Plateau Effect: How to break through any exercise plateaus

When you’re in the gym, working hard and eating right and the scale just isn’t cooperating with you, thoughts immediately turn to one word that you really don’t want to even think about, much less utter.


Specifically, the term “exercise plateau,” a term that signifies that your body has decided to stop losing weight, gaining muscle or whatever it is you’re trying to do and simply stops cooperating with all your training, weight lifting, cardio and anything else you’ve been sweating to since you embarked on this fitness endeavor.

The fact is plateauing as it relates to exercise isn’t all that uncommon, so the first thing you have to remember is that you’re not at fault, and there’s nothing you did incorrectly to get to this point. The focus moving forward is how to get past this hump, this exercise roadblock to the point that you start seeing those positive gains again, rather than stagnancy.

The key to the plateau effect and breaking that vicious cycle is variety, followed closely by really examining your diet. A friend of mine did cardio five times per week for six months and lost a ton of weight, about 30 pounds to be exact. Another took a job outdoors that included walking all day, every day as part of the job, and he dropped 40 pounds in about nine months.

And yet both got the point that they simply stopped losing weight.

Both of them had poor eating habits, including junk food and eating late at night. The cardio in both situations more than offset that, plus they had never worked out previous to joining a gym and getting a new job, respectively, and neither one of them had ever done any weight training, either.

Pulling back on the cardio in the first scenario and adding more body weight training (i.e. variety) allowed for more weight loss and also toning of loser areas on the body. The person who worked and walked all day also incorporated weight training and started to see more muscle development as well.

And they both changed their diet, drinking more water and less salty and foods filled with fat.

Sometimes even the most ardent and amazing workout isn’t what your body is going to respond to at that very moment. Those who eat well, exercise and don’t lose weight shouldn’t completely abandon ship, but rather alter what they’re doing.

What works for some (cardio every day) might not work for others. You could argue that finding that magic bullet of sorts is key to not only get started but implement once your body catches up with your current exercise regimen.

Variety is key and so is intensity and upping your gym or at home workout routine game so that your body won’t know what hit it, and you can effectively trick it into losing even more weight and reaching those intended goals, thus breaking through any plateau poised to stand in your way.

Cleaning Lazy: Why clean eating is filled with dirty lies

healthy eating

Fitness, eating healthy and dieting is always filled with so much misleading information, you’d be hard pressed to find a true source of sanity on the topic.

Trends and district often permeate through the fitness world, when you’re talking about a specific diet to lose weight or an exercise (or product) that is guaranteed to get rid of that “stubborn belly fat.”

From the Atkins diet craze from about 10 years ago to the South Beach Diet and everything in between that has followed suit, the average exerciser and dieter doesn’t even know where to begin.

The latest buzz words, from a diet perspective, is the term “clean eating,” something you’ll hear from online talk shows or fitness experts or even a company such as Panera Bread, who is absolutely jumping on this bandwagon to the tune of talking about all their food and what they serve in their restaurants as clean eating.

Much like most phrases and terms that are born out of exercise and diet driven discussions, “clean eating” means something different to everyone. In essence, the term centers on food that is unprocessed, minus GMO’s or anything artificially added to enhance food or beverages, such as antibiotics being fed to chickens or artificial sweeteners swimming around your favorite low calorie or no calorie drinks.

The truth is clean eating, at its purest form, means you’ve rid your body of dairy, gluten, wheat and only partake in certain types of food based on how they’re prepared or how an animal is fed. Grass fed beef or bison, antibiotic free chicken and a diet that includes gluten free bread or Ezekiel bread, dairy free foods and others of that ilk are the tent poles of eating cleanly.

Research has suggested wholeheartedly that your body was never meant to tolerate or being able to process wheat, enriched flour that you find in bread and dairy. Those who complain on stomach pains or cramps after drinking milk for example or that bloating feeling that follows one slice of bread after another is no coincidence given what we know about wheat and how the body essentially rejects it.

