“Plateaus are a manifestation of the law of diminishing returns, and when we reach one it simply means that it is time to adjust our methods.”Chris Matakas
I hit a plateau, and I only just realized it after 6 weeks.
As you might know, since October of 2018, I made a change to my diet and lifestyle in preparation for my ACL reconstruction surgery. This involved changing my nutrition profile (20% carbs, 50% fats, 30% proteins), adopting a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule, and a calorie deficit of 500 calories daily.
I have been doing physical therapy every day since I was able (5 days after surgery). In late December, I started incorporating low intensity cardio workouts (mainly biking and walking), for about 3-5 miles a day. Finally, around late February my PT picked up in intensity, adding running, jumping, and a lot more dynamic workouts.
I measure everything I do. I record what I eat, drink, workouts, miles I travel, body measurements, and the amount I sleep. Everything is charted out, and graphed over time, so that I can spot trends. So I was able to see that my weight started to stabilize around 187lbs over the past 6 weeks.
I should have spotted it sooner, but in any case, it’s clear I plateaued.
The definition of insanity is to do the same things and expect different results. When you are stuck on a plateau, chances are you have been doing the same regimen over a long period of time. And as the quote at the top mentions, the law of diminishing returns applies: doing the same activity repeatedly yields less and less results over time.
So when it comes to dieting, this is definitely true. Even the best diet plans will eventually plateau as your body adjusts to a new size, activities, caloric intake, and nutrition profiles. When it comes to the body, it is all about efficiency. It doesn’t want to grow muscle it won’t use, or work harder than it needs to. So it is always adapting and working to maintain a status quo.
This is problematic when you are dieting, as you are trying to make changes. But, then is when you need to throw a monkey wrench into the body plan by making some changes yourself.
For me, I just changed some variables. First, I switched my nutrition profile to a 20% carb, 40% fat, and 40% protein. I also am going to incorporate carb cycling (picking one day to eat a high amount of carbs, followed by days with low to moderate amounts).
Workout wise, I am using a high frequency full body workout weight training routine – which is completely different than what I was doing previously. I have been wanting to do weight training earlier, but my shoulder was a limiting factor. But I’m happy to report that my shoulder has been making good progress, so it seems my stem cell injection is working!
I just started this new routine 3 days ago, and man it’s kicking my butt! But I woke up after day 3 at 185lbs, which is the lowest I have woken up at so far. So that is a promising start.
So while this was a weight loss plateau, the same can be said for any type of metaphorical plateau: training, relationships, or career.
If you feel you are not making progress in your MMA or BJJ game, then you need to figure out what you are doing, and change it up. If you are predominantly a bottom player, then start focusing on your top game instead. You could also change the position from bottom you work (butterfly guard instead of half guard for example). Or, change the way you train.
If all you do is spar all the time, drop the sparring and focus on drilling instead, or vice versa. Every person’s plateau is different, and the solution can be a different. So it might take some experimentation, but the key is to mix things up and above all, have fun!
Comment with your take on this.