Wellness Wheel from https://www.samhsa.gov/wellness-initiative/eight-dimensions-wellness with text overlay: Tips for Dealing with Plateaus in Your Wellness Journey

Tips for Dealing with Plateaus in Your Wellness Journey

So here you are, moving right along with all your wellness improvement efforts, and all of a sudden, BAM! You hit a wall. Have you ever been there? For this Wellness Wednesday, I’d like to talk about what to do when we hit plateaus in our Wellness journey.

When we’re making changes, there are going to be times that we plateau. The great progress we were once making has slowed down or stopped, and we can get really discouraged.

Discouragement can be a real progress killer, because it has the potential to stop us dead in our tracks. We can start to think, “this isn’t working, so why should I even bother?”

Here’s the thing — plateaus and slowdowns are normal. We just have to find ways to get us through this period and keep us putting one foot in front of the other.

Here are a few things that can help:

  • Acknowledge that you’re feeling discouraged, but remember, it’s just a feeling, and you don’t have to believe what those immediate feelings are telling you. I hate to admit it, but I’m easily discouraged. If I gave in to these feelings every time I had them, I wouldn’t ever get anything done.
  • Look at the big picture and remember why you started. As we talked about in Discovering Our “Why” For Wellness Changes, this can help us keep going when things get tough, when it feels like we’re not making progress, and when we’re giving in to those feelings of discouragement.
  • Focus on the process, not the results. As an example, if you’re trying to lose weight, rather than focusing on how much the scale is moving, look at things like how you’re doing with your eating, how you’re feeling, how your exercise is going, etc.
  • Trust the process. If you know you’re doing all the right things to move you toward your wellness goals, trust the process. Give all the things you’re doing some time to work. Plateaus are normal, and because life gets in the way sometimes, there may be periods where you don’t make as much progress as other times.
  • Don’t be afraid to change things up. Although we should trust the process, there may be times when we need to pivot a little. Sometimes we make our plans, but once we put them into action, we realize that some of the things we said we would do just aren’t realistic. It’s okay to change things up. It’s better to have small things that we can do consistently than to have bigger plans that we can’t stick to.
  • Don’t compare your progress with others’. People have different starting points, and they progress differently. The only person we need to be concentrating on when it comes to our wellness efforts is ourself.
  • Just put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes we just have to do one  little thing, take one tiny step, to give us the forward momentum we need to keep going.

It can be discouraging when we don’t see the progress we’d like to see, but if we can just work through these times, we will start to see it again.

When I worked with my weight-loss clients, I always encouraged them to stay off the scales for six weeks. I knew that there would be weeks they would lose, weeks they’d stay the same, and even weeks where they’d gain a couple of pounds. They might hit a couple of mini-plateaus.

If they stepped on the scales and saw they weren’t losing as much weight as they hoped, they could become discouraged and let it derail them. They focused on the process instead, and they could feel good about choosing healthy foods that fueled their bodies and exercising consistently. When they did start to see results, it would often be in the form of their clothes fitting differently, their energy increasing, and exercise becoming easier. That scale weight was no longer the most important thing in the world to them.

Plateaus can be tough to work through, but if we can find ways to help us get past them, we can continue to move forward and start to see progress again.

Do you ever feel discouraged when things aren’t going as planned with your wellness efforts? What have you found most helpful in getting you through it? Please share!

Blessings,

`Terri

20 comments

    1. I was just thinking about you yesterday Grace! I hope you’re doing well. Several years after I retired from the military, I got my certifications and worked as a Personal Trainer and Health Coach. I did that until I started having the cascade of health problems that seems to have started (or at least brought to the forefront) the whole fibromyalgia thing….

      1. Ive had a chest/head cold for over a week now :(, but I’m still on the right side of the dirt and knock on wood it has not caused my MS to flare so far. I was thinking the other day, you have a friend with a grandson named connor right?… do you have any other connorisms to share?

      2. Ugh…. I hate colds. It’s like you feel too sick to do anything, but not quite sick enough to lie in bed all day…. I’m glad to hear it hasn’t caused your MS to flare so far. I hope it stays that way.

