Plateaus suck. Plain and simple, they suck.
You’re losing weight, getting results, and out of nowhere… It comes to a screeching halt.
But why?! Nothing has changed, you’re following the diet, and you’re training hard, so what gives??
Well, it could be many things. Maybe your body is just too used to what you’re doing, which could mean the training has become to easy and it needs a change of pace or this could mean that your metabolism caught up and the caloric deficit isn’t much of a deficit anymore.
Could be those problems…
But it could be lifestyle related. That’s why before I change anything on someone’s training program or diet plan; I go through a few things with them…
-How’s your sleep? [Duration AND Quality]
-How’s work? [Burnt out?!]
-How are your relationships? [Being Present? Spending Enough Time With Them?]
-Stress levels ok? [Work, Husband/Wife, Family, etc.]
-Do you have specific “ME” time? [Time For YOURSELF and Nobody Else]
-Do you do things?! [Go Out At Night, Get Outside To Hike, Out On Dates, etc.]
These are all things that can directly influence fat loss.
I know, sounds a little crazy that maybe going out on a Saturday night a few times a month to have some wine and dance would help fat loss… but trust me, it does.
Why? You might be asking. Well, basically it is because of stress and the hormonal processes going on in our bodies 24-7.
Now I could turn this into a science report about hormonal imbalances due to stress levels and the rise of cortisol and blah blah blah… but instead I’m just going to tell it how it is and show you what you need to do.
That’s probably what you want anyway!
So how can stress cause us to gain more fat? Or even stop fat loss for that matter?
Well the first reason, also the most obvious and common, is stress related eating. Ever been angry or sad and just wanted to destroy all the cookies in sight or chug an entire bottle of wine?
Yeah, I’ve been there too.
Stress related eating can be a huge factor in what is causing weight gain because you not only will eat off your plan, by consuming some junk food because that’s what stress will get you craving, but also because you don’t typically stop! When we’re in a full-blown stress attack, we can go to town on whatever junk food we decide to go after.
The two easiest ways around this are,
1.) Eliminate The Junk Around You – Plain and simple, remove all the shit out of your house! If it’s not there, you won’t binge on it when that stress hits you.
2.) Practice Distractions – This one could take a pad and pen to figure out ideas that could possibly work for you. Maybe its going on a walk, meditating, or even physically writing out what you’re feeling about the stress and how eating WILL NOT help it get better.
These may seem cheesy or odd, but honestly they work great. Taking your mind off of the stress by removing yourself from the situation can be incredibly helpful and obviously removing the junk just works…
Looking at this from a hormonal perspective can get pretty complex, but when you put the pieces together it all makes sense.
See stress related incidents cause the body to release specific hormones to deal with the stress. These hormones are typically adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol.
Since today’s stress is different then it was in the era of cavemen, this doesn’t benefit us as much.
When our body senses stress it releases these hormones and that allows our body to create energy stores for us to use right away, or more easily explained it releases sugars and fat stores as provided energy. But this made sense when a saber tooth tiger was chasing you because you needed energy to run for your life, right then and there!
But now-a-days when the stress releases the sugars and fat’s for us to run for our lives we sit on the couch and mope, cry, or complain about whatever stress is going on in our lives.
Now that sounds harsh I know, but it’s the truth.
So if we release these “energy stores” and do nothing with them, what happens?
It gets stored again, as body fat. We don’t use it to sprint, jump, climb, and lift… we use it to continue being stressed out.
Now if your body releases these hormones in the gym, it can be useful. We can possibly lift harder and heavier, burn extra calories and potentially build more muscle. But usually when the stress hits us, we’re in the office or in the car or at our homes. Not moving much at all.
So what else does cortisol do? It plays a nasty game with our hunger!
Cortisol can make you actually less hungry more often, meaning you don’t want to eat as much throughout the day. But it also can have a wicked opposing effect that when you do finally become hungry it creates a bigger desire to over-eat and eat more palatable foods, things higher in sweet and fatty flavors. [According to two different studies published in Endocrinology 2004 (volume 145 #5 & #6) and another other in Psychoneuroendocrinology (Volume 30 # 9)].
So you can see why a lot of people say, “I’m too busy to eat in the morning. I’m never hungry before work.” When really they’re over worked, stressed out and are simply not hungry in the morning because of it.
Others will seem to eat clean or light all day or week, but when there’s a social event or time to eat some kind of treat… they cannot stop and end up bingeing.
Now I’m sorry if I took a more scientifically approach with this now, but it had to be said so that you fully understand the impact stress has on our body’s ability to get lean or burn body fat.
So now it comes down to the solution and what can YOU do to eliminate or lower the stress in your life.
#1 – SLEEP! I know you’ve heard it a million times but it’s one of the most proven things to help with fat loss, muscle gain, and reducing stress. In the simplest way I can possibly put it, sleep is your body’s time to recover everything from hormones to muscles to the brain and nervous system. We put our bodies through so many different types of stress and when we sleep, we give it a break and a chance to catch up. So sleeping 7-8 hours every single night, uninterrupted, can be the biggest blessing towards your physique and hormones.
#2 – POSITIVE FOCUS! Positive focus is exactly what it sounds like, focusing on the positive side of everything that happens to you. So next time something shitty happens in your life or something makes you really upset, ask yourself these 3 questions – What Happened? Why Is It Positive? What’s the Lesson Learned? – This is going to make you review the situation in a more calm matter, find the positive thing hiding behind the problem [This can be the hardest thing to do, but there is ALWAYS something positive to find], and then allows you to learn from the situation so you can grow from it and become a better you.
#3- REMOVE YOURSELF or THE “REMEDY”. I put remedy in quotes because it’s not actually a remedy that you’re running too; it’s usually some bullshit temporary thing that cures the pain for a very short period of time. When you’re stressed and grab the bottle of wine, it never makes it better. In fact, usually you’ll become sadder or angrier as you become drunk. But we always go for it anyway, that’s the hormones talking. So what can you do? You can either remove yourself from the situation physically by walking away or emotionally and mentally by practicing the steps I talked about earlier in the article. Or you can remove the false remedy by throwing out the bottles of liquor, the junk food, and all the things your emotions would lead you too normally.
Stress can be such a killer, not only emotionally and mentally but now you know it can be a physique killer as well.
I would never expect you to read this article and be cured, never stress again, or become a great big ball of sunshine right away. But it can shed some light on the situation that so many of us our dealing with on a daily basis and also quite possibly the solution to break you through the fat loss, or muscle gaining, plateau you’re stuck on.
So take my word for it because I’ve done it myself, watched my loved ones go through it, and seen hundred of clients go through it as well.
Take this, apply it, and share it with someone else who has the same issue.
But most importantly, don’t forget it. So many people I’ve seen will listen and fully understand this concept and then they go apply it right away. Great!
But then next week some stress starts to creep back in, they forget the positive focus and before you know it a snowball effect of stress enters life again and its all forgotten…
Don’t let that happen. Help yourself become a more positive and happier person, you’ll be leaner because of it.