Before we get to some tips on getting out of a plateau, you first must be honest with yourself. Oftentimes, a plateau might not be due to needing a change or adjustment. It could just be focusing on “getting back to the basics.”
The first step is to "check ourselves". We have to be honest and ask ourselves a fundamental question: "Are we really doing EVERYTHING we should be doing?"
- Are we really following our meal plan, like we're supposed to (eating a Coldstone Ice Cream ONLY twice a week does not mean you're following 100%)?
- Are we turning our cheat meal into 2 cheat meals? (Or consuming far too much in your cheat meal – you know – the combo meal at three fast food restaurants because you just couldn’t decide!)
- Are we really pushing ourselves in the gym or are we taking extra breaks (or chatting at the gym instead of lifting weights), just because we think, "No one will notice!”
If you pass the self-check, it’s time to turn to some tips. If you really feel like you’re in a plateau that has taken hold, here are a few ideas that have helped my clients and me in the past:
#1 – Change up your Nutrition
I would look into shaking things up a bit and I would first start out with my nutrition. I would cycle through some of my meal plans and start off with a meal plan similar to my Day 1
- Day 30
meal plans. These one consisted of NO grains and NO dairy and limited our sugar intake (even with whole fruits). It mainly consisted of lean meats (proteins), fresh vegetables a plenty (good carbs), and a lot of nuts (good fats). I usually start new clients off with something similar to this and I will cycle through this type of meal plan every few months or so, just to "jump start" things again if they really need a kick-start.
#2 - Try a Cleanse
Second, you can try a cleanse (a short-term one). If anyone remembers, I did a cleanse when I first started my fat2fit journey. I used the Isagenix cleanse
, which I thought worked really well since it was more of a cellular cleanse, rather than one that had me hitting the bathroom every 15 minutes. There are other cleanses out there that I've heard good things about, but I haven't tried myself, like the Master Cleanse
(fair warning my wife tried this and said she couldn't finish it because it tasted that bad). I will usually tell my clients not to do a prolonged fast as I don't think that's the solution because misery = depression = wanting to quit, which is why I'm so against diets that require you to only eat 500 calories/day for a month. Of course you're going to lose weight, but I guarantee that you'll be miserable and you'll never want to do something like that again. However, doing a cleanse for a day each month might be just enough of what your body needs to give it a "shock".
#3 - Consistently Being Inconsistent with Workouts
This title might be confusing, but we've all heard of "muscle confusion". If you've noticed my workouts, I've changed up my workouts every 2 weeks, which is why today, as I'm writing this my chest is painfully sore from my new workout (even though I've been working out consistently for 3 months). If you've been doing the same routine for years (even if you mix up your workouts with yoga, pilates, strength training, cardio, etc.) your body is resilient and will adjust pretty quickly. I was a victim of this back before I was a personal trainer, and just kept doing my same football workouts from High School and College. I could never get that "six pack" that I wanted until I learned how to eat right and I learned how to workout for real for the first time in my life. The key here is to continually challenge your body with different workouts.
Now guys...don't be afraid to mix in some yoga and pilates. You'll be surprised how sore you can get from workouts like that. Girls…don't be afraid to mix in some strength training. Don't worry. Chances are low that you will turn into a female bodybuilder.
Adding HIIT workouts into our training is another way to add some extra. When was the last time you sprinted? When was the last time you sprinted up hill? When was the last time you jumped as high as you could? These are all examples of HIIT. Sprinting (or other forms of high intensity exercises) for short periods of time will always challenge every person (whether they're a beginner or world class athlete).
As always, remember that these are suggestions and opinions, and are NOT scientific fact. I'm sure every fitness guru/personal trainer/nutritionist/doctor could read this and discredit some of my suggestions (let’s face it - within the fitness industry there's a lot of opinions out there). However, I've found these recommendations to work for my past clients, my wife, and me. Like I said in Part 1
of this message, the key is to remember this is a Lifestyle, NOT a Diet!!!