From the Gym to My Life: Plateaus

Happy Sunday! I hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and that the new decade is off to a roaring start for you!

I thought the New Year would be a good time to change up my workout routine a bit. You’ve probably heard fitness gurus say that after weeks of training a particular way, our bodies get so accustomed to the routine style that they flat out refuse to respond to the same ol’ same ol’. This dreaded dead-end is known as a “plateau,” and it’s especially frustrating for those trying to lose weight.

But regardless of whether or not one’s goal is to shed a few pounds, nobody wants to put forth thirty to sixty minutes of rigorous physical activity “just for the heck of it” without seeing or feeling results. I’ve learned from experience that as hard as it is to bust out of the cozy comfort zone of a robotic routine, it’s more than worth it!

Me Doing a Burpee: Part of the Plateau-Demolishing Plan 😉

My first workout of 2011 was a preemptive attack on my fitness foe, Monsieur Plateau. The last couple of months I’ve been “lifting heavy” as my trainer, Michael, puts it. That basically means I perform eight to ten repetitions of a few multi-joint exercises with ample recovery time in between. My ectomorphic body type responds best to this kind of old school training…until I hit the jagged side of flat-topped mountain!

So, cleverly, I decided that in the next few weeks, I’ll shake things up by doing the exact opposite of what constituted my fall 2010 routines. I’ve resolved to lift weights not for an hour, but for thirty minutes. But they will be an intense thirty minutes consisting of circuits — one exercise after another with no rest in between. And I’m not going to go as heavy, but stay in a “rep range” of twelve to twenty repetitions.

Since my rest day was yesterday, I started “the attack” today, and I can honestly say my body feels sufficiently “shocked,” as personal trainers say. I missed my rest time! 😉

I quite enjoy comparing fitness with life and drawing applicable parallels between them. I can’t help but do so now as I think about plateaus, how we arrive at them, and how we conquer them like the walls of Jericho.  I’m a quintessential creature of habit. I wake up and go to bed at the same time almost every day. I pray in the early morning, work out a few hours later, write all afternoon, and read each evening before bed (movies and TV are typically in there somewhere, too 😉 ).

I love my routine. But I’m learning that while routines are good, even healthy, rigidity and stagnation are not. Sometimes routines can hold us back, I think. We might become so immersed in our own schedule and daily rhythm that we get anxious and afraid of new opportunities. We might be so attuned to the automatic voice inside our heads dictating where we go and what we do on a regular basis that we don’t hear God’s voice leading us off the beaten path…

I hope and pray that I’ll be obliterating more than just fitness plateaus this year. God has a plan for all of us, you know: “…to prosper you and not to harm you…to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). It would be a shame for me, you, or anyone to miss out on those plans because we were too preoccupied with a self-made ritual. Here’s to new things and a farewell to old routines!

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” –Isaiah 41:13

Stay fit, stay faithful ~<3 Di

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