The Final Few Pounds
“I’m so close!! I just cannot lose the last 5 pounds!! I’ve tried everything!! Its hopeless!!”
I hear this complaint all the time (shoot I’ve even been guilty of saying all these things myself), and the struggle is real… But there are some very common reasons that people find such difficulty in shedding the final 10 or less pounds.
The closer you get to your goal weight, the harder it is to get there. That’s just science. Your body has a set point weight that it enjoys sticking with. It’s the weight you naturally stay when you’re trying to be healthy, but not really trying… If you try to go below that, it’s a bit of a fight against nature. You can win, but it takes effort. Another reason it gets harder to lose the last few is simply, the more you have to lose, the easier it is for it to come off with any effort. As you have less to lose, the efforts need to be more precise to have an effect. Many people who lose large amounts of weight go through this frustration; it started off easy and then… oh wait, I really have to TRY?! And the weight starts to come back… Also, it takes more energy to live at a higher weight than you need to be. Just like (in cycling terms) it takes more effort to push your body up a mountain if you’re 10 pounds heavier. As you get lighter, it becomes easier and takes less energy to reach the same goal. Your metabolism drops as your weight drops which means your intake needs to drop even more to match.
Can’t Reach Goal Weight.
Your Goal Weight is Wrong. How did you pick your ideal weight? Did the internet tell you that’s what you should weigh? Are you shooting your high school weight?
The point is, many people just pick a number out of the blue. Everyone’s body is different. Just because your friend is the same height, doesn’t mean you will both respond to the same weight. Your body’s ideal weight will depend mostly on your goals. For example, are you trying to fit into the perfect pair of jeans? Or sprint to the finish line? Or cycle up mountains with ease? Or run your fastest marathon? The point is, each goal might have a different weight that your body will be best at and sometimes trial and error are the only way to figure it out. Picking a weight that is too low might leave your body resisting and unwilling to get there.
You’ve Tried EVERYTHING!!
Bluntly, no, you haven’t or if you have, you haven’t given the ‘right’ thing a fighting chance. I know it may seem like you have, because it’s a very frustrating process… but you likely haven’t changed your habits enough to promote the desired loss. If you think ‘omg I could starve today or big out tomorrow and nothing changes!?!’, well you’re not being patient. Starving (okay you should never be starving, but just for arguments sake) one day (or week) and binging the next is a wash. Your body needs time to adapt, weight change-REAL weight change- doesn’t happen overnight. You need to implement changes for long enough for your body to adapt and respond to. Most real body composition changes take 3-5 weeks to really take effect, so be persistent! Combat this by picking an effort that you’re focusing on to reach your goal. By effort, I mean plan. Maybe you’re cutting back on sugar, calories, more salad, less at dinner, no alcohol… Whatever it is… Keep a journal and focus on certain efforts to track your body’s response to them. This will let you track how much you’re really sticking to it. If you ARE honestly sticking to it, it might not be the right plan for your body. After 3 weeks, try a new plan and restart the tracking process until you find what works.
You’re Trying TOO Hard.
I know, this one is tricky. Again, it depends on the individual, but many athletes end up overly restricting calories in relation to the energy requirements put on the body through training. When this happens, the body goes into a sort of ‘starvation mode’ and you put general health at risk (hormonal responses, bone density, illness, injury, deficiencies, fatigue) while maintaining the same weight. On top of tracking your intake + activity, listen to your body. Are you lacking energy, sick more than usual, having trouble meeting workout goals? If so, up your intake, especially around the training hours (pre/during/post fuel) and see if you start losing weight (and performing better!).
- Track your intake
- Be honest + realistic
- Look at numbers other than weight (measurements/body fat)
- Drink plenty of water!
- Get loads of sleep (when you're tired, you reach for calories-mostly sugar!)
- Aim for a balanced plate
- Add more vegetables
- Cut out extras (treats, sauces, etc)
- Increase workout fuel
- Check your portion sizes
- Eat balanced meal sizes throughout the day
- Cut down on evening eating
- Increase fiber + complex foods