Three Ways to Use a Fitness (or Life) Plateau to Your Advantage


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If you’ve been training hard in the fitness center, or dojo, or in your home gym, but are noticing your gains (size, strength, endurance, ability, etc) are not increasing, or even worse, are steadily decreasing, it may be time to take a step back. Many factors could be interfering with your progress and while a couple of frustrating or meh workouts do not equate to a plateau, if the meh-ness is consistent and extends over a period of weeks or months, then its time to do something about it. While the answer is seldom a single, simple issue that is easily and quickly corrected, consider the following three ways to use a plateau to your advantage. And though the focus of this entry is fitness, you can easily apply the same principles to any area of your life.

1. Rest

pair of red and white low top sneakers

No, really, get some. Some of us hardly ever take time off from training and as a result, if we never learn to rest and recharge on a regular basis, we’ll never reach the levels we only dream about. So, use this plateau to put your feet up, chill-out, and rest. Easier said than done, huh? Yeah, but with a little practice, you’ll get into the groove.

Try it. Take a couple of days, or ten, off from your workout and try one or more of the following mentally / physically / emotionally renewing activities:

  • Sit in a comfy chair and read that book you purchased last year
  • Write a story or catch up on emails
  • Take a unique class with friends or family and learn something new
  • Go to the woods, or near a lake or stream, and listen to nature
  • Declutter that closet (you know the one…)
  • Go fishing
  • Play games with your kids
  • Plant a garden
  • Just chill

I’ve found that when I rest as needed, I am stronger and move so much better, and enjoy the workout at a deeper level when I resume training. The time off is definitely worth it.

2. Reassess

Use this time to reassess the basics because if one or more of the basics is askew, eventually your fitness gains will begin to stagnate or begin to reverse. You know the basics, or what I called your base in a previous post:

  • Proper nutrition
  • Adequate hydration via mineral-rich water
  • Restorative sleep
  • Stress-management skills

Your base should be examined and shored up often, especially given the strangeness of our current times. Without a doubt, 2020 did a real wrecking job on pretty much everyone’s base, so take the time and make sure yours is strong enough to support the goals you’ve set and for the journey that lies ahead. Ask yourself the following questions while seeking to understand how improving the integrity of your base could help lift you off of the plateau.

  • Am I fueling and refueling with good, natural foods rich in the nutrients my body needs for repair, renewal, and growth? What dietary changes could I benefit from?
  • Am I drinking enough water, while avoiding too much? Should I add minerals or an electrolyte powder to my water throughout the day or even during and after I workout?
  • Do I feel refreshed when I wake up in the morning? Do I struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep, or to get up and stay up? What are some ways I can improve my sleep?
  • Am I coping with the little, daily stressors, as well as the big ones, or is my nervous system constantly running on high?

3. Replace

woman in black sportswear lifting a barbell

Temporarily replacing your current workout with a totally different type of exercise could be the thing that helps you leave the plateau behind. The idea to surprise or shock or jump-start your system with a movement or exercise modality that is challenging in a new and different way. For instance, if you lift weights on a regular basis, but have hit a plateau, you might replace your normal workout routine with a yoga or a Pilates class. For more ideas, check out this short list of alternative exercise systems:

The list goes on and on. Even if you already cross-train, consider replacing your primary and secondary exercise system with at least one alternative exercise system.

Fitness, and life plateaus, can be frustrating, but if we learn to view them as an opportunity for additional exploration and growth, a plateau can become a scenic step up to the next-level of you!

Eric


If you need quality fitness equipment, be sure to visit this page: Power Systems Fitness Equipment




Friday’s Featured Partner: Chicago Steak Company

grilled meat on charcoal grill

This page contains affiliate links. For information, see full disclosure here.


Summertime has finally arrived. And you know what that means, right? It’s grillin’ time!

charcoal is on burning
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Question is, do you have the meats? No, no, I am not talking about hotdogs or even brats–I mean actual, non-paste, non-compacted “meat”, you know, real meat!

red meat with chili pepper and green spies
brown wooden chopping board with meat on top

If you’re ready to elevate your summer cookouts with truly high-quality meat, your online go-to meat-shop is Chicago Steak Company!

