Plateaus: the Good, the Bad, the Truths

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I decided to start this year with a renewed focus on my food tracking and continued, planned exercise. January went really well, resulting in a steady 2lb weight loss per week. I hit the beginning of February on a high, and celebrated being within 1lb of my wedding day weight (which was five years previous). Then, the inevitable - I hit a plateau. And have been dancing with 2lbs of that plateau (always up, mind you) since then. We are now approaching the middle of March, and I haven't yet broken through. It has been extremely frustrating for me; like other Sparkers, I have continued to eat right and exercise (though maybe not as consistently as I could have).
I get email from SP every day, and I always read the featured member blogs. I have found so much inspiration and good advice in those blogs, which I am very grateful for!! This journey I am on didn't start last year, but has been a journey of fits and starts, detours and pitfalls since my wedding day. I am somewhat of a perfectionist (though nearest and dearest to me would say I am way too hard on myself), so failure is something I have learned to accept and not let defeat me. And plateaus, in my world, are the BIG BAD: they undermine my confidence and determination to continue doing things that are good for me and will lead me to a healthier life. I like gratification, and a plateau doesn't give you that when you step on the scale. So, I took advice from Sparker blogs and articles and these are the gems I came away with:

1. Celebrate your Non-Scale Victories. This one is HUGE in my world. Throughout this plateau, I have made a point to acknowledge a NSV every day. Even though my weight hasn't changed, I got to buy new dress clothes in a smaller size (some sizes I haven't seen since high school). My DH compliments me quite often about how perky my tush is looking (who doesn't like that?? lol). I am stronger and don't tire as easily. I notice now on my walks with my dog that the routes seem like a piece of cake, when two years ago I could barely finish and the route seemed almost insurmountable. So, these celebrations keep me going.

2. Don't do it yourself. I have read on numerous blogs and in articles that support is invaluable, and if you can, get a buddy. My mom is trying to lose weight as well, and hits the same kind of plateaus and frustrations that I do (we gain the same, lose the same, so she's a great buddy for me). Even though we live hours apart, we text each other every day to celebrate our NSV's, discuss recipes, and talk out our frustrations with plateaus, gains, injuries, you name it. I think this support more than anything has kept me going. Being accountable to someone else helps me stay accountable to me.

3. Plateaus happen. I read an SP article about plateaus, and one person gave advice that really stuck with me. He said plateaus happen, and the most important thing is not breaking through the plateau, but maintaining through the plateau. What I took from this was: plateaus are part of the journey, and how you manage the plateau will determine how your journey will proceed. I kept up with the healthy eating, and tried to exercise more. I also looked at my activities over the past month to see where I could improve, to finally break through. I personally believe that plateaus are my body's way of re-calibrating; I am at a lower weight, with more muscle. My body needs time to adjust to the new "me" before my fat-burning efficiencies can kick back in. If it takes a month, so be it. I will not be here forever. :-)

3. You have to strength train to lose. I don't like lifting weights (I find it boring) - I will always pick cardio over weights because I find it more fun. I used to be a dancer, so my idea of fun exercise involves music and movement, not lifting neoprene covered hunks of metal. After reading an article (have you noticed how much I like to research?) about circuit training, I decided to give it a try. Enter Jillian Michaels and her 30-day shred. It is awesome!! I love that the workouts are 20 minutes, and incorporate strength training, cardio and core work. I have a 2 year old, so I can't really devote any more time than 20-30 minutes at a go (that's about the extent of his patience with self-play). The muscle tone I have developed over the past two months is really noticeable now!!

Now, this isn't meant to sound like I'm perfect. I'm not. Far from it, to be completely honest. I have good days and bad days. I have days I'd like to throw in the towel and give up. Like last week: frustrated with my continuing plateau, I stopped tracking my food on SP. I tried to eat healthy, but the after-dinner Snack Monster got me every night. I tried to exercise, but only managed a couple of workouts. My energy and motivation were very low; I mentally berated myself for not being stronger and keeping up. I read some really good Sparker blogs, and realized everyone hits these blocks. I gained a bit of weight. Monday, I started fresh. Ate a good breakfast, planned my meals for the rest of the day and stuck to them. Denied the Snack Monster. Did my workouts as planned. I'm feeling really good today (Thursday) and think I may see a drop on the scale very soon! If it doesn't happen this week, that's okay. It's also okay if it doesn't happen next week. Because, eventually, it will. That is a truth. :-)

So, thank you SP and fellow bloggers. You have helped me gain the wisdom to build my strength and self confidence. These are more important than breaking through the plateau. I am maintaining, and that is a HUGE victory.

Stay positive!! :-)
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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