What is it about those last 10 pounds? We’re not talking about the extra few we all wish we could lose — we mean those pounds that, when you’ve been on a weight-loss mission, are as hard to get rid of as ants at a picnic.
There are loads of reasons you start to plateau after you’ve lost a certain amount of weight. It could be that your body has started to adapt to your new exercise routine, or maybe you’ve lost your motivation. Or, if you’ve already lost a reasonable amount of weight, you’re now a smaller size — so that last 10 pounds is a greater percentage of your weight than it was when you started out, meaning it’s placing more of a demand on your body.
But don’t give up! Making minor adjustments to your diet, exercise routine and even your attitude can yield major changes. We asked a few weight-loss experts for their top tips.
1. Exercise outside of your comfort zone.
Whether you run, cycle, swim, box, or lift weights, it’s time to take things to the next level. “You’ve got to push the body and increase some of the variables to ensure you’re working harder than you were previously,” advises Andrew Meade, co-founder of Melbourne’s Urban Workout gym.
This means not only ramping up the intensity, frequency, and duration of your exercise, but also mixing up your modalities to "shock" your body into shape. “Challenge your muscle memory,” says Meade. “Switch from swimming to cycling, yoga to weights, gym workouts to running in the park.”
2. Go back to square one.
Clare Collins, a professor in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Newcastle, says that people who plateau may be suffering from what she calls "portion creep" — you have subconsciously drifted off your diet plan and increased your calorie intake. “That third of a cup of rolled oats is now half a cup,” she says.
To get back on track, Collins suggests starting from scratch. “Spend four days weighing and measuring your food to see if you’ve been keeping your calorie count intact,” she says. “If you are, then it could be your body saying it doesn’t want to lose that last 10 pounds.”
Zoe Bingley-Pullin, nutritionist and founder of Nutritional Edge, has another suggestion: Next time you serve yourself dinner on your usual sized plate, remove a third of it and put it in a container for a mid-afternoon snack the next day.
Keep an eye on what you’re drinking as well. Because you’ve been doing so well up to now, you might think it’s OK to start sneaking in an extra glass of wine, beer, or soda. Don’t. And no powdered meal-replacement shakes or sports drinks, either! Bingley-Pullin suggests sticking to simple liquids, such as water, herbal teas, and coffee, but no more than two coffees a day.
3. Try interval training.
This is an excellent way to achieve workout after-burn, Meade says, where your body continues to burn calories at a higher-than-normal level.
During a 15-minute run, for instance, do two minutes of steady jogging followed by one minute of fast running, and repeat this cycle five times. “As you progress, switch it around so you do the high intensity for longer,” he suggests.
4. Be realistic about your goal.
The most important question you should ask yourself is whether you really need to lose that last 10 pounds. Is it about achieving a fantasy dress size? Do you long to be as lean as you were 20 years ago when your metabolism was entirely different? Could that extra 10 pounds be muscle mass you’ve gained since you started training? More importantly, is your ultimate goal weight even right for you?
“When people lose weight, they have their dream weight in mind,” says Collins. “But they also have their happy weight — the one they know they can be comfortable with without having to count every lettuce leaf. To get to that dream weight, you’re probably going to have to be really meticulous, and you may only get to do it for a short time or a special occasion.”
Most people in weight-loss programs aspire to lose 30 to 40 percent of their total pounds, adds Collins. “But all the national health and medical research council guidelines will tell you that a 10 percent loss over six months gets you the health improvements, such as reducing the risk of diabetes by half. Keep half of that off for two years or more and you’re a superstar.”
This article was originally written by Bonnie Vaughan. For more, check out our sister site, Now to Love.