Pushing Past Your Plateau – When Diet & Exercise Aren’t Enough

Stocksy_txp177de598lhJ100_Medium_477814The losing weight equation is a no-brainer right? Burn off more calories than you take in, by eating less and moving more. Sounds simple! But what if you are filling your plate with seemingly the right types of food, and hitting up your favorite exercise class at least three times a week, and it’s still not enough? Your mental game is likely the missing piece of the puzzle.

Before you roll your eyes, and go back to your bulletproof latte, hear us out. It turns out, the way we think about food, our body and our goals makes a big difference in how likely we are to stick to a weight-loss plan, regardless of whether your plan involves counting calories, going Keto, or taking an extra HIIT class every week.

Here’s 5 tips to get your mind right once and for all, and elevate your weight loss results, without the latest trendy diet or an overly intense workout plan.

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  1. Disconnect The Distractions: What we often deem these days as successful multi-tasking, is in reality overstimulation, and losing sight of getting back to what we actually think and feel. When you eat, STOP watching TV, answering emails, or scrolling through social media. When you ditch the distractions, you can focus more on what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, and how it makes you feel. This new relationship with your food will likely leave you feeling more satiated and lead to a strong, clear picture of food as part of your diet in the long-term.
  2. More Is Actually More: Diets immediately lead to the connotation of less, by cutting out carbs or sugar, cutting down portions, or even cutting out entire food groups. This act of cutting puts us and our minds into scarcity mode. When something is off-limits, even if you’re able to avoid it for a while, you could end up bingeing on it later because you’ve gone so long without it. Instead focus on celebrating the foods that you can eat, by crowding your plate with protein and vegetables, therefore simply making less room for the other stuff. Shift your focus away from what you can’t eat, and more towards what you can. It’s the same thought process with good vs. bad foods. Take pizza for example: with the mindset of filling up your plate with what you can eat, make a salad *with protein* to fill up your plate, then grab a slice of pizza. Before you move in on your second, or third, slice, see how you feel after you finish your plate. This is a much more realistic approach to still eating a ‘bad’ food without the guilt later, or telling yourself it’s your cheat day and eating 3 slices of pizza, with a side of breadsticks (we can’t quit you carbs!).Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 3.06.45 PM
  3. Write Down What’s Off Limits: We’re not talking food here (remember, we want a healthy relationship with what we eat!). Declare, in writing, what you’re unwilling to do. This might sound counterintuitive, but it can help provide a “why” when motivation starts to falter. Are you unwilling to be the girl who’s always complaining about the same body part, to her friends or family? Are you unwilling to be the next person in your family to be put on cholesterol meds? Are you unwilling to wear an oversized t-shirt, or black-only bathing suit your next beach trip? Are you unwilling to be the parent who’s too tired to play with their kids at the end of the day? Think both long and short-term, as again your health, and your weight, are something that you will be dealing with the rest of your life. Remember to write these down, and keep it at the ready.
  4. Tracking 2.0: We’ve told you before about tracking what you eat to make yourself more mindful of your calorie input. But let’s go a step above the calorie counting. Start tracking not only what you ate, and how much, add on when you ate it, and how it made you feel. You’d be surprised how many times you may be eating your feelings, or eat when you’re bored, or that you have developed a habit of snacking before bed time when watching TV. The key here is you’re not only tracking your food intake, you’re tracking what you’re doing while you’re eating, and how it makes you feel. Becoming more mindful of what you eat, when and why you eat it, will help you create a healthy diet for life.
  5. Sleep On It: One of the strongest risk factors for becoming overweight is lack of sleep. When you’re feeling tired, you’re more likely to choose unhealthy comfort foods and to skip your workout. Additionally, sleep deprivation may slow down your metabolism. Yikes! If you’re wanting to see an added tick on the scale, try shooting for a consistent bed time, 7 days a week. Sleeping at least 7–8 hours per night consistently, is one of the easiest ways to control your weight without having to factor in food or exercise! Plus sleep helps aid muscle recovery from class 😉

 

Getting Warmed Up, From Front To Back, This Fall

Your warm-up should do just that – gently prepare the body for exercise by gradually increasing your heart rate and circulation. This will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles, prepping your body and mind for physical activity.  Just how we keep your mind and muscles constantly guessing in class by switching up the exercises, we do the same at the start of class in our quarterly warm-ups. Let’s break down the current warm-up release, shall we?

