Learning to love

What has love got to do with it? Yes, my blog is about health and fitness – but with this coincides love. Self love. Accepting love of others. Recognizing love. Feeling as though you are deserving of love – and more. Many of our unhealthy eating and other behaviors are cheap substitutes for love (to learn more, visit Geneen Roth‘s site). And with this, I open my heart.

It was not until I was almost 22 when I decided that I needed to learn what love was, and in turn how to love. Born into a loveless home, I had been raised with no idea what love was. It was something I saw in movies – but I literally believed that it only existed in movies (to the likeness of unicorns and fairies).

We have all heard, you must love yourself before you can expect anyone else to. But it is kind of like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Self-help books and therapists will advise you to draw support from others when you are working on loving yourself. Okay – so what if you do not have others whom you trust and know love you? For those who have never lived it – you may think that I am imagining and exaggerating that no one loved me during that time of my life. You might say that it was only in my delusioned mind. When in fact, it was my perception and very much my reality.

Therapists often guide you to accept that your parents or others loved you the best they knew how. That may be true. Did and do my parents love me? I suppose in their own way. If either of them chose today as the first day to physically say the words to me, I doubt I would believe them.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

NOTE: Nothing about this post is related to a godly or otherwise religious love. This is strictly referencing familial and romantic love between and among humans.

What I thought love was

Having never heard the words. Having never felt the physical components (e.g., hugs and kisses). I thought love was respect and obedience. I thought that love was to submit to another’s demands. When I was 20, I became engaged to a man who made me feel exactly how my mother made me feel – invaluable. This is all I had known. At that time, having been told by ‘professionals’ that my mother had loved me the only way she knew how, I just assumed that this is how he knew how to love me. I in turn generalized it to be how everyone loves.

I did not end up marrying this man – thank goodness! I cannot describe a particular ah-ha moment or epiphany. I just knew that ‘love’ could not possibly make one feel badly about herself.

And so the journey goes

Ten years later, and I am still not sure that I know what love is. I know there are different dimensions of love. I am not sure that I know HOW to love.

Years of therapy taught me that I needed to increase my vulnerability in order to build deep, meaningful (loving) relationships with others (romantic and platonic alike). During my childhood I built up walls. I can remember once telling a brother that he hurt my feelings. His response, “Put your feelings in a Ziploc bag and stick them in the dresser next to your bed because no one cares.” I have no idea how old I was, but I do know that it stuck with me all these years.

Learning to love

Learning to love has not been an easy journey for me. I have loved with all of my heart – and then hurt. I have done it again – and then been hurt. I have loved with patience, obedience, and respect – simply to be abandoned overnight.

And yet I continue to chose love over anger and hate. I could hate the one(s) who abandoned me, but I do not. I choose love.

The bottomline

I have been spending a great deal of time in introspection – asking myself what love is to me. What do I want it to be and what does it look like in my life? I am seeing love in places that I perhaps never saw them before. I am expecting different results. My eyes and heart are more wide open and willing to accept the love that is already there — and love that has never failed —

My distorted self-perception

What do you see when you look at yourself? Do you see what others see? Does what you see in the mirror match what you see in pictures of yourself?

I know that I do not see what others see when looking at me. And this is common. But how much of what we see is also accurate? Is any of it accurate?

Physical distortions

Recently, I was caught in traffic due to an accident. I was thinking about workouts (when am I not?) and clients. The majority of my clients – past and present – have fat loss goals. Many women will state, “I want to look like you!” I generally reply with, “Thank you for the compliment! Together we will work to find the best YOU.” Or something of the sorts.

When I stop to truly think about it, it baffles me – others want to look like me? I have had women want legs like mine, or a butt, or arms. I have had clients comment on how they would like a flat stomach like mine – I remark that my stomach is not flat and that they need to find a different standard to work towards! And all I want are abs like – any number of my fit friends. What is it we are looking for in what we perceive to be perfect physical attributes?

What does this boil down to? Many woman would be satisfied with my physique – so why am I not? OR, would they be just as self-critical once they obtain their ‘ideal bodies,’ identifying new targets for improvement and perfection?

What I wonder is, are my abs better than I see in the mirror? Is there a physiological or psychological lapse between my cornea and my brain? I believe that these thoughts result from being told I have body dysmorphic disorder (as good of a reason as ever to never label someone). Is what I see accurate – and how do I know?

