wrong portion sizes. Tracking can help measure little differences in eating that can reap huge changes and help you progress.
3. Your rest/recovery - Now, be honest here...have you been working out everyday for two weeks straight? Are you so focused on your goal that you have neglected giving your body the proper time to recover from your workouts? Are you being as diligent about resting your body, as you are about pushing your body? If not, this could be stalling your progress.
Other people say “plateau,” I say “stepping stone.” Plateaus are just indicators that either you need to step it up or you need to take pause to acknowledge how far you have come. I promise you that the palm trees are closer than you think. Keep pushing on your journey! You are so very close!