If you have been following my advice in Glow15 to eat more fat and eat fat first and carbs last, you may have at first lost inches off your waist and pounds on the scale but then all of the sudden, you’re at a standstill you might be experiencing a plateau. But, not everything you think is a plateau actually is. The scale isn’t the telltale tool we want it to be – weight can fluctuate daily. If your weight hasn’t budged but you’re feeling more energized, sleeping better and feeling happy on your program, my vote is to stick with it and trust the process. Don’t let the scale deter you or get you down!
That said, if you are indeed truly at a plateau, there are dietary switches you can make or address such as checking for quality of food, especially fats you are eating, along with ensuring you are eating enough (or not too much) of them. We discussed some of the dietary reasons behind a plateau in Part 1 of this series but there are also other non-food related approaches to overcoming a plateau as well.
In the same way, your diet needs variety to train a flexible metabolism, variety in your exercise routine and finding the goldilocks amount of exercise for you involves keeping your body guessing, learning, and well-rested. It is easy to put the “rut” in “routine” by doing the same exercises day after day, and you may even get mentally and emotionally bored before you get physically bored. The simple rule is: if you are always exhausted, examine the quality and quantity of your activity because the more diverse your activity, the less of it you have to do to put healthy stress on your body. This is why flexibility, cardio, and strength are manipulated to keep your body guessing with the exercise suggestions in my Glow15 protocol – such as high-intensity interval and resistance training – so that you can do more types of movement in less time. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of less is more. You don’t need to log hours at the gym, the park or your home gym. Keep it simple, short and sweet.
Current research suggests that less than seven hours of sleep per night for the average person can compromise insulin sensitivity and lead to weight gain – especially around the midsection. The less rest you get, the more your body will rely on boosting stress hormones such as cortisol to keep you awake and alert. You’ll feel like you’re on a blood sugar rollercoaster. You’ll crave more carbohydrates. You’ll give in to the immediate solution rather than the nourishing solution. You’ll fall behind on your exercise plan and repair more slowly. You’ll compromise the autophagy that is so important during rest, and you’ll tank the scheduled time for your liver to detoxify from our chemical world. Less repair, more stress, more toxins, less blood sugar control – that’s the opposite of our Glow15 goals and can halt your progress. And it’s not just the amount of sleep but the quality of sleep too. Please check out my program in Glow15 to understand what amount of sleep is right for your particular body (it might be less than you think). Get quality of sleep by practicing healthy sleep hygiene – keep it cool, dark and quiet and limit stimulants like caffeine later in the day especially if you are sensitive to it.
It takes time to make changes, establish new habits, and motivate a sluggish metabolism. If you think you can’t, you’re right. But if you think you can, trust the process, and take your time to consider your experiences and adapt, then you can.
In the same way, you can plant the seeds for movement as metabolic medicine, you can use not moving to reduce stress and support your inner drive. Try sitting still in a meditative way. Just sitting and watching your breath can be a game changer for a plateau even though it feels counterintuitive. Follow the inward breath without changing it. Follow the outward breath without changing it. Just observe. When you start to get bored, stop. Just commit to sitting each day, not to a time length. Eventually, you may find you sit for longer and longer periods of time. Your ability to observe your breath without manipulating it, observe thoughts flowing in and through and out of you, and return to your breath without anxiety, will grow over time. With more watching and less judging, you’ll bring that skill into how you see yourself- not good or bad, but just being. Having a human experience. Just like everyone else. And a bit of self-doubt is okay – just notice it, acknowledge it, and do what you have to do to address challenges. You deserve every effort you put into yourself. No one else will glow for you!
In Glow15 I discuss the myriad metabolic benefits behind my protocol combining a fasting window with cycling protein which I call IFPC. If you aren’t fasting at all, I suggest starting with a 12 or 14 – hour fasting window. You can try this by not eating anything after 8 PM and waiting to break your fast (with a fat – based meal like this one) at 8 or 10 AM the following day. Conversely, if you are excessively fasting this could also cause a plateau. Fasting is a good stress on the body, but if the body is already under a significant amount of stress or you are adding in a lot of the practices from Glow15 at once, you might benefit from scaling back your fasting to the structure I suggest in my book: keep a modest window of a 16:8 fast and do it on three non-consecutive days of the week – for example, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Again, less is more. You don’t have to push yourself harder to go farther. See Glow15 where I provide several examples of how you can practice this in your lifestyle daily.
Indulge every day in self-soothing, stress-reducing behaviors, such as journaling, reading, meditation, getting a massage, yoga, a candlelit Epsom salts bath, putting some lavender in the diffuser, giving yourself a spa day, or taking the time to plan your work so you can work your plan. Add to this list. What brings you restful joy? What can you create? The best part of the Glow15 plan for many overtaxed women is this piece. Taking a hard look at the schedule, striking out what isn’t serving your highest good, and filling it with self-care gives you the time and space to just be. Healthy stress includes exercise, creative endeavors, and changing up your nutrients especially using autophagy –activating nutrients, but it shouldn’t dominate your free time. And, even more importantly, you need free time. Schedule some very important play, make it as important as work, and enjoy sailing past that stress-induced plateau.
I’ve got your back. Whether it’s getting you your next shipment of AutophaTea or posting more scientifically sound health and wellness secrets, we are in this together. When we purchase clean products, we get more clean products on the shelves. When we support each other, we get more time to relax. When we sit in silence, we become more understanding. Change can be hard, but keep some variety and space in your lifestyle for these changes and you’ll amaze yourself. Plateaus are positive when they teach you the best strategy for your unique needs. You’ve got this- and I’m here to help!