What to do When You Feel Like You’ve Hit a Plateau

by Aimee Wojtowecz

At some point in your fitness and nutrition journey you are going to plateau. It’s inevitable. We have forward progress for months upon months and then one day it’s like the brakes locked up and you start wondering what went wrong. 

Our bodies crave homeostasis, aka. balance, and will always look for a way to settle somewhere. Eventually there will come a point where what you’ve been doing just isn’t going to work anymore. Rather than freak out and start eating less and exercising more, treat this as an opportunity to evaluate what you’ve been doing: does it still serve your goals? does it align with the lifestyle you really want? have you mastered all the basic habits before you try to tackle more advanced ones? If you’re answering no more often than yes, maybe it’s time to change things up. 

Let’s start with consistency. If the habit you’ve been working on is to have 5 servings of vegetables a day and you hit that goal 70% of the time, let’s shoot for 80% for at least 3 months (Oh were you looking for a quick fix? Sorry to be a dream crusher but fitness and nutrition are a long journey). Then maybe go for 85%, or 90%. If you’re not being at least 90% consistent you can’t say you’ve mastered that habit yet. 

Next, think about tweaking those habits a little if you’ve nailed the consistency. Maybe you’re swapping out one high intensity workout for a 1 hour walk. Maybe you’re adding a little more to each serving of protein throughout the day. Most often when you feel like nutrition is where you’re stuck it comes down to amount and quality. Are you underfueling or overfueling? Are you relying too much on processed foods because they’re quick and easy and we all just have too much going on? 

Ask yourself these questions next time you think you’ve plateaued: 

  • Could something be further refined or improved?
  • Could my routines be further streamlined or made more effective?
  • Could I be doing a habit more skillfully?
  • Could I be doing a habit more consistently?

And if it really is a plateau can we reframe the concept away from a “plateau=failure” to:

  • An opportunity to refine your habits and goals.
  • An opportunity to improve existing skills.
  • An opportunity to try new tasks and learn new skills. 
  • An opportunity to take the pressure off and just maintain for a little while. 
  • An opportunity to be grateful for the progress you’ve made and celebrate your journey.

If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau and you’re frustrated, let’s start reframing that and dig deeper to find out what’s really going on. Set up a goal review session, try nutrition coaching, find one small thing that you can change up in your daily routine. There is almost always some simple improvement or adjustment that is going to get your progress moving again no matter what your goals are.