Drill this fact into your mind: “The person with the most options is the one most likely to succeed“.
That applies in business, in pleasure – and in fitness. Keep learning new options for your diet and your exercise and take those that you enjoy and “mix it all up”. Why? To avoid pitfalls and plateaus.
We often stress over and over how each of us is so wonderfully unique and it’s this very uniqueness that means no regimented, laid out plan is going to work for every human body. You have a unique body type and as such, the way you respond to combination’s of nutrition and training will also be unique to you. Not one single other human being has your body type or your physiology.
This is an amazing facet of simply being human; however, it does bring about some challenges. You’ll have to experiment a little while trying to get in shape and/or lose weight to find what works for your genetic make-up. Certainly there are laws of fat loss that everyone can follow, but you and only you can determine which one’s work best for your body.
Are you familiar with Bruce Lee?
“With nothing but his hands, feet and a lot of attitude, he turned the little guy into a tough guy.” — Time
Bruce Lee worked hard to formulate a philosophy for self-defense and personal growth. His formula was:
- Research your own experience
- Absorb what is useful
- Reject what is useless
- Add what is specifically your own
Not a bad formula to follow! Learn from your experiences, determine what has worked (been useful) for you and absorb it, reject what hasn’t worked, create a system or exercise, diet, what-have-you, that is specifically your own, tailored to your needs, enjoyment, genetics and desires.
Physiological factors play a role in every facet of our lives, including our fitness levels, no matter what they may be at this moment. Some of us suffer a slow metabolism. This is worsened by on-and-off dieting over years, or if you never worked to strengthen and build your muscles in addition to dieting.
But don’t get distraught about this; a slow metabolism can speed up. It just takes time. You have to practice patience and perseverance. Your patience WILL pay off when you find the fitness/diet “recipe” that is right for you. Plus, the more fit you get – even the tiniest increments – will help you slowly and steadily burn more fat. The better respiratory shape you’re in (cardiovascular endurance), the more fat you can burn at rest.
So even though you may be out of shape and weigh too much, you mustn’t give up just because improvement and results seem slow to accomplish.
Oh those dreaded plateaus! Luckily, we do know some key factors as to why we hit these and with that knowledge, they can be over come. We’ve talked about the starvation-mode factor before but here’s a summary for those who haven’t read it: When you drastically cut calories, your body goes into starvation mode. It’s the body’s way of “adapting”. Once you’re in this mode, no amount of increased training will help. You have to eat more! That’s right. If your caloric intake has been very low for a long time, the best thing you can do is raise your calories. Just be sure to eat healthful foods, not “junk” foods. A brief 1 to 3 day raise in caloric intake may be all you need before you drop back down. But in reality, this is one of those “unique to your body” circumstances. You may have to experiment a bit. If you don’t see improvement in 3 days, go a little longer. You’ll have to discover what works for your body.
This is one of those things that just cannot be predicted, but it can be expected. To avoid these plateaus, don’t restrict yourself to the same amount of calories every day. Fluctuate your diet and never cut calories drastically low.
Over Training Plateaus
There truly is such a thing as over-training. And jumping into a program and pushing yourself too hard can cause it. See How Much IS Enough? for more information.
If you suspect over-training to be the cause of your plateau, then the best thing to do is take a rest. Taking a few days off from weight loss training might be exactly what you need. When you do start up again, add a few new toning moves. Try a new form of cardio exercise, etc. Plateaus can also come from adaptation- the body adapts to your new workout routine and no longer has any “response”. It’s become accustomed to it.
But now that you know all this, you know, too that you can avoid these pitfalls and therefore, succeed a bit faster and much more efficiently!
See also: Fighting a Weight Loss Plateau