In this podcast episode, I talk about the frustration and confusion that most people, especially women, feel when they hit a weight loss plateau. I know it can be discouraging, and some have given up on their weight loss journey. Listen as I discuss the importance of understanding that plateaus are a normal part of the process and I'll be sharing my 5 steps to break through a plateau in weight loss. Let's dive in!
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/277
- The importance of not quitting when faced with a weight loss plateau (02:38)
- 5 Steps to break through a plateau in weight loss (04:54, 18:29, 24:47, 30:47, 36:01)
- Using weight as an indicator of progress in weight loss journey (06:41)
- How to determine if it’s a plateau (08:44)
- Facts and how to make correct interpretations (12:51)
- Importance of consistency (21:10)
- Ways to start increasing caloric deficit (28:02)
- Ways to balance efforts and results (33:41)
Eating 900 Calories MORE In A Reverse Diet with Leslie Episode 114
Cycles Of Weight Loss Episode 76
The Four Phases of Macro Counting: Cutting, Reverse Dieting, Maintaining, and Bulking Episode 266
You're listening to Biceps After Babies Radio Episode 277.
Hello and welcome to Biceps After Babies Radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PR's. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife and mom of four. Each week my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise, mindset, personal development and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in. Now, let's jump into today's episode.
Hey, hey, hey! Welcome back to another episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, and today's topic is going to be a hot one because I get questions all the time in my DM's about it and that is: What the heck do I do when I hit a weight loss plateau? So that's we're going to talk about today. You know what I'm talking about, right, you get excited, you have a goal to, you set to, to lose some weight and maybe you start changing your behaviors. You start eating better, you start exercising, maybe even start to see some progress and you get really excited because that progress feels super motivating to you and helps you to stay on track, helps you to continue to do things that are, are hard, but you know you're seeing progress so it makes it completely worth it and then it kind of Peters out and maybe you stop seeing progress quite as quickly, maybe it stalls altogether, you start to scratch your head and wonder, am I doing this wrong? It was working before, why is it not working now? And if you're, don't have a coach or you don't have anybody to guide you or you don't know about this part of the process you may be set left scratching your head just wondering what to do next and I know there's a lot of you listening, who have had this experience and I will tell you from also talking to a lot of you that this is where a lot of people tend to give up. This is where a lot of people tend to throw in the towel. They say it's not worth it anymore. I'm not getting the results that I want and so why am I putting all of this effort into something that's not producing any results? And they quit. And if that's been you in the past, there's no shame in that, like I totally get it, nobody wants to be putting effort into something, something that's challenging, something that's hard, something that requires effort, if they're not getting a pay, payout at the end and so it's really normal and natural that a lot of people would just throw in the towel in, in this experience.
The importance of not quitting when faced with a weight loss plateau 02:38
But you've heard me say before, and I say it all the time to my clients in MACROS 101, the one way, the only way really to guarantee that you will not get results is to quit. That's the one way, that's the guarantee. You guarantee yourself you won't get results if you choose to quit. So that means that this becomes a very pivotal time for a lot of people is what, what do I do when I hit this plateau? It was working, it's not working anymore or maybe it never, never worked for you and you just feel like you're in stuck in this cycle of putting effort in and not getting results. So you kind of feel like you're hitting your head against the wall. Nothing you do is actually working and you're at this pivotal point where the next step for a lot of people is to quit. But that's the one way to guarantee you won't get results, so what do we do at this crossroads? To help you understand the process, hope you understand why this may be happening, help you to have some tools to be able to push through it so that you aren't quitting because we know that's the only way to not get results right? OK, so that's why this, this topic is such an important one. It is because it is a crossroads of sorts, and the decision you make at this crossroads will really determine if you're going to continue being successful if you're going to continue moving towards the goals that you set for yourself, or if you're just going to throw in the towel. And obviously, that's what I don't want you to do. I think at the end of the day, that's what you also don't want to do, but it can feel really frustrating to say, Hey, I don't want, I don't want to put effort into something if I'm not getting something on the back end, right? OK, so I have five steps that I'm going to walk you through that is going to help you to figure out what to do at this crossroads to figure out what's going on, to figure out what's your body doing to figure out what are the next steps, what are the things that you need to focus on because I will tell you that a lot of people focus on the wrong things at this pivotal crossroads, and because they're focusing on the wrong things end up quitting and not actually seeing results, and so if I can help you to focus on the right things, then that means that this crossroads you're going to make the best decision you're going to keep on the path and you're going to be that much more likely to be able to actually see the weight loss that you want.