Why Chicago Steak Company?

Since 1865, Chicago has been at the heart of high-quality American meats and they are proud to carry on that legacy. With three generations of experience, you will taste their commitment to tradition in each steak.

Chicago Steak Company are masters of hand-cut, mid-west raised, USDA Prime beef – in short, the very best steaks money can buy. They raise, trim, and age their steaks using centuries-old techniques, then vacuum seal each individually, locking in the flavor and freshness. And, they specialize in the top 2% of Beef in the US (USDA Prime), and each order is individually registered with a unique registration number. Their steaks are served in some of the best white table cloth steakhouses across the country, have been featured on the Discovery Science Channel as a must-have luxury item, and recently won the Great Steak debate with Iron Chef Marc Forgione.

Order Online for Home Delivery!

man using a laptop

Browse and hover over the items below for more information. Then click that which arouses the full array of your senses, and make your order; it’s that simple. You’ll be glad you did when your prime order shows up at door!


BEEF


BURGERS


PORK


GIFT ASSORTMENTS



All the best in your summer grillin’!

Eric



A Quick Guide to Martial Arts Training at Home


Guest Contributor

Ms. Susan Treadway, an addict in recovery, authored the following guest post. She uses a holistic approach to sobriety to stay on a successful path and believes adopting even a few holistic methods can help anyone struggling with addiction.

Susan wants everyone to know that you don’t have to be a hippie to embrace holistic wellness – this concept is simply about focusing on your entire sense of well-being rather than just one part. She hopes her website, rehabholistics.com, will inspire anyone who has struggled with addiction to incorporate holistic practices into their own self-care routine.


Looking for ways to keep your kids engaged during the pandemic? Encourage them to try martial arts! Even if your local martial arts studio is closed right now, you can still help your kids learn the fundamentals of their chosen martial art form and prepare them for when classes start back up again. Create an at-home training space and get your kids started with some basic drills. There are plenty of resources online to help you out!

Why Kids Should Learn Martial Arts

The martial arts have several fantastic benefits for kids. Besides being a great source of exercise, training in the martial arts will also teach your kids good morals and valuable skills.

  • Studies show that martial arts training can promote good behavior in kids.
  • Practicing martial arts is an excellent form of exercise and can even help kids relieve stress and anxiety.
  • If your kids have trouble focusing in school, martial arts training can help them learn to concentrate and exhibit patience.
  • Despite common belief, the martial arts don’t encourage violence. In fact, the practice teaches respect and peaceful conflict resolution!

Building a Home Studio

If you don’t have room in your house for your kids to practice martial arts, consider converting your basement or garage into a personal dojo. Your home improvement updates might even boost your home value!

  • Install rubber flooring in your martial arts studio to keep your kids safe and comfortable when they’re sparring or running through drills.
  • Make sure your home martial arts studio is properly insulated and ventilated.
  • If you plan on selling your home in the future, try to design your studio as a multi-purpose room that future buyers can use for something else. A rec room or home gym could be considered a valuable home feature!

How to Practice Martial Arts at Home

Until your kids can attend a regular martial arts class, encourage them to try some basic drills at home. You can find all kinds of great training resources online!

  • To avoid injury, make sure your kids stretch and warm up before each practice session.
  • Karate is a popular form of martial arts for kids. Get started with some basic moves like the straight punch and front kick.
  • You can help your kids run through balance exercises that will improve their form and technique in various martial art styles.
  • Keep your kids entertained and engaged by trying out some martial arts games.

Setting up an in-home martial arts studio and running through drills with your kids are great ways to spend your time while sheltering in place. You might even develop a passion for martial arts yourself! Whether you decide to build a home studio in your basement or practice in your backyard, you’re bound to make some wonderful new memories with your kids.

Need more ideas for enhancing your child’s martial arts training? You can find DVDs, belts, books, and other great products at the Martial-Fitness Minimart!


Keep pushing forward,

Eric

Meatful Monday #5: Carnivore Week Four, the Final Review


This page contains affiliate links. For information, see full disclosure here.


