HEALTHY LIVING: Change is workout jump starts exercise program

Have you hit a plateau? These stale times in our fitness work are hard to deal with. Especially because they come out of nowhere, seem to stick around for too long, and sap all the motivation and energy out of the great job we were doing losing o...

Have you hit a plateau? These stale times in our fitness work are hard to deal with. Especially because they come out of nowhere, seem to stick around for too long, and sap all the motivation and energy out of the great job we were doing losing or gaining weight. Never fear, the dreaded plateau is defeatable.

To begin with your body is smart. It knows where it likes to be, what it wants, and sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Most likely you have come to a place in your fitness program which seems like a good place for your body to stay at.

Sometimes we are working to lose the last few pounds, other times we may have gotten so good at our usual routine the body is no longer being challenged, or we just going through the motions. We are more interested in our cell phone call or maybe our soap/sport has gotten much more interesting than paying attention to how our body is responding to our workout. It could be you have lost your motivation for eating well and you have begun to add more to your plate and not even realize it. What to do.

First, determine what is going on. Have you reached a desirable weight for your body. Notice I didn't say the weight you think you should be. Our bodies know when they are comfortable and sometimes we get to a point where the body doesn't feel like losing any more weight. It's comfortable and can handle hauling around the weight you are at. Have you begun to increase your calories? Remember, calories are fuel and food is fuel not the enemy, however many times we do not realize how many calories we are actually eating.

Are you and your body bored? If you have been doing the same workout for a period of time, say longer than six to eight weeks consistently it may be time to spice it up. Are you stuck in a cardio rut? Many like the same old, same old. We are creatures of habit and doing the same cardio can cause the body to become very efficient at the movement patterns, therefore not burning as many calories to do the same workout.


If you are trying to gain, have you taxed the smaller muscle groups needed to perform a lift? This could be the reason you have stalled out on progression. You might consider training the smaller muscle groups for a bit to build their strength and assure that they can assist during the lift.

Once you have determined what the issue is or at least have an idea to begin trial and error it is time to hit it head on and conquer the plateau. If it is:

Calorie related -- Start a food journal. This will help you monitor everything that goes in your mouth. It will also help you track calories, food choices, and even emotions or why you may be eating a certain food. All is great information to determine where problems lie.

It is important to remember that eating too little will cause the body to move into starvation mode and horde its calories. This is important because it will slow your metabolism resulting in more work to lose the same number of pounds.

You may want to cycle calories. It is important to eat a balanced, colorful as close to whole foods diet as you can. Cut calories down for a couple of days and then cycle back up for a few. This tricks the body on the starvation, slow metabolism problem.

Restrict your sodium intake if you can. Sometimes the last few pounds can be moved with less sodium. Read food labels so you know what is going in your body with each bite. Drop alcohol. I know I am from Superior, too, but it is only temporary and sometimes alcohol can be holding you back. Eat smart and small and often.

  • Not gaining -- look at the lift. Do you need to train smaller assistor muscles in order to preform the lift? It may be time to cycle down your workout for a short time. How is your diet? Do you need to add a nutrient or get rid of something. Again see above for ideas, but it may be time to revamp your pre- and post-workout meals. Change your workout, exercises or progression routines. Change requires the muscle to recruit fibers differently and sometimes change firing patterns, resulting in different training gains.
  • Losing more pounds -- remember to double check whether your ideal weight is realistic and your body fat is at a healthy level. If you have judged you still need to lose weight, see a personal trainer to determine your realistic ideal weight. Add intensity to your cardio routine. If you normally go 30 minutes, add five more a session. If you are already topping out at 60 minutes or your time allotment, add another day. Do different things to keep your heart rate up and your body guessing. Rev up your strength training routine to create more lean mass, boost your metabolism and keep your fat dropping.

Most important, make sure your workouts are balanced. Cardio, strength, and flexibility are all important. Call in a professional for assistance if needed and eat well. Plateaus happen to all of us from beginners to the most dedicated long-time fitness buff. Do not get discouraged.
Lifestyle challenge

Give your workouts your all this week. Work hard. Notice how your body feels before, during, and after your exercise. Notice how food choices effect how hard you can workout. Change your diet accordingly.


Stacy Reuille-Dupont is owner of Superior Balance Fitness Center and Personal Balance Consulting. She can be reached at and 392-9860.

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