Friday, December 2, 2011

Pushing Through Plateaus

Sometimes we need to push ourselves, even though it hurts, to break free of routine. The dreaded plateau. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of physical fitness and weight loss.... but even in this arena that on the surface appears to be all about the body (what we put into it, what we do with it, muscle development, calorie deficits, rest days, etc) it still really is all about the mind. Our beliefs dictate our progress and lack thereof. And sometimes we don't realize we've even hit a plateau until we're faced with an obstacle or forced to stand face to face with someone further along than ourselves.

I have recently had quite a bit of success in my journey to losing weight, getting fit and improving my overall level of health. I eat better than I've ever eaten in my entire life, I get more exercise than I ever have, I feel better when I'm in a resting state, and most importantly I can keep up with my son. I used to overheat at the drop of a hat it seemed. A little too much physical exertion, a little too high of a temperature or a mixture of both literally sent me spinning. It didn't take much. At 18 years old (if I remember correctly) I wound up needing a wheelchair ride from one of the parks in Disney World back to the bus so we could go back to our hotel halfway through the day because walking from ride to ride in the heat had me so lightheaded I couldn't stay on my feet. It was pathetic, honestly.

Now? I run... and breathe AT THE SAME TIME!

Not very often mind you, and not for long periods of time. But I can do it. And without fainting or panting like a dog. Most weeks I work out at least an hour five times a week! And on top of all that I have lost 16 lbs in two and a half months!!!

Why then am I talking about plateaus? Well, because plateaus aren't always a complete lack of progress. Sometimes they work more like the concept of a the glass ceilings you hear about in corporate worlds. Sometimes your routine is moving you forward... and in a similar direction to where you originally decided that you wanted to go, but your internal GPS has to keep recalculating because you repeatedly miss your off ramp that gets you from the road you're on to the one that connects to your final destination.

The one you're on will get you close. It's not going in the opposite direction... but, if you keep traveling much longer you will have to backtrack in order to reach your goal.

A huge aspect of my fitness and weight loss goal has been to be able to use my body as a means of self expression. Sure being healthy, and feeling confident in my shape and level of strength is important... but when I set out on this path I determined that I wanted to dance. I wanted that outlet back in my life. I wanted to become proficient at a physical activity that doubled as an important aspect of my personality, not just a chore I performed solely to achieve a desired result.

So, not long after I began working out I bought a hula hoop and started hoopdancing. It took some practice until I felt comfortable dancing while keeping the hoop rotating around my waist but once I got it it was smooth sailing. From there I feel into the rut of using it as a check mark in the cardio box on my fitness to do list. I forgot about the fun of it, the challenge of it... and my goal to be able to learn all kinds of tricks and dance moves to round it out into a real artistic expression. I hooped on my waist and hips and left it at that... until today. Today I am bruised and tired and sore as all get out... but today I learned something that required a suspension of my disbelief. It was harder mentally than physically... and though it may seem silly, I can officially transition from waist to lasso and I am so, so excited about it!!

How have you challenged yourself lately? Did you recently break through a plateau of some kind? How did you push through? I'd love to hear your stories! It doesn't matter if they're fitness related, for example my husband beat his personal reading best and completed nearly 6 books in the month of November! Got to say I'm a little jealous of that one... no where near that level of commitment in my reading and I am SO proud of him!

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