My last article in this series about losing weight after 50 is about hitting a plateau. You will eventually hit a plateau with any fitness effort. It is inevitable. It can happen in your weight loss, muscle growth, or just in the number of repetitions or the amount of weight you can handle in the gym. You are human and you eventually reach your capacity.
Three things can happen when you hit a plateau. You can find a way to increase, remain at the same level, or even digress. It all depends on you. There is nothing wrong with a plateau especially if you are happy where you are at like I am a year after starting my journey. There are however ways to improve once you hit a plateau and I will discuss these in this article. I’ve done it several times.
My first plateau was in my stomach area. No matter how much floor work I did, I couldn’t get my abs to reduce to a level where I was happy nor could I get to a six pack. I had read on the Internet that a woman had success with boxing twists. I tried that for months to no avail even though I was holding dumbbells while doing it. There wasn’t enough lateral force from the dumbbells. The main force was downwards due to gravity. I knew that I needed to have a lateral force on my stomach in order to tighten up the side areas. This could have easily been accomplished with a piece of stretch rubber and a stationary object such as a couch or a pole. Lacking those I waited. When a friend was throwing out a pilates machine, I saw it as an opportunity to solve my problem. This device uses a pulley setup to move you on a sliding platform. You can incline the platform and increase the resistance. Within two weeks of having this device I started to see definition in the sides of my stomach. It was a welcome solution. It bore results immediately as the friend who gave me the machine encountered me after I had been using if for a month. Her first comment was, “You look good!” Of course I was glad to hear that.
My second plateau was my love handles. The “muffin top” didn’t seem to leave my sides no matter how many twists I did. Frustrated, I turned to the Internet where I discovered side bends. These exercises are done while holding a dumbbell adjacent to my hip and bending down sideways fully one way. I then lift up sideways the other direction. These took the muffin top down in two days. That was the fastest improvement I ever saw.
I’m not so concerned about hitting a plateau with my weight but then again, I never thought that I’d be near my high school football playing weight of 158 pounds (I made it down to 162 pounds). As I have mentioned in previous articles, I judge my current weight in the mirror and with how my clothes fit rather than with the scale.
Eating habits can also hit a plateau. With so many unhealthy foods to lure us, sticking to your lifestyle foods can be difficult. This is especially true when at parties or during the holidays. My advice in this area is simple, be good as often as you can. You are going to cheat eventually, it’s a fact. Remember that the weight didn’t go on or come off quickly. As long as your average intake is healthy, occasional spikes should not bother you. In fact some weight loss methods I discovered recommended binge eating in order to reset your body from starvation mode. This tendency is a way the body protects you by hoarding calories in an effort to get you through lean periods. This mode creates a plateau of sorts where you don’t seem to be losing weight no matter what you do. If this happens, try to avoid starving yourself and instead increase your activity. If your body is getting plenty and burns most of it off, it won’t tend to store food as much as if you starve it. Again, it’s all trial and error. Learn what works for you. My toleration period is three weeks. If I don’t see a change in three weeks, I try something new.
I have hit a plateau with my desire to improve muscle size. I know now I have to change something in order to improve. I’m looking at several new activities to try including a new method known as TRX. This method uses suspended straps with handles to perform a variety of exercises. One area I’m lacking in is a lat pulldown machine. I’m not strong enough to do lat pullups with the weight of my entire body. Therefore I need to get a machine or routine that enables me to pull and develop my lats. I’m hoping TRX brings this opportunity.
Life in general hits a plateau. There are limits associated with the time of year. For instance, certain fruits and vegetables are seasonal. I found this out when oranges got scarce (and as expected, the price increased). Strawberries and peaches also are available only certain times of the year. This requires that you be flexible with your food choices. Always have alternatives available to avoid just buying junk when healthy foods get scarce.
The weather changes with the seasons and causes plateaus by limiting the activities you do. This didn’t happen much to me because I’d go shirtless on sunny days even when it’s 40 degrees out. But then again, I live in Colorado where the weather is dry. I don’t think I could have done this on the more humid east coast nor could I have lived through the 20 degree days. I did put on a ski jacket and hike both the mountain and Red Rocks on some fairly cold days. I even trudged through snow about six inches deep or had to hold the handles when descending icy steps at Red Rocks. Nothing was going to keep me from being fit. If I can do it, you can too. I detail how in my book and on my website. Thank you for reading my series about how I lost weight after 50 years old and I hope my tips can help you succeed with your weight loss journey!