Progress, plateaus and breaking through for success

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For anyone who has ever tried a weight loss or muscle build programme – you will know that progress is not always linear.   We have weekends that don’t go to plan, work commitments, travel or sometimes, weight plateaus with no real rhyme or reason.  Fighting through these times is not always something we are good at but they really are KEY to success – read on to understand why and some top tips on how…

Progress is progress

Progress is progress whether it goes smoothly or not and should be celebrated along the way.  Progress in many aspects of life is rarely a linear thing, there will be numerous set backs and ‘bumps’ in the road.  The way you react to these setbacks will ultimately determine whether you find the success you’re looking for.  Just think of a long term work project as an example – you’ll encounter challenges along the way which are perfectly normal that you need to overcome, this is what makes success feel even better at the end.  It is also worth noting that progress is relative to the individual – everyone has different starting points, different goals and objectives which are personal to the individual.  It is for you, and only you, to ensure it continues in the way you want it to.

Things outside of your control

When it comes to weight loss or muscle build – there are several things outside of our control when it comes to weight.  Sure, on a weekly / monthly basis, our fate is in our own hands, however, on a day to day basis – this isn’t always the case.  Anything from sleep, travel, water retention, hormones, whether you have worked out or even whether you’ve been to the loo can effect your weight by a few pounds.  Also, if it is a hectic work or travel schedule outside of your control that sets you off one week – this is totally normal and expected.

Things you need to own

Whilst these mini fluctuations or set backs are of course inevitable – ultimately, what happens more long term is your responsibility.   It is also totally normal when on a program to plateau along the way – it is just part of the journey – but it is how you respond to these ‘challenges’ that is the key to success.  Rather than hit a plateau, fall off the bandwagon and go into ‘f*#k it’ mode – manage your decisions and mindset to secure a greater outcome.

But how?

There are several things we can do to ensure we manage through these times and stay dedicated and consistent – it is all about mindset.

Commit

A big part of this is how committed you are to the cause.  Do you really want to make a difference to your lifestyle, fitness levels, output and appearance for the long term?  If yes – make it real – say it out load, tell your friends, write it down and stick it up on your wall. Whatever you are trying to achieve, sharing with yourself and others can help in times of need as you’re more accountable.

Be realistic

Whatever your goal, be realistic with yourself.  Make it challenging but not unrealistic.  You wouldn’t set yourself up for failure like that in work so why do that with your health and fitness?  Having a plan that is based on you and your lifestyle will hugely help this.  Short term fixes and fad diets are NOT realistic.

Accept the journey

Accept and understand ahead of time the journey may not be a smooth one.  By going into it with eyes wide open, you will more likely push through any challenges and plateaus with confidence knowing long term you are on the right path.

Set mini milestones

Setting smaller more tangible goals can be a good way to keep yourself motivated.  Celebrate along the way and look back at how far you have come.

Take an average

Depending on your personality and how important weight is to you – weighing every day and then logging the weekly average can sometimes be a better way to do it as it balances out fluctuations.  That said, weighing everyday isn’t for everyone as it can be on your mind everyday.

Document progress differently

Consider documenting progress differently.  Whilst traditionally the scales are how we measure success – sometimes they aren’t always the most accurate.  Maybe you don’t even know what your ‘goal weight’ is or you don’t have one and it is more about how you look, feel or perform.  Many fat loss programs focus on weight loss rather than body composition, shape and retaining muscle.  Likewise, many muscle build programs focus on weight gain and bulk rather than building lean muscle. Progress pictures and measurements are a great way to document progress over time.  Remember – you live with yourself everyday and changes are harder to see – this can be a good thing to look back on and help you pull through.

Jump straight back in

If you fall off for one day don’t think you’re done altogether. Jump straight back on it and keep the consistency. It’s much more productive to start 2 or 3 days later than naturally wait until the start of the next week or next month!

A big part of all my plans focusses on mindset as I feel it is so important and an area that is often overlooked.  The mind is an amazing thing but it can also work to our detriment if we let it.  If you want to find out more about how it all works – take a look.

photo credit: iStock/marekuliasz
All views are my own.