After Spring Break Plateau, what’s next?

Nihat Strider/Staff Writer

As a trainer, I often get asked the question, “what is the most difficult task?” My answer is that it is more challenging to maintain health and fitness rather than to improve it. When you have a specific goal of losing weight or being fit, then you are working toward a specific improvement.

As time goes by and you see progression, it keeps you very motivated. But as soon as you reach your goal, you feel accomplished. Now your mind believes that the job is done and no longer pursues the goal. Therefore, over time, you end up losing all the strength you have gained.

One cold harsh truth about fitness is you have to do it forever. It is not a one-month or one-year plan. It is not like your bachelor’s degree that after four years of hard work you will have the graduate title forever.

Instead, think of it this way, you do have to eat as long as you live. The basic human needs include: food, water and shelter. We do not perceive these as chores because we need them to live. But when it comes to a better standard of living, our priority needs also include sanitation, education and healthcare. We do not need them for survival as per say, but they truly improve your standard of living. You have to perceive health and fitness as another basic human need. If you are not a fit person all your hard work of the bachelor’s degree and getting a job will be in vain. You will not be healthy, nor enjoy all your success.

In exercise, discipline is your best friend, but routine is your enemy. If you keep repeating the same routine, not only will your body plateau, but your routine becomes boring, resulting in a lack of motivation. Your muscles will start developing memory and will no longer be affected as much, reaching the plateau. Reaching plateau is more of a mental aspect than physical.

Imagine you are a tennis player: you’ve played tennis all your life and that it has helped you remain fit. As long as you enjoy the game, it makes you happy and keeps you physically active but the day you stop liking the game, your body will also give up. It will no longer react as effectively and rather cause you stress. So if you are enjoying a particular physical activity, keep doing it, but as soon as your interest of it falters immediately find another form of exercise.

People believe as long as they work out, they can eat anything. I started college as an aerospace engineering major. In engineering the most important aspect was efficiency. The math for that is business calculus level times 10, but what it boils down to is maximum output with minimum input. In order to be efficient in engineering terms, your results have to be maximized with as few resources to complete it as possible. Treat your body just like that.

You need to consume the right amount of calories and burn more. Do not think just because you are working out hard with lots of different exercises, it gives you the passport to eat whatever you want. If you are performing less vigorous exercises, for example fast-paced walking or moderately-paced bicycling, then to burn the calories for slice of pizza you have exercise for 30 minutes. For a cupcake, it would be 50 minutes. Think about it – would you actually want to spend all that extra time exercising because you eat unhealthy food?

The key to resolving this challenge is to stop thinking of it as an exercise. Think of something you enjoy doing. For example, when you went to the beach every other day during spring break, you had to pass through all that Miami traffic. Once you reached the sea, the parking was another hassle. Sometimes staying out in the sun for long periods of time got you dehydrated and you did not feel well. But none of this mattered because you enjoy going to the beach.

It is rather relaxing to go to the beach, enjoy the nature and spend time with your loved ones. Just like that, you need to enjoy what you do when you are working out. Do not perceive this as a chore that you have to do, rather include fitness in your daily life as your escape route, the time of the day to relieve stress and feel better.