Step 1: Determine if it is really a plateau 04:54
OK, so five steps that I'm going to take you through, so step number one is we have to determine if this is actually a plateau. I can't tell you the number of times that I've worked with my MACROS 101 clients and they come to me super frustrated, super discouraged because they aren't seeing the results that they want. Again, they feel like they're putting a lot of effort, they're not getting results out on the back end and they're frustrated. And they're, they're confused and saying hey, I'm at a plateau, what do I do next? And as a coach, I always, always back up and, and come with the question of OK, first, let's determine, is this actually a plateau? Because what I see a lot is people creating a definition or thinking that they're in a plateau when they really aren't actually in a plateau, and instead they're just not looking at the data and interpreting it correctly. So a lot of the things I'm teaching inside of MACROS 101, and if you've ever taken my free challenge you've heard me talk about the identity of the macro scientist and what's really important about understanding how to look at this process like a scientist is that a scientist is always gathering lots of data and then it is taking an accumulation of that data and figuring out what that data is trying to communicate, what that data is trying to represent, that, that's what, that's what a scientist does. And a lot of people, when they're in their health and fitness journey, they do not think like scientists and instead what they do is they take and zero in on one single data point and make that data point the determination of whether we are seeing progress or whether we aren't. And I bet you can take a guess if you listen to any podcast episodes before this one of what that singular data point is for most women. It's the scale. It's, it's their weight.
Using weight as an indicator of progress in weight loss journey 06:41
So what a lot of women are doing is, they are looking at the scale and they are noticing that the scale is not going down or maybe the scale is going up or maybe the scale is not going down fast enough and they are looking at this single data point and making a determination of saying hey, the scale is not going down, that means that I'm in a plateau. That means that this is not working. That means that I'm not making progress towards my goals. And again, what we have, we're not making progress. We feel like we're putting an effort we don't like that we end up quitting. And so the first thing that I'm helping clients do is to figure out hey, and or to realize I should say hey we need to be looking at way more than one data point because your scale weight, it's not a, it's not a one-to-one relationship with the amount of fat you have on your body. So when the scale goes down a pound, that does not mean inherently that you have lost a pound of fat. And when the scale goes up a pound, that does not inherently mean that you have gained a pound of, of fat. But for a lot of women, that's how we view this scale and that's why so many of us have developed terrible relationships with the scale. Because we are asking it to tell us something that it cannot tell us, it cannot tell us how much fat you have on your body, it cannot tell us how much fat you gained. It cannot tell us how much fat you have lost. It can tell you your weight and your weight is comprised of so much more than just fat. So a lot of us are walking around asking the scale to do something that it is unable to do, which is to tell us if we are losing fat, which is what most people want when they say I want results. I want, you know I want success, they want to lose fat. So, this is a huge, a huge problem for a lot of women and it's a reason that a lot of people throw in the towel way, way too early because they're looking at a single data point and one of the first things that I'm teaching my MACROS 101 clients to do is to start to gather multiple data points so that we're able to broaden our, our understanding of what's going on with our body. We're not just collecting weight, but we're collecting multiple data points so that we can get a much better understanding of what's going on with our body.
How to determine if it’s a plateau 08:44
So that's the first thing we're looking at is, is this actually a plateau? I know you've labeled it a plateau. I know you think that you aren't making progress. I know that you feel discouraged because you have an expectation of what this is supposed to look like versus what it's actually looking like, but that doesn't actually mean it's a plateau. It doesn't actually mean you're not making progress. It doesn't actually mean that there's anything wrong. I do this a lot. People come to me with problems and the first thing I'm doing as a coach is figuring out, is this actually a problem? Are we labeling something a problem that isn't actually a problem? Because I see this a lot with people, they come to me with a problem and I'm like this actually isn't a problem like you're labeling it as you're looking at it as something is wrong. But there's nothing wrong here. This is actually normal. This is actually natural. This is how the process goes. You just have never been on the process, so you don't know. It's kind of like going on a hike and if you've ever been on a really difficult hike where, like maybe there's a portion of the hike where you have to crawl over rocks, I'm thinking I hiked Mount Timpanogos in Utah and like, there's this really treacherous portion near the end where you like literally have to boulder over these rocks and climb over these rocks. You know, if you've ever done The Mount Timpanogos hike, you may get to that point and be like, Oh my gosh! Something's wrong. Where, where did the trail go? There's no clearly defined trail like there's all these rocks. Something must be wrong. I must have taken a wrong turn. I'm not on the right path. But really that that is, that is the Mount Timpanogos’ hike, that is the path, that is the trail, you just didn't know that that was the trail because you haven't ever been on it. And I see this a lot with women declaring things as problems that aren't actually problems simply because they had an expectation that was created in their brain, and not necessarily because that's exactly how the path is supposed to go. So we have to determine is this actually a plateau and the best way to determine that is to not just look at the single data point, but to be pulling in multiple data points to be looking at your measurements to be looking at. Yes, the scale weight, I think the scale weight, some, some information to be looking at progress pictures to be looking at non-scale victories. A lot of times progress or transformation will happen internally first before it is experienced externally.
