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Staying Strong During a Plateau

When you start an exercise program, you strike a deal with your body. “If I eat healthy and exercise, then you will shape up.” Unfortunately, our bodies don’t always seem to listen. Have you ever experienced a time during which, no matter how healthy you ate or the amount of exercise you put in, the scale didn’t budge an ounce nor did you see any changes in your measurements? Welcome to the dreaded “plateau.” Sadly, a plateau happens to most of us and can completely destroy motivation.

The good news is… we all experience this. The key is to keep a positive mind-set and hang in there. Here’s how.

Spice Things Up

You know that a consistent exercise routine nets better health, a clearer mind and a more beautiful body, but if exercise becomes too much of a routine— the same StairMaster workout day in and day out, for example — you’ll likely hit a plateau. The human body is adaptive. However, that adaptability also can be our nemesis. A plateau is a sign that your body has, in essence, grown wise to your routine.

Answer? Write down three activities such as tennis, kayaking or yoga you will do over the next month that you’ve never tried before. Those activities will alter the positive stresses on your body and help you break free from a rut. Or simply vary your current routine; for example, do your exercises in a different order — or do different exercises altogether — each time you train, or every few workouts. “Breakthrough workouts” are another effective countermeasure to plateaus; these sessions are either longer or more intense than you are accustomed to and serve to “break through” your plateau.

Throw in the Towel.

But only for a couple days! If you’ve been busting your butt on an exercise program for four weeks and not seeing results, take a rest.  Rest is just as important as exercise.  This is one of the many reasons we take time off between boot camps. Your body needs time to rejuvenate. To progress over time and bust a plateau, you must exercise, take time off to rejuvenate, and then come back with a renewed vigor.

Answer? Review your exercise program over the past month, and if a period of rest is warranted (if you are pushing hard 5-6 days a week), then take a two- to three-day break from exercise. Spend the time that you would normally be working out recuperating: Take a daily nap or a long soak in the tub. You’ll come back to your routine better equipped to achieve results. Keep in mind this is healthy for you and your muscles… and will not destroy your path to your goals.

Think long-term.

Remember, we all go through this. There are times during our journey to optimal health that we experience highs, and lows. If you accept the fitness process for the highs and the lows, (accept it in its entirety) and hang in there during the lows; you will succeed. Just because you do not see results weekly, does not mean that your body isn’t still on the right path.

Answer? Write it down. Look at your goals in totality and write down what your ultimate goals are, rather than the smaller steps you’re taking to achieve them. Make special note of how eating right and exercising will benefit your health and well-being in the long-term. Use the successes you’ve experienced so far, and the goals you’ll eventually achieve, to inspire you and keep you on track.

See the Big Picture.

Sometimes we obsess over the physical results of our working out… such as seeing a tighter stomach or obsessing over that number on the scale. While these things are important and do provide you with the ability to measure your success, keep in mind there are so many other excellent benefits to eating healthy and exercising. Exercise and good nutrition also nourish the mind and spirit, reduce stress, bolster your confidence and make you feel more alive. Focus on how your healthy choices continue to help you during physical plateaus, even when you can’t see the physical changes, and you’ll have an easier time sticking with your fitness regimen.

Answer? This week, when you work out or eat a healthful meal, consider every positive aspect of what you’re doing and write down at least three of your options. Think about how your stress melts away after a hard workout. Visualize that salad bathing providing strong nutrients to your body; notice how your confidence soars when you make it through a workout. Chances are, these thoughts and feelings will help refuel your resolve almost as much as losing a pound will!

Contributors: http://www.shape.com

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