How to Lose Those Last Few Pounds
What you're experiencing is one of the most common dieting dilemmas: the infamous weight plateau. You've kept your diet and exercise routine the same, but for reasons you can't explain, you're no longer losing weight. It's tempting to throw in the towel when you feel like nothing you're doing is making a difference, but I promise there's hope! You just have to figure out why your weight has stalled so you can get things moving again.
Why Plateaus Happen
Here's a bit of irony: Plateaus are often the result of doing well on your diet. In general, people who weigh more have higher metabolisms, because larger bodies burn more calories. As you lose weight, your metabolism naturally slows down a little. That means you may have to eat fewer calories than you did when you started your diet—but of course you don't want to be hungry! What to do? Try these tips:
Take a close look at your behavior.Honestly assess your day-to-day efforts by writing them down. Are you really sticking to the plan? Maybe your portion sizes have slowly gotten larger, or you're not exercising as often as you once were? Over time, it's easy to revert to old patterns.
The best way to find out if you've changed your behavior is to keep a food and activity journal. Log everything you put into your mouth and every minute you exercise for one week, then compare it to your journal entries from when you started the diet. (If you didn't originally keep a journal, start one now and keep it going for several weeks to see if you notice a trend.) If you've slacked off, make every effort to tighten up your game—even if it means getting out the old food scale and pedometer again.
Move more.Cardio exercise (like biking, jogging or brisk walking) helps you torch calories, and increasing workouts by 10 to 15 minutes or adding an extra day to your weekly routine may be enough to get the scale moving again.
And don't forget about strength training! It's incredibly important because it helps build muscle, and the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body will burn—even when you're resting. Make sure you're strengthtraining two or three times per week. If you're already doing that, consider upping your weights (go from 5 pounds to 8 pounds, for example) or repetitions, or try new equipment like a medicine ball or resistance bands. Many gyms offer trial memberships at a reduced price (go to goldsgym.com/womansday for a free 7-day VIP pass and a special discount if you decide to join after the trial), and some include one free session with a trainer who can show you how to use these tools. But there are also plenty of equipment-free strengthtraining exercises—such as planks, lunges, crunches, stair stepping and leg lifts—that you can do just about anywhere.
Pack in the protein.When you lose weight, you lose fat—but unfortunately also a small amount of muscle. This is especially a problem if you don't eat enough protein, because your body will start to take it from your muscles for fuel. Protein also keeps you full longer than carbs and fat, and eating it gives your metabolism a slight boost (though of course you need a healthy combo of these nutrients). Include some lean protein inallof your meals and snacks. The best protein boosters: egg whites, fish and seafood, skinless chicken and turkey, lentils, lowfat cottage cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt.
Mix it up.Eating the same foods every day probably means you're getting a little bored, which can lead to eating larger portions in order to feel satisfied. One simple solution you can try starting today: Give your taste buds a jolt by experimenting with new spices or swapping healthy recipes with a friend. Or find new light meal ideas at womansday.com/lightrecipes.
Front-load with water.If overeating at meals is the culprit, have a large glass of water (or any noncaloric beverage) within 30 minutes before mealtime to help fill you up.
Trim 100 to 200 calories.As I mentioned earlier, your new slimmer physique may require fewer calories than it did at the start of your weight-loss journey. So when all else fails, consider shaving an additional 100 to 200 calories off your daily total (see box, right, for some easy ways to do this). Just don't cut back more than that or you may end up feeling deprived, which can lead to bingeing.
Reevaluate your goals.If your journal reveals that you haven't strayed, consider this a good time to rethink your ultimate weightloss goal. Maybe you've been aiming for an unrealistic number given your height and body type. If so, perhaps it's time to consider your current weight your new goal and start focusing on maintaining, rather than losing.
You may have to call in the troops to answer this question fairly—your physician, friends and family, or even a nutritionist. When it comes to our bodies, sometimes others can see what we can't.
Video: How to Lose that Last 10 Pounds - MUST WATCH!
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