Let’s talk about plateaus.
It’s likely that somewhere along your journey, you’ll hit one. You’re eating like you feel you should, and working out regularly. Yet for some reason, you’re not shaking up your body enough to invoke change.
At this point, many people want to run to cardio as the answer. They get sucked back in to the Cardio Trap thinking, “if 30 minutes on the treadmill each day helped me lose a few pounds, then 60 minutes will of course help me lose even more. And if 60 minutes at a moderate pace helps me lose more, 60 minutes at a strenuous pace must be even better.”
This philosophy is a huge misconception. Even if it works initially, it can and most likely will eventually backfire. What happens when 60 minutes is no longer enough? Go to 90? 120? Do you REALLY want to work for 2 hours to get the same amount of results that you once got in 30 min? This is something to consider before you even consider falling down that rabbit hole:
“What happens when what I’m currently doing, is no longer ‘enough’?”
Because the time will come. Your body is amazingly adaptive, always seeking ways to bring you back into balance. It naturally wants to adapt to cardio, so that you can go farther on less fuel (burn fewer cals doing more…and more…and moreeeeee work).
That’s why lifting is my number one recommendation when seeking fat loss…even if you LOVE and adore cardio. (aka “cardio for fun, weights to transform”)
Your body also adapts to resistance training, by building your muscles – making you strong enough to carry the same load in the future. This means that when you hit a lifting plateau, you also must make adjustments to your workouts. But these adjustments typically come in terms of weight amounts, not time. So you can still create changes to your body by increasing the challenge of the work load, without increasing your work time.
If you want to throw in a cardio workout or two each week for fun…because you enjoy it, that’s fine. However, be careful throwing in more than 2-3 intense cardio sessions a week (unless endurance is your goal). More is not always better, even if it “feels” awesome. Unknowingly, many ladies are putting far too much stress on their bodies and heading directly toward adrenal fatigue.
Going beyond a certain level of intensity need not be the goal of every.single.workout.
Understand that the number of calories you consume is also subject to this adaptation, making you require less and less to achieve the same goal. Many people start with the absolute lowest number of cals, thinking it will get them to goal weight faster. What they find out instead, is that it gets them to plateau faster…with no way out.
As you lose weight, the amount of food you need automatically lowers for you. (Don’t believe me? Go punch in your stats here, and compare the food your body requires now, vs 5-10 pounds from now.) You don’t need to implement the “minimum food / maximum workouts” suggestions that society promotes – WAY before it’s time. That lifestyle will backfire and kill your metabolism.
It seems counterintuitive to eat more and workout less, especially when you’ve tried the opposite in the past and it seemingly “worked.” Remember…if it “worked,” you wouldn’t need to keep starting over.
Slashing calories, ditching carbs (or other entire macronutrient groups), fasting, or going all out on the treadmill for 90 minutes instead of 30 is not sustainable in the long term for many of us. If the method is not sustainable, it’s not maintainable – no matter how attractive the “results” are in the short term. Chasing down non-sustainable methods, is a huge setup for hitting the inevitable plateau, that much sooner.
We recommend a no-nonsense, slower approach, that helps you to achieve results that you can maintain long-term. Using the Hierarchy of Fat Loss, and incorporating periodized resistance training, provides built-in progressions that naturally keep you climbing toward your goals.
This is no fast fix, so the weight will drop slower than it may if you were on a fad diet or jumped right in to hours of cardio a day. So many people look for those temporary measures, and view them as the gold standard. Many will attempt this lifestyle, but ultimately decide that this way is taking too long and decide to do something drastic to make the process move faster.
Most of those people will end up back where they started, or worse. Quick fixes actually take you further away from your goals in the long run; leaving you impatient, uninformed, and ill-prepared for what it really takes to reach them.