        You have a great memory Grace – my friend’s grandson’s name is Colton, so you’re really close. I have gotten any Colton stories lately; our friends have four grandchildren now, and they stay busy with them, so we don’t get to spend as much time together. We sit together in church, but of course, we can’t talk too much during the service. Next time I see her, though, I’ll ask for a Colton story.

        Hope you feel much better soon sweet friend!

  1. It can be quite easy to become discouraged I think, and far harder to then build yourself back up and stay positive. I think you had a brilliant idea with having your clients stay off the scales when dealing with weight loss because as you say, things can go up and down and just a slight gain or even staying the same can be disappointing, leading to a downward spiral. I know I’ve found myself thinking lately about how things are getting worse rather than better, but I’ve had to reassess it because actually, where my stoma is concerned, things have levelled out since the last surgery, so that’s better than it was before; I’ve ended up putting everything together as a whole, saying ‘everything’ is getting worse, rather than looking at different aspects of my health and wellbeing. Another insightful post, Terri, you really are full of inspirational and thought-provoking topics, I love it!  ♥
    Caz xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! You are far too kind! I love what you said about looking at the individual aspects of your health and wellbeing. As you said it’s easy to get discouraged, and when we just lump everything together, we think everything is going poorly instead of just the one or two things that are giving us problems. I’m glad to hear that things with your stoma are better than they were. I hope other things will start to settle down some for you too. Sending love and hugs your way!

  2. Trying to be mindful, staying in the moment can calm the anxious thoughts. Consciously refocusing on the positives not the negatives. Great post Terri, so well written as always! Hope you are doing well. X

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Marie! That’s some great advice. It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves instead of, as you said, “staying in the moment.” I’m doing well, thanks. We’re hosting a brunch on Saturday, so I’m busy preparing for that. You know how it is – I have to start early so I can pace myself. I hope you’re doing well also sweet friend. Hugs!

      1. Good planning and wise food choices all help but I still find it leaves me happy, content, renewed but drained and back to recharging stage! Enjoy but mind yourself too!

      2. I agree! I love being able to do these things, but they do take a bit of a toll. That’s okay, though – I’ll rest up afterward.😊

  3. Great post Terri! I find pacing myself, in other words keep doing what I’m doing, knowing that there will be results ahead. And my all time favorite I grab a cuppa & journal! 😀
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

    1. Thanks so much Jennifer! I’m so sorry for the delay in replying. We hosted a brunch on Saturday and I’ve done nothing but go to church and rest since then. This is the first time I’ve touched my computer since Friday.😊 Thanks for sharing; it’s great that you have the patience to keep doing what you’re doing. Sometimes we can let discouragement stop us from doing that, so I’m glad to know that doesn’t stop you. Blessings to you sweet friend!

  4. I really enjoyed your insights on this subject. For me, part of succeeding was understanding that what’s right for healthy people are not the same things that will help a person with my conditions. Learning those rules and how to pace avoids so many setbacks. Still, it’s hard not to get discouraged when change has to be so slow. It really helps me to stay present and accept life in the slow lane. I’ll be adding on some of these suggestions to overcome some of these moments in the future, as well! Thanks! Xx

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Michelle! You make such a great point about understanding that “what’s right for healthy people are not the same things that will help a person with my conditions.” We have to make concessions for our illnesses and give ourselves some grace when things don’t go according to plan. Slow progress can be difficult, but it’s still progress…. I saw a sign at our gym once that said, “No matter how slow you’re going, you’re still ahead of the person on the couch.” Hope you’re starting to feel better sweet friend!

  5. There are reasons… at least every flare has taught me something. I will get through it! Plateaus. Haven’t thought about those since a weigh in at weight watchers… the lady was freaking out at me because I wasn’t reaching my goal. I yelled, “Ever heard of a plateau?!?!” Yep. Needed to find a new class. 😂🤣😏 Darn, shouldn’t have yelled. Fibro plateau. Hmmm. I need to think on this. Absolutely great read, Terri! I love it when I need to think about a post! Wow. 💜

    1. Thanks Kim! I was thinking of plateaus in the context of overall Wellness goals, but now that you mention it, this could possibly apply to progress with Fibro as well….. Now you’ve got me thinking!

Please tell me what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.