and will do wonders for your fitness journey as well! One of the stumbling blocks I ran into about a few months into my “I’m getting my butt back into shape” crusade was I started to hit that dreaded plateau! I was getting bored with my workouts, my progress was stalling and I could feel myself starting to lose some of that all important motivation I had entered into this whole thing with. I had heard about the this plateau phenomenon before but thought like most things that will never happen to me. I am super motivated, feeling great, and I am seeing and feeling the results of the hard work I am putting in starting to transform my body.
Well as it turns out I am not that special! I know, shocked me too! The plateau had snuck up on me and now was smacking me right in my surprised little face. And it literally happened just like that. I was sitting at my desk getting ready to change into my gym clothes for a quick lunchtime workout one day and I just thought, man I am really not feeling this anymore, not just today but like anymore in general. I wasn’t looking forward to working out, I was bored with the entire thought of it, and I wasn’t seeing the weight come off like I had been. All of a sudden that little devil that sits firmly on my right shoulder said just “Go stuff your face with tacos instead”! Just as quickly as those those thoughts entered my mind, the good angel that resides on my left shoulder shouted “Don’t listen to Big Red over there! Get your butt to the gym!”.
This whole exchange caused me to stop and think. I knew I still wanted to go to the gym because enough of me still wanted to be on this journey, I just needed to change some things up. I had to re-motivate myself because getting in shape and healthy was just too darn important to me. I was not willing to throw it all away in a moment of weakness. I knew this was plateauing that was happening and I also knew it was perfectly normal and easily overcome if I wanted to badly enough. I did want this badly enough….probably more than I had wanted anything in a long time.
Plateauing in a weight loss/getting fit journey happens apparently because our bodies are sometimes too smart for our own good. It eventually happens to everyone who loses weight after several weeks of steadily dropping pounds. Our bodies after the inital weight loss start to burn muscle right along with the fat. Once this starts happening our metabolism rate declines causing us to burn fewer calories than we did at our heavier weights. Now the plateauing happens if you continue to take in the same amount of calories as you were previous to your metabolism slowing. Makes sense right?
At the time I didn’t know all the science behind it, but I did know I had to make some changes quickly or I was risking losing all the progress I had made and ending up right back where I started (unhappy, sick all the time and ten pounds over where I was comfortable being). My initial reaction was go to the gym and just change up my workout that day. I didn’t want to miss that workout completely because I thought that would be a slippery slope. So I got my butt over there jumped on a machine I didn’t normally use, looked up some new moves to do with the weights and walked out feeling refreshed and re-motivated. It had actually worked! There was a part of me that had been skeptical going in but really just making a small change to my routine was enough to at least get me back on the right path.
After that workout, I knew I would have to keep things fresh and interesting if I didn’t want to plateau again. I also knew I would have to start upping my effort to overcome my slower metabolism because lets face it I didn’t want to cut any more calories out of my already challenged diet. I made the decision to start training for a 5k figuring this would give me a goal to work toward and help keep me active in a different way then I had been before. I also made an effort to change up the weight routines I had been doing and even incorporated more outdoor activities like hiking and biking when I had the chance. I used to be super into rock climbing (picture below) so I found a new gym close to me and try to get there every once in a while as well. Most recently I started on the program I am doing now which is a different workout everyday that I can do right from my living room. Its a fun combination of HITT workouts and weight training, two things which I love to do! The benefit to this program along with it being so convenient (no gym needed), is no two days are the same. This is great to avoid muscle burnout/injury but also it never gets boring!
Other great ideas for mixing up your fitness routine include:
- Take a class – yoga, pilates, zumba, etc.
- Go for a Swim – great all around, no-impact, full-body workout
- Get outside! Walk, Run, Hike, Garden, Rock Climb, Kayak….so many great choices!
- Volunteer to walk a dog – So many local shelters need volunteers to help out. Why not make a dogs day and get some exercise while you are at it!
- Go Dancing – fun and a great cardio workout!
- Even cleaning your house is a great way to burn calories!
The take away from all of this is you really have to keep things fresh and fun when it comes to working out. This is so important both physically and mentally. Your mind needs to be engaged in your fitness journey just as much if not more than your body. So much of getting and staying healthy is a mental game, one that is much easier to win if you are having fun along the way!