To be unaware

I have no awareness of my outward beauty. It does not occur to me that I am attractive. A compliment often goes in one ear and out the other, without a second thought. This is not to say that I think that I am unattractive – I am simply ambivalent. I have been told this is better than being arrogant about my looks – I am not so sure! I was recently asked, “If you had to choose between being dumb or being ugly which would you choose?”

I would choose ugly. Hands down.

I place great value on my intelligence and mental aptitude – and next to no value on my physical appearance. I do not know that this is right or wrong, but it is.

The bottomline

I am not overly concerned with my physical appearance – and never have been. I seldom wear makeup. I rarely use a brush or a comb in my hair (lucky, I know!). I do not spend much time or money on my wardrobe.

However, I do have a distorted self-perception. I do not believe that I look fit. I view myself as a ‘big’ girl – with an athletic build. Does this thinking negatively influence my life in ways of which I am not aware?

Today, I am left blogging about questions that I do not have answers to.

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Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4

Why eating everything in moderation does not work

The popular notion – eat everything in moderation – does not work. It is not effective. It is not helpful. And in some cases, it might even be detrimental.

While I currently practice a form of eating “everything” in moderation, this advice lacks specificity and consideration for an individual’s true needs. Having altered my eating behaviors in 2009, I spent the first 2 years mindfully monitoring everything I ate, avoiding social and food triggers, and planning my snacks and meals. I ate following my template – religiously. Prone to nighttime eating, if I became ‘hungry’ at  night after all my meals and snack were consumed, I went to sleep.

Used to eating anything you want

If you are used to eating whatever you want, the advice of eating everything in moderation can offer you a justification to continue doing so. “But, I am just eating everything in moderation.” And your results will reflect the inadequacy of this advice.

Many individuals cannot stop at a little of something when it comes to food. If this is you, you ARE NOT alone. We have trigger foods. There are physiological and psychological explanations for these food addictions. These are associated with binge eating disorder, as well as common to many – disordered eating behaviors.

A real-life example

I immediately think about a former client who ate 6+ full-size Hershey’s bars each day, sometimes a full pizza for breakfast, and 2 Whoppers for lunch. He wanted to listen to the advice – everything in moderation – and reduced his Hershey’s bar intake to 2 bars each day, half a pizza for breakfast, and 1 Whopper for lunch. Do you think he saw results? (He did not – despite intense workouts 3 times a week.)

He followed the advice – everything in moderation

Comparatively speaking, he was eating in moderation! Is it effective for weight loss? The answer, more often than not – NO!


Recovery from food addiction requires abstinence. You need to eliminate trigger foods completely. For how long? At least 28 days, but the length of abstinence required depends on various individual factors – other psychological factors, length of addiction, strength of motivation to overcome, and more. NOTE: For those who may be addicted to food in general, more aggressive strategies are needed and professional advice should be sought.

I have talked about trigger foods. One of my trigger foods is Starburst Jelly Beans – one leads to the full bag. To be successful in weight loss and health – you must identify and abstain from your trigger foods.

Assessing the advice

If you are on your weight loss journey, ask yourself – how many people have offered this advice to eat everything in moderation. Now tell me – how has this worked for you? 

Have you lost weight, only to put it back on?

Have you not lost at all?

Or, has it worked?

The bottomline

Eating everything in moderation sounds glorious. It will work for a select few. If it has not and does not work for you – please know that you are not alone. If only it was so easy!

Better, is to have more specific advice to meal and snack creation. Please click the link for more specific and helpful guidance. The best plan is to invest in a personalized, customized plan. Each of us has a different experience with foods – past and present. Each of us has different dietary needs, wants, and restrictions. Not sure where to start?

I can help and point you in the right direction.

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Do you have low back, hip, or knee pain?

Gluteal amnesia. Sure, it sounds funny – but it is real. The butt muscles have ‘forgotten’ how to work. If you work in manual labor, you have heard, “Bend at the knees and you will lift with ease.” But do you bend at the knees? More than likely, you bend at the waist and lift with the back – bypassing the butt muscles. Are you a regular exerciser who is prone to knee squatting? More than likely you are and you are bypassing the butt muscles. Do you sit all day? More than likely your butt muscles are disengaged for the majority of your day. Do you have tight and/or sore hamstrings (back of the thighs)? They are likely overcompensating for underactive butt muscles. These butt muscles are your gluteals.


Gluteal amnesia

Gluteal amnesia occurs when your body forgets how to properly recruit the gluteal muscles. You lose the ability to move your hips through their full range of motion and compensatory movements occur. Find a great, detailed explanation of gluteal amnesia here.