So sometimes we poo poo non-scale victories as not as like not as important, but in reality those non-scale victories. Some of those internal transformations are what in the long run will create the external transformation. So what do I mean? I mean, let's pretend you're going to a party, and in the past that would have really stressed you out. You would have worried a lot about food you would have been in your head all day long, you would have been really, you know, stressed about it and not present at the party. And this time you went to the party and you were much more present. There was no stress associated with it. You made intentional choices and you ended the party, you know feeling good about what you had done. That may seem like not that big of a deal and I think a lot of women tend to poo poo that those types of transformation. But that's what we would call a non-skill victory. It's a victory. It's showing that you're making progress. It's showing that you're creating a transformation that is just not physical yet, it's non-scale. It may not be as measurable as inches lost, but that doesn't make it any less valuable or any less indicative that you are on the right path. OK, so looking at pulling in all of these data points gives us a much richer and clearer picture of what's actually going on with your body, and we need all of those data points, to look at them and to be able to make a really good analysis of what's going on with your body. Again, this is, this concept of becoming a macro scientist that I teach clients inside of MACROS 101. I'm teaching them how to gather the data. I'm teaching them how to make really solid interpretations of what that data is communicating, and then from that interpretation, being able to make adjustments to your macros over time so that you can zero in on what's going to be most effective and enjoyable for you and your unique situation and your unique body.
Facts and how to make correct interpretations 12:51
OK, So what do I term a plateau? A plateau is 2 weeks. This is my definition, it’s what I use in my clients. It's two weeks of consistency, and this is a piece that we're going to talk about in just a second, of consistency where your body and your data points are not changing over that period of time. Now let me highlight something that I see as a real problem, a lot of times when people are looking at their data points. This will happen a lot when I'm working with clients. And that is understanding the difference between data and facts. And then the interpretation or analysis of those facts, OK, this is a really important point to understand. A lot of times when people come to me and they're asking for coaching, what they are giving me is an interpretation of facts, they've taken some facts and they've created an interpretation and all that they're giving to me is an interpretation of those facts. So let me give you an example, someone comes to me and says Amber, I'm so frustrated. I'm so discouraged. It's not working. I'm not losing any weight. Can you help me? And I say yes, of course, I can help you. It’s my jam. This is what I help you do. But I notice that you're giving me interpretation right, it's not working. I'm not seeing results. Those are all interpretations. They are not data points. OK, so there, there always will have to be a leap from the actual data, which is something that we can universally agree on. It's like, unchanging, right? A fact is a fact is a fact and then we and our human brains make a leap to an interpretation about that fact. What that fact means, what you know, what we should do about it. Those are all interpretations, so being able to separate out fact from interpretation is a really important part of this process, so a fact looks like: last week my average weight was 133.5 and this week my average weight is 133.1. Those are facts. They're indisputable, like that, that was my average weight last week, this is my average weight this week. There's nothing to dispute about that. That's a fact. Then what this person did is they looked at those facts and they made an interpretation, and that interpretation is this isn't working. I'm not seeing results. I'm super frustrated. I'm super discouraged. It's not happening fast enough, right? What am I doing wrong? Those are all interpretations of those data points, and so as a coach, I'm helping people go back to the facts.
