You’re eating all the right foods and you spend an ample amount of time off the couch and getting your sweat on, but you still can’t seem to shed those last five or ten pounds. What gives?
Why are these last few pounds so hard to lose? Well, your body is actually one very smart, complex system. It is a natural regulator, so it will begin to adjust accordingly as it approaches its set point, or a point at which your weight won't budge - fall below this point and your body slows and preserves energy, fall above and your body stores it for later use. It’s almost a lose-lose for those who wish to lose (weight, that is!) However, there are a few tips and tricks that may help you overcome this plateau!
1. Your hormones may be imbalanced.
Often times hormones can cause weight loss to become even more difficult than it already is. High cortisol (the stress hormone), elevated insulin, imbalanced reproductive hormones and low thyroid are a few you may wish to look into.
2. You may not be sleeping enough.
Research strongly supports the link between slumber time and the number on the scale. A 2004 study at the University of Chicago shows sleep as a major regulator of appetite-controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin. Ideally, shoot for 7 to 9 hours each night. Easier said than done in our fast-paced world, but well worth it!
3. You may be overeating.
I’m a snacker, I’ll admit! Sometimes, unfortunately, we snack without even realizing it. Do you ever find yourself finishing your kids’ leftovers, making frequent trips to the office kitchen, eating while cooking like me, or are you susceptible to emotional eating when you’re bored, sad, or happy? If this is you, I have a homework assignment for you: start a food journal!
4. You may have weight-inducing eating patterns.
Are you eating enough foods that are whole, nutritious and filled with a variety of nutrients to support a healthy body? Start a food diary! Once you have it all on paper, take a glance to notice if there are any patterns or trends. Do you notice you eat more during a particular time of the day? Are there trigger foods, emotions, or situations? Once you are armed with this information, you can move forward with a plan.
5. You may be eating too little!
If you find yourself starving at the end of the day, you may not be eating enough throughout the day. Be sure you are eating enough, but not too much! It’s a balancing act and it takes time to figure out. One rule of thumb, don’t go below 1200 calories a day. But since I’m not a big fan of calorie counting, use your hunger/fullness cues to help guide you and then stop eating when you are 80 percent satisfied, not overstuffed!
6. Your weight goals may be unrealistic.
What is the lowest weight you’ve maintained for the longest amount of time most recently? Not your high school weight (unless you recently graduated!), but in the not-so-distant past? This is most likely what your current set weight is. It takes time, at least six months, to re-establish that set weight. Patience is key. Have a reasonable number that you know you are capable of reaching, then learn to love your body at its own ideal weight.
7. You may not have enough muscle.
Build lean muscle to burn more fat and calories! Most of us focus on sweating for hours to burn more calories and lose weight; however, by boosting lean body mass with weight bearing exercises, you will not only look slim and toned, but will actually burn more calories at rest – yes, burn more calories while just going about your daily routine!
8. Your exercise routine may lack variation.
Cross train and try different activities targeting different muscles to keep your body guessing. If you notice that the same elliptical setting or those five-pound weights are getting much easier, note that your body feels the same. It is expending less energy than it used to for the same routine, hence the fewer calories it burns and the less muscle it stimulates. Focus on all areas of fitness: muscle strength and endurance, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility.
9. You may not be adequately hydrated.
Roughly 60-70 percent of the human body is made up of water. I’m no rocket scientist, but this might be a clue as to the importance of staying hydrated! Water is essential for proper digestion and detoxification – important components to weight loss. Aim to drink at least half your weight (in pounds) in water (in fluid ounces). And yes, fruits, veggies, and the liquid you put in your NutriBlast count toward this goal!
10. Your weight loss plan may be unsustainable.
If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t continue to do it. Once you find yourself in the groove, be sure that you are happy. Fad diets often don’t work because they are not sustainable and may lead to feelings of deprivation or may even cause certain nutrient deficiencies. If you are having trouble finding an eating and exercise pattern that fits your lifestyle for the long-haul, I suggest meeting with a local dietitian and/or personal trainer who can help work out a plan designed just for you.
To find your personal Registered Dietitian, click here.