(This was written during the same period as the last section. It was written before plateau part 1, but I have decided to include it after as a post).
As I write this I am at a plateau. My weight is 210 pounds and I have been hovering within 3 pounds of this figure for over a month. This also happens to be my historical ‘floor’ for as long as I can remember. Certainly, for the last 20 years…
I understand that a plateau can feel frustrating, although I currently feel that it is simply interesting. We all have different floors and ceilings in our historical weight measurements.
The ceiling tends to be a weight at which we shock ourselves into action. Maybe an incident occurs such as a photograph of ourselves at the beach, or the realization that ALL our clothes are now either too small or don’t fit at all. Do we now move up ANOTHER clothes size?
Maybe we take an economy flight and struggle to get in the seat. Perhaps a loved one tries to tactfully tell us that we are really getting too big. Maybe a relationship ends and in the arguments, our partner tells us what they really think of our flab.
This weight ceiling will be different for different people
For some it could be just 10 pounds over their ideal weight. A body conscious person might make a few dietary adjustments even before anyone notices. At the other end of the scale there are the people who act when they are morbidly obese and struggle to get out of bed or move around the house.
For me the figure is 250 pounds. At this time, it is not possible to hide the weight with loose clothes or different posture. When I see myself naked I almost feel upset.
My ‘floor’ is usually around 220 pounds. This is the borderline between being overweight and obese for my height. At 220 pounds, I can kid myself that I am technically overweight but at least I’m not obese! I’m a naturally stocky guy with big bones, etc.
Interestingly, 220 pounds was my last plateau, I experienced it 2 or 3 months ago. What did I do about it? Two things:
- I reframed the plateau. Instead of a ‘frustrating plateau’ I decided that I had been in a ‘consolidation phase’. This way I didn’t feel discouraged. To go from 250 pounds to 220 pounds was a very positive improvement. Consolidation is a word that creates mental images of a solid, steady project. When you consolidate something, you are banking gains, (in this case spiritual and psychological), and forming a new foundation for the next thrust forward. This reframing of the issue has been important for me. Each time I weigh myself and the scales stay the same, I congratulate myself for not putting any weight back on.
- I carried on without making any other changes. Therefore, I kept up the level of mindfulness in the choices of food I was eating. I kept conscious of the portion sizes. Each time that I was about to eat chips or cake, I thought about what other junk I had eaten in the last 24hrs. I ‘cheated’ sparingly. Sometimes I would eat cake but then miss my normal portion of beans with my meat and vegetables at my next meal.
I have read that it is very common to go through stages where we plateau. I don’t know if there is science behind it or if there is any. For my purposes, I prefer not to think of the science.
I believe that the mind is more powerful than any scientists opinion
I have decided that what is happening is that my mind has put temporary brakes on so that it can adjust. My mind has been so used to seeing a fat person in the mirror that it needs time to adjust and consolidate.
So my mind is just getting used to the new me! That is perfectly fine!
I know that at these times of weight loss consolidation, it is common for people to abandon their goals altogether. Someone loses 50 pounds then plateau’s then they decide that the diet didn’t work properly and then go back to all their old habits! They put the weight back on.
Ideally, I will change nothing and the weight will start to drop off again. Even if it doesn’t, what are my choices? I think that I have 3 choices.
- Decide that my new habits didn’t work properly and give up. I will start to eat whole 2 liter tubs of ice cream in one sitting, or 10 bags of potato chips, or a whole packet (300+ grams) of chocolate biscuits. Don’t laugh, I have ‘achieved’ these feats of appetite and more in my past life! I will gradually put all the weight back on until I am shocked into action again in a few years’ time.
- Actually, I do nothing except continue with my lifestyle and food choices. I stay at 210 pounds which means that I wear 36’ waist jeans, and I am technically 10 pounds away from the obese measurement for my height. Many of the obesity related health risks will now be minimized. I feel OK, I can wear all my clothes and I don’t feel too bad in swimming shorts.
- I keep going with my existing habits and choices, but I start ‘tweaking’ my routine or system. For example, I have read overwhelming information that interval training is far better than regular cardio in the gym. So instead of 30 minutes on the treadmill without getting out of breath, I do the same 30 minutes but alternate sprints with fast walks. Another thing I can do is keep a ‘cheat diary’; maybe I am cheating more often than I admit to myself, a diary can keep me more aware. I could try adjusting my diet in line with the Paleo, Lo carb, Atkins or any diet that involves reducing those dreaded carbs. By temporarily “going on a diet” say for 4 weeks, I should be able to drop another 10 pounds then go back to my current regime. Then I can consolidate my weight loss at 200 pounds.
I think that it is obvious which is the best, middle, and worst options don’t you? With any project that we undertake there will be periods where the ‘wind is behind us’. Success seems easy, effortless even.
Then there are times where we make little progress, often when are efforts stay the same or even increase. I expect that you can identify with this at work. Some projects go smoothly from start to finish. Others seem to meet one road block after another. What do we do? We take a step back, we reassess, and we don’t beat ourselves up. EVER!
It is in the tougher times that real leadership reveals itself. Anyone can do well when everything is easy. It is our biggest challenges that give us a chance to grow. These short-term setbacks give us a chance to show ourselves who we really are.
Think of setbacks and plateau’s as a natural part of life. Of nature. Like the seasons, we have our spring and summer periods of effortless happiness, then during the autumn we start to prepare. We go through the winter as best we can, knowing that every day that passes brings us closer to spring again.
I have decided that consolidation periods are good! You might think that I am kidding myself, but when I get to my target of around 190 pounds, who cares If I have kidded myself?
It is better than fooling myself about my big bones at 250 pounds.
For the record, I do not think that I am kidding myself. I think that the choice of words is very powerful. Every charismatic leader had been good at choosing their words, (or at least their speech writers were).
I don’t know how many words there are in the English language but the choice of words are the differences between the literary classics and the junk manuscripts.
Words are an expression of our souls. The way we use them is extremely important. So, the next time that your mind helps you to get used to the new you, and you go through a period of weight loss consolidation, pat yourself on the back!