So, it looks like my month-long Carnivore Diet experiment is coming to an end. Like many experiments, the results were…interesting. In short, it did not go as expected. You may ask, “Why experiment when you know it won’t go as planned?” Well…

Even though I did not achieve the amazing results that I’d read about and hoped for, I believe my Carnivore experiment was and will be worth it based on what I’ve learned. Maybe that’s the point of such experiments, the research, the learning, the new understanding that comes from trying something new.

Not as Expected…

Imagine starting your day feeling great. You grab your favorite coffee, or hot chocolate, and continue working on an important assignment or vital project. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, it’s the Friday before a long weekend or a vacation, and it’s payday; it doesn’t get much better than that. But, in one moment, you’re optimistic, happy, and in the next, you spill said non-removable beverage all over said million dollar project. The day started of with so much promise, but now, you’re just all pissed off.

That was me after Week 1. I was feeling pretty good, and then came Week 2.

  • Week 1 went so well probably because of the removal of food items that my body dislikes, even though they are considered “healthy”. That, and the (re)introduction of foods rich in nutrients that I was apparently missing made for a good week all around, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
  • But by the middle of Week 2, the addition of such high quantities of animal fat and protein became a problem because before my Carnivore Diet experiment, I ate comparatively little of either. I ate an adequate amount of meat, some animal fat in the form of occasional cheese, and of course the fat included in the meat, but that was nothing even close to this. As a result, my body was not able to properly process the higher intake and adapt as quickly as it has to leaner animal protein, and fats such as organic avocado oil and organic olive oil.
  • Also, it took me until the end of Week 2 to realize I needed much more electrolytes than I’d been getting. I’ve been salting my water for years and though I increased the amount of sea salt and other minerals, I needed more.

Admittedly, I was (am) a bit disappointed Carnivore Diet didn’t work out all that great for me. I followed the plan at a 95% to 99% level, but alas, no joy. Even so, I did learn several important lessons through the disappointment.

The Takaways…

I experienced many “light bulb moments” over the past several weeks. What I learned and what I will do with what I learned are the reasons for such an experiment. Whether things had gone according to expectations or not, the knowledge gained would have been and is the most important thing. Now as the experiment ends, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice.

  1. I need to eat more meat and animal fat. No, not more than I’ve eaten over the past month ’cause that’s probably not even possible. I mean, more meat and animal fat than I ate pre-Carnivore. Going forward, I plan to keep one meal fully or at least 90% Carnivore. I will also continue to incorporate grass-fed butter and grass-fed beef tallow into my meals as well.
  2. While I already use a good digestive enzyme, I’m researching to add one specifically designed for those dense animal protein and higher animal fat, Carnivore meals.
  3. Digestive health is complex and of utmost importance to overall health and well-being. I realized more attention needs to be given not just to the health of the gut itself, but also to the health of the other organs involved in the digestion process.
  4. I will also make adjustments to increase my daily intake of electrolytes, especially after teaching / training workouts. This, including the two type of magnesium I currently use, ionic magnesium and magnesium glycinate, a chelated multi-mineral supplement, and the Redmond Real Salt, along with targeted use of SOS Electrolyte Drink Mix added to my water have already proven to be very helpful.
  5. Though I can still only make educated guesses as to why I can eat eggs now, they will remain on the menu.
  6. I have “rediscovered” bacon, real bacon, and real grass-fed butter!

The Path Ahead…

adventure beautiful boardwalk bridge

My dietary path is clearer than ever now. I guess I would call my new eating plan sort of a hybrid Paleo-Carnivore-Keto model with a dash of Intermittent Fasting. I’m also going to greatly reduce or cut out altogether even those “healthy foods that are high in anti-nutrients. Yes, I’m looking at you almond milk, and you too, almond butter…

What’s up for this Week?

Now that’s more like it!

My Carnivore experiment officially ends today, March 15th. On Tuesday the 16th, I will begin the process of reintroducing some of the foods or supplements that I cut out for the past month. I’m absolutely looking forward to flavor, texture, and even aromatic variety again. It may take a couple of weeks for my system to get back to optimum, but it will have been worth the journey. And I’m guessing it will take a few weeks for my house and clothes, and garage, not to smell like a diner any more. Yes, a diner, an albeit tasty, home-cookin’ diner where bacon grease flows like milk and honey, but a diner nonetheless!

