A former client who lost over 100 pounds called me last week frustrated. After changing his eating habits, incorporating exercise, substantially improving his health and energy and in his words, "feeling physically and emotionally better than he had in his entire life", he was stuck.
Most people would be thrilled to have lost so much weight and be feeling so good, so why is he frustrated? Well, he's struggling to take off those last 10-15 pounds, even though he continues to eat healthy and exercises almost every day.
He asked me if somehow it was impossible to lose those last remaining stubborn pounds of excess body fat. He read somewhere that our bodies "cling to fat" and after a certain age we all "add 2 pounds per year, regardless what we do".
There's a lot of inaccurate information on fitness and weight loss today.
The Answer is Simple, But Not Always Easy When we purposely reduce our caloric intake and begin to lose weight, our metabolism has the propensity to slow down (becoming more energy efficient) in order to maintain our body weight at reduced caloric levels.
This is not to imply that we should overeat. We just need to understand how the body responds to long term eating behaviors.
The body has a tendency to hold onto fat much more aggressively in people that are more lean (within 10- 15 pounds of their goal), than in overweight or obese people.
This is good news for those that need to lose a lot of weight, but means that it becomes a little more challenging for those with just a few more pounds to lose.
So What Do We Do?
Remember when you first started exercising? A particular exercise sequence or workout routine was challenging, it may have even felt overwhelming and exhausting to complete. Then after performing that specific regimen for some time your body became accustomed to it and things got easier. Well, now that it's easier, you are actually limiting progress if you aren't creating a new level of challenge and stimulation. Your body no longer has a reason to change.
- Reduce your calories even more aggressively (assuming you already have a small to moderate calorie deficit most days of the week)
- Increase your exercise duration. It's a common mistake to go longer especially at the cost of intensity
- Give up
- Continue to eat small, balanced meals frequently, combining low fat proteins, whole grains, whole fruits and veggies
- Create a new level of intensity in your workouts. If you've been working out for awhile, give your body a new stimulation. As soon as your body gets accustomed to a routine, change it up substantially before the body stops changing.
- Give your new routine some time. It takes a little longer now that you have less weight to lose, but with consistent effort you will get there!
Is This Challenging? You bet! And this is why the myth of the last few stubborn pounds exists. It takes time, intensity, focus and consistent desire. A new level of intensity may not be for everyone. Personally I'm thrilled my client lost over 100 pounds, but he really wanted to go to the level! Only you can decide if the next level is appropriate for you.
Remember, when it comes to fitness and weight loss, change is good, especially in intensity. Stagnancy produces stagnant results.
Okay, now let's get to it!
Your friend in fitness,