You've been plugging away, working out, and eating healthily. You're doing everything right for losing those extra pounds and you're getting results. Then all of a sudden everything comes to a screeching halt! You stop losing weight and inches. It's as if your body has closed up shop.
What happened? This stall in progress is called a plateau. Plateaus are very discouraging. But they're also very normal, so don't panic! Everyone will experience a plateau at some point, and with a little effort, you can break through it.
There are a few simple reasons why people experience plateaus. One reason is the body's ability to adapt. That's when your body gets used to what you're doing and needs to be pushed a little. You may need to throw it a curve ball every now and then with a new form of exercise. You have to keep your body guessing!
Let's say you've been doing the same 60-minute walk for the last four weeks. You may have noticed that it seems to be getting easier, and you're not as tired or sweaty as when you began weeks ago. This is because your body is adapting and is no longer physically challenged. You're stronger and fitter than you were a few weeks ago. You've got to step it up to continue to make progress.
There is an old saying, "If you keep doing the same thing, you'll keep getting the same results." When things start to feel easy, you need to give your body a little kick in the pants! Instead of walking the whole 60 minutes, you could try alternating between walking and jogging for few minutes at a time. Take a different route that includes some steep hills. Or simply add time and/or mileage to your walk (go farther in the same time, or faster over the same distance, or some combination!).
Try Something New
Don't be afraid of change or to try something new. If your marriage hit a plateau, wouldn't you spice things up to get it moving again? Well, the same is true with your fitness routine! How about trying a new class? Instead of walking three times this week, how about walking twice and trying a kickboxing class at a gym? Ask your girlfriends to borrow their old fitness tapes, see if your library has any in its collection, or buy a couple of inexpensive, gently used ones from eBay to try a new workout in your living room while the kiddos nap. Dust off that bike in your garage and go for a ride on the weekend. Find fun activities that challenge your body! A good rule of thumb is to change up your workout routine every four weeks.