Plateau: A state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress

Stuck at a Plateau

You’re not alone. It’s an obstacle for everyone who has ever tried to take their fitness to the next level. With any long-term fitness goal, you can be sure that the dreaded plateau will play a role.

Weight Plateau

But maybe we’re looking at this all wrong. Just maybe.. a plateau is a good thing. Is it possible that we could use this to our advantage?

During my most recent 35 pound weight loss, I hit exactly three major plateaus.  I consider a major plateau to be more than two weeks without seeing any kind of change.  That may not seem like a super long time but when you’re eating perfect and working out every single day, you definitely want to keep seeing results.  You feel like it’s earned!

The Plateau Plan

You know what used to bug me? Those people who would tell you that when in the face of adversity, “Change your outlook to change your outcome”. How dare they, right? They have no clue what I’m facing!

Well, it turns out they were right in this case.

My idea to “use the plateau” came to me one evening while eating.  I was calculating my macro-nutrients for the day and was trying to figure out if there really was any way to know if I was getting enough fat or too much?  I was stuck in my third plateau of the year and not sure how to get past what was proving to be the toughest obstacle yet.

macro ratiosYou can ask the Google machine how much fat you should be getting and you will find a different answer on every site you come across.  Some swear by increasing fat and some swear you need to decrease fat.  It’s a conundrum.  It’s clearly not something I wanted to mess up and actually gain weight from.  What’s more.. I learned long ago that everyone responds to exercise in diet in different ways.  What’s right for me might not be right for you.

It suddenly struck me that if I was in the midst of a true plateau, only then could I gauge if I needed more or less fat in my diet.

Think about it.. if you’re eating the same foods every day, working out with the same concerted effort and you’re in a period of non-response, that’s the perfect time to play with the diet and in particular, find out if my body would respond to more or less fat ingested.

Clearly, I was looking at a plateau in such a negative light that I never considered this great advantage.

Diet Plateau Cartoon

My Plateau Action Plan

I was stuck at 164/165 and the scale wasn’t budging.  Because it seemed safer, I chose to go with less fat at first.  I divided the remainder of my daily caloric intake (2000 calories) between the carbs and protein.

For two full weeks, I went from 35 grams of fat a day all the way down to 20.  Surprisingly, it made not one bit of difference.  As much as I was still nervous about trying it, i decided to bump the fat up to 60 grams of day.

Astonishingly, it worked.. and almost instantly!  I hit 163 three days later and for the first time since I had been 18 years old, I hit 160 within the next two weeks.

I learned that my body responds better when I ingest a few more healthy fats.

Learn From Those Plateaus

I’m currently stuck again.  I’m at 156 pounds.  Incredibly, this is just a bit higher than my graduating high school weight of 150.  I still have a bit of fat though and my goal remains at achieving 6% body fat.  I suspect I’ll be under 150 when I ultimately achieve that.

If I’ve learned nothing else about dieting and results this year, it’s patience.  I no longer panic when I hit a long plateau.  I use it to my advantage.

This time around, I’m experimenting with carb cycling and really changing it up from the previous version that already seems highly effective in helping me to attain my fat loss goals.

Don’t get frustrated by those plateaus.

When I ultimately decide what weight I wish to maintain for my normal day to day life (when I’m not trying to lean out), I look forward to using all the variables that I’ve learned about my body to formulate what will likely be a superb diet for my body.

Knowing the exact percentages of macro-nutrients that your body prefers has some real advantages in maintaining weight control for all those approaching golden years.

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