Let's look at the facts and actually make a correct interpretation of what is going on. Again, this is what I teach clients how to do because it's more complicated than just looking at numbers and you know, figuring out what's, like, seeing if that number is changing and how it's changing, we have to look at how all of the numbers are playing together, all the data points, we're, we're bringing all these data points, plotting them on a chart and saying, hey, what's the trend? What's going on here? What's the interpretation? And a lot of people, I will say this, this leap between what the data says and their interpretation is, is it where a lot of people go wrong. And so, it's always funny to me when I start talking with clients and I say OK. I totally get it that you're frustrated you're not seeing results, but let's go back to the data. Will you give me the actual data points? like give me your actual measurements. Give me your actual weight. Give me like, let's look at progress pictures. Let's look at the actual data points and what it will find a lot of times is that people are making inaccurate conclusions about those data points. They're saying nothing's, it's not working. It's you know, I'm not, I'm not losing. I'm not losing fat and they look at their data points and their data points, they're, they're just interpreting them incorrectly. It’s, it’s really what it comes down to. And when I can help them to see that and I can help them to interpret them more accurately, the conclusion is different. It's like, oh, this actually is working. I just was interpreting those data points incorrectly. So that's a big, big part of this process is, yes, you have to be gathering data, but you also have to be interpreting that data accurately. And I will say, having a third-party people to help you interpret that data like an unbiased third party can be really helpful, especially with progress pictures. I find this a lot with clients have a really, most of us have a really hard time seeing the changes that are happening inside of us. Our brain is not very good at seeing the changes. Even, even like physically, when we look at 2 comparison photos. We just, it's just like a bias that we all have about ourselves and yet we can look at a picture of our friend and immediately notice changes even if they're subtle, we can see those changes. And yet, for some reason when we look at progress pictures of our own body, it can be so hard, so I really do encourage you to have, especially when it comes to progress pictures, we can be a little bit more data conscious or accurate in our assessment when it's more like data points like numbers. But I especially see with progress pictures that we were our own worst critics. We have a really hard time oftentimes seeing changes in progress pictures and so it can be helpful to have an unbiased third party, whether it's a coach or a friend or sister or somebody who can take a look and actually see if something's going on. So anyway, that's kind of a little side tangent. So, to wrap up this, this first point, we have to determine if it's a plateau or not, is it actually a problem? Are you just labeling it a problem? You think it's a problem, but it's not actually a problem. That's happens a ton way more than you would think.
Step 2: Be consistent 18:29
So that's number one. Now number two is, is something I said I wanted to circle back around too and that was this idea of consistency. Remember I said my definition of a plateau is 2 weeks of consistency without seeing the changes, without moving in the right direction, right, seeing the trend move in the right direction and this consistency piece is a huge one. So people will say things to me like I've been counting macros for two weeks and nothing's happening. My body isn't changing at all. And you know, what do I do? And when we really go and dive into it together and we start to look at, yeah, maybe you've been counting macros for the last two weeks, but that doesn't mean you've been consistent in your macronutrient intake for the last two weeks. And what I see a lot of times is people who have all these, like peaks and valleys, very often it's like Monday through Thursday as you're hitting your numbers and you're doing really good getting your protein in and then we hit the weekend and then it's like, oh, we have a couple of days with a lot higher caloric intake and maybe you're not hitting your protein and, and so that inconsistency is a big thing that a lot of people deal with, which is one of the why one of the things that I'm focusing on first with my clients is how can we get you to develop some sort of consistency. I do not want you to confuse consistency with perfection. Consistency and perfection are not the same thing. That's why we have two different words. They mean different things. Consistency is much more about are you doing a similar thing day-to-day. Perfection is like, are you doing the exact same thing every single day without fail, without any deviation and, and that's just not realistic. You do not need to be perfect. They're in fact, I, I love, we have a head coach named Melissa Porter who's been with me for like, 4 years and manages all of our coaches. And I remember she lost 55 pounds. We have a couple of episodes with her if you want to go back and listen to them. They’re episodes 35 and 124. So, she lost 55 pounds, has had an amazing transformation, has been able to keep that weight off for four years, and I remember when I was talking to her about this process, she, she said to me, Amber, those like first six months when she lost a majority of the weight she's like, I didn't hit my macros once, like I never zeroed out my macros, I never got zeros across the board, never and she lost 55 pounds. And so I think it's just such a great example of perfection is not required, please, I know that macro counting tends to attract, sometimes type A personalities, but please perfection is not required, but something that is really important is consistency.
Importance of consistency 21:10
Consistency is important because if you think about your body like a machine, and I kind of think about it like a like a computing machine where things go into our body and then results pop out and something happens in the middle. It's almost like an equation, you know you put something into the equation and then the equation pops out something. And what's really important is if you're wanting to look at, here's what the thing popped out, I want to figure out the relationship between the results and the input. And I wanted to develop a relationship between those the best way to help you to develop a relationship is to have some sort of consistency with the input, because if you can consistently input something and consistently see an output of something, you can create a relationship and say this input is causing this output. If, however, you're changing the input every single day, and it's always different. And there's no consistency week to week, and there's no consistency with your workouts or your eating or the calories you're consuming, or your, your protein or any of these things. There's no consistency with it, you can't look at the results and say that these, this input caused these results because there's way too many variables. And so the more again this comes back to that macro scientist viewpoints like the more we can limit the number of variables, the more we can have as much consistency as possible, the more accurate we're going to be in our assessments of the results. And once we're accurate with the assessment of the results, then we can make really, you know, smart judgments and adjustments to what we're putting into our body. OK, so the process that I'm teaching clients is, how do we gather really good data from our bodies?
