When you suddenly stop losing weight, or results appear to be getting worse, it’s flat out frustrating. You can’t help but wrack your brain (and pound the google pavement) searching for THE answer.
Should I add more cardio?
Take a special supplement?
Maybe I’m fill-in-the-blank intolerant?
Fill-in-the-blank always worked in the past…I just need to stick with it…
The DIY Dieter’s Downfall – Allowing nostalgia to override the science
Too often DIY dieters reflect back on tactics they’ve used in the past, and use it as a measuring stick for how to move forward. If a certain diet or workout plan done for a short period of time gave them some “success,” they tend to assume that any plateau, or lack of visible progress can be fixed by going “back to” or doing more of it.
Unfortunately, there is no magic diet pill, calorie level, or workout plan that will help you achieve permanent success. At least not in the way that most people believe.
The diet industry has sold discouraged DIY dieters on the dream that if you just keep searching for that one, perfect-for-you style of eating or exercising, that you can “set it and forget it.”
Plateau Reality #1: The human body will adapt to ANYTHING that you do repeatedly.
Remember that first time you took up running/did that infomercial workout/cut carbs/tried Slim-fast? Whatever the thing is that gave you that first real taste of results? You got so focused on the results, that your brain made an immediate, long-standing (and incorrect) connection:
This is what it takes to get me results.
So, you either stopped doing it once you got to your goal, and pledged your undying devotion to it as your go-to from that moment forward…
You kept doing it religiously, thinking that the results could only get better from there.
But things didn’t quite pan out as you’d hoped. Eventually the results stopped, or started going backwards.
This is because your results are never based on one specific workout program. Results come from a compounding of multiple actions, including actions taken before, during, and after the program. This is known as periodization in the strength and conditioning world.
Results viewed out of context can lead to an extremely messy situation for DIY dieters. Years are wasted chasing the one style of eating, the one calorie level, or the one workout plan that will solve all of their problems. If only that’s how it all worked…
Plateau Reality #2 – If you want something to keep working, take a break from it.
Ok. So how the heck are you supposed to navigate this new reality that no matter what you do, your body will adapt and it will stop working?
Short answer: quit while you’re ahead.
Longer answer: know and accept the fact that anything works short term, but nothing works forever. Then you can strategically step away from something when (or preferably just before) it stops working.
Do you have to let it go forever? No. But don’t let your addiction to the short term “benefits” override the science: once your body has adapted, diminishing returns are on the horizon.
If you have a favorite workout plan, style, etc. you can still do them. But decide upfront if you’re doing it for the love of it, or because you want a physique-based result from it.
If it’s the former, then do what you love, as much as you like, for as long as you like. #noregrets
If it’s the latter, you’ll want to set yourself some boundaries. Decide ahead of time on the season, phase, or circumstances that you’ll be adding it in (ex: you love running in the summer time, or Thursday night Zumba with the girls).
But most importantly – set a designated time frame for when you will start, stop, and take a break from it so that you don't experience diminishing returns on all your hard work. (For example: 3-6 weeks, or only ONE round of a 12-week plan, etc).
Remember, most “stubborn weight loss” plans are meant to be done short term.
You can either choose to accept this, and plan accordingly.
…stay in denial and keep trying to find the one solution to ride off in to the sunset.
The choice has always been yours, and I’m not here to judge.
Just to help you make an educated decision that you can unapologetically own.
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