Thursday, February 2, 2012

Plateau Planking

I've spent this week sitting here on a plateau.  It's beginning to really irritate me.

If there are two things that really discourage people who are trying to make a lifestyle change, get healthy, and lose weight, it's plateaus and "discouragers."

I'll start with discouragers.

Every one of us has people in our lives that, when we say we want to do something, they're all "Yeah!  I'll do it with you!" and they speak words of encouragement.

Initially.

Then, when the tough gets going for them, they become these menacing little creatures that say snide remarks about your progress.  Or they take something encouraging you've said and twist it around to be a slam towards them and their goals.

I'm here to tell you that, hey, I've been there.  I know exactly how you feel.  It hurts when someone gripes at you because they aren't attaining their goal as well/"quickly"/"easily" as they are.  They don't see that you've spent your days counting calories, fat, cholesterol, etc. and exercising your heart out just to lose those precious few more ounces.  What they see is that it's melting off you faster than it is from them, and then jealousy rears its green-eyed monster head.

And all of a sudden, you become the object of their ire.

They tend to give up at this point, and then it becomes YOUR problem that they couldn't complete their task.  It becomes YOUR fault that they've failed.  So they're going to do everything they can to bring you down with them.

It's OK.  Keep up the hard work!  There are loads of us out there on this same road as you are.  Come to us, and we'll become your cheerleaders!  We know how hard it is you've worked.  We will lift you up and encourage the snot out of you!  

Unfortunately, when you have a discourager dripping acid on you wherever you go, it probably happens when another of life's major obstacles hits you in the face.

The plateau.

Ugh!  I *hate* plateaus.  And I've been on one for most of the week so far.  It's driving me INSANE.  Does anyone have any dynamite so I can blow off the side of this thing?

Fortunately, I've been doing some research, and I've learned a few things about them.  Hopefully, they'll start working soon.  Here's a list of things that I'm attempting to do (some are MUCH harder than others!), so maybe one or two of them will help you if/when you hit a plateau in your lifestyle change:
  • Examine Your Diet:  make sure you aren't eating something you shouldn't be.  My most ruthless addiction is to cheese.  I love cheese.  And butter.  Oh, my dear Lord!  Butter is the BOMB!  Unfortunately, both can sabotage weight loss.
  • Stop Drinking:  Alcohol, as good as it may be, will slow your metabolism waaaay down.  Plus, it has a LOT of calories in it.  And to make matters worse?  It can cause you to lose your motivation to work out.  It, along with people, is a discourager.  Sorry.  I know it hurts to read that.  It hurts me too.  Red wine is ooooh so good with steak, but I'm trying to find the will to "just say no."
  • Vary The Exercise:  This one took me by a little bit of surprise.  But, apparently, it's a known thing to cause plateaus.  Which, honestly, sucks rocks.  If you're like me and you go to the gym and do the same things every day, your body will get used to it.  I know I've been preaching on the glories of water aerobics, but now I need to not do as much water aerobics (although I will still be doing it weekly!) and start doing other stuff instead.  I'll still do water aerobics on Monday nights, Thursday nights, and Saturday mornings, but the other nights I'll do other things.  Like weight lifting.  It turns out your body gets really used to your activity, so it puts itself into this mode where what you're doing doesn't really change anything.  Varying your routine puts the element of surprise in there, and you'll start back off that plateau in no time!  (Note to self--re-read this bullet.  A LOT.)
  • Strength Train:  "I think I can!  I think I can!  I think I can!"  Just keep telling yourself this, and eventually, you'll start on the strength training train.  Strength training does a lot of great things for you.  It builds muscle--and muscle burns more calories than fat, and each pound of it burns 50 calories EVEN AT REST during the day.  It ramps up your metabolism.  And, because you're exerting yourself, you're now burning more calories anyway.  (Note to self--re-read this bullet as well.  A LOT.)
  • Change Up Your Exercise Routine Timing:  I know this sounds a lot like the previous two bullets, and, it kind of is.  BUT!!!!  There's a reason behind putting it in a different bullet.  If you change up the amounts of time you're doing your exercise, it keeps your body guessing.  However, changing up the time comes with a price:  you need to change the intensity of the training, as well.  We need to exercise at least 30 minutes every day for weight loss (three times a week to maintain it).  If you up this to, say, 45 minutes, you can spend 10 minutes lifting weights, followed by 15 minutes of running/jogging, followed by 10 minutes of lifting weights again, and finishing up with 10 minutes of some cool-down cardio.  Then you can crawl back to your car and drive home, confident that you've done as much as you possibly can that day.
  • Drink Water:  According to what I've been reading lately, health officials are now changing up how much water we should be drinking every day.  And it SUCKS.  According to what I've been reading (and I've found it in a LOT of places--on the internet, in health magazines, etc.), we should be consuming half our body weight in ounces of water every day.  So, for example, if you weight 200lbs, you should be drinking 100 ounces of water.  Every day.  As I said the other day, Oh Sole MiO!

So, my point today is this:  rather than just lay down and plank this plateau we're on, we can work at finding a way off it.  I know how discouraging it is to be on one.  It's driving me INSANE.  But I know that we can get off it.

And tell your discouragers to take a short walk off the side of their own plateau while you're at it.

See you tomorrow!

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