You’ve heard it said, the last 10 pounds are the hardest to lose. Maybe you’ve been there, or maybe you’re there now. Hitting a weight loss plateau can be very disheartening, especially when you’ve already lost some weight, and what has worked for you in the past has ceased working.
Before you give up hope, let’s look at some possible reasons the body stops losing weight.
First, it is possible you are already exactly where you need to be. Make sure your goal weight is realistic and in a healthy range. I would love to weigh what I did my freshman year in high school—before having children…or a fully developed adult body (ahem).
But that is unrealistic.
So here is a nifty little caculator that will tell you your Body Mass Index (BMI), a healthy weight range for your height and will also give your calorie requirements and nutrition requirements per day, based on your activity level. There are many calculators like this out there. Find one you like and go with it.
So assuming you’ve set a valid goal, let’s talk physiology: As you get smaller, you need fewer calories to maintain your weight. Therefore, to continue to lose weight, you’ll need to gradually adjust your calorie intake downward.
Now let’s talk math: 3500 calories equals one pound. To lose one pound a week, you need to create a calorie deficit of 3500/week, or 500 calories/day. The best way to do this is a combination of eating less and exercising more.
I can hear you now…”Eat less? Are you insane?”
Yes, as a matter of fact I am.
But that’s beside the point.
I’m sorry, but I totally cracked myself up when I took this picture of myself and posted it here…I had to use it again.
Try keeping a detailed food log to see where you can cut. Every time I write down what I’m eating, I’m shocked to see I’m eating more than what I thought I was. I often start to get the mentality that I’ve worked out really hard, so I deserve to eat a pint of ice cream or take larger portions of everything.
My occasional treat turns into a daily treat, and then a habit. Then I wonder why I’ve hit a wall.
Treating yourself now and then is fine, but when it creeps into a daily habit, it sabotages your efforts and creates frustration…and fat. Look at your daily food intake and make necessary adjustments. For you, it may be a simple as choosing a leaner cut of meat, cutting out the cup of hot chocolate at night, or using lemon juice and herbs on your salad instead of dressing, at least until you reach your goal.
On the exercise side of the equation, if you haven’t added weights to your cardio routine, by all means—start there! That alone will bust through your weight loss barrier and take you to the next fitness level.
Click here for my post on the benefits of adding weights.
Since I’ve been using weights for many years, I’ve found that simply going up to a set of higher weights, adding 15 minutes to my cardio, or pushing myself harder on my cardio intervals can be enough to break a bad cycle. Remember, your body will eventually adjust to your workout routine, no matter how intense, so it’s important occasionally to “fake out” the metabolism and shake things up a little.
If you’ve tried all those things and you still remain the same, it may be time to chuck your work out all together and try something completely new. If you’ve been walking, try biking. If you’ve got a favorite aerobics DVD, get on an elliptical instead. If you’ve always done spinning, try Pilates.
I’ve read lots of different recommendations on how often you need to change up your routine, anywhere from four weeks to twelve weeks. You will be the best judge of that: basically, if you stop seeing the results you want, it’s time to switch it up. Whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP! You can do this. I know you can!
And don’t forget to jump over to Heart Choices for more great information on health and fitness!