And then next, once we have that data, how do we make really informed interpretations of that data? What is this data telling me? How can I interpret it? And then once we have a really good interpretation, then we can ask yourself the question, OK, from this information, what adjustments need to be made? How do I need to tweak things to be able to move me towards the results that I want and then once we make those tweaks we go back to the top of the cycle and we say OK, cool, let's gather some more data. Let's make some more interpretations and then let's make some more adjustments, and that is the process by which you're going to get to a point where you have the macros that are right for your body, that are right for the goals that you have set for yourself and that's that sweet spot that everybody wants to be able to find to where they can see the results that they want to see, also enjoying the process, it's built specifically customized to you and your body and your lifestyle and your goals. OK, so the first two steps are: one, we gotta determine if it's a plateau or not. Two, we have to evaluate, am I being consistent? If not, that's where you need to focus your, your time and attention is figuring out what's preventing that consistency from occurring, and I will say a lot of times what it is, is self-sabotaging behaviors. And that I coach a ton on that inside of MACROS 101, that's probably the biggest thing that we start to coach. We coach on with our clients is self-sabotaging behaviors cause a lot of times what's preventing you from the consistency is self-sabotage. We got to figure out what the root of that self-sabotaging behavior is so that you can fix that. So you can have the consistency you need in order to get really good data and be able to interpret that.
Step 3: Increase the caloric deficit 24:47
OK, so let's pretend that you, you have determined, yes, this is actually a plateau. We've given it the proper amount of time. We've gathered the right amount of data, we've interpreted that data accurately. Yes, we have been consistent. So we can really, you know say that that, that what we've been doing is causing the results that we want and we're not seeing the results. We're not moving in that right direction, OK, great. Now what Amber? Now, what do I do? So this is where, there's really two roads and I'm going to talk about both of, both of the roads for the general average population who hasn't been dieting for a long time. This is the first time they're going into a deficit and you know, maybe they've been. it's been working for a while, and they've been seeing progress but then they hit this plateau. What do you do? The answer is, we work on increasing the caloric deficit. Now let's step back and, and ask ourselves, you know, why is this plateau occurring? One reason that a plateau can be occurring is because of metabolic adaptation. Our metabolisms are adaptable, meaning that you will burn more or less calories over time depending on how many calories you are burning and how many calories you are eating per day. I like to think of it like a, like a fire. If you put a lot of fuel on the fire, you put a lot of logs on the fire, that fire is going to burn very, very, very, very hot. But if you start to remove logs from the fire, what's going to happen? That fire is going to dwindle down and burn a lot less hot. The same thing happens with our bodies. If we feed our body more food, our metabolism is higher, our body actually burns more food and over time, if we feed our body less and less and less food, our metabolism adapts downward because our metabolism's job is to keep us alive. That's the biggest thing, our body. We are living human beings. We want to stay alive. And so if over time, our body sees, hey, you're, you're consuming less calories and you're burning all of these calories per day, that's not sustainable in the long run. That's gonna, you're gonna die if we keep doing that. So what your body does cause, it's really smart is, it actually slows down your metabolism. So what happens? And I'm just going to use random numbers just to kind of illustrate the point. You know, let's pretend that your metabolism is you're bringing 2000 calories a day. You're eating 2000 calories. You're burning 2000 calories. You decide, hey, I'm going to, I'm going to go on a diet and I'm going to eat 1100 calories and maybe at the beginning, like you're, you're seeing a lot of results because that's a pretty steep caloric deficit. You're seeing fat loss, but the longer that you do this, it starts slowing down, the fat loss starts slowing down until eventually you get to this point and I see so many women at this point scratching their head saying I'm only eating 1000 calories, Why am I not seeing weight loss? Why am I, like, stuck in this cycle of eating less and less calories and I'm still like I'm working really hard to not eat very many calories and I'm still not seeing fat loss? I have clients coming to me eating like 500 calories a day and they're like scratching their head, not understanding why they're not seeing fat loss. And the reason is, is because our metabolism are adaptable.
