This blog post was inspired by a conversation I had with a client who’s an avid hiker. She was talking about the way a Sherpa leads a hiking group up mountains, and of course, I related it back to goal-setting and weight loss, because that’s what we do!
But the theory can also be applied to every other aspect of your life (relationships, business, spiritual growth, etc.).
When you hike a mountain with a Sherpa, they will take you up to a certain point and then bring you back down to base camp. The next day, you go higher than you were the previous day, and then you go all the way back down to base camp.
It reminds me of the board game Chutes and Ladders: you keep going up and coming back down so your body can adjust to the extreme altitude and climate changes.
Create Your Own Base Camp
Conceptually, I started thinking about the benefits of a plateau. Whether you experience a plateau with eating better, losing weight, or pursuing a goal, it’s okay to run really fast and then slow down. It’s okay to pause and regroup before you start running really fast again.
The Sherpa leads his group back down to the base camp to rest, rejuvenate and mentally and physically prepare for the next day. Why not establish your own base camp in life?
Let’s say you’re on a weight loss program. Why not push for four weeks, and then have a week or two of maintenance? You can learn the ease of maintenance and take the pressure off yourself during that rest time – that “base camp” time.
For women, in particular, it can help to sync recovery weeks with PMS week. With the holiday season ahead, it can help to think in terms of taking some maintenance weeks in coordination with the holidays. Not all out indulgent weeks, but maintenance weeks!
Plateaus Are Great
Clients drive themselves crazy when they step on the scale every day until they learn to process the data. When they hit a plateau, they freak out a little bit because they really want to lose the weight. I tell them, “This plateau is awesome. You’re getting a picture of maintenance.”
When it comes to exercise, I’m adamant that people take a rest day. It must be one FULL day of rest per week. Depending on your fitness level, this could be active recovery (such as hopping on your beach cruiser and riding to your favorite spot for chow), but it shouldn’t be anything strenuous. Rest day is your time – your mini-plateau – to rest and restore.
Embrace The Plateau
Who says that you have to go from A to Z directly at full speed? Why not adopt a pace that feels better to you? There’s nothing wrong with taking a break! In fact, oftentimes, after you’ve given yourself a break, you’ll come back stronger, smarter, and more motivated.
My aussie shepherd mix, Alex, does this all the time. Our stairs are switch back, which means that they go up, there’s a landing, and then they continue in a different direction. Unless it’s dinnertime and he’s making a run for it, Alex will climb up to the landing and take a little break before he goes the rest of the way up. And you know what? He still makes it to the top; only he’s a little less stressed!
Give it a try and see if it helps to fire up your drive a little more for your next sprint!