How do you deal with plateaus when it comes to fitness or riding? I ask, because I really have no idea. I think we all know what the experts say. We parrot is back to each other when we have a friend that gets stuck on one. We know we will hit one, they are like flat tires. Plateaus happen. There is nothing you can do to stop them from happening. You are going about your routine, steadily progressing, adding mileage or losing weight when all of a sudden, you aren’t. You start working harder and you actually move backward. So you work even harder, and you fall further behind. The same workouts that used to be effective are now hard to complete. You do extra work even though you don’t want to. You push even harder because you feel guilty about not wanting to do the work. Then you step on the scale and you gained two pounds.
There are probably people that don’t hit plateaus. These are probably the same people that you see at the gym, barely working out but weighing in at 125 pounds soaking wet while you are killing yourself on the bike or treadmill trying not to have an aneurism in the heart of the most intense interval you do. They are probably the same people that complain about the fact that no matter what they eat they just can’t seem to put on weight while you are choking down your three leaf salad secretly hoping they get hit by a bus. Just a little one, maybe just winged by it. Nothing too serious.
These non-plateau suffering people will tell you that the best thing you can do is change up your routine. Try a new workout or vary the pattern that you have established. Just confuse your body and the pounds will just fall off again. These people have never had to fight each ounce of weight as it clings to your body. The weight never just falls off and just changing your routine won’t shake you lose of the death grip of the plateau.
The only thing that has ever worked for me was not trying to outwork the plateau, but to outthink it. Well, not outthink it, much more the reverse of that idea. To not think about it at all. Really, to not think about anything you are doing for weight loss at all. I am not going to tell you not to worry about it, or to not think about what you are trying to accomplish, but I am going to tell you not to fixate. The last time I got stuck it was at 300 pounds. I had been there before and I fixated on finally breaking through that number. I worried about it and when it didn’t happen right away I started to fall back into old habits. I would eat when I was bored and tell myself I was hungry or that I earned an extra treat. I would blow off training rides because in needed rest days, and then I would take more rest days. Then I would weigh myself and find out that I gained weight. Then the cycle would repeat. Too much stress and not enough work turned the plateau into a setback. That particular setback sent me all the way back to 365 pounds.
I started over. I tried to retrain myself again, to eat better and move more. It was working great until I stepped on the scale and saw 302. I started to fixate again. In a week I was back to 307. This time I tried to change my approach. The Thirty Days of Biking had just started and I fixated on that instead. I stopped worry about what I weighed and worried about getting in some type of ride. I thought I would sign up for the challenge and then quickly lose my way. Once I focused on it I did whatever I could to get a ride in, even if it were just on the trainer. One night I rode at ten thirty at night to get the ride in. I stopped worrying about my food intake and had a few more cheat meals. My lent challenge ended so I indulged a little.
I kept the 5 Boro Tour in my mind as well. Forty miles through all five boroughs of New York City was something worth training for to do well. I kept thinking of just about anything but my weight. May first I weighed less than 300 pounds. This week I weighed myself and for the first time since high school I weighed less than 290 pounds. It was two tenths of a pound less, but it was a start into the 280s.
Fixating on something other than the plateau worked for me this time, but I would love to know what has worked for you. I know there must be other tricks to get past plateaus and setbacks and I would love to know them.