Ways to start increasing caloric deficit 28:02
Now you are, you are burning 1000 calories a day. Your body has it's smart, it's figured it out , you’re only eating 1000 calories a day, we're only going to burn a 1000 calories a day, so your metabolism actually has slowed down to meet the amount of food that you're, that you're intaking. Now, this doesn't happen immediately. I like, I don't want to scare people thinking like the moment that you start eating less, this metabolic adaptation happens. That's why we can create a caloric deficit. If this was like instantaneous, you wouldn't be able to create a caloric deficit, but it is something to be mindful of, especially for the ladies listening to this who have been dieting for a long time. I work with a lot of clients who they've been dieting for months, if not years, if not like 40 years. I have a really good podcast episode, Episode 114, where I interview a client, her name is Leslie, and she jokes but she's like I was undereating for like 40 years. I was trying to lose like these last 5 to 8 pounds for like 40 years, you know, and it wasn't until she understood the concept of reverse dieting that she was able to get out of that really awful cycle of feeling like the only solution that I have is to eat less and less and less and less. OK, so metabolic adaptation is a real phenomenon and it's something that we have to be aware of and I'm going to talk more about reversing in step number 5. But for, for people who aren't maybe in that, like, cycle of eating less and less, you haven't been dieting a ton. You're not someone who has always been on Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or, you know, every diet known to man. You're just someone who you were eating a lot, and now you're eating less and maybe it was working for a while and now you've hit a plateau. Now this is where we can say, OK, what can we do to increase your caloric deficit? Obviously, your body has adapted. Your metabolism has adapted, and so in order to continue to make progress we have to create a caloric deficit. We aren't, we haven't created cloud deficit anymore because your body is adapted. So what can we do to increase that caloric deficit and inside MACROS 101, I teach 3 levers that we can pull. We can increase your caloric deficit by lowering your calories. We can increase your caloric deficit by increasing your cardio. And we can lower your caloric or we can increase your caloric deficit by increasing the amount of steps you're getting a day or increase your, you know, total activity level. And those are three ways that we can start to increase that caloric deficit and hopefully coax the body into continuing to see results. And continue to push forward and see the weight loss that we want.
Step 4: Make sure your efforts and results are balanced 30:47
All right, so number 4 is a really important one and I kind of alluded to it at the very beginning of the podcast episode, but it is this challenge that our brain has with effort and results. So, we get really frustrated and discouraged generally if we feel like we are trying really hard, we're putting a lot of effort into something and the results that it's producing don't feel worth it, right. We've all been there. You're working really hard and it's just like what I'm getting out of this is not worth it and we don't like that, nobody likes that. Nobody likes to feel like no one is like ohh I love putting so much effort into something and getting nothing out of it, that's really fun. Nobody likes that. So it's really important that you are balancing the effort you're putting into something with the results that you are getting out of it. Now, to be fair, there often is a delay, so we have to do, we have to be realistic about that understanding. There's often a delay in the effort contributing to results. I love James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. He talks about an ice cube and how there's potential like, potential energy that gets put into the ice cube. So if you sit an ice cube in, in a room and the room is set at 29 degrees, the ice cubes, nothing's gonna happen. There's no results happening. It's just like the ice cube sitting on the counter. If you turn the thermometer up to or the temperature in the room up to 30 degrees, you look at the ice cube, nothing's happening. I did something, I turned it up a degree, but nothing's happening to the ice cube. So then you turn it up another degree, to 31 degrees. Still nothing, right, like I'm putting this effort into this ice cube, and nothing's happening. And then when you turn it from well, I guess and then you turn to 32 and then you turn to 33 and then the ice cube starts to melt. So, it is such a great, I love this analogy because it's such a great reminder that a lot of times we're putting effort and energy into something and it's like getting stored. It's like potential energy and then there becomes this tipping point where all of that, that effort that you've put in actually starts to make invisible results. I talked about this when I talked about the non-scale victories, the internal change leading to the external change, and so it is important to realize that there is a delay, there's always a delay in putting effort into something and then getting a result out on the back end. And so being realistic about that is, is definitely an important point. But at some point, we need to make sure that we aren't over-exerting ourselves in terms of effort based off the results that we're getting because nobody likes to do that long term. It just isn't sustainable.
