So here you are, moving right along with all your wellness improvement efforts, and all of a sudden, BAM! You hit a wall. Have you ever been there? I’d say we probably all have been at one time or another.
When we’re making changes, there are going to be times that we plateau. The great progress we were once making has slowed down or stopped, and we can get really discouraged.
Discouragement can be a real progress killer, because it has the potential to stop us dead in our tracks. We can start to think, “this isn’t working, so why should I even bother?”
Here’s the thing — plateaus and slowdowns are normal. We just have to find ways to get us through this period and keep us putting one foot in front of the other.
Some Tips to Help Navigate Plateaus
- Acknowledge that you’re feeling discouraged, but remember, it’s just a feeling, and you don’t have to believe what those immediate feelings are telling you. I hate to admit it, but I’m easily discouraged. If I gave in to these feelings every time I had them, I wouldn’t ever get anything done.
- Look at the big picture and remember why you started. As we talked about in Discovering Our “Why” For Wellness Changes, this can help us keep going when things get tough, when it feels like we’re not making progress, and when we’re giving in to those feelings of discouragement.
- Focus on the process, not the results. As an example, if you’re trying to lose weight, rather than focusing on how much the scale is moving, look at things like how you’re doing with your eating, how you’re feeling, how your exercise is going, etc.
- Trust the process. If you know you’re doing all the right things to move you toward your wellness goals, trust the process. Give all the things you’re doing some time to work. Plateaus are normal, and because life gets in the way sometimes, there may be periods where you don’t make as much progress as other times.
- Don’t be afraid to change things up. Although we should trust the process, there may be times when we need to pivot a little. Sometimes we make our plans, but once we put them into action, we realize that some of the things we said we would do just aren’t realistic. It’s okay to change things up. It’s better to have small things that we can do consistently than to have bigger plans that we can’t stick to.
- Don’t compare your progress with others’. People have different starting points, and they progress differently. The only person we need to be concentrating on when it comes to our wellness efforts is ourself.
- Just put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes we just have to do one little thing, take one tiny step, to give us the forward momentum we need to keep going.
It can be discouraging when we don’t see the progress we’d like to see, but if we can just work through these times, we will start to see it again.
When I worked with my weight-loss clients, I always encouraged them to stay off the scales for six weeks. I knew that there would be weeks they would lose, weeks they’d stay the same, and even weeks where they’d gain a couple of pounds. They might hit a couple of mini-plateaus.
If they stepped on the scales and saw they weren’t losing as much weight as they hoped, they could become discouraged and let it derail them. They focused on the process instead, and they could feel good about choosing healthy foods that fueled their bodies and exercising consistently. When they did start to see results, it would often be in the form of their clothes fitting differently, their energy increasing, and exercise becoming easier. That scale weight was no longer the most important thing in the world to them.
Plateaus can be tough to work through, but if we can find ways to help us get past them, we can continue to move forward and start to see progress again.
Do you ever feel discouraged when things aren’t going as planned with your wellness efforts? What have you found most helpful in getting you through it? Please share!