So if Panera, for example and not to pick on them, wants to talk about clean eating, they can’t include things such as nine grain bread, bacon that isn’t uncured or chicken noodle soup that have flour in those noodles.

That isn’t to suggest that food isn’t healthy per say, but when you talk about eating clean, food is often hard to come by that really fits that moniker properly and correctly.

Time Sensitive: Losing weight doesn’t take hours in gym

Exercise and losing weight are topics that are filled with myths.

From whether or not you should work out in the morning to wondering if eating carbs is good or bad, or the constant debate about weight training being a bad thing since you’ll build big, bulky muscles, working out ironically could be less taxing then figuring out what to believe.

But as much as misnomers make for interesting chatter, you’ll tend to get bogged down on the discussion if you’re not seeing results or are having trouble getting started as far as what to do and how to ultimately lose weight.

One fact remains about exercise, often overlooked for a number of reasons: you don’t have to spend hours and hours in the gym or at home working out to lose weight. The key to weight loss is caloric difference, meaning you are taking in less calories then you were previously and that exercise plays a role in burning them off.

Exercise is about heart rate, not sitting around and moving to burn those same calories versus the alternative of doing nothing. The average person exercises, or should, for 60 minutes per week.

Per week; that’s right not 60 minutes in a day or even 60 minutes by Wednesday after work but rather for the entire week. The obesity epidemic isn’t about individuals who work out for a few minutes a day but those who are getting absolutely zero minutes in as far as time spent working out.

So when you hear another myth, the one that states you can work out for 10 minutes every day and still benefit, is actually one you can’t debunk. Now, you could argue that those 10 minutes aren’t going to make much difference as far as weight loss goes but again that would be short sighted on your part. Any sort of physical activity, coupled with a diet filled with vegetables, protein and minimal starches (and yes this diet is the key) is going to jump start your metabolism into thinking it’s about to run a 5K when in actuality you may have just done some light weight training or walked around the neighborhood a few times.

Yes, that’s it everyone. Those 10 minute per day workouts hardly are worth skipping. In fact, they seem like the most realistic and adequate place to get started.

And at the end of the day, getting started or doing just a few minutes a day might just be better then what you’re doing now and be the catalyst to can the excuses of not enough time and find a way to a healthier you.

Scam Artists: Why fitness fails us when fads rule

Diet Pill Fads

When you think of fitness, you rarely think about being “scammed.”
That terminology typically is reserved for the likes of identity theft or some sort of credit card fiasco or your email being hacked into and everyone you know being riddled with spam from you.

But fitness? Scams?

The truth is the fitness industry is full of artists that paint this rose colored picture of you dropping pounds instantly or magic potions, creams and powders that halt your metabolism as you supposedly watch the fat melt away with little or no effort from you.

How exactly do you spot a fitness scam?

Anything that seems too good to be true most likely is exactly just that.

Think about items like the 10 minute trainer or six minute abs, and you’ll quickly see that most of that is all talk and action on your part but very little in the way of results. That isn’t to suggest that you need to work out for hours, but putting in six to 10 minutes of actual work in the gym isn’t going to get you very far.

Supplements, in all shapes and sizes, are marketed often as miracle drugs, particularly those that call themselves “fat burners.” The supplement business is a billion dollar one, and that means you have a sprinkling of real contenders with legitimacy but mostly pretenders that are These are unsafe and unproven, and really pale in comparison to actual vitamins or other supplements that are natural or herbal. Those words, however, are used incorrectly quite a bit and customers so desperately want to feel as though they’re eating healthy and correctly that they fall for that trap.

From taking supplements at home to at home equipment, the smart money is on choosing that next exercise piece carefully, mostly steering clear of ab equipment. Everyone wants that tone, lean stomach, so manufacturers and subsequent spokesperson gravitate toward that area of the body to push equipment that promises a six pack but actually won’t ever deliver as promised.

