You’ve been logging your miles religiously and are following your diet to a tee. But the scale won’t budge. What gives?!
Sometimes, even when we’re doing what we think is best for our health, fitness, and/or weight loss goals, we’ll still missing a piece of the puzzle. If you’re struggling to meet your next weight goal or can’t seem to bust through a current plateau, today’s post has your name written all over it!
You’re Eating the Same Foods or Doing the Same Workout Over and Over Again
Imagine I told you to do 20 squats every day for seven days. The first day might be super challenging and so would the day after that. But by the fifth day, you’d probably be doing those 20 squats like it was no body’s business. Does this sound like you?
Sure, being able to do an exercise you weren’t able to do before does show your increased endurance and strength. But doing the same exercises over and over again isn’t going to improve performance. At some point, and this point varies for everyone in their exercise journey, we stop seeing results even when we’re doing the same cardio and strength training exercises we’ve been doing for weeks or even months.
The answer? Switch up your routine every 4-6 weeks. This might mean changing the order of the exercises, the amount of weight you’re using in each exercise, the amount of repetitions you’re completing, or even doing a new routine altogether! Changing your routine at consistent intervals ensures you’ll keep seeing results and bust through plateaus.
Believe it or not, the same problems you experience with exercise also applies to food. Eating the same things every day might work for a while to get you on a regimented schedule and develop good eating patterns, but over time this way of eating can lead to deficiencies or a case of what I call repeat-eater-syndrome.
The solution to this situation is, like exercise, to continue to incorporate new foods into your diet. Maybe you mornings you eat berries with breakfast, and other mornings you eat apples or bananas. Maybe instead of eating a turkey sandwich for lunch every day, some days you alternate between low-sodium ham and low-sodium roast beef. Maybe you rotate the greens you eat in your salads every week. Bottom line, working new foods into your diet on a periodic basis helps bust through plateaus, gives you more variety in your diet, and actually HELPS you stick to your diet in the long-term.
You’re Not Keeping Track of Things
I’m not saying you need to become an obsessive freak about your diet and exercise habits. But I’m a big believer in ‘you bite it, you write it.’ That is, keeping a food diary is a easy, inexpensive, and simple way to track your eating habits and identify potential pitfalls.
You might ask why I’m not a huge fan of using apps like My Fitness Pal or Livestrong. Sure, if these work for you, by all means use them. But the thing with writing is that the very act of writing stimulates consciousness of your eating behavior.
Take a minute to read that sentence again. Heck, I’ll even write it again. The act of writing down what you eat stimulates consciousness of your eating behavior.
What this means is that writing down your daily intake allows you to look at yourself more objectively. Instead of giving yourself license to eat that slice of chocolate cake that you really shouldn’t, you’ll instead become much more aware of the food choices you make.
The good news is you don’t need to be a slave to your food diary, and that’s not something I intend at all. I realize weddings, weekend getaways, and life get in the way. Trying keeping a food journal and logging what you eat for a couple of weeks. After that, go back and assess what you ate. Did you meet your daily calorie goal? Do you think you got enough protein? Did you realize you didn’t really track anything lol? Keep questions like this in mind when you take the moment to assess what/how you ate.
You Throw Two Sheets To the Wind When There’s a Wedding, Party, Insert-Special-Event-Here
I’m all for a good birthday party, family gathering, or other celebration that involves food, drink, or both. But just because you’re at an event, doesn’t mean your goals should be placed on the back burner. You can still participate in social events AND still be working towards your goals.
Moreover, I know cheat meals are a really popular food/nutrition trend these days. While I can’t say I’m for or against them, in my experience they derail a lot of my clients, and it sometimes takes them days or weeks to get back on track.
If the idea of being a social Neanderthal doesn’t appeal to you, but you also aren’t crazy about cheat meals, try the following strategies:
- Eat before the event, or bring a healthy dish to share.
- Sip on water instead of fancy cocktails or soda.
- Try non-food activities! Everything in today’s society and culture is always about food or eating. Why not try a hike, a day in the park, or even a late night movie instead?
- Fill up on higher fiber fruits and veggies. Avoid foods loaded with a majority of calories coming from refined sugar or excess fat.
- If you do want to eat a favorite food (e.g. a slice of cake), eat a reasonable portion and don’t emotionally/mentally beat yourself up about it afterwards.
Getting healthy isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Try these tips and see if you’re making a common mistake that usually isn’t talked about in the health and fitness community!