When transforming your body, the common advice from fitness experts is to find a workout style that works best for you. Biking, running, weight lifting, yoga–the moment a workout style clicks, it sticks–and soon it’s an easy weekly go-to routine that you enjoy doing.
But let’s not forget that routines can become, well, routine, and while upping the intensity and changing the day-to-day programming can make small differences, doing what you do best could ultimately lead to a weight loss plateau and rut in motivation. A weight loss plateau can be frustrating, but instead of viewing it as setback, take it as a wake-up call that you can do more, get better, and become even more awesome–all by going back to basics and starting fresh like a beginner.
Progressing Past a Weight Loss Plateau
Doing something different can feel counterintuitive. After all, if you once struggled but now excel in shoulder stands at yoga or an unassisted pull-up at the gym, that mastered skill is a proven confidence booster. You feel great doing it given all the hard work that went into it. You want to show it off, not change just when the getting’s good.
Change is also discouraging–all that trying and failing feels like you’re doing even less to achieve results and over a longer course of time. It’s no wonder people keep doing the same old, same old. But instead of striving to become the master of your game, you just might be able to progress past a weight loss plateau by not being best.
Getting Back to Basics
It can be hard to take a step backward, but if it means moving forward beyond the weight loss plateau, it’s well worth it. Here are some steps to get you started:
- Discover the true you. Understanding who you are now is the first step in determining who you want to become. Hate running? Then no level of colored-chalk fun runs or wearing adorable costume tutus will get you excited to lace up your sneakers each day. Try new activities to find ways more motivating ways to move.
- Skip the strengths; make passion your purpose. While building on strengths is often encouraged, what if you’re not good at what you love? Trying something new is going to have a lot of unknowns, but it shouldn’t stop you from giving them a go.
- Go for one big goal. What will you regret in the future if you never do it? That’s your big goal. Start there and work backward.
- But don’t forget the daily to-dos. One big goal can feel intangible, which is why it’s important to have action items you can work toward each day. Be sure to break down a big fitness goal into individual workouts.
- Avoid assumptions. Think your boss won’t let you switch your hours to get to a workout class on time or that your spouse will be bummed if you skip your Tuesday night TV date in exchange for training time? Think again! It’s better to ask than assume. It’s likely not as big a deal as you’re making it out to be–and could be the very thing that stops you from making progress.
- Accept less than the best. It’s new, it’s supposed to be hard. The point of making a change is to challenge yourself, not continue being the expert of mediocrity.
- Seek support. When doing something new, it’s easy to feel less than confident. Buddy up with workout partners who can not only help your improve your skills but also cheer you on.
- Get out of your own way. What’s stopping you from achieving change? Um, you. It’s called self-sabotage–you know: “Just one more slice of pizza won’t hurt.” Just when you need to push harder, you give up. And on the flip side, there are times when you should call it quits, but keep persisting for no good reason.
- Setbacks happen. Roadblocks are inevitable on the trail of change, but they don’t have to take you out of the game. Help to tackle these obstacles head on by tracking accomplishments, remapping the goal course as needed and staying optimistic.
- Celebrate victories. When new goals are reached, celebrate them in healthy ways.
- Start over. Once you’ve reached a goal, it’s time to do it again. There is power that comes from constantly reinventing yourself to be your best.
Remember: Motivation is key. Research from the University of Quebec at Montreal found that intrinsic motivation—that is, striving toward personal fulfillment—leads to higher levels of achievement in those with athletic goals. If you’ve let your exercise situation grow stagnant, that weight loss plateau will let you know it just might be time to switch things up.
How are you with handling change? Share with others in the comments.