Sooner or later, everybody seems to hit the wall with their own health and fitness. It's not always a matter of going backwards, sometimes it just seems that the initial momentum and consistent success doesn't come anymore, or certainly doesn't come as easily. This is what we call a "plateau" - that part of the fitness journey where results seem to flat line and we are stuck in a certain spot, feeling like we can't progress. As things start to flatten out, it's important to take a hard look at why it might be happening, and what we can do to get our results back on track. The most important thing to remember is that it is something that almost everybody will go through, and learning to overcome it is one of the things that separates good results from the great.
So, let's first take a look at why someone might hit a plateau. For most people, the cause is some combination of;
- Resting on your Laurels
- Missing the Little Things
- Simply being Fitter!
Resting on your Laurels
Everyone who begins their journey with vision has a very good reason for doing so. Whether its weight that needs to come off, wanting to improve strength or grow muscle, or simply see an improvement in your health and fitness, everybody has something that they want to achieve. A place they want to get to. And if there is somewhere they want to get to, that means they aren't there yet. For everybody starting out, there is something about their current weight, health, appearance or fitness that they are not comfortable with.
While we are still in this place, it is easy to see the problem and know that we have to take action against it. However, as we move closer to our goal, and further away from the problem, we sometimes lose that driving force. We forget the problem that got us moving. Somebody might think and say that they need to lose 20kg, but after the first 10kg, suddenly that driving need to drop the weight isn't as bad. This is what we call resting on your laurels - being content with what you have already done, rather than inspired to go further. The greatest risk with this is that if we aren't moving forwards, sooner or later we will begin to slip backwards. Stay hungry for better things!
Missing the Little Things
When people start training and change their eating, there is a lot of information to take on, and a lot of new habits to build (as well as a few old ones to break). While these are still fresh and challenging, it is difficult to miss them. Most people starting out are very conscious about when and what they are eating, tracking their workouts and staying accountable to the goals they set. But as things become more routine, and these things become a part of the background rather than the focus, we often miss them gradually slipping. An excellent example is the food diary. When starting out, many people will use it religiously, making sure that it accurately reflects what has been eaten. Once they are a bit familiar with it, they may feel confident using their own judgement. This exception becomes more and more common, and before you know it, people are guessing with their food more than they are checking. Even experienced clients who have let their food diary slip are often shocked to see the difference from their expectations when they go back and compare what they expected with what they are really getting.
Simply being Fitter!
Let's face it, one of the biggest reasons anyone ever trains is because they want to be fitter. Which is fantastic! It is an important part of any health goal and something that everyone should aspire to. Often though, people miss the true measure of fitness. Fitness isn't about how far you run or how much weight you lift, it is about how hard you are prepared to push yourself. As you continue to train with Vision, things that once seemed impossible end up being routine. What was once your best effort becomes your warm up, and you move on to something harder. But even though the weights might get heavier or the runs get longer, are you still feeling that struggle you felt when you started? Or are you being content with the fact that the numbers show improvement in your exercise, even if you aren't feeling the challenge? Take a look at the most successful people with their health and fitness. They won't always be those that can perform the most impressive exercises, but they will always be those that are prepared to step outside their comfort zone and endure. Remember, training isn't supposed to be easy! Next time you train, take a moment, and instead of looking at weights or time or distance, take a look at how you are feeling. How much effort you have invested in that workout, and how uncomfortable you are prepared to be to keep on progressing.
Remember that for most people, the cause of a plateau is going to be some combination of these factors. Once we are aware of the problem, it isn't too hard to find the solution.
- Pick and set meaningful goals, and don't be satisfied with getting close. Always have the next step in mind, and don't do yourself the disservice of slacking off. You didn't make all that effort to get the participation award!
- Be structured, be precise, and be dedicated. The experts are those among us that do the basics better than anyone else. You're success so far is not a ticket to let the basics slip - after all, they are what got you this far, and they are what will get you to the finish line. Regularly check that you are doing things with the same dedication you did when you started.
- Get uncomfortable! You are much fitter than you were; you need to train much harder to achieve further results! Remember that the best indicator is how much effort you sink into that workout - treat every single set like it is the last one you will ever do.
- Last of all, remember that this is part of the journey. Other clients will go through it. I have gone through it. Sooner or later, you will probably go through it. But if you can recognise it, you can find the problem, and fix it.
Everybody struggles at times. But how you proceed is entirely in your hands. Train smart, train hard, and stick to the basics. Don't settle for lesser results than you deserve.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.