When you first started your desire to get fit and lose weight – the two often go so hand-in-hand it’s impossible to separate them – it seemed easy.
Sure, you had to deal with cravings, but that wasn’t so bad. Especially when you saw results on the scales; that was enough to spur you on to keep going.
You could feel the pounds shifting, your fitness improving, your stamina building – with all those positive changes, cravings are easy to handle.
Over time, however, your early success began to stutter. That was bad enough, but then it slowed to a crawl. Your body seems to have found a new normal.
You’re fitter, lighter, and feeling better – but it’s not the point you were aiming for, the goal you were desiring.
You have hit the plateau. In fact, it’s such a difficult stage of self-improvement that it almost takes on a life of its own: The Plateau.
It might not be particularly reassuring, but try to remember this is entirely natural.
Everyone goes through it as some stage when they embark on a fitness and weight loss regime – but that doesn’t make it easier to deal with.
So how do you get moving again after The Plateau grinds you to a halt?
1. Increase Fitness Intensity
To continue to develop your fitness, you have to continue to push yourself.
Put it like this. Let’s say that, right at the beginning of your self-improvement crusade, you ran for 10 minutes a day.
That was probably tough; it hurt, you finished tired, sweating and breathing hard.
You can now run 10 minutes with relative ease, because your cardiovascular fitness has improved hugely.
However, if you keep just running for 10 minutes, then you’re not going to get any fitter. You need to increase the intensity. So go for 12 minutes, then 15, then 17.
2. Reduce Your Calorie Intake
Your body has likely adjusted to the calories you’re now eating, which means you’re not losing weight as the same rate as you once were.
If you’re still very overweight, then it’s worth considering very low calorie diets, which can help to kick-start your metabolism and get you back on track.
If you’re not very overweight but still could do with losing a few pounds, then try cutting calories every two or three days, perhaps back to around 1,500.
You could also try other changes, such as eliminating carbs or quitting dairy, to see if these make a difference to your body shape.
Bear in mind that you need to be careful exercising when you’re eating fewer calories.
If you think you can drop your calories and begin a ruthless exercise regime, then you’re not going to feel good for it.
If possible, cut down calories more on days you don’t exercise, while increasing on days you do to compensate.
Anything other than this technique, or just trying to carry on regardless, might be effective in the short term – but it could damage your health over the medium-to-long term.
3. Change Your Exercise
In the first point, we covered the need to keep pushing yourself with a discipline – in this case, running – you were already doing.
However, one way to keep your body on its toes is to change the forms of exercise you’re doing. Switch to something very different, such as swapping running for doing a martial art or yoga.
This works different muscles and changes the way you’re burning calories, and could help to get your fitness engine revving again as a result.
4. Remaining Calm
Finally, a point that has to be made – you have to remain calm during a plateau.
It can be tempting to just want to give up, abandon all hope, and resign yourself to your fitness and weight loss levels never changing.
If you’re not able to see the changes that make everything feel worth while, then it’s a lot more difficult to keep yourself motivated.
Managing your moods and thoughts during what is undoubtedly a difficult time is not easy. If you need to, seek help and advice from a friend, someone you can confide in about your doubts.
If you do find yourself tempted to give up, try and remind yourself how good it felt when things began to improve in the early days.
You just need to be patient, let your body adjust, and then the good days will be back again before you know it.
The Plateau can be overcome; hopefully one of the above methods will suit you.