What To Do When You Hit a Plateau

Q: Hey Mark, my body fat is still sitting at 18%. I’m making no progress! What should I do?

A: That’s an interesting question… One that I always start with, tell me a little bit about where you were 6 months ago…

Usually it goes something like,

Well 6 months ago, I really hated my body. Or, 6 months ago, I was depressed and I just broke up with my long time boyfriend and I was scared to get back into the dating scene. Or, 6 months ago, I was trying my hardest to get over a long time battle with an eating disorder.

You get the point.

Next thing, after we have reflected on how far we have come is to define where do we want to go?

This usually goes something like…

I want to compete.
I want to look like a fitness model.
I want to get sponsorship from a supplement company (tries not to roll eyes).


Now we get to the good stuff… How long and how focused have you been towards that goal? Usually the response is…

Well, I started with a coach 6 weeks ago. Or I’ve been training my whole life, I really think it’s my diet that is letting me down and to be honest, it has been up and down. Or, I know I have been doing EVERYTHING RIGHT, it has to be my hormones or something…

What often happens when we think we ‘lack progress’ is that it is in a different form. We don’t recognize or honour it, and we compare ourselves to what we think progress ‘should’ look like. It ‘should’ look like legs like hers or abs like his. Why don’t I have that?!

In the example of, ‘6 months ago I had a eating disorder’, progress can be ‘merely’ having a healthy relationship with food. And when I say ‘merely’ I really mean- wow! That’s amazing. You have come so far, congratulations, keep going!

On the road to your first comp, progress can be ‘merely’, I can fit into my skinny jeans now, I haven’t worn them in 5 years. And by ‘merely’ I really mean, wow! That’s amazing. Congrats, you have come so far! Keep going!

But often we don’t see progress… You know why? The constant need to compare ourselves to others. We see their ‘progress’ and think- they must have a better deal than me.

I thank my parent’s everyday that I was not given any genetic gifts other than the two greatest parents in the word and the example of that you can achieve anything if you work hard enough.

If I had been given ‘super gifted genetics of muscle mass’ I may have become a top bodybuilder, then I would have missed out on all the opportunities that my own path of ‘progress’ in the gym has given me- which I now see.

In life, we are all on our own unique path. If you haven’t made progress in the gym, ask, where in the other areas of life have I made progress? Has it been in my business, career, family, spirituality, mentally, financially, socially?

Maybe, just maybe, your progress is where your real values lie and instead of injecting the values of ‘progress’ from another you need to honour your own.

It’s like going to the ice-cream store and ordering your favorite flavor, vanilla and looking at your friends wishing you ordered chocolate. Instead of being present with your favorite flavor (really I mean, your kids, career, business, etc) your fantasying about how good chocolate must taste (by chocolate I mean the persons values that your injecting into you).

Training and progress isn’t just about what happens in the gym. Use it to empower your life and build a better you- in all areas. Not just in the mirror that you see- but in the mirror that you cant see. And then who knows…. You might just enjoy the process and have success in your highest form.

Mark Ottobre

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