Associated injuries

Common injuries associated with gluteal amnesia include patella-femoral (knee) syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, disc herniation, chronic low back pain, recurrent low back strains, and piriformis syndrome.

What to do about it

There are a multitude of methods for eliminating gluteal amnesia – all require form correction and mind-body awareness during exercise. Dr. Lecovin outlines the corrective exercise techniques and I therefore do not need to repeat – read here.

However, his post is not exhaustive. A couple of other exercises include:

ImageMindful Step-up – Place one foot on the step – this foot NEVER MOVES. Driving through the heal of that foot, and without pushing off with the bottom foot, step up to a full standing position on the top of the step. Return the trailing foot to the floor, maintaining control with the working leg. If this is not harder than your traditional step-up, try again, mindful that your are NOT pushing off that back leg.

Wall squats – these are NOT your traditional wall-sits, sitting with your back supported on the wall. Stand facing a wall, with your toes no more than an inch away from the wall (yes, you are face-to-face with a wall. If you are looking at a mirror, you WILL know if you need to clean up your eyebrows). Your feet are slightly wider than shoulder width. Push your hips back and squat, as if to sit in a chair. Note: It helps to hold a kettlebell in your hands for counter balance and progress towards using no weight.

The bottomline

I have gluteal amnesia – moreso in my right buttocks than in my left. No one is immune. I happened to also have low back, hip, AND knee pain. But I do not let this stop me. I perform the above two exercises deliberately and regularly, and my symptoms of gluteal amnesia have diminished significantly. Combine these exercises with corrective exercise techniques – such as inhibiting (e.g., foam roller) and lengthening and you will be as good as new!

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Today – what did you do for YOU?

photo (36)

I have goals. I have an abundance of goals. I have life-long goals. I have 10-year and 5-year goals. I have goals for 2013. But most importantly, I have goals for TODAY. Most of my daily goals require me to take care of – ME. They encompass growth in many areas of my life.

What did I do for my mind? I learned new behavior modification methods for use with toddlers. I read – a lot and about various topics.

My body? I taught and participated in a Tabata class. I followed this up with ~20 minutes of back and biceps weight lifting. And important, after the physically busy weekend, I rested my legs as my knees are a little achy. REST, they say, so rest I do.

My spirit? I have been relistening to the Geneen Roth book, Women, Food and God, on my commute. This is good for my spirit and has been a recent remind that I am not what mother led me to believe that I am. I am reminded that the goal of perfection lays a foundation for failure – no one is perfect. Each time I listen, something new resonates.

My relationships? It is hard for me to think about this one – so I have no answer.

My creativity? I played with Play-Doh. I made a road and bridge for a toy cement mixer to use to get to the construction site.

My passion? I taught a class. I trained a client. I practiced a couple of crazy new exercises. I wrote a workout. I read postings from coaches I aspire to live like. I wrote this post.

Today, what did YOU do?

Pride only breeds quarrels

This has been on my mind – I have to write about it. Yesterday, I taught a Tabata class and it was attended by another instructor. Following class she approached me, asking about a specific cue I used, “Jump from your heels.” She expressed that this does not make sense and wanted to know what I meant by this, where I got it from, etc. I used this cue when performing lateral jumps over the step. I said, “People were jumping from their toes and you need to jump from a flat foot.” She retorted, “But you have to jump from your toes to get any height.”

I was becoming annoyed – to say the least

Thankfully, I had another class immediately following. I could leave the conversation by getting the members set up. But, the conversation lingers…

Too much pride

This is a lesson in pride. I have considerable pride (perhaps too much) in my experience and education. Part of me thought – is she really questioning ME? This instructor, with a group fitness certification and a weekend-training personal trainer certification, was telling me that I was wrong? That urked me. 

Part of this was with the tone with which she confronted me. And with a question – as if testing me. Does she think that she knows more than me? I was arrogantly laughing inside. But I caught myself. My self-talk, she knows what she knows and you know what you know and leave it at that

photo (35)Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. ~ Proverbs 13:10

Learning and growth

I am learning to catch myself and bite my tongue. As mentioned, I was lucky enough to have an out for this situation, removing me and allowing me to step away. I might have otherwise initially reacted inappropriately. 

One thing I am learning, is that it is not worth the battle with others in my industry – particularly those who are uneducated and unwilling to learn (or learn something new). I have had healthy, glorious conversations with others, but they are far and few between.

Second, I learned that I am indeed better at muting my initial reaction. I have better control of my tongue (not so much my thoughts, yet!). 

