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How to Push Through a Plateau


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Have you tried tracking your calories for a few days to see how much you're really eating? How long have you been dieting for? How often do you exercise? What is your routine like? What does "good and consistent" mean to you? Here are some common reasons for a plateau:

Diet:

You've been perfect for a LONG time without a diet break.

You're not being honest about what/how much you're eating.

Exercise:

You're not progressing in your workouts.

You're doing too much chronic cardio.

Life:

You're not getting enough sleep.

You're stressed.

These are just a few things that could be going on. Do any sound familiar? Maybe if you can identify the problem, we can find a solution. :) When I was first losing weight (eventually over 60lbs), brief plateaus were normal. I think the longest was about a month. I just recently broke a 6 month or more plateau by getting honest about my food.

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Hi lexphoenix,

I have been dieting for 18 months? Atkins and now paleo. I have not been tracking my food for a while but I will do that and get back to you with an accurate calorie and carb count.

I was doing 3-4 days strength training with an hour of cardio, either stair master or walk/jog on treadmill. This did not seem to be working so this week I have switched to boxing and kickboxing an hour, five days a week. I am still also getting in two days of serious strength training and one day of body weight functional movement.

My stress is pretty bad, I was out of work (I begin my new job Tuesday) and I have been very very stressed. Sleep is very disturbed because of stress.

I know ala Robb Wolf I need to get 8-10 hours solid sleep in a pitch black room. I have a feeling once I have money coming in my stress will ratchet down and that will fall into step nicely.

Thank you for any advice.

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plateaus are caused by calories in creeping up and/or calories out creeping down.

Basically, if you've been going for awhile with success, you may find that you're not as exacting in what you're eating. As you lose weight, the amount of calories your bodies needs goes down (i.e. you burn less if you're carrying less weight).

The other side is that if you're doing the same exercise routine, you're just going to get mor efficient at it. You need to increase the intensity to maintain the burn, so to speak.

Repairing a lifetime of bad habits...

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I have always found that when I hit a plateau I like to think of it a bit differently than being stuck. I like to think of it as if my body needs some time to assimilate all the changes physically and emotionally I need to catch up with and really embrace who I have become. I have lost about 30 pounds since starting this fit-gaining journey of mine and for about a month or so I have been sitting at the same weight give or take 5 pounds and I am perfectly fine with that. I am enjoying the fact that my skin is tightening up and my muscles are getting stronger and more defined. i am getting better at my workouts and i have much more endurance and energy. I am LIKING me at this size and removing images that are negative of myself before proceeding further. I like to think of it as a mini-metamorphosis before the butter fly flies...

That said, when I "feel" that I am ready I will simply switch everything up. The body likes a challenge and responds to it. If I were you I would personally start doing a little bit of carb cycling and instead of doing 1 hour of cardio I would switch to interval training--do half the amount of time in HIIT and you will see massive results.

Best of luck butterfly! :)

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Hi lexphoenix,

I have been dieting for 18 months? Atkins and now paleo. I have not been tracking my food for a while but I will do that and get back to you with an accurate calorie and carb count.

I was doing 3-4 days strength training with an hour of cardio, either stair master or walk/jog on treadmill. This did not seem to be working so this week I have switched to boxing and kickboxing an hour, five days a week. I am still also getting in two days of serious strength training and one day of body weight functional movement.

My stress is pretty bad, I was out of work (I begin my new job Tuesday) and I have been very very stressed. Sleep is very disturbed because of stress.

I know ala Robb Wolf I need to get 8-10 hours solid sleep in a pitch black room. I have a feeling once I have money coming in my stress will ratchet down and that will fall into step nicely.

Thank you for any advice.

Wow, that sounds intense! Are you following a particular strength program? Congrats on your new job! I hope you're having a great first day. :)

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agree with the posts above me, step up the intensity in your exercise to help get over the plateau. kickboxing/boxing is a great change imo, much more focused than regular "cardio" sessions. are you still making linear gains in your strength workouts as well (adding more weight to the bar every workout) ?

on a personal level are you still having fun? i stopped progressing in my running when i started to get bored of long distance, and my fitness stalled until i switched over to barbell training and found a new passion. finding things you really enjoy and look forward to can help keep you pushing hard against that glass ceiling.

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STR - 9 | DEX - 12 | STA - 10.5 | CON - 7 | WIS - 8.5 | CHA - 1

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I definitely think your stress can be a help in this plateau. And the fact that you recognise this is good and a first step of improvement. Definitely aim for more sleep. If your diet is good and you're working out as much as you say just do what others have suggested and step it up a little more. Also caffeine... Do you drink a lot of coffee? Take thermogenics? This could not only be affecting your sleep but also slowing your metabolism if you drink too much.

Just a thought!

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plateaus are caused by calories in creeping up and/or calories out creeping down.

Basically, if you've been going for awhile with success, you may find that you're not as exacting in what you're eating. As you lose weight, the amount of calories your bodies needs goes down (i.e. you burn less if you're carrying less weight).

The other side is that if you're doing the same exercise routine, you're just going to get mor efficient at it. You need to increase the intensity to maintain the burn, so to speak.

Cue dramatic music, I have figured it out! I feel like slapping myself in the forehead and saying "Dumba$$," but I will be kinder.

I have a crazy tendency when stressed to eat all damn night long.This week it became so obvious because I started a new job, and literally every day I am eating 3 eggs for breakfast, lunch is 2 cans of tuna with lemon juice, onion and cilantro with cherry tomatoes and celery drive home snack red bell pepper and cucumber, dinner chicken and veggies.

But after lights out I graze through all the food in the house, waking up every couple hours to hourly to eat something. I can only presume that this is a reaction to stress, and somehow I need to figure out a way to just stop it. I am putting in all this awesome work during the day and in the gym and I am bouncing between the same 7 pounds, currently on the upper end of that.

Switching to kickboxing and boxing again has been good, I enjoy it and I like hitting things. Today I added in 20 minutes of jumping rope to my strength training, and cut out the stair master and treadmill.

Has anyone else had troubles with grazing in the middle of the night? Any solutions on how to combat this?

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Hi Sharkie!

I'm a chronic snacker too, and it's always been one of my biggest hurdles while trying to get in better shape. I love cookies, cheese, chips...snack foods and I get along great! Except they make me a big fatty and that's an issue. When I started eating Paleo, I made a conscious decision that I think has made a huge difference in my life: I started tossing the snacks.

The first day I threw away the chips.

The second I tossed the cheese.

The third I got rid of the chocolate covered death in the pantry.

Now, the frugal part of me HATED this idea. I spent the money and I should eat the damn food. But my body fat % agrees it was a good call. I saw very little change in weight the week after "Operation De-Snackify the Kitchen", losing only half a pound. BUT my body composition changed more than the weight did: i dropped half a percentage point in Body Weight %, lost over half a pound of fat mass, and gained almost half a pound in lean mass. My snackiness was the only thing that changed in that week compared to the last, so I know it had a good affect on me overall.

Now, how do you stop snacking? Well, honestly, I still do, but I snack on the healthy stuff instead of the crap. I keep baby carrots, celery, fruit, and homemade beef jerky in the house, and make those my snacks. I'll have a bowl of lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower with no dressing and it'll fill me right up. Find healthy snacks, and work those into your diet in place of the crap.

Alternately, lock the fridge with a timer that only lets you in from 8am to 9pm. ;-)

~Chris

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