Ways to balance efforts and results 33:41
So something I'll do with my clients a lot is I will have them rate on a scale of 0 to 10, how much effort they feel like they're putting into this process and then rate on a scale of 0 to 10, how much, how much results, results they're getting? And then we look at those two numbers and we compare them and we see how big the gap is between the effort and the results because what I found is the bigger that gap is, the harder it is going to be to maintain. The harder it is going to be to keep going, the more discouraged someone tends to feel if they feel like I'm putting in a level 10 effort and I'm getting a Level 0 results. People are gonna stick with that very long. So what can we do? We can work to change both one or both sides of those equations, right? Cause if we, if we can bring those numbers closer together, it's less discouraging. We can do that in one of two ways. Well, three ways really. You can decrease the effort that you're putting in make it easier on yourself, you know, not do the hard, hard things like focus on the high yield changes that you can make that's going to bring the effort down or at least the perceived effort, it's not going to feel so hard. We can also figure out what we can do to increase the results, right? This is where we get into gathering data, interpreting it, and then making adjustments and changes to your macros so that we can see more results. I want you to see more results. And sometimes that takes tweaking and adjusting and, and figuring out what's going to be your sweet spot. But if we can help you to find your sweet spot, we can increase those results and again if we increase the results, even if the efforts taste the same, there will be less of a gap between the two and it will feel better to you. And then you know the 3rd way we can do it is we can change both if we can decrease the effort and increase the results. Obviously, that's going to close the gap as well, but I just introduced this as a concept for people who are feeling discouraged or like, like, things aren't happening, you know, in the ways that they want it to happen is look at the difference between if you give yourself a scale of 0 to 10 for effort and 0 to 10 for results, what is the gap between those two numbers and what is a way that you could decrease that gap so that you don't feel like there's such an imbalance between the effort and the results that you’re getting.
Step 5: Reverse Diet 36:01
Alright, and that brings us to number 5, which I alluded to before, which is a reverse diet. Oftentimes this is what needs to happen, and I even, I even like hesitated to put number 3 in, which is increased the caloric deficit because so many people will just go to that. They'll go to that before they've even determined if it's plateau, they will go to that before they really figure out why they're self-sabotaging or why they're not being consistent. This is it's like the easy lever for people to pull is like well. I'll just drop my calories. I'll just, I'll just work out harder. I'll just walk more, so I even hesitated like, put that one in there because it just becomes such a crutch for people. They just immediately go to it before doing the other work, and then I will also say that women who really should be going into a reverse diet will use, changing their macros or increasing their caloric deficit as a way to prolong or put off going into a reverse. I've talked a lot about reverse dieting here on the podcast episode 9, episode 114, which I talked about before with which is a episode with Leslie who was a client episode 42, episode 170 are all talking about a reverse diet, so I'm not going to go deep into what it is or the process, but a reverse diet is something that we, a tool that we can use to combat metallic adaptation. If you've been not eating very many calories and your body has adjusted and adapted to that, and you're not burning very many calories, it's going to be very challenging to create a caloric deficit in order to see the weight loss that you want to see. We gotta fix that. You can't just keep spinning your wheels trying to eat less and less and less. It's a losing strategy. It's not going to get you where you want to go. And so for a lot of people, a reverse diet is the next step, actually, eating more calories intentionally in a certain way. What I don't want you to do is just like Yolo and just eat as many calories you want. That is just setting you up for a lot of fat gain. But a reverse diet is a process. It is a tool. It is a step-by-step, you know, process that you go through in order to improve your metabolism, to increase the number of calories that your body is burning so that in the long run you're going to be able to create a deficit. So sometimes when you've hit a plateau, it is a indication your body is telling you that you need to reverse, that it is time to reverse.
Now I want to add a caveat here, because some people hearing this will say, oh, I don't have to reverse until I hit a… No, no, no, no, no. Nope, that's not how it works. OK, oftentimes a reverse needs to be a part of the process, especially for women who, and I talk about this in episode 76, where I talk about the cycles of weight loss, oftentimes, in order to get the result that you want, especially for women who need to lose like 40, 50, 70, 100 pounds, you need to go through phases of weight loss where you are losing weight and then you reverse and then you maintain and then you lose weight and then you reverse and then you maintain. What I don't want you to do is think, Oh well, I have 100 pounds to lose, so I'm just going to keep going until I lose 100 pounds and then I'll reverse. No, no, that's backwards. The reverse isn’t going to help you to lose the 100 pounds, so I don't want you to hear, Oh, Amber said that I just keep going until I hit a plateau or until I hit my goal, and then I'll reverse. One of the biggest mistakes that people make with reversing is not doing it soon enough. It’s like putting it off way, way too long. But reversing is one of the most important phases. And one of the phases that people just don't know about and or they skip. And if you don't know what I'm talking about when I say the phases of macro counting, I did a whole podcast episode on it, Episode 266, it's called The Four Phases of Macro Counting: Cutting, Reverse Dieting, Maintaining and Bulking. And so that's a good episode to learn about each of those four phases and how they relate to each other and how they work together and how you need to be cycling through all of them in order to be successful in the long run.