Third, we each know what we know and do what we can with that. We can share our knowledge – some will accept it and others will deflect it. 

I can grow from this, learning to lower my defenses. I grow also in understanding more and more that others are not on the same path, have not taken the same route, and have a very different perspective of all things in this life. Wow, if that is not growth, I do not know what is!

The bottomline

After discussing this with my roommate, it was not so much what this woman said, but how. It is a reminder to be mindful of how you present criticism or disagreeing feedback. I expect to be spoken to with respect. As a result, I am often offended by social encounters – as a society we are not excellent at that whole respect thing.

Final note. If you want to dispute my fitness advice, you had better have the scientific evidence and know-how to support it. Some will mistake this for arrogance, but it is mere confidence. If you can show or convince me that I am wrong, I will humbly accept it. 

What experience can you take from today to help you learn and grow?

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How long should I workout?

I have said this before. I will say it over and over and over and hopefully reach more individuals with each post. There is no reason to workout for longer than 45 minutes to an hour. Further, surpassing one hour and 15 minutes puts you at risk of diminishing returns.

My antecedent
Recently the comment was made to one of my class attendees – why do I not make my class longer if there is no class after it. This was a gym employee, referencing me and my class. My class is an hour. 8-10 minutes to warmup 40-45 minutes of WORK and 5-10 cool down and stretch. (This is based on science, as well as the accepted exercise recommendations.)

Diminishing returns
What does that mean? In its simplest sense, it means you will continue to work but that the results will taper off. In other words – you begin working for nothing. If you are desiring weight loss, working out for a single extended period of time will not increase weight loss. If you desire strength gains, you will not see greater results from a longer workout and may even see fewer overall strength gains as a result.

Click the link for a great overview of the principles to fitness development.

A time and a place
There is a time and a place for everything. Are there situations when lengthy workouts will happen? Sure, for body building type workouts. For endurance athletes – who also refuel and train diligently and mindfully.

Unless you are an adrenaline junkie, fitness fanatic, athlete, or fitness professional, the chances are that you do not WANT to workout, let alone workout for extended periods for time (e.g., and hour or more). I cannot think of a single good reason to make a group fitness class longer than one hour. I will not set individuals up to dislike exercise. I will not set them up to see minimal to no results. I will set you up for success.

The bottomline
What is the hope from working out longer? Improved results? This is unlikely. Improved health? Research shows that you can improve health and fitness in as little as four minutes (review research by Dr. Izumi Tabata and colleagues).

Do you just want to workout for a longer period of time because you love it? Then go ahead and do it. But know that results will not improve.

Reflection: 200 miles on foot with my Chix

Ragnar Relay Chicago. Nearly 200 miles, on foot, traveling from Madison  to Chicago, via Milwaukee. It is insane. For the third year in a row, the Fit Chix with Quick Stix have run. I ran in 2011 and again this year. I hate running, but the meaningful friendships I have built in the process are priceless.

THE Fit Chix with Quick Stix


We are women. Ages 30-5osomething. Mothers. Teachers. Business owners. Former military. Former athletes. Ironman finisher. Computer geeks. Analysts. Super Heroes. Friends. Cancer survivor. 100-pound loser. Prancers. Singers. Frolickers.

This year’s team consisted of women I have known for years – some just a few and one for 8 years. One I met Friday afternoon for the first time. Former coworkers. Former clients. My BLPE (best lifting partner ever – sorry everyone else). Woman I have no connection to other than the fact that we know the same person who invited her to run Ragnar.

The experience

The journey is indescribable. I cannot put it into words. Those who were there, know. The bonds you build while working as a team to run 200 miles is one that cannot be broken. While one person runs, the other 11 (or this year 10) sit in the vans – providing runner support, driving to the exchanges, and tormenting one another. We sing. Sometimes we cry (no criers in my van this year). We laugh. We reach delirium. We try to sleep. We eat, drink, and change clothes in the van. We support one another. We build one another up. It is a sort of therapy.

The growth

While you get to know your vanmates well along a 200-mile journey, you also get to know yourself. This event requires courage and heart. Varying degrees of fear are faced with determination while running alone in the middle of the night.

What is your physical endurance after being awake for 24+ hours?

Do you talk more or less when you are overtired?

How do you function when you are off your routine?

Do you place pressure on yourself to do well – even when the team is telling you this is all about fun?

How do you endure the annoyances of others when you are tired?

