For the first time in a long time, I hit a plateau and ignored the signs for about a month (arguably 2 months, oops).
I was eating “paleo” during the week (if paleo pancakes and cookies are included in my paleo now….) and then balls-to-the-wall eating frenzy every weekend. I’m talking wine & cheese, cheddar cheese fries, cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing, chips and queso, cheeseburgers, cheesecake, mac & cheese–OK, an exaggeration, but I went cuh-razy (I ❤ cheese). On top of that, my work outs sucked. I was recovering from an injury, which translates into ‘I was feeling weak and discouraged’. On top of this, I got really sick. The pesky, yet addictive, “well, maybe next week when I feel better and have time” was popping into my mind every time I missed a work out or failed at eating healthy and only exacerbated the problem. This happens to everyone at some point in their life. It may happen during a training routine, diet, religious journey, job, school, relationship with nature, friendships, partnerships. People hit plateaus. The key is knowing how to kick-start yourself up a road off the plateau.
I posit a challenge for anyone currently stuck on a plateau or to consider next time you find yourself there. As soon as you recognize your plateau, find a new goal. A challenging, creative, different one. Something you have been wanting to do forever (hike a rigorous mountain range) or something that just entered your creative mind (write a novel). Create a plan. Work towards it. If you struggle to do these types of things (as many people do), then here are a few tips I often find helpful.
1. Write it all down. For example, if you want to quit smoking, write that down as your goal. But, remember that annoying saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”? Unfortunately it is right on target. Write down how you are going to do this (and I don’t just mean “To quit smoking, I’m going to not smoke”). Are you going to throw away all your current smokes and lighters? Are you going to avoid hanging out with your smoker friends at least for a little while? Do you have a go-to line ready for when someone offers you a cigarette? What about triggers and how you will deal with stress? Will you have a cigarette replacement (such as picking up running for those newly reborn lungs or maybe just some chewing gum)? How will you deal with a slip up or in times where you may need to be flexible (i.e., you just can’t avoid smokers forever)? Plans are really, really important– arguably a universal rule followed by anyone who has ever worked for something and been successful. You might have a great memory, but I find writing this down forces me to be more precise in my goals and strategy.
2. Find a great support group. There are some studies that say keeping your goals to yourself may help you succeed better, but I do not find that to be true of most people. Unless we have shitty friends (if this is you, make your first goal be to find less shitty friends!), our friends will be our support group when we start down a challenging path. They don’t have to be involved or know every detail (they are not your sponsor), but knowing what you are doing will help them help you. It will make them more conscious of the situations they put you in. If you are trying to quit smoking, your friend should not be offering you cigarettes every morning as you walk into school or the office together. They may be able to remind you of that ultimate goal you have at moments of weakness. It is important to note that we do not want to rely on these people, as people are so terribly unreliable, but we can still find them supportive. Letting just a couple key people know what you are aiming for will help hold you accountable and provide support for your good decisions.
3. Do not think of a reward until you reach your goal. This is counter intuitive to our capitalist mentality here on Planet Earth. In order to work hard, I have to have a tangible incentive, right? Wrong. Our incentive is our pride in ourselves and the overwhelming joy we feel when we accomplish things. I used to always make goals like “if I do X, I get to eat Y or buy Z”. It absolutely never worked for long-term goals (longer than a few hours of writing a paper to get a pumpkin spice latte). Once I started losing weight, I realized that the real incentive was not the reward I put at the end of the table. The reward is the journey and the triumph–and in my case all the goodies that come along with good health. If we really want to eat Y or buy Z, we will do so regardless of reaching the goal and that is what makes it such a terrible system. Enjoy the journey. Make yourself work hard because you want to, not because you want a new TV for the living room or a triple-chocolate brownie.
4. Go for it. Maybe this seems menial, but I think our society often allows for a lot of “meditation” on an idea–better known as procrastination. Hmm…. This blog I read gave me a good idea, but I’m going to wait and think/forget about it for a couple weeks. Maybe I’ll do something then. If our goal is to be healthier and we have a good idea of how to do this, why in the world would we wait until next week or next month or next year??????? Put away excuses, work around actual problems, implement a plan, and try something. Remember to be flexible & continue finding motivation via yourself, friends, and the internet!. Success is not as far away as you think it is.
Needing help with feeling motivated and getting some idea as to how to go about the whole kit and caboodle? This 3 minute video should do just that.
Chicken “Tortilla” Soup
It’s cold and rainy. Make this. Feel comforted.
Seriously, I got amazing reviews on this super easy to make soup.
For the chicken:
- 1.5 lb chicken breast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- Zest of 1 lime
- Preheat oven to 375
- Coat chicken breast in olive oil and about half the seasoning & zest.
- Put in a casserole dish and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Shredded chicken (from above ingredients)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 hatch chile, or other pepper/chile, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes + green chiles* (if you can’t find that, buy them separate)
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 32 oz chicken broth
- 1 package frozen spinach (10 oz), defrosted and excess water removed
- Spices and zest leftover from chicken
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Toppings (avocado, cilantro, grass-fed cheese, paleo tortilla strips, bacon, plantain chips, drizzle of coconut milk, etc)
- Shred the chicken that you made earlier.
- Combine olive oil, onion, and the pepper in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Once the onion is translucent, add garlic.
- When garlic is fragrant, add chicken and the leftover spices and zest. Combine well.
- Add in tomatoes (and green chiles), tomato paste, chicken broth, and water. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low. Stir in the spinach.
- Let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Then scoop out a bowlful, top with all the toppings you love, and enjoy!