Friday, September 3, 2010
You Are Your Own Worst Enemy In Your Fat Loss Battle
Usually, in the first two weeks of the start of a new exercise and nutrition program, your body will make massive adaptations to combat this new stress in order to achieve homeostasis. This will cause you to make some serious progress and trick you into thinking you are now good to go. Past the two week mark, you have to keep pushing the envelope in order to continue to place stress on the system causing even more change.
Then around the 6 week mark you need to really shake things up and stress the system more to prevent natural plateau. The difference between maintaining and a plateau is your intent. If you are still wanting to make progress and you stop getting ahead, then you have reached a plateau. If you get to a place where you are happy with your progress and you want to stay where you are at, then you have entered a maintenance phase by allowing the plateau to take effect. Your body is all about you staying in your maintenance phase forever because it can then re-optimize your systems for your current situation.
Most people don't reach a place any time soon, where they think they are ready for a maintenance phase. So change and stress must continue to bombard the body to keep adaptation in full swing. Your brain will trick you constantly by sending out signals that make you feel content or full with no need to train harder or eat more or better. You'll think "I'm good to go right here". But it's rare that that's an accurate place to be because you have yet to attain your fitness goals. So you must press on. Understanding this self-mental trickery is a key to success. Knowing that this will occur will allow you to watch for the warning signs and take appropriate action to stay ahead of plateaus.
Normally, when you operate in your comfort zone with fitness and nutrition, you will not make any significant progress. Of course, this is what your body wants you to do to maintain control. Your brain will scream "I can't do it, I can't lift that weight, I can't run any faster or I'm full and can't eat another bite. This has to be recognized and you must stay in the red zone of exertion and nutritional advancement. So when your brain trys to defeat you, you must run faster, lift heavier, get one more rep in and force another bite of food. Fight hard to stay out of your comfort zone and ignore your brain when it trys to stop you.
Two techniques that I use frequently at the home bootcamp are the black mailbox and the 3 second drive/push. The black mailbox is the point in the road, near my house, where the road starts going uphill, three quarters of the way through a 30 second sprint. This is where your brain screams "stop-I'm going to die" and you want to slow down and fail yourself. So I tell people when you reach the black mailbox, you must force yourself to run faster until you hit the finish line. And almost 100% of the time, when a person does what I tell them, their sprint time improves dramatically.
The 3 second drive / push technique applies to the deadlift and the bench press. When you are deadlifting a heavy weight that is maximal or near maximal, it takes approximately 2-2.5 seconds for the bar to leave the floor when exerting yourself maximally. At about 1 second, your brain screams "this is too freakin heavy, I can't lift it, stop now". If you listen to your brain -you fail and don't make the lift, even though you could have. With the bench press, you must continue to push as the bar hits your sticking point. You must push continually for the full 3 seconds while focusing on core stabilization and the weight will creep up slowly if you are going to lift it.
The bottom line is that your body is programmed to strive to reach / stay at homeostasis regardless of your body composition and fitness level. Your body wants to optimize your systems to operate smoothly at it's current stress level. Your brain will send signals to persuade you to slow down or stop even though you could physically do it. You must push past these mental barriers and learn how your body works. The more time you spend operating in the Red Zone of intensity will allow you to make progress and master your limits. When your brain screams stop - take another step and see what happens. You will be surprised. Progress and your goals are within your grasp and control. You can do it!
Dempsey's Resolution Fitness