There are countless opportunities for personal growth. Personally, it is an opportunity for me to form intimate relationships – something that is VERY difficult for me. It is also as opportunity for me to grow physically, improving my endurance. 200 miles also requires a mental strength – requiring you to run when the last thing you want to do is run. For example, we discussed how sometimes when we are running we are tired and want to close our eyes – convinced we will feel better if we could just close them and rest for a bit.

There is no I in team

We had a few blips this year. The day before the race we had a medical emergency eliminate a runner. We sent her our love and prayers and the Chix stepped to the plate to cover the miles. When we heard – all the Chix volunteered to help with the miles. Switching legs, picking up miles – we would do what it took to get the job done.

Partway through, one of our Chix did not feel well – stuffed up, migraine. It looked like she might be out! We rearranged legs. We let her rest. She did come back to life – and she smashed her runs. She even prancersized into the exchange!

The bottomline

I do not have much to say. I am typing this as I ride a bus back to Minneapolis. I have met fellow Ragnarians – each of us with unique stories and experiences to share.

There are no words to describe the amazingness of the experience. I am proud of my self for completing the rewarding event and overcoming obstacles. I am proud of my Chix – each overcoming obstacles, trails, and tribulations of her own. And we have another experience of a lifetime to add to our memory banks!

I HATE running and that is okay

It is okay to admit it. If you are like me, you HATE running. I may be exaggerating, but I do strongly dislike it. Yes, if you have been following my blog you know that I recently ran a half marathon. That was silly! And after this upcoming weekend, my running season will be over for the year (perhaps). I cannot wait!!!

With that said, happy National Running Day! I run because I was told by doctors that I never would again. I run to keep a healthy balance to my workouts and fitness.

The allure of running

We have this grandiose idea that running will make us thin. If I could only run, I would – fill in the blank. You have in your head, the farther you run the thinner you will be! This is contradictory to science. So where does this idea come from?

Is it the runners we see in the Olympics? Who looks more fit and healthy – sprinters or marathoners?

Maybe it is the neighbor who runs 6 miles a day.

Maybe you ran often and never ate when you were younger and were thin. (Note: It was the never eating that kept you thin.)

Is it that running is the only cardio exercise we can immediately think of?

Fellowship and community

Despite the fact that I dislike running, there is something that I am drawn towards. I run because it is an opportunity to spend quality time with my crazy friends who actually like to run. It gives us a chance to spend hours together – talking, venting, or simply trying to breath. We have a connection – always something to talk about or someplace to go (while running on foot). I have built deep, meaningful relationships through running – relationships I would have never otherwise known.

I prefer to lift

One fact still remains. I much prefer to lift weights. Heavy weights. Kettlebells. Olympic lifting. Barbell complexes. I would choose any of them before running. My lifting regimen often makes my legs tired and heavy – making running challenging and less than fun. Further, lifting is safer than running and poses less risk of injury. Have you ever met a dedicated runner who has never been injured? I have not met one yet.

Sports Injury Rates (Hamill 1994)


Injuries (per 100 hours)

Soccer (school age) 6.20
UK Rugby 1.92
USA Basketball 0.03
UK Cross Country 0.37
Squash 0.10
US Football 0.10
Badminton 0.05
USA Gymnastics 0.044
USA Powerlifting 0.0027
USA Volleyball 0.0013
USA Tennis 0.001
Weight Training 0.0035 (85,733 hrs)
Weightlifting (snatch, clean) 0.0017 (168,551 hrs)

“The overall yearly incidence rate for running injuries varies between 37 and 56%. If incidence is calculated according to exposure of running time the incidence reported in the literature varies from 2.5 to 12.1 injuries per 1000 hours of running.” (van Mechelen, 1992).

The bottomline

It is okay to hate running. And know, you do not need to run to be thin – if that is your purpose for running or wanting to run. In fact, running is not a very efficient method for fat loss. And the risk of injury is far greater than weight training! Use that as food for thought.

Do not get me wrong, the benefits of running are incredible. But it is not for everyone. I write this post on the eve of my departure to run 200 miles will 11 of my closest friends. 200 miles of laughter, smiles, tears, and so much FUN

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Hamill, B. (1994). Relative safety of weightlifting and weight training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 8(1), 53-57.

Stone M.H., A.C. Fry, M.  Ritchie,  L.  Stoessel Ross and J.L. Marsit, J.L. (1994). Injury potential and safety aspects of weightlifting movements. Strength and Conditioning, 16, 15 24.

van Mechelen, W. (1992). Running injuries. A review of the epidemiological literature. Sports Medicine, 14(5), 320-335.

