A weight-loss journey requires consistency, determination, and commitment. However, we all know that those last 5 kilos are some of the hardest to take off. If you’re dealing with a similar predicament, you are not alone, and I will tell you why we all suffer from that. The first and most common reason is what’s called “diet fatigue”; in which the repetitive behaviors dieting requires such as tracking calories, weighing food, skipping meals, trying different fad diets. Chronic dieters become less careful due to those daunting and boring habits they have developed and consequently they are not taking the precautions they did in terms of knowing what they ate, how much. That is why I think just keeping a food journal can be very helpful just so they can monitor what they eat; especially if they have been on a weight-loss meal plan for a long time. This way they can witness patterns they do not like and monitor how much they eat on an average throughout the week.
Another main reason is metabolism; when a person begins to lose weight, their metabolic rate drops. In other words, they need fewer calories to meet basic functioning and requirements. That is why weight-loss meal plans are meant to be very personal, depending on activity level, gender, diet history and so many other factors. For instance, it takes fewer calories to maintain a lower body weight. So people in their normal weight range would be eating foods that are less dense or just small portions as opposed to bigger people. There’s an additional consideration regarding metabolism: something called “metabolic adaptation.” When dieting, your body is forced to work on a reduced number of calories per day. Eventually your body adapts and trains itself to live on whatever calories it gets, but without losing weight. This built-in survival mechanism is your body’s way to protect you against starvation. Once you have hit this point, you may manage to lose a few bonus kilos here and there, but they will come off much more slowly and, before you know it, the weight you lost may start to come back on! (Frustrating I know!)
So What Can You Do?
1- First and foremost, you need to manage stress; our brains burn the most calories. In fact, the lean tissue that burns a lot of calories is our heart, lungs, liver and brain. About 60% of the calories that are burned come from those four sources. Also, our adrenal glands pump out excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, causing an imbalance in our bodies’ natural hormonal rhythms. This imbalance reduces your ability to burn fat, hindering your body from reaching that goal weight.
2- Exercise may help create a greater calorie deficit and that will help further along weight loss or help maintain sustained weight loss. You need to know though that there is something called “metabolic adjustment phase”, which means when you are losing weight your body will plateau and maybe gain a few while you are exercising to accommodate for one’s new size. During this phase – the goal is not weight loss, it is rather to readjust your body’s ability to metabolize an increasing number of caloric expenditure. Many measurements can be taken at that phase such as increasing meal sizes and calories for two weeks and then going back to a lower calorie meal plan.
3- Willpower is key. We are all foodies at heart. The trick to keeping those impulses in check is willpower, discipline and taking responsibility for what you put in your mouth. Some plateau can seem like a mountain peak. My advice is to find a diet plan that works for you and stick with it; and keep upping the intensity of your workouts as your weight decreases. In every program you’ll have a plateau, so some weeks you won’t lose weight but the next week you’ll lose a lot and it’s not just from that one week, everything matters. And it all requires consistency and discipline. I truly believe that in one month you can build some pretty good habits, even lifelong habits.
4- Mind over matter. Training the mind is just as important as training the body for keeping the weight off long term. If you don’t get in the right head space, the weight will come back on regardless of whether it took you 10 years to get it off or 10 minutes. And let go of the scale and the daily fluctuations, really. In the end, I think Losing weight is a science, keeping weight off is a psychology and they are two completely different things.