Once you’ve started your fitness journey you’re on the road to happier healthier life. Your energy levels increase, your mood improves, you get better sleep, you crave healthier foods, but with all new challenges there are some new obstacles that will pop up on your new health journey.
During my own personal health journey I came across a very real and very common issue that many people face, the dreaded plateau. Whether it’s a weight you can’t break through or a distance that you can’t reach yet on the bike or treadmill they can all be frustrating enough to derail the best laid plans.
For me, after working towards breaking through the 200 pound weight mark for what seemed like months, I knew that I needed something extra, something that I wasn’t incorporating into my fitness routine to help get me there. Enter a new way of thinking.
On the surface, getting healthy is pretty straightforward: Eat better foods, get in the gym, get better sleep, drink more water. But there are extras out there that will help push you past the dreaded plateau. I’ll cover some of my favorites that helped me eventually lose over 60 pounds and find a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Look Outside the Gym
For me, my goal was weight loss. I had always been a heavyset kid and once I decided I was tired of being fat, I decided to get in the gym and do something about it. I can still remember thinking to myself thought, after months of working out “Why can’t I break through this barrier of 200?!”. I was doing everything I thought was right in terms of diet and exercise but for some reason I wasn’t realizing my fitness goals. It was time for a change.
I live in a very active part of the world and in SW Montana there’s no shortage of new challenges to take on outdoors, so I decided to lace up my boots and start hiking in and around the mountains where I live. Sure I was still in the gym getting after my routine but the added excitement, adventure, and the bonus of it being really good for my cardiovascular strength, my metabolism, and my mood were just the boost I needed to get over that 200 pound hump!
I was able to break through with a little side dish of adventure. I was already 30 pounds lighter so why not get out there and enjoy what I couldn’t just months before. For you it doesn’t need to be hiking in the mountains, it can be paddleboarding after work, going for a bike ride around the neighborhood, or a pickup game of volleyball. The point is, you’re getting healthier, use that to your advantage in your health goals!
Find a Partner
Another big boost to my workouts was to find others who were inspired to get healthy along with me. A partner can keep you accountable, keep you motivated and keep you focused.
I have a theory that has no basis in science but keeps me motivated “The days that you don’t want to go to the gym but do anyway are the only days that benefit your health goals”. This doesn’t make any sense since it’s the cumulative effect of all those days but still, if you keep getting after day in and day out you’re going to see it pay off.
Now some of those days are really hard to force yourself to get in the gym and push weight or log miles but that’s where a buddy can really pay off. If you’re just sitting around, feeling like you couldn’t even make it to the fridge let alone the gym and your friend calls and they’re fired up to get after it, they’re going to talk you into going and you’re going to feel way better afterwards, trust me. It’s all about the days that you don’t feel like going that do the best for you.
Take Some Time Off
I know, I know, I just got telling you to get in there and grind if you want to see the benefit and know I’m sitting saying don’t go. These are all just ways to have a breakthrough and all have their place in the fitness lineup. One of the biggest surprises for me was that taking a week or two off had a huge benefit on my fitness goals.
If you’re going consistently, 5 days a week sort of thing, first of all good work, second of all recovery time is huge. Your muscles are going to need a chance to catch up and heal if you’re going to get the most benefit out of them. Not only that but if you’re working out a lot and loving it, a little break will mean that you’ll come back and hit it hard after your break. I remember a time trying to break the 185 barrier and I just said “You know what? I’m just going to take some time off and relax.”, when I came back I was still at the weight I was when I left but I came back and hit it hard. A week and half later I was able to get through that plateau and I haven’t been back there since.
So there you have it! If you’re struggling with a fitness plateau and need something to help gain some traction use one or a couple of these tips and you’ll be there before you know it. Find a hobby, find a buddy or find some relaxation!