You’ve been working hard to reach your goals and just have a little bit left to tighten up before you feel like you’re “done”…so how on earth do you lose those last five or ten pounds? Here are five suggestions that might speed things along for you.*
Above all, though, keep in mind that the this last little bit of stubborn change requires more focus and dedication than the rest of your journey might have needed. The snacking “flexibility”, weekend slips, extra glass or 3 of wine, half-effort workouts, 2-hour “nights” of sleep…those probably have to go if you want to tighten up those last few spots.
1. Accept that it will take time
A reasonable expectation for your last little bit of weight loss (especially if you’ve already lost 15+ pounds) is .25 – .5lb per week. A QUARTER TO HALF POUND PER WEEK. One to two pounds per month. You are encouraging your body to do something it’s not exactly programmed to do – and you are, in some ways, effecting a more dramatic change to your body composition than you were when you had a lot more body fat to lose. So be patient!!
2. Get cooking
Crack down on your nutrition habits for two solid weeks. Stop eating out and grabbing convenience foods, and start cooking healthful, whole foods at home. Emphasize protein at every meal and snack, eat small, frequent meals, and get in lots of veggies. Do all the things you know you should be doing but aren’t – cut out the sugary snack that you “earned” from your workout, drink your post-lifting protein shake, and put the weekend free-for-alls on hold. You will probably be surprised to see what a difference those two weeks will make in your body!
3. Stay hydrated
The days of getting in half of your daily water intake at dinner because you “forgot” to drink water during the day are gone! Drink water throughout the day and stay hydrated. You can’t lose fat efficiently unless you’re properly hydrated – water keeps your metabolic rate high (science) and keeps your blood volume at its proper level so that your cells can be properly nourished (and so that waste products can be removed effectively).
4. Change your workout routine
The workout that got you to this point is probably not the workout that will get you past this point. If your body is used to 5 hours of slow jogging every week, you might need to swap out 3 of those hours for a new cardio source. If you’ve been lifting for 3 sets of 10 reps for months, you might need to try 4 heavy sets of just 2-3 reps, or maybe 2 sets of 20 lighter reps. Shake things up and get your muscles guessing again! Try a class you’ve never tried before, or ask a trainer to help you create a new routine every 2 weeks that will keep pushing you toward your goals. Workouts like Zumba Fitness are great for this, because every class presents unique challenges to your muscles.
5. Weigh, measure, snap
When dealing with such small and subtle changes as those that will come from cutting those last few pounds of bodyfat, it’s time to check in on your numbers and progress a little more often to make sure that your program is effective for your body. Use the scale to guide you – if it’s not dropping a half pound every 2 weeks, check to see that you’re eating, sleeping, and drinking enough. Take measurements every week or 2, especially in the areas in which your body has the most stored fat. Snap a progress photo every week, preferably in the same clothes and at the same time so that you can really see an “apples to apples” comparison. The best time to take all 3 of these steps is the morning after your rest day; your body should be recovered from your most recent workouts, so you should see an accurate picture of your current results.
You won’t have to take these steps forever, but they should help you get to your goals! Once you’re there, you can start relaxing little by little and see how much dietary and fitness flexibility your body will tolerate while still letting you stay in your goal range.
*These recommendations are generalized advice and not custom recommendations for your body. Please consult your health or fitness professional before making any changes to your health or nutrition program.