The old adage that “abs start in the kitchen” rings true always in that eating lean, high protein, low carbohydrates, will always beat an ab coaster, lounge or swing.

The penchant for the general public to want an easy fix makes sense. Exercise is hard, and gaining weight is easy but taking it off takes hard work, dedication and eating right. Anything less than that is just fast talking, con men and women at work.

Weight Lost: Why losing weight can be harder than you believe

Have you ever had someone downplay weight loss, specifically just how easy it is?

This person probably is someone you refer to as your “skinny friend” who, while you’re out ordering salad with oil and vinegar dressing, is having burgers and fries and living to tell about it after the scale says nothing has changed.
Meanwhile, you’re dieting extensively and nothing has changed. The scale hardly would be considered a friend of yours, and despite all your heartache, blood, sweat and tears and all that time in the gym, you’re at square one and are equal parts disappointed and frustrated with the results up to this point.

Struggling with weight even though you believe you’re doing everything right, sort of like having a budget and knowing you make more than your expenses, but yet wonder aloud why you don’t have any money at the end of the month.

Losing weight is similar to that in that you believe wholeheartedly you’re doing everything right, and you haven’t seen any results.

You really have to look closely at your diet and exercise habits, but also other contributing factors such as stress and work, relationships and other things of that ilk that also play into your endeavor.

For instance, you believe that you’re eating well, but maybe even after a small breakfast and healthy, salad and greens filled lunch, you’re eating a bigger dinner and find yourself picking and snacking all night.

Water, also, is the great equalizer to losing weight, and if you’re not drinking enough water, you won’t be able to drop pounds given that water often replaces hunger, especially when you’re body is just dehydrated, which masks itself as feeling as though you’re hungry.

Fast forward past the gym and eating, and look at your work situation in two ways: stress and sleep. If you’re not sleeping enough, you will put weight on as a result. The same can be said for being overworked and stressed out and your cortisol levels go through the roof, which means you might have a tendency to overeat, particularly sugar.

Losing weight, or trying to, tends to be harder than most believe. Those who are lucky to be able to have the “fast” metabolism might not quite understand what others go through who have situations or circumstances that include in and out of the gym that lead to weight gain, when all you want to do is take the pounds off.

Desk Slob: Why your desk job needs exercise

From desk job to desk slob, you wouldn’t be the first person to sit down on day one of your job and only a few months to years later turn into a barely recognizable figure thanks to weight gain and a posture that looks painful and prehistoric at best.

Do you actually pay attention to how your sitting at work? Do you sit back in your chair? Do you take time throughout the day or at lunch to take a walk in between emails? Is that report due at the end of the day pushing your shoulders forward and ultimately leading to a slouch you can’t repair?

If the answer to any of those questions are answered affirmatively, your desk job is doing you in, but the good news is that can be turned around rather easily and fairy fast.

It starts with how you’re exercising at home, and if you’ve taken the approach of doing certain moves and adapting your fitness routine to strengthen muscles that are previously being held hostage by your work posture.

How exactly do you fix that work slouch and slumping physique?

Believe it or not, your exercise routine, the one that can help reverse your slouching posture, starts with taking a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day and simply touching your toes. This strengthens your back muscles and gives you the kind of flexibility that makes sitting up straight a breeze, versus the alternative of hunching over while you type. If your lower back is weak, you’re feel it when you sit up straight. A rudimentary toe touch can take away that pain and ease you back into sitting up straight.

Certain yoga poses and moves also help, preferably when you lie on your stomach and arch your back downward and lift your head and chin up. This, again, stretches out your lower back.

For the weight lifters in the group, you want to do one exercise in particular. The seated row is a middle back lift move that will put muscles where you didn’t have them before and help you arch your back while you’re sitting. Be careful on this one, however, as you want to sit up straight while you’re doing them and only engage your back to move the weight. Using your entire body is only going to turn your back exercise into a full body pull that is more pendulum than postural beneficial.

