Rut. Slump. Funk.
Seems like I've heard these words, or some variation thereof, thrown around the box lately. See if this sounds familiar: you find CrossFit, you fall in love. The intensity, the people, the amazing results. Then, you try eating paleo or primal. You might participate in a nutrition challenge for a few weeks; you quit drinking beer and quit eating peanut butter sandwiches for every meal. You again amaze yourself: you feel light and strong and you’re killing WODs left and right.
A few months pass. You shop for new clothes. Your friends and family ask what the hell you’re doing and you gush about CrossFit and the evils of grains and legumes.
And then one day you wake up and things are not quite right. You take stock: Was it the beer, egg rolls and potato skins you ate the night before? Was it yesterday’s disappointing Cindy score? Was it last week’s missed deadlift – and the fact that your miss wasn’t even close to your PR? Was it the seriously horrible night of sleep – or lack thereof?
You look in the mirror. What happened? Where did all that hard work go… and why did it all of a sudden become so difficult to sustain?
Here’s the good news: for many of us, the above scenario is pretty common. The shock of lifting heavy weights, running as fast as you can, and giving all you’ve got in the box will make for significant (and significantly visible gains) in the beginning. The jolt of eating clean and recovering your metabolism will do the same.
However, at some point, the potential for a slump or plateau is nearly certain. Whether it’s stalling with lift increases, struggling to still get that pull-up, or cursing at the last 2 inches that refuse to leave your middle (to reveal those glorious abs that CANNOT WAIT TO BE UNLEASHED ON THE WORLD), we have all suffered similarly.
What to do? Here’s some ideas for busting out of a rut:
1. Check WHAT you’re eating. While your family might still refer to your diet as that “crazy caveman eating,” are you really still 80-20 like you say you are? How many beers are you drinking a week? (hint: if it’s more than 1, you’re NOT 80-20.) How many visits to Sweet Frog? (hint: fro-yo, while glorious, does not count as primal, especially when covered in brownie bites.) Do an honest-to-goodness inventory of your choices. You might surprise yourself.
2. Check HOW MUCH you’re eating. So if you’re still pretty much living on Brussels sprouts and grilled chicken – good for you! But are you eating ENOUGH? One egg for breakfast probably isn’t going to sustain you until your lunch, when you quickly shovel an apple and some almond butter down your gullet between meetings at the office. Find an estimate for how many calories your body needs (the Bod Pod, which will be at the box this Sunday morning, is a good resource for this), and see if you’re getting close.
3. Check HOW MUCH you’re eating (again). If you’re still living clean, but eating 8 chicken thighs and fourteen sweet potatoes all slathered in a cup of almond butter at each meal, you might be eating a little bit too much. Again, do a little research, check your numbers, and try to get closer to breaking even.
4. Resolve yourself to work on one of your “goats.” So, you missed deadlift PR last week. That’s a drag, sure. But how are your ring dips coming along? Re-focus on a movement or a challenge that you’re sure to see some improvement on.
5. Mix it up; try a new session. If you always come to 4pm, try the 600am. Each session has its own personality, which can affect how hard you work. New faces might shake things up a bit for you, re-igniting your competitive spirit.
6. Set some new, reachable goals. They can be load-related; they can be skill-related; they can be body-related. Write them down. Make a plan. And tell somebody so they can check up on you every once in a while.
7. Talk to a coach. This should probably be number 1 on this list, depending on the depth of your rut. The coaches can help you pinpoint areas of training and eating that, with small adjustments, will make a huge difference. Plus, it’s what we're here for!
8. Take a short break. Overtraining might be the culprit for stalled progress. An extended rest period, for 3-5 days, can help, especially if you’ve been going hard for more than four months. Use the break to focus on mobility and relaxation.
9. And last but not least: DON'T QUIT. :) You'll find your mojo, you'll begin to see results again, you'll climb out of your funk -- as long as you keep coming back. I promise.