If you’ve been following a health and fitness program for any length of time, chances are you’re familiar with the word “plateau.”
Basically, when someone begins an exercise and nutrition program after a period of relative inactivity and less than supportive nutrition, the results tend to happen pretty quickly.
Most people start feeling better within the first week. By week 2, they notice their clothes are fitting better. By the 30-day mark or so, there’s usually some fairly significant weight loss … 5-10 pounds or more, depending on your starting point.
Unfortunately, what happens next causes a lot of people to lose motivation and even quit their fitness program.
It’s the dreaded plateau.
This just means that the initial rate of weight loss levels off and it becomes harder to keep the pounds melting away as easily as they did in the first month or so.
This is very common. It’s also just a simple fact of human physiology.
You see, when you lose weight, your body requires less energy (i.e. calories) to be burned in order to take care of your day-to-day activities (like walking around, carrying groceries, even breathing). Weight loss is not binary. The more you lose, the harder it becomes to lose more.
Here are a few ways you can keep the weight-loss plateau from tripping you up and holding you back from your ultimate goal:
Adjust. What worked to lose the first 10 pounds 6 weeks ago may not be the same formula to lose the next 10 (which probably will take longer than 6 weeks). You may need to add another workout or physical activity to your weekly routine, and/or adjust your diet to continue seeing results.
Be Aware. Scientific research shows that most people overestimate how much they’re moving and underestimate how much they’re eating. This is why it’s important to track key metrics like workouts, meals and water intake. Once you get real about what you’re actually doing, you’ll be more aware … and awareness leads to progress.
Focus On Getting Stronger. Endless miles on the elliptical or treadmill might melt away the pounds initially, but it’s not a proven approach for long-term success. Getting stronger is the single most important thing you can do for your overall health and longevity. It will also help you get more “work” done in less time in your workouts, making them more efficient by burning more calories in less time. When in doubt, choose the dumbbells or kettlebells over the elliptical or treadmill.
If you’ve hit a plateau, don’t get frustrated or lose motivation. Understand that it’s part of the process, and try some of the tips above to get back on track.