Onward and Upward: What to do when Progress is Slow

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“If I just stopped working out, I don’t know how I would get back into it again!”

My client just spoke these words to me not more than an hour ago.

Her job is quite stressful and she was working late yesterday and was going to cancel our morning session today.  But, we found an hour in the middle of her day, her lunch break actually, when she could get a session in.

She felt so much better at having been able to keep the momentum going. I think this is what it’s like for most of us out there. We have our “slacker” days when we just don’t feel like working out or going out for a run.  But, then we get back on track and carry on.

This is not the case for everyone else though.

One missed workout can easily turn into a few, then a week goes by and maybe another before you’re able to get back into the gym.  Time management has alot to do with scheduling your workouts which I mentioned in a past blog post.

But today’s post is more about when you miss a workout and keep missing workouts because you’re not seeing any results.

Believe it or not, I’ve heard this as a reason (actually it’s an excuse) as to why people won’t workout often.

“Well, I’m not seeing any changes so, it must not be working for me. I’m going to just go back to what I was doing before.”

Which was nothing. And tell me again how that helps?

Part of the reason for stalled progress MIGHT be because you aren’t giving your current program a chance.

Another reason might be you’re not measuring your progress very efficiently. Are you going by the number on the scale only?

Are you going by your clothes fitting differently?

Are you taking any other measurements?

Some people see little to no progress or all of a sudden hit a “plateau” because nothing has changed in their program for months or even years.  While there’s little validity to the muscle “confusion” topic that people love to discuss, I think it does do some good if you change up your routine. And it doesn’t have to be drastic.

A few ideas:

  • Change up the order of your exercises
  • Increase or decrease the rest time in between exercises
  • Focus on the tempo rather than rushing through the movements (this should always be the case when lifting anyways)
  • Take a class you’ve never participated in next time you’re at your local gym
  • Try increasing the weights by 10% next lifting session; especially if you’ve never changed the weights in months.

These are just some ideas of how to change up your workout routine but what about your diet?

  • If you’re logging your meals, and you should be, aim for that balance of all the macronutrients everyday.
  • Examine your post workout meals/shakes.  Could you be taking in too much fat on your workout days? Or too many carbs?
  • Do you think you’re increasing your calories TOO much on your workout days? Perhaps you’re not burning as much as you think
  • Are you eating enough healthy snacks when cravings hit or are you giving in to those cravings and just not logging them?  Self awareness and honesty with how you’re doing on your meal plan is key. It doesn’t do any good to lie to yourself

I would recommend a few mental ways to get past these plateaus too:

  • Realize that this was never supposed to be easy.
    • Anyone who tells you they can lose 5lbs or even 10lbs without even really trying is either lying or exaggerating.
    • While no one said it would be easy, expect to have some “bad days” here and there
  • Don’t compare yourself to your friends or family members who may have lost a ton of weight by doing the same things you’re doing.
    • It’s not exactly fair, but you’ll understand that hard work pays off and it doesn’t do your body any good to give up on your goals.
  • If you’re still stuck for a long period of time (over a month) and you have tried everything everyone is suggesting to you, do not get talked into a 30 or 60 or 90 day challenge where all you eat is broccoli and grapefruit.
    • Continue on with your plan and make adjustments as necessary.
    • Log everything you’re doing so you can look back and see when it all started, what you can do to fix it, and prevent it from happening again.

Remember, weight loss and muscle gain is a long process.

People hate the work “process” but unfortunately. it’s not something that was meant to happen overnight.

You have to be willing to put in the work and the effort.

Whatever you do, the best advice I give is this:

Don’t stop.

Do not give up.

Don’t give up because in the wise words of my client, once you stop it’s that much more difficult to get started up again.

You’ve got this!

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