It’s December 31st, 2015. You hop on the scale and you weigh the exact same amount you did on January 1st, 2015. How would you feel?
What if I told you that the average American gains 1 pound every year? And that by not gaining a pound in the year, you’re actually doing well above average!
Most people lose a little bit of weight, hit a plateau, then immediately give up when things aren’t going as quickly as they were before. Most people gain that weight back and then some. This whole phenomenon of quitting when things are going more slowly is a bit like hitting traffic on your way home from work, and abandoning your car on the side of the road because you’re not driving as fast as you wanted. Or getting a flat tire and slashing the other three.
There’s a mantra in Zen: “the obstacles are the path.”
Plateaus happen. We know they’re going to happen. In fact, when we plateau, it means that we’ve made progress! It’s the perfect time to look back and see how far you’ve come because no human endeavor is linear. Learning a language, a musical instrument, how do date, or how to write well all takes time, with improvements coming in waves of easy progress, then stagnation, followed by bursts of more progress.
Diane Fu is a weight lifting coach in San Francisco who tells her athletes, “When you hit that first plateau and you’re not improving as fast as you were before, congratulations! You’re no longer a beginner!”
The same is true with fat loss. Weight loss can be fast in the beginning because the more weight you have to lose, the faster it comes off. The closer you get to your goal weight, the slower things get. So it’s not a sign you’re doing something wrong; it’s a sign you’ve done things right! It’s a sign that you’re completely normal and have hit a point that everyone hits on their weight-loss journey. A plateau is a mark on the road, letting you know you’re heading in the right direction, and that you’ve made a lot of progress.
So now it’s up to you. When most people hit a plateau, all they can think about is that things aren’t going as quickly as they were before, so they quit. The weight comes back on and they’re further away from their goal than they ever were. But plateaus are just part of the journey—a slight bend in the road that is still going to take you where you want to be. Do you turn around to go back? Or do you keep walking?
When you focus on the journey instead of the destination, the plateaus come and go. If you keep tracking, keep making little improvements to your diet, keep walking every day and getting some exercise, then the weeks when things aren’t going as quickly as you want them to will give way to the weeks when everything seems to fall into place.
And, before you know it, it will be December 31, 2015. The average American gains 1 pound a year. The average dieter gains back more weight than he or she loses. So all it takes to be better than average is to keep moving forward.