I got this blog idea from fitness expert Heather Frey, owner of SmashFit.com. She always has inspiring quotes on twitter and facebook, and this one really made me think.
Note from Heather:
"You've hit an exasperating plateau! You're hitting your workouts, eating healthy, what gives?! It's not the healthified stuff, but be honest, what ELSE are you eating? Chances are you're doing a little fibbing to yourself about what, and how much, you're actually consuming. When your body starts getting in shape, it's sensitive to even small changes. Just 100-200 calories (of wrong food) can keep you from moving forward. Get brutally honest with yourself. The healthy is GREAT, but try cutting out the "ELSE"."
This note from Heather on her facebook page made me think of all the years of being a trainer, and how I hear the same thing all week about people hitting a plateau and they do not understand why. First thing I always ask is "how is your diet?". I either get 3 reactions:
1. Eyes to the floor
2. "Umm....its good...I think"
3. I swear I eat well, never cheat!
Usually the person is still not eating well or they just are not pushing themselves in the gym, or both. When I get to know my clients, I usually find out the real reason why they are not losing weight and not seeing the results they would like just from casual chatting.
1. The Weekend
The weekends are a time that a lot of people struggle. There are parties, barbecue's, and other functions where over indulgence happens. The best thing to do is avoid over indulging and pick the right foods. Fill your plate with lean meat and veggies, and have water with you at all times. I was just at a barbecue, and I kept my plate full with veggies after I ate, and had a water bottle with me at all times. People will eventually stop asking if you want dessert or a drink, which comes to my next point.
All week you are busting your butt in the gym and eating clean, then the weekend comes and it all goes down hill with your alcohol binging. Drink after drink, you forget how many calories you are drinking because you are now having fun. The next day when you wake up, not only do you feel like garbage, you are unmotivated, you miss your workout, and you realized you drank 2000 calories the night before. Talk about a goal sabotager.
3. Processed foods
Packaged, processed foods is my next topic. I have said this time and time again, if you have to unwrap it, it is not real food. Usually these foods are packed with hidden sugars and fats, along with the chemicals that are used to keep these foods fresh. If you think your protein bar is a good after workout snack, you may need to re-think this. For example, this is what I just found:
Myoplex Lite Bar:
Protein, fructose, corn syrup, polydextrose, rice flour, sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil
There are vitamins put in the bar if that even matters, but down the list I found:
High fructose corn syrup, fructooligosaccarides, maltodextrin, guar gum, malic acid, dextrose, titanium dioxide(color)
Some of these ingredients I can't even pronounce and they sound like parts for a car.
Are you over-eating carbohydrates? Maybe you are eating the wrong carbohydrates. I remember when I first started working out, my post workout meal would sometimes be 2 cups of raisin bran cereal because I thought it was good for me. I was eating 374 CALORIES just in the cereal alone, and also 720mg of SODIUM, 29 grams of SUGAR and 92 grams of CARBOHYDRATES. This is not healthy eating and will not help anyone lose weight. I eventually educated myself with proper foods, but I can see why people are confused as to what is healthy and what is not.
Are you eating clean carbohydrates, but just too many? Portion control is key when it comes to carbohydrates. Unless you are a huge bodybuilder, have an amazing metabolism or you want to put on mass, you should probably only consume 1/2 cup oatmeal instead of 2 cups, or only eat 4-5oz of yams or 1/2 a yam instead of 10oz or a whole one to yourself. You have to think about your goals, if you are a skinny guy starting out in the gym and you want to put on weight, eat lots of clean carbohydrates. If you need to lose weight, whether its 10 pounds or 80 pounds, you need to consider cutting back on your carbohydrates.
5. You are a picker
You are bored and start picking at food. You pick at the chocolate, you pick at the almonds and the peanut butter. Next thing you know, you picked at 200-300 calories. Oops! Keep yourself and your mind busy and stop with the bad picking habit. If you are bored, go for a walk, clean, play with your pet, do anything but pick at food. Just not worth it.
So next time you think or say "I don't know why I hit a plateau" think about the extras that you may be adding in your diet. Try to figure out ways to improve the weekends, or your portion sizes and you will eventually bust past that annoying plateau!