Final Analysis…

photo of person deriving formula on white board

Would I recommend the Carnivore Diet to friends or family? Because everybody’s body (and mind) is different, I rarely recommend any specific dietary plan to anyone. I simply suggest they take a look, do the research and / or talk with their doc about any plan. This way, they can determine for themselves if the potential benefits are enough to justify the work and drastic changes.

Of the dietary experiments I’ve tried through the years, I’d say this one was probably the simplest. I mean, it doesn’t get much easier than answering the questions of what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with: meat and animal fat. At the same time, Carnivore was also probably the most challenging in terms of adaptation. Overall, on a scale of 0 to 5, with 0 being “Not at all worth it,” and 5 being “Do it now and forever!”, I’d give my personal experience with Carnivore and the potential of what could be gained a solid 4. If I’d had more bacon, and if maple bacon was allowed on Carnivore, I would have given it a 7. Yes, 7 out of 5 all the way.


Here’s to failed experiments that lead us to better discoveries!

Eric






Meatful Monday #4: Carnivore Week Three in Review

raw meat on beige wooden surface

This page contains affiliate links. For information, see full disclosure here.


I am now more than halfway through my Carnivore Diet experiment. This past week, Week 3, fits snugly between the highs of Week 1 and the lows of Week 2

The Highs…

young female blowing huge balloon in sky

A few mostly good things from Week 3 come immediately to mind. They were not by any means big ole explosions of great insight or positive breakthroughs, but they may lead me in that direction. At least, I’m hopeful that they will:

  • At the end of Week 2, I realized how big a deal electrolytes are in the Carnivore Diet, and really in any dietary plan and active lifestyle. I’ve been salting my water for years and though I increased the amount of sea salt, I needed more electrolytes. Thankfully, I had a couple boxes of SOS Electrolyte Drink Mix on hand and that has been a big help.
  • Even after eating eggs everyday since February 15th, I still haven’t experienced the egg allergy / issue that has bothered me for the past few years…
  • My physical training didn’t suffer as much this week. I’m going to start exiting my Winter Training Mode program as I do every March, but I’ll take it a bit slower and will save the 5 Tibetans for a couple of weeks down the road.
  • The bacon has been, and continues to be, delicious.
  • I cooked a roast in a slow-cooker for the first time, and it turned out nice and tender. Roast #2 was in the cooker as I wrote this; it was really tasty this morning and will be breakfast for the next couple of days.

The Lows…

I did not trip that kid.

They say that progress, even when slow, is still progress. Well, it’s been slow and I’m ready for some real progress.

  • My gut still in not happy. Not angry, but not humming along like it should be.
  • I decided to put the bone broth protein powder aside for the remainder of the experiment. While I love that stuff, it may, or may not, be slowing my progress. I will however continue to use Great Lakes Collagen and Bulletproof Collagen. Both are unflavored, high quality, and dissolve easily in water.

The Questions…

These questions are bouncing around in my head. I should probably answer them soon.

  • Should I continue on with another month of Carnivore just to give it a fair shake? I’ve entertained the idea of adding a second full month to the experiment, but that will really depend on how this next week goes.
  • If Carnivore doesn’t work for me as expected, what gives? What’s my plan? Do I ease back into Paleo / Keto, or try something else?

What’s up for Week 4?

Bacon cooked over a fire? Yes please!

At the end of Week 3, I did decide to go forward with the Beef Liver supplement, but because it’s such a powerful health aid, I’m taking it really slow. So this week, along with the the electrolytes, I’m also (re)introducing Betaine HCL with pepsin. I’ve used Betaine HCL with pepsin off and on for several years and now that my protein intake is so high, it should help my gut digest the tons of meat I’m enjoying.


That’s about it for Week 3. Oh, there was the funny little issue of blowin’ a small chunk of meat out of my nose during breakfast, but that’s another story for another day...!

Until next time…bac-on!

Eric