Plateaus and the Power of Self-Talk

July 21, 2017

Plateaus and the Power of Self-Talk

I recently asked the subscribers of our Live Rad Guidelines what questions they were having regarding their training, nutrition, and mindset. What's the Live Rad Guidelines? It's a weekly newsletter for everyday people with the goal of taking the stress out of training and nutrition. And you can sign up HERE! (I promise we won't spam you<3)

No matter the actual question, one topic that seem to keep popping up was the ever-popular issue of plateauing. 3 examples stuck out to me, mainly because of how different they were from each other:

  • A 30 year old powerlifter stuck at a 455lbs squat
  • An active mother of 2 who has found a passion for pole fitness and wants to lose weight but has been hovering around the same number on the scale for weeks
  • A college bro that is trying to gain more muscle but isn't seeing the results he wanted

But what I also saw was how each of them chose to phrase their questions:

  • What am I doing wrong?
  • Why am I failing?

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Mike, I know where this is going. You’re going to tell us some hippie, emotional bullshit and that the world is full of rainbows, sparkles, and so great.”

Well, first off, eat a dick. Secondly, I want you to do the exact opposite, and take the emotion out of this.

"What gets measured, gets managed"

Anyone who has worked with me knows I coach with the motto “What gets measured, gets managed." This means we can’t manage something - whether it be your training or nutrition - unless we are measuring it (This can be done with, but isn't limited to, tracking your total volume of work done, calories, or macronutrients).

A lack of measuring progress is a surefire way to fall short of our goals, but it isn't the only way to. When we only look at one unit of measurement and become too emotionally attached to it, we can easily halt progress just as much as not measuring anything at all. Using the previous examples, that could be the mother and college bro only looking at the number on the scale, or the powerlifter only looking at the weight on the bar.

What might we be missing?

I want you to think of some other measurements that our three examples may not be taking into account, yet could be making progress on.

Got your answers? Good. Let's take a look.

For both our mother of two, and our college bro:

Has your body composition changed? Do your clothes fit better? That’s a win.

Have you gained muscle while losing fat? Another win.

Are you getting stronger? More winning.

Powerlifter whose squat hasn’t been increasing:

Have you lost weight? That’s a higher wilkes right there.

Has your bench or deadlift been going up, thus giving you a higher total? That can literally be a win at a meet.

Have you been putting more effort in lifting with better form? While for a short time that may force you to lift with lower numbers, it will absolutely be better long-term.

But things we can quantify (body fat percentage, weight on the bar, etc) are not the only things we may be crushing. What about things that may be a little harder to put a number or measurement to - stress at work, big life events, etc.?

Mother of two:

Did any of your children just graduate high school/college? And you stayed around the same weight during the ceremonies, graduation parties, and start of summer? Great job, you fucking rule!

30 year old Powerlifter:

Has work been busier? Have you been going to all your buddies' weddings this summer, enjoying yourself, AND taking on the heat of your mother asking why you aren't the one up at the alter (God fucking bless you, my man!)? And you’re still getting in your sessions and kicking ass? The ability to maintain your progress through all that is sick. You're crushing it.

College bro:

You survived finals, enjoyed the end of the school year with some drinks, and didn’t become a fat fuck in the process? You've already done better than I did when I graduated, keep it up!

Making changes

Now, for you, the reader:

What wins have you been disregarding? Did you just get a new job? Have you gotten stronger even though you may not have lost the weight you wanted? You need to acknowledge that shit. Self-talk, especially when positive, has been proven to result in better performance again and again (peep here for more).

Once we’ve acknowledged the numerous things we're absolutely smashing, the question goes from “What am I doing wrong?” to “What can I be doing better?"

So here's your homework. I want you to make a list of five things you can do a little better. Maybe it's take some time to warm up before you lift. Maybe it's drink alcohol one less day a week. Whatever they may be, write that shit down.

Now, choose the three that you think will give you the biggest bang for your buck towards your goals. Got 'em? Good.

From there, choose the one that you think you could implement the easiest. Something that won't throw off your daily routine by much.

Whichever it is you choose to do, make sure you attack it every single day. Write it down, set a reminder, do whatever you have to do to be cognizant of the task at hand. Slowly, but surely, this new task will feel like second nature and fall in line with all of your other positive habits. Once it does, It is time to pick a new one to attack and conquer!

Accomplishing our goals takes time, work, and most of all, consistency. By acknowledging our progresses, measuring what we can, and reassessing when needed, we take a lot of the guess-work out of the process and work so much more efficiently.

To sum it all up - recognize your wins, slowly bring on positive habits one at a time, and quit being a dick to yourself. You're doing just fine.




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