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5 Ways to Shed Those Last 5 Pounds

Have you hit a weight loss plateau? Don’t give up. Do this instead.

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Woman on scale checking weight
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You’re eating a well-balanced diet, controlling your portion sizes and staying away from sugary snacks. You’re working out regularly too. And you’ve been seeing results. Or at least you were until you got five pounds away from your weight loss goal. Now the scale won’t budge!

Unfortunately, the same nutrition plan and workout regimen that got you this far most likely won’t get you over the finish line. To understand why, you need to consider your basal metabolic rate (or BMR) – the number of calories your body needs for basic functions at rest (such as breathing). The less you weigh, the lower this number gets.

To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. That’s called a calorie deficit. But the more weight you lose, the harder it becomes to achieve a deficit, because your BMR is lower.

Not quitting is the cheat code
Fitness and nutrition coach Caprice O’Bryant of Excuse Free Fitness

“Your body needs a certain amount of calories to function each day, so when your weight changes, your calorie intake needs to be adjusted along the journey,” explains fitness and nutrition coach Caprice O’Bryant of Excuse Free Fitness.

Overcoming a weight-loss plateau is tough, but not impossible. Here are five things that could help you drop those last five pounds.

Ramp up your workout.

The activities that used to burn calories easily won’t be as effective now that you’re more fit.

“You’ve got to ramp things up,” says personal trainer Raven Holloway of Wellness WorX in Hoover, Alabama. “This is where you’ve got to push yourself even further than you did.”

If you’re only working out two days a week, for example, try three days a week instead.

If you’ve only been focusing on cardio, add strength training to your routine. Strength training builds lean muscle, which can help boost your metabolism, because muscle tissue burns more calories — even when you’re at rest — than body fat.

Increasing weight to challenge your muscles or performing exercises that get your heart rate up are sure ways to drop the stubborn pounds.
Fitness and nutrition coach Caprice O’Bryant of Excuse Free Fitness

If you’ve already been lifting weights, challenge yourself to lift a bit heavier.

“Increasing weight to challenge your muscles or performing exercises that get your heart rate up are sure ways to drop the stubborn pounds,” O’Bryant says.

Strength training also helps menopausal and postmenopausal women build bone strength – which is vital as the risk of osteoporosis increases.

As your body changes, so should your workout regimen.

“If your activity level doesn’t match the lighter you, then you will not continue to lose weight, because you are consuming more calories than you are burning,” O’Bryant says.

Snack smarter.

You’re eating well-balanced meals and healthy snacks. But are you eating too much of a good thing?

O’Bryant says that mindless snacking may be what’s standing between you and your goal weight.

“Many are snacking when they aren’t even physically hungry,” she says, and she recommends eliminating one snack a day. So if you normally have three snacks each day, try sticking to two.

“The rule to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full goes a long way,” O’Bryant says.

You may also want to keep a food journal to keep track of just how much you’re eating between meals and to help control the portion sizes of your snacks.

Don’t skip self-care.

Stress not only makes it harder to lose weight but can cause weight gain too. Elevated cortisol levels lower your metabolism and can cause you to crave fatty, sugary snacks.

Be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each night and make time for some of your favorite self-care activities.

“Practicing self-care religiously is very important for managing stress to reach your weight loss goals after 40,” O’Bryant says. “This allows your body to adapt to the good stress being put on it during exercise, and you continue getting stronger while losing weight in the process.

Find a workout buddy.

As you get closer to your weight loss goal, you may start slacking with your workouts or your meal plan. That’s when you need to find a friend who will push you when you’re struggling to push yourself.

“Accountability breeds sustainability,” Holloway says. “That piece is so important — to put someone alongside you with this journey.”

Decide that this isn’t even about maintenance. This isn’t about goals. This is about a lifestyle. This is about devotion. This is about the fact that I’m a whole new person.
Personal trainer Raven Holloway of Wellness WorX in Hoover, Alabama

Manage your mindset.

Hormonal changes can make weight loss harder for women over 40. But Holloway, who’s 43, sees age as an asset and recommends you do the same.

“We are women who are resilient,” she says, “and if we set our mind to do it, we can accomplish anything.”

Another mindset shift she recommends is seeing your workouts and meal plans as an act of devotion, not simply something you’re doing to accomplish a goal.

“Decide that this isn’t even about maintenance,” she says. “This isn’t about goals. This is about a lifestyle. This is about devotion. This is about the fact that I’m a whole new person.”

Do you really need to lose five more pounds?
Consider this – maybe you don’t need to lose those last five pounds. Your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels are important numbers too. If you and your doctor are happy with those numbers, there may be no reason to stress over a number on the scale.

Instead, turn your focus to building upon the progress you’ve made.

“Keep your routine going as a lifestyle,” O’Bryant says. “It is very true that if you don’t use it, you lose it — especially muscle.”

So, keep up that strength training along with your cardio. Hold on to healthy habits no matter what season of life you’re in.

“These are habits like drinking water, eating balanced meals to control cravings and prioritizing sleep,” O’Bryant says. “Everything you did to get there, you just maintain to keep it off — at a level that works for your peace and lifestyle. Not quitting is the cheat code.”

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