Your body’s primary purpose is survival. For this reason, it will try and find the easiest, most energy efficient way it possibly can to do anything. When it does this, it literally changes its neurological pathways (how your body communicates with itself) in order to find an easier way. When it finds an easier way, it is called adaptation, which in the fitness world is called plateau.
Plateau is when your body no longer has to change to do whatever it is you’re making it do. For example, if you move to a colder climate, you may shiver in the beginning. Over time, you may not shiver as often. Over more time, you may start wearing shorts and t-shirts on days you used to be rugged up.
The shivering was your muscles contracting rapidly to burn energy and generate body heat, to keep you warm. Over time, your body learned to generate and conserve enough body heat without having to shiver. It adapted. It no longer had to change in response to the environment, because it worked out how to do things better and more efficiently.
Adaptation is a good thing in most cases. Like sleeping, for instance. When you go to bed at the same time for a while, your ‘body clock’ makes you sleepy at around the same time and you wake up without an alarm, feeling rested and refreshed. This is because your body starts producing and regulating hormones and neurotransmitters to influence you to go to sleep so your body can rest and heal. This is called your circadian rhythm, and actually has a positive effect on weight loss, but is disrupted by stress. This topic is worthy of its own article.
The same theory of adaptation or plateau is true of many things in our lives – not just the examples listed above. Emotional responses, tanning, what we eat, playing sport, and many many more are all subject to neurological adaptation. In simpler terms, unless we change what we do or how we do it to beat the ‘program’, our body will cease changing in response to the activity you are doing.
For our goals in weight loss, the biggest contributing factors (within our control) are exercise and nutrition. Our body can adapt to not eating breakfast for instance. It adapts by storing more stuff away as fat so it can survive more easily when you’re starving it for long periods of time.
But is this the best way? Your body doesn’t know what’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. It just adapts as quickly as it can to whatever you’re doing so it can both survive and use the least amount of energy possible.
By understanding this principle, we can do three very important things with our clients:
- We can encourage them to vary their foods. Being in ketosis (a state of fat burning) is one thing, but continuing to vary the types of foods will enhance the benefit of ketosis, as their body cannot adapt to their food intake and therefore has to continue changing.
- We can encourage them to alternate between the technologies we use, so their body does not adapt so fast to the type of treatment and therefore has to continue changing.
- We can encourage them to make progression with their exercises through interval training and other methods, so that they get the maximum benefit in the shortest amount of time, as their body will continue to change.
Adaptation and plateau has long been considered an enemy of weight loss. But it doesn’t have to be. By understanding these simple principles, you can empower yourself to make fast, positive, long lasting change.
If you would like to experience how we manage plateau and the techniques we use, book in for a complimentary session with us using this form.
About the Author: Dale Ingram is the Business Development Manager of Revival and General Manager of Papilio System. He is the co-creator of the Papilio System. He speaks publicly and is passionate about raising awareness of the Power we have within ourselves to make positive Change in our lives.