One of my friends, Cathe Friedrich, is a fitness guru to tens of thousands and I’ve met some of my favorite people attending her annual fitness Road Trips (you’ll see me in action with her.) In addition to the over 170 fitness videos she’s produced (I own probably 30) she continues to inspire me by generously blogging regularly. In a recent blog post she talked about set points and weight loss plateaus. BING! My coaching alter ego sat straight up!
Analogy: Set Point = Comfort Zone.
How to read the story below:
- Weight Loss = A change you want to make
- Plateau = Not see results
- Set Point = Comfort Zone
- Diet = The obvious first solution to a problem
- Cardiovascular fitness training = Another obvious solution to the same problem
- Strength Training = The key to unlocking it all
And the story goes like this . . .
You decide that you’re 30 pounds overweight and enough is enough! It’s time to do something about it. Great! You pick a diet and get started with gusto because this time you’re determined. You throw away all the junk in your kitchen and buy bean sprouts and Greek yogurt.
Sticky Point #1: YUCK!
It takes time to grow taste buds for bean sprouts and Greek yogurt and now meal prep/planning take much more time. If only they packaged tasty health foods like they do Pringles: grab-n-go and with a 10-year shelf life. Changing your diet is a pain because you’re really breaking an addiction to two things: the food and the lifestyle. You’re trying to stop doing things that you’ve been doing for so long that they’ve become habits.
hab·it n. A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.
Most of what you think and do regarding eating has been delegated to your unconscious mind’s control and it’s created a comfort zone around your expectations for food.
To get past this sticky point you’ll need energy, and the only energy strong enough to neutralize this goo comes from a very strong and clear connection to why you must, must lose weight. Even with this clear must in mind, a complete change in your eating habits all at once probably won’t work. Start small by changing only 1 tiny, little, itsy-bitsy thing first. You’ll be amazed by the momentum one small change can bring to a goal.
Off and running again . . .
Dieting gets a few pounds off, congratulations! Now you’re ready for more so you buy a pair of running shoes and head to the track 3 times a week. Awesome – be sure to wave at me if you see me there, too.
Sticky Point #2: TIME!
After the first week it gets tricky to keep your commitment to the track because your life was already filled-up with stuff. Finding time to run, shower, etc. is getting difficult. You find yourself stressed about the things you’re not doing so that you can go for those 3 weekly runs.
You get stuck here because the full life you’re struggling against was created to support the person you WERE and it supports that other person really well. In this comfort zone, you know what’s expected and just how to get it all done. It will take time for you to let go of stuff that doesn’t support a leaner more vital you.
Think about the things that are causing you the most stress; I’ll bet its housework, laundry, meal planning, and stuff like that. Find one of the least worrisome stressors and decide to experiment. For 1 week try to accomplish it in less time consuming ways. Maybe it’s delegating to kids or other family members or automating something like on-line grocery shopping.
Caution! Don’t just lower your standards!
I don’t recommend you try experimenting by lowering your standard. Avoid trying to accept that the refrigerator shelves are fine with a little milk ring here or grated cheese dust there. I don’t think it really works at this stage because you’ll have other people’s expectations to deal with along with your own. Keep your standard, for now, and find alternatives to meeting the standard that require less time from you.
Off and running again . . .
Congratulations! You’ve reprogrammed your comfort zones! Your tongue has new taste buds and you’ve made time in your life for fitness training! This is wonderful! Yippie! Twenty of those 30 pounds are history! I’m doing the cabbage patch dance for you. If you don’t know how to do this dance, here’s a funny YouTube video so that you can celebrate, too.
Sticky Point #3: BROKEN SCALE!
All of the sudden your bathroom scale seems to be broken because you’re not losing any more weight. You try less food – nothing. You try more cardio – nothing. What gives?! This time your problem may be more related to your body’s set point (your metabolic “comfort zone”) than anything else.
Cathe does a much better job describing how to get unstuck from your body’s set point than I so please read her sound advice. The bottom line is that to push past this sticky point you’ll need to approach weight loss from a completely different angle—one that may seem counter intuitive at first. Rather than thinking about losing fat, think about gaining muscle. Read her blog and ask her questions if you need help understanding the concept.
The analogy: Sticky Point = Plateau = Comfort Zone
To become the person you must become to live as you know you were intended takes determination. Sticky points will pop up along the way and you’ll need to have people in your life that can help pull you through the goo. I have people like Cathe Friedrich and my fellow Cathletes, Dave Buck, Becky Blanton, my husband, Ralph, Cate Cleary, Cathy Reid-Jones, and others. When I’m stuck, I look to my network of brilliant people to help me find new ways to get unstuck or to even by-pass sticky points altogether. For your network to be able to help you in this essential way, you’ll need to trust their credibility. You’ll need to be willing to take a chance and experiment with ideas they bring you—even something counter-intuitive like gaining muscle to lose weight.
Related Tip of the Week: Accept vs. Agree,
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