OK, so for a lot of people or at least some people who have hit a plateau, that is an indication that it's time to do a reverse diet. And I know a lot of people go into reverse diets kicking and screaming. I have to do a lot of coaching to help some people enter into a reverse diet, but I will tell you, the majority of the women who do it once they get to the other side, they look back and they're like, that's the best thing I've ever, I've done. It's the best thing I've ever done physically for myself. It's the best thing I've ever done mentally, it is challenging. A reverse diet is, is not easy because you have a lot of programming. If you're like most women, you have a lot of programming that tells you that eating less is better. That's just what you've been raised like, it's better to eat less, it is better to eat less calories and you're really kicking against that as you go into a reverse because it's the exact opposite. The goal is actually to eat more. The goal is to increase the number of calories you're eating that can be really challenging but majority of the women, on the other side of the reverse will look back and say that is the best thing I've ever done. It was scary as all get out it was hard, I was like didn't really want to do it. Most people, a lot of people go into it kicking and screaming. Not everybody, but a lot of people do. But then they look back and they're so grateful that they did it. It is such a game changer in being able to work with your body, fuel your body, get your body into a really good place, metabolically, so that it's ready to go into a deficit, it's ready to create a caloric deficit and actually see the weight loss that you want.
A review of the 5 steps 41:51
OK, so let's go back through those five steps, number 1: You need to determine if it's actually a plateau or not. Number 2: You need to ask yourself, am I being consistent with this, and if not, what's preventing that consistency and how can I address that? Again, this is often where coaching about, about self-sabotage and the root causes of self-sabotage can be incredibly vital. Number 3: We can increase your caloric deficit. Remember, this isn't for everybody. I hesitate even like, saying anything about it, but it can be a step to help break through a plateau, especially if you're someone who hasn't been dieting a ton in the past. Number 4: We want to make sure we're balancing your effort and results. And then number 5 is a Reverse Diet and that is a way to in the long run break, break out of this plateau and actually be able to continue losing down the road it, it feels can feel like you're taking a detour. But is it a detour that's actually going to get you where you want to go? The road that you're trying to go on is closed. It is blocked, which is why you keep spinning your wheels. So we got to take a detour and it's going to get you around that, that road blockage that you've been stuck at and ultimately be able to get you to where you want to go. So, it's actually it feels slower. It's actually a faster way to go because you're actually going to make some progress and get around the blockage. OK, so hopefully this has been helpful is something that you can refer to back again if and when you hit a plateau during your cut and I hope that it's been giving you some things to mull over and think about, about how you can be proactive about plateaus, how you can understand plateaus and how you can realize that, I don't think I mentioned this probably enough in the episode, plateaus were somewhat normal. Again, I gave that analogy of hiking Mount Timpanogos and getting to the part where you're bouldering and thinking, Oh my gosh, something’s wrong! A lot of people think that when they hit plateaus, Oh my gosh, something's wrong. It's not necessarily wrong like that is a normal part of the process. And breaking through a plateau has to do with consistency. It has to do with making sure that we're making the right adjustments to your macros. If and when that happens, so that you can continue to move forward and, and you know doing these phases in the right order, right? Are you cutting when you really should be reversing? Have you spent enough time at maintenance? These are all questions that people aren't asking a lot of times before they go into a deficit.
OK. Hopefully, that was helpful, if it was will you take a moment and leave a rating and review on iTunes or Spotify or whatever platform you're listening to this podcast on? This is a free podcast. I don't have ads to it. I don't make a cent off of the podcast. It's just free content that I put out into the world. What I ask in return is really simple, it's just to leave a rating and review. So if you appreciate this podcast, if you appreciate the content, if you appreciate the, the time and energy that is put into this, please leave a rating and review. It's, it's really all I ask as you keep listening to the podcast, I love creating the content for you, but it is amazing as a content creator to get that feedback and to get those ratings and reviews on the different platforms because it does help the podcast to continue to grow and to reach more people. So thanks in, in advance for doing that. That wraps up this episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm Amber, now go out and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
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