Monday, February 25, 2013

Perserverance & Plateaus. // Amy H.

Hi, my name is Amy, and I <3 MLFC.  That, plus My Fitness Pal and working out 5x a week has helped me to drop 26 lbs. since August 2012.  Yay me!  

I was doing great from September through November.  I did the 30-Day Shred and Ripped in 30.  I was walking 4 days a week, too.  I felt great and was about ready to start Couch to 5K and mix things up with Chalean Extreme, a strength training program.   My calories were good, my water intake was solid, and I was losing about a pound a week.  

On December 1, I started Chalean Extreme.  This is advertised as a 12-week circuit training program, but the core of the program is strength training.  In fact, it is lifting slow and heavy.  And heavy doesn’t mean busting out your 8’s instead of your 5’s.  Oh no.  It was time to use the SelectTech’s I bought the first time I tried (and didn’t finish) CEx – the ones that go up to 52 lbs.  Each.  

So I broke out the heavy weights and got started.  And that’s when a perfect storm of weather, change in routine, an injury flare-up, and those darn Holidays conspired to begin a plateau.   I lifted 3 days a week.  The other 3-4 days, I generally walked (about 3 miles) or did another low impact video.  The first few weeks I took more rest days than I normally would because the lifting was kicking my butt, but I was still working out at least 5 times a week.   It got cold, but I bundled up and kept taking my walks.  My ankle, injured many years ago, started to bother me, but I kept going.  At first I chose not to do the circuit workouts included in CEx because I found myself totally exhausted from my lifting.  I thought the walking would be enough.  

After two weeks of not losing any weight, I thought it was because my muscles were adjusting and I was retaining water.  Did my diet loosen up in December?  Yes.  I moved from 1250 to 1440 calories, and did more calorie cycling than I had been.  I went over a few days, but was on top of my diet 80-90% of the time.  In other words, I enjoyed the Holidays.   And yes, I was eating back my exercise calories, too.  I was sweating like crazy during the workouts, so I knew I was “working”, and eating back my calories had been effective up to this point.  

When it got cold and icy, my ankle started to throb and swell.  This was a chronic injury, but it had been doing OK, so I was surprised and disappointed that it was flaring up so badly.  I slowed my walks a bit, but kept lifting.  I iced it, I heated it, I did some basic PT.  When I woke up on New Year’s Day and realized I could barely hobble to the bathroom, I understood that this was not going to go away.   I called the doctor a few days later and made an appointment with a specialist– FOR MARCH.
And I kept lifting.  I accepted that with my painful ankle I had to find something even lower impact if I wanted to maintain my cardio, so I used my Christmas money to buy a Spinning bike.  I am not a Spin addict, but I thought if I had something that I could use on my own terms (and without worrying about the ice building up outside), it would help.   

The “temporary” plateau stretched into a month, then two months.  I got frustrated.  I thought about giving up and taking a break.  I thought about stopping CEx and going back to 30 Day Shred.  I thought about drowning my feelings in Ben & Jerry’s. And then I kept going.  I realized that even though the scale wasn’t changing, I was changing.  I didn’t want to quit.  I didn’t want to stop feeling good about myself.  I didn’t want to let this little plateau+injury derail me completely.  

Because you see, now I have visible muscles.  I can see my quads and my biceps.  I can lunge and squat 50 lbs. without breaking a sweat.  I tried on an old bathing suit and didn’t want to cry or vomit.  The work pants that were comfortable a few months before are now loose.  And I realized that this plateau is just another part of the journey to better health and fitness.  It is no longer about the numbers on that whore of a scale.  It’s about liking myself.  It’s about finishing what I started.  It’s about earning that sticker in my workout calendar.  It’s about working through a little discomfort, and taking action to make it better.  And it’s about continuing to get healthy.  

I have one day left in Chalean Extreme, and I am so excited that can already hear the Hallelujah chorus warming up.  I still ride my Spin bike 4-5 days a week.  I’m still eating 1440 calories a day and drink 60+ oz. of water, but am not eating back my exercise calories any longer.  I just got the referral for a surgical repair on my ankle.   Part of me wants to press the panic button when I think about being out of commission for 3+ weeks.  But the other part of me looks ahead, to the warm summer months, in hopes of finally being able to train for and complete a 5K without pain, and wear a bikini in Florida this Fall.  And yes, I still want to drop the last 10 lbs., by August.  But if I don’t, it’s OK.  Because I won’t stop. 


  1. Awesome reminder that we need to just keep moving forward. Thanks Amy!!!

  2. Great post! It is hard to not get stuck on the numbers, but the best thing you can do is focus on how you feel :) Keep up the good work - you're gonna get there!

  3. Awesome! I am in the same boat with you, plateau boat that is. But I am busing through as well. We Got This!!! Keep it up!!

  4. Congrats on hanging in there!!! It is SO hard not to become too focused on what the scale says, and I am so glad that you are learning what a liar it is :)



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