You can’t avoid your job, and certain sitting at a desk, so taking the steps to fix your posture start with getting up and moving around from time to time but also taking that mindset into the gym and getting back to work while getting work in for your back.

Boxing lesson: Delivered to your door food is all the rage

Fads and dieting almost go hand in hand with one another.

A fad diet, from Atkins to cleanses to people trying to eat right based on blood type to lose weight, tends to be cyclical in some cases or just downright classified as 15 minutes of fame, only to be tossed aside when the next latest and greatest hits the shelves or airwaves.

Everyone has been guilty of implementing some sort of fad diet they heard works wonders, whether you’re downing raw eggs Rocky style or have decided to eat Paleo, mostly foods rich in protein and only good carbs (versus Atkins and its no carbs grass roots).

But what about food that is healthy and is made to eat for those who are trying to lose weight but with one overwhelming, positive catch.

You can enjoy this food, and it’s delivered to your door.

And, here’s another catch: it’s fresh ingredients and recipes that allow you to make it and not worry about counting calories or wondering if it is healthy or not. This latest “fad” of sorts is the direct to door food boxes, such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, which allows you to choose a certain classification of eating types (i.e. Vegan, Vegetarian, etc.) and they’ll simply deliver the ingredients to your door for a fair price, and all you have to do is follow the recipe and magically a healthy, portion controlled dinner appears on your plate without the fuss of wondering what is good or bad food wise.

What makes the food deliver boxes so impressive is the simplicity involved in the work from box to table and that really anyone can follow it based on what you’re given to begin with from one order to the next.

Furthermore, the caliber of the food isn’t anything to scoff at or assume is low grade based on pricing and the idea that it is coming to you through the mail or a delivery service. You also can’t underestimate the time saved from grocery shopping and turning a 30 minute prep and serve dinner, while eliminating the effort put into selecting just the right ingredients that will turn any dinner from sufficient and serviceable to succulent.

You’d be hard pressed to call this a fad, even though the direct to door dinners and ingredients are in the infancy stages. A fad suggests it might not be around for a while, but you have to think this idea is one that is a game changer for good.

Celebrity Fit

How often have you spotted a celebrity diet or workout and just wanted to know exactly who your favorite actor got into such great shape?
Probably, like most of us, all the time.

Whether it’s a magazine cover that says something to the effect of “secrets of celebrity bodies” or a workout named after an actor or actress in conjunction with a movie that was recently completed (i.e. the “300” workout or the “Wolverine” workout), you simply can’t look away at just how these famous bodies were transformed and wonder to yourself if there’s something you can do to emulate that success.

The answer is yes, you can have that body but no, it isn’t going to come from following the diet or workout of a celebrity.

At least not realistically.

We get caught up in the amazement that is Chris Pratt and his new body, Jennifer Lopez and her timeless figure or how you can see a celebrity with a huge, chubby belly one week and a month later, they look like they’re in the best shape of their lives.

They are, but that’s because they have a nutritionist, a trainer, maybe even a live in chef, and something even more important: all day to exercise and pick and choose their food.

Granted, we all don’t have that kind of time, nor should we expect to be able to have food prepared for us by someone else and that makes that celebrity diet and body that much more unattainable.

The real issue isn’t so much wanting to get in shape but the idea that you shouldn’t do the comparison shopping when you’re talking about getting your body the way you want it. So when you say “yes” you can have that celebrity body, it just means that you can take what they do, eating and exercise wise, and modify it to fit your lifestyle from a time perspective and also realistic results.

When Hugh Jackman gets ready to be “Wolverine,” or Pratt is pinpointing his next action movie role as the next “Jurassic Park” starts to film, that is their job, and they can spend seven hours per day doing cardiovascular work on a treadmill or weights and CrossFit till the sun comes up.

