Hitting the Plateau
If you’ve read my past articles then you probably know that I enjoy working out. It’s never been something that comes easy for me, but having exercised consistently for over two years now, it has become a normal part of my life. It’s something I love to hate. I love how I feel when I work out for many reasons. I love the challenge, and I love figuring out I can do something I never thought I could do before. But, I hate the thought of getting started. It’s a mind game really. Once I push past that initial “don’t want to” and get into the groove, it’s addicting. Getting those endorphins flowing, breaking a good sweat, and putting all of the stressful energy from a hard day into a workout is a great feeling.
When your progress stalls
With working out and losing weight, you look and feel your best in the beginning. You lose weight, gain muscle, and feel all of the efforts of your hard work. But, after a while most people hit a plateau. When you begin your new workout routine or diet, that first impact of immediate results gives you the incentive and the drive to keep going. However, once you settle into a more consistent routine the results seem to slow, or even come to a complete halt. Your body just kind of stops responding to the diet or exercise routine you’re following. This happens because your body adapts to your routine, and causes progress to pause for a bit.
Stop and reflect on the “why”
To hit a plateau means to stop growing or improving at something. I feel like I tend to hit my own various plateaus here and there. Number one, being my MS plateau. When I begin to exhibit more MS symptoms, I feel like I hit a plateau. It’s hard to continue to work towards things and keep going when you’re so exhausted you can’t think straight. When you can’t get out of your head because all you can think about is how bad the present moment is. When your body aches and trembles, and you feel like you’re breaking, it makes it hard to see past that. But, you can. I can. One thing I’ve learned to do when I hit these types of plateaus is to stop a moment and reflect on my why’s. My why’s are what keep me out of the throes of depression and wallowing in self-pity. They help keep my head screwed on straight, and my hopes high. My why’s are my family and my friends. They are my goals and my dreams. My why’s remind me that even though I’m having a rough day or even month, that I have so much to look forward to when I break past it.
This next type of plateau can be relevant to almost anything you enjoy in life. But, as an example I’m going to use exercising. Whatever helps you feel your best, or helps you when you’re low, you can sub that in here for when I mention working out. My workout plateaus aren’t necessarily exactly like the plateau explained in the first paragraph, but they’re plateaus alright. If you are like me and work out with MS, then you know for a while you feel GREAT, especially in the beginning when you see and feel all of the positive effects. Your energy is high, your body feels its best, and you feel unbeatable. Just like with anything you’re fond of doing, when you’re in the moment doing something you love and feeling your best, it is intoxicating. You just want to drink it up and live in the present moment.
Feeling like a failure
But then, then you have an off day. Mine usually circles around fatigue and lassitude, because they’re my biggest symptoms. I have my days where I look and feel my best, and my confidence exudes that. Then, when I hit that plateau I’m too tired to even care. Sometimes it takes me a couple of weeks of patience and rest to be able to get back at it full force. But, I notice in those weeks where I have to backup a little bit and slow down, I tend to get down in the dumps. It’s like with all things you’ve come to rely on and love in life, when you’re forced to take a break it’s the pits! But over time I’ve learned I have to get comfortable with those times I feel depressed and like a failure (even though I’m not, and you aren’t either), because those are moments where I have time to reflect and discover ways to improve. These are the times I can learn how to go about things in a better manner; to take things slower so I won’t burn out the next time.
Determined to finish what I started
Some choose to quit when they hit hard times, but that’s not for me. Exercise hasn’t just become a want for me, it has become a need. When I allow my daily workouts to dwindle, my body and my mind feel it. Some days working out is an escape to me, while others it feels more like a punishment. It’s not always comfortable, and it’s challenging most days. I continue to workout because I’m determined to finish what I started. So, for me, there’s no just up and quitting when it gets tough. You don’t just climb halfway up the mountain and quit. You climb to the top, over every jagged peak and plateau to get to the other side.
Pushing past the plateaus
I don’t know about you, but I’m determined to see the other side of that mountain and reap all of its rewards. I don’t think very many people work out because it’s just “so much fun”. Let’s be real. Some days it really stinks! I don’t workout because I “have to” or I “want to”. I do it because “I CAN”. I keep pushing in everything I do because “I CAN”, and there’s so much power in that. My point is, we all hit plateaus from time to time. We stop growing and improving. We stop pursuing the things we that set our souls on fire. But why?? Life throws in those twisty turns and switchbacks along the way and things can go south real quick. I write this as a reminder to myself, as much as I do as an encouragement to my readers. Don’t quit when things get tough, don’t succumb to the bad things in life. Keep climbing that mountain, push past your plateaus.