Overcoming Plateaus:

Plateaus happen. Most of us get pretty frustrated when we’ve been moving toward our goals, making progress, rewarding ourselves, and feeling good about our choices. Then all the sudden it stops and we feel stuck. Know that this is a normal process in change.

The body is made to adapt and become efficient. As animals we are designed to conserve energy when possible just in case we’ll need it down the road, not expend it because we want to look differently. This is where cycling your workouts becomes important. We want the body to adapt and to become more efficient however we don’t want it to become too comfortable. A great tracker can help make sure you are working out … not just working.

See the last fitness posting on ideas about cycling your workouts, know that plateaus happen, they are showing positive change in the systems of the body, and that your job is to shake them up again!

Cycling your workouts

Cycling your workouts helps on two fronts. First it helps you get over plateaus (which we’ll discuss in a few days) and second it allows you to make sure you don’t get too efficient in your workouts.

An easy way to look at cycling workouts is to start with your time frame – say you have 3 months to complete your goal. This is 12 weeks. You can begin with a conditioning phase for 3 weeks, move to a strength phase for 3 weeks, a speed/strength (aka plyometric phase) for 3 weeks, and finally a combination phase for 3 weeks. Or you could do an easy phase for 3 weeks (here think building your endurance and conditioning for the work to come), a medium phase for 3 weeks (more strength, harder movement patterns, maybe some speed), and a difficult phase for 3 weeks (hypertrophy focus or speed, agility, sports specific conditioning, etc). This gets followed by a week of active rest and then you can move back to a medium phase of easy phase if you are learning new movement patterns.

Looking to track your workouts? Try a FitBit.
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The choice of program is only the frame. The basic components need to be introduction to the work and building endurance, followed by overload – this could be building muscle, longer cardio work, or speed drills. The body is made to adapt and thus becomes good at finding the easiest way to accomplish a task.

By cycling your workouts you can easily help yourself continue to progress in your goals without the frustration of hitting a plateau you didn’t expect.

Photo Credit: BodyBuilding.com

Thank You UWS Students! 

Thank you to UWS Counseling Students for a great evening of exploration regarding the mental health field. In this post I also outline and more in-depth explanation of treating and healing from early trauma. A list of somatic psychology resources is also included.

Thank you for letting me come speak about our profession! I enjoyed the exploration and interest areas. There are some many possibilities and avenues for careers in behavioral health. I am grateful to be able to share my experience and hope for the next generation of LPCs. I wish you well, and please feel free to contact me if more questions/thoughts arise.

As I reflected on the questions I believe I didn’t answer the question about early trauma fully – to heal from psychological trauma we do not need the story/details of the event. Trauma happens in the body, even when it is verbal in nature, the physiology of the fear disrupts the endocrine system and dysregulates the brain processes. As a result we see dysfunctional behaviors and coping skills. To treat this we can use a number of therapies that target body sensations, as early trauma is stored in brain centers as sensations – not as words/symbols. We can then use the body sensations to track and allow neuropathways to develop while using the present moment therapist to client regulation. This allows the person to process through the trauma in the brain via the body with safety, then make meaning of the event(s) using words, art, music, etc. I tend to use somatic therapies most of the time along with cognitive work to help make meaning and keep the process moving – help clients understand what’s happening when that’s what’s needed for safety. And Dialectical Behavior Therapy to teach regulations skills prior to trauma protocols. Many somatic modalities teach them along the way, however some struggle with the mindfulness and/or aren’t used to being in the body, tracking sensation for long periods of time. Cognitive work can help balance the fears and safety while building endurance. 
Some resources for the somatic work:

  • USABP – United States Association for Body Psychotherapies
  • SE – Somatic Experiencing, Peter Levin has a good book on trauma in the body
  • Hakomi – Hakomi Institute 
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy – check out Pat Ogden’s book on trauma and the body 
  • EMDRIA – Eye movement densitization and reprocessing therapy main association website.

Workouts in the Heat:

This time of year it can be easy to overheat. When the temperature and humidity rise it is important to be smart about your workouts. First, make sure to dress appropriately. Technology has been helpful making moisture wicking clothing, quick drying items, and clothing with strategically vented panels.

You need to drink plenty of fluids. Typically water is just fine, however if you are planning to be out longer than an hour you may want a sports/electrolyte drink. Allow yourself to sweat. Sweating is the body’s way of implementing a cooling system. The more you sweat the more fluids you’ll need to replace. In addition, if you are a salty sweater (does your sweat leave a salt ring on your clothing/hats) you may need to intake more electrolytes to stay balanced.

It’s also a good idea to check the weather and plan your workouts around the hottest parts of the day. In some areas you’ll want to plan for early morning and evening workout times – before or after things cool down. You can also pick locations that have a temperature variance – like higher elevations or exercising closer to the river.

All in all, make sure you are listening to your body and paying attention to your personal preferences and fluid needs while working out in the heat.