Break through a weight loss plateau with REST

Anyone who has tried to lose weight has experienced a weight loss plateau – large or small. You lose, you lose, you lose – and then it stops. Some times you regain weight that was lost. Sometimes the plateau is a week or two. Other times it lasts months.

Plateaus occur in part because the human body has set points. Your body will reach a new set point approximately every 12 weeks. What does that mean? You can expect a plateau every 12 weeks – if not every six. NOTE: This varies on an individual basis, but these are common benchmarks.

Research shows that we can use plateaus to benefit the long term journey (Fairburn, 2008). The best plan is to be prepared.

Six month rule

For a client who is looking to lose a significant amount of weight (>40% of her bodyweight), I implement a six month rule. We work together to set weekly and monthly short-term goals and six-month, long-term goals. At the six month milestone, all weight goals pertain to weight maintenance.

Yes, maintenance, not loss.

Physiologically, the body has been in a deprived state for a significant amount of time. While the ideal program will have guided you to avoid reaching the physiological starvation mode, at some point your body is going to adapt to the deprivation. NOTE: I do not even like using the word deprivation, as a weight loss that results from deprivation is a band-aid, not a long-term solution. Further, deprivation bares a negative connotation and negativity is detrimental to goal attainment.


After six months of dedication to strict meal planning and lifestyle changes, it is a good idea for you to allow yourself to simply BE. Maintain what you have worked so hard to achieve. Accept it. Appreciate it. Recognize it. At this point on your journey, it may be difficult to see what is real when you look in the mirror – and you may see a previous version of yourself. The phantom fat phenomenon may be preventing you from being able to see your results. This can add discouragement and frustration to a lengthy, taxing process.

I encourage clients to take at least a month to focus on maintenance at the six month mark. During this time goals do not increase physical activity, nor do they change eating habits. Goals focus on the established lifestyle. If a client had previous goals of working out 3 times a week, we retain that goal for the 4 weeks – but we do not reach for more. I do not encourage her to stretch herself. We work to maintain the changes made so far and adopt them as part of a lasting, healthy lifestyle.

If you choose to maintain – you retain the control instead of allowing the plateau to control you.

A time to rest
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Sometimes we just need a break. Sometimes you just need to be easy on yourself. You also need to know, that it is OKAY to rest. In fact, you need to rest. Why do most individuals quit weight loss programs?

Grow tired and weary?

The mental fatigue of constantly thinking about what you need to do next?

The lack of results?

We often view the plateau as a failure. Change your thinking and use that time as an opportunity for rest. Rest the mind – knowing that where you are today is better than where you were yesterday. Stop thinking about what you need to do differently or more of this week or next. Just allow yourself to BE.

A time to check in

A plateau is an opportunity to rest. It is also an opportunity to check in with yourself. Be honest.

How are things working?

Are you putting forth enough effort?

Do the workouts fit into your lifestyle as a long-term addition?

Can you maintain the ‘diet’ in the long term?

Are your goals still realistic or do they need to be modified?

Something has got to change

This is the common advice for anyone looking to break through a plateau – you have to change in order to see change. This is true. The human body is highly adaptive – it takes six exposures (give or take) to an exercise before the body adapts to it. What does this mean? You need to change – the load, mode, duration, etc. For once the body adapts, you will no longer obtain results by doing that same thing.

However, it is not that simple. Most individuals who experience significant weight loss followed by a lengthy plateau lost the weight by creating a huge dietary intake deficit. To some of you this may sound good. It can actually be detrimental to long-term success. The result is a slow and groggy metabolism. Sometimes the necessary change is to eat more – revving up that metabolism. Example: I spent a summer working for a weight loss resort, essentially eating what the guests ate. I gained almost 15 pounds – my dietary needs were not being met and it slowed my metabolism WAY down. I lost that weight quickly and easily by eating more.

The bottomline

Plateaus are going to happen. It is best to be prepared for them. There are ways to reduce the frequency of plateaus, using science-based workouts and programming. You will not find this in a DVD or in a standard group fitness class. You will not get this programming from your average personal trainer, either.

My best advice to you – plan for maintenance every 3 to 6 months. Use this time to be proud and regroup. Rejuvinate. Enjoy what you have earned.

If you like what you read, please comment and share below.


Cooper, Z., Fairburn, C. G., & Hawker, D. M. (2003). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Obesity: A Clinician’s Guide. New York: The Guilford Press.

Fairburn, C. G. (2008). Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Eating Disorders. New York: The Guilford Press.