We don’t have that ability given that working out isn’t what we do for a living, so when we spot a body on a magazine or television we want, go for it. But make sure it’s done with eyes wide open.

Fit to be Tied: Why over-exercising is easily overlooked

We live in an age of obesity and the general public struggling with their weight, so the idea that someone actually can overexercise seems silly.

Half of the population is overweight, and obesity in both adults and children continues to soar to record heights. We’re eating unhealthy and hardly exercising, with less than 15 percent of the population belonging to a gym or exercise facility.

Those numbers aren’t getting any better, even though the masses make it a point to talk about how important eating right and exercise is.

But the fact remains that overexercising is a real thing, and plenty of the fitness crowd takes to walking, running, lifting weights and anything else activity oriented to far. The trouble with that mindset is you’re actually doing more harm to your body, your muscles don’t recover the way they should and you end up being sore, fatigued and having the exact opposite feeling it should when you exercise.

How exactly can you tell if you’re overexercising?

For starters, like previously mentioned, you are tired all the time and what once was a propensity to exercise as much as possible turns into skipped sessions. Realistically, you should exercise 3 to 4 days per week, unless of course you’re Hugh Jackman and the next “Wolverine” movie requires you to hit the weights and cardio twice per day for seven days.

Your body also will tell you two other ways that you’re hitting the gym too much and too often. You won’t be able to sleep very much, and that is because you’re so amped up all the time that your heart racing overtakes your body and its ability to get some serious and much needed rest.

The purpose of exercise is to stay fit, keep your heart, mind healthy but exercising too much is easily counterproductive.
Exercise is supposed to stimulate, but even the simplest workout is going to feel as though you’re trying to pull the Titanic across the Atlantic Ocean with your teeth. What typically is the status quo for your workouts turns into a serious letdown at the gym.

As much as we want to exercise and we equate exercising with losing weight and getting fit, you can’t change the world (i.e. lose 50 pounds) in a day. Exercise is a marathon, not a sprint and being diligent is often confused with being intense and pushing your body to the brink of exhaustion.

While that mentality works sporadically, you can’t sustain it mostly because you body won’t allow it to happen.

Traveling Stand: Why fitness and traveling can go hand in hand

The biggest plight that a person who travels faces is trying to find the time, the place and the energy to exercise.

If you’re someone who extensively drives, flies or travels for their job and eating well and exercising regularly is engrained into your at home life, you understand just how daunting all that can be when you’re not in the comfort of your own home.

Instead of the friendly confines of your kitchen and access to your own food, you’re left at the mercy of hotel breakfast, local restaurants and a typical gym that consists of about a third or less of the equipment you’ve become accustomed too locally.
Trying to keep that same pace is going to take a little more focus and drive and commitment on your part as you travel.

For instance, you want to stick to the same basic diet of high protein and low carbohydrate that you follow when you’re not traveling. Fast food restaurants tend to be tempting at that moment, much the same way that breakfast buffet and free coupon are as well at the hotel.

You want to avoid overeating at breakfast and stick to eggs, fruit and a small amount of carbs, such as one piece of toast or better yet oatmeal.

The fast food element works the same, grilled chicken sandwiches, salads and avoiding foods high in fat and sugar.
The exercise part might be a little more difficult given that the gyms and workout areas are minimal, but you can’t go wrong with two types of working out: cardio and circuit training. Every hotel gym has some sort of treadmill or elliptical and those can be your best friend when you’re not at liberty to do much else.

Thirty minutes of cardio will be more than enough to suffice until you get back to your regular routine. The circuit again is another product of your environment, given those machines and a few random dumbbells will be at your disposal.

Your best bet is to hit every body part as part of a circuit, and keep the weight training at a minimum, but with high reps and low weights (because that’s about all you have).

Exercise isn’t about having a large scale exercise room, group exercise classes, personal training or even eating clean when it suits the person but instead making the most of working out no matter the circumstance or where you happen to be at any given moment.

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