Did you know your core has two sides? We want you to keep your entire core engaged this warm-up, so think about working both the back and front side of your abdominal wall. The key to mastering the first few moves of class is your breath control. Starting with your breathing is a great connection for mind and body, throughout class. With every inhale, imagine the belly button is pulling in towards the floor, and with each exhale, try to pull in even deeper, focusing on your transverse abdominals. Keep your shoulders wide and roll your shoulder blades down your back, maintaining the isometric contraction of your core throughout each move. The pumping of your arms also helps get the blood moving in the body, bonus!

Think of the next four-count ab move, “reach, roll, twist, extend” as a jazz-hands version of the original and aforementioned arm pump. It’s still all about breath control and a deeper contraction in your core, with a little more pizzaz (wink). Your number one goal is to keep your belly flat by squeezing your navel in and scooping your belly out with every exhalation. Think about working deeper and smaller over time, versus starting over with every set, exhaling on the reach and the tap. Your number one goal in class is always muscle engagement over a large scale of motion.

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Moving onto reverse planks, otherwise known as the hardest, but most effective(!), plank on the planet. Think about driving your heels and palms into the ground, and staying in control during the drop. When you start to feel your weight move into your lower back, that’s your signal to bridge yourself back up. That should be considered your lowest point in this plank. If you have wrist sensitivity, or generally want a little less intensity for this move, try performing a static hold instead, or lowering yourself down onto your forearms.

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When working out your triceps, you want to keep as much weight pulling behind your body as possible. Most of the time people lead with their hips, versus their arms. Our bridged reverse tricep push up is a great way to make the mind-body connection to actually dip from the elbow and not your hips. Elbows should shoot straight back, with your hands and feet planted, and hips raised the entire time. You want to think about engaging the muscles in your back to bridge your hips up, pressing yourself away from the floor. Make sure when you lower your seat to finish, that you focus more on stretching your seat back allll the way back, so your weight rocks into the heels of your hands. You’re not tapping your seat up and down during these small isometric dips. If you don’t feel this in the backs of your arms in this position, try seated dips instead to master isolating your triceps first!

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Push ups are usually generally performed on our knees, or in a modified position in class. But we’re really challenging you to add leg raises, and even pop onto your toes, for this current warm-up. Keep in mind when you are raising each leg, to keep your body weight centered, meaning you’re not favoring one side of your body over the other. A good check-point for yourself is to see if your shoulders and hips remain level throughout the exercise. When you pop onto your toes to finish your push up series, use the mirrors around the room to check and see when your form is compromised. If you can’t remove the small sway from your lower back, it’s time to lower your knees so you can really scoop out your abs and re-center. Remember you’re using your own body weight on the way down, powering through the floor on the way up, and always leading with your chest (not hips)!

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We’ve made it to our last floor exercise before you start your weighted arm work, woo hoo! The plank is credited with working the entire body, and that’s what we want you to think about when performing the rolling plank in class. Let’s not complicate this move, as you seriously don’t need to be coordinated to pull it off, promise! Think of your bent leg as never losing it’s shape. It’s starting in a kick-stand behind your body for the side plank. That leg crosses behind as you lift your body back over to your forearm plank (think figure-4 leg cross), then take it back to your starting side-plank. Think about keeping your hips at the same height the entire time to ensure the work stays in your core and out of your back. If this still feels a little too much like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time (no judgement), just hold the kick-stand side plank and lower and lift your hips instead. We finish off planks by threading our floating leg through (think reach forward for the edge of your mat) to find a true isometric lift to finish. By straightening that bottom leg out, and forward, you’re removing the gap of space for your hips to drop down to keep the work centered in your core, from front to back. It’s actually just better form, not crazy hard, we promise!

Now that your feeling warm and limber, and a little out of breath, it’s time to pick up the intensity with your dumbbells. Stay tuned for a later blog post about our weighted arm work. We hope that you use these tips for your next warm-up in class, and remember to always ask your instructor if you’re pre-or-post-natal, dealing with an injury, or if something just simply doesn’t feel right, for alternate moves and positions to better suit you!