Almost everyone who is trying to get in shape will at some point find themselves stuck on a plateau and become frustrated with their lack of results. Especially if feel you have been on the plan the same as ever throughout the process. This is a natural yet annoying part of changing your body. So what should you do in this situation?
1) Check The Results With Measurements / Timescale – It is good to confirm and be clear about the situation. In a percentage of cases results are happening but it could be you measured on a bad day, e.g. you looked in the mirror when really bloated and felt you had lost everything. You had a bad weekend and gained a few KG (fake Kg’s that soon come off again) so you think that you have ruined all your good work. In this case then you need to stop panicking and recheck the data within a couple of days or so after being back on your plan.
For others though the data does say you are pretty much the same. Such evaluations are best done over a 3-5 week period. If your goal clothes are still fitting the same as a month ago then you are probably the same. If your weight is roughly the same as four weeks ago then likewise you are probably the same. People spend a lot of energy debating whether they have lost 0.2-0.3kg for example. If you are comparing your results to over a month ago then the re-test scores should be significantly less so that the change is undeniable. For example, you can see you are smaller, your clothes say you are smaller, the scales are down and people have noticed. If debating minor changes you are better off if just accept you have plateaued.
2) Evaluate What Led Into The Plateau – The next step is to ask yourself about your behaviours over this plateau period. Compare back to a period of good results and ask yourself how does my behaviours of the last month compare to the time I got good results? Often when you really dig into it you will notice that you are not following the plan as you were back in the period of good results. If this is the case then jump back onto the previous plan you used and kick start progress once again
However, for many people they feel on review that they are doing the same approach as to previous periods of attaining results. Therefore why aren’t you getting the same results? In this case we need to delve a little further.
3) Test Your Plateau – If results have stalled yet you are acting the same we need to test and get some data on what is happening. In this case I will ask my clients to get some numbers around food and movement. So I would have you count your calories for 2-3 days as well as measuring your steps. It may be annoying to do it but it is the only logical response to being stuck and will provide the solution going forward. Only a few things can happen –
– In the majority of cases (95%) when you recheck your numbers you find that food has increased from your previous ideal plan without you knowing and / or your movement has decreased. This is just a natural result of following any plan for a while. Food creeps up, movement drops a little and our consistency drops across a week, e.g. six good days slowly erodes into four good days which is the difference between a plateau and results.
This is not to lay the blame at yourself, it is a natural consequence of following a plan and a response by the body when you are trying to go against it’s primal instinct of feeding you.
A less common yet still regularly seen event occurs when you find that you are using the same numbers as before yet results have stalled.
4) Make A Decision – With that fairly quick scientific experiment over a few days you now can decide your next move. There are three main options.
Repeat The Plan But Being More Accurate – So with the slight decrease in accuracy of the plan exposed you simply make your adjustments and go back to the actual plan that produced results.
Increase the difficulty of the plan – If results are not coming then you need to increase the metabolic demand on the body. To do this you must reduce your food intake further and/or increase your movement. This is natural part of getting in shape. Studies show that bodybuilders before a show will often have to decrease their food by 20-25% from the start to end of their diet (before going on stage) to keep results coming as the body shuts down metabolism in the face of prolonged fat loss. (The metabolism returns to normal after the ‘diet’ has finished and they eat normally again).
Come At It From A Different Angle – While the above process is fairly robust the reality for the majority of people is not that they are making pure maths based errors on their plan which is easily resolved as suggested above, but more so they cannot stick to the plan for other reasons. This could be you are stressed so you keep eating late at night, maybe you are too busy to move enough or perhaps you have a crazy social calendar for the next month. This then comes back to the original chess match of getting shape that everyone faces. How do I get I stick to a plan to get in for long enough to get the results that I want? I will return to this question in future emails but a good place to start is to read my book if you haven’t already. Buy it here>>>
Photo – A Volcanic Plateau (close enough) from way back taken atop of Mount Ngauruhoe on the amazing Tongariro Crossing.
Need Support Getting In Shape? For support, coaching, nutrition and exercise plans wherever you are in the world read more here>>>> If looking for Personal Training Battersea please contact me. I am available for sessions in homes, private gyms or Personal Training Battersea Park. To see my locations please visit my Battersea Personal Trainer page>>
Battersea park was created in 1858. For me and many others Battersea Park is considered one of London’s most interesting Parks housing Battersea Zoo, Battersea Evolution Exhibition Centre and right next to Battersea Park Dogs & Cats Home and the iconic Battersea Power Station