Thursday, April 28, 2011

Those last 10 lbs!!

You have been exercising and leading a fairly healthy lifestyle but you are still looking at the scale and thinking “How can I lose these last 10 (5, 2) pounds?”
Does this situation sound familiar to you?
It might sound surprising, but sometimes losing 5-10 pounds is the most difficult weight loss goal. I’ve been struggling with my last few pounds for a while but now I am finally happy with where I am (or what I weigh). The approach to losing 30+ pounds and just 10 pounds is completely different so you should not feel bad if your attempts to scale down do not work. There are a number of reasons why it is so difficult to get rid of that “last frontier” of extra weight on your body:
  1. Weight loss plateau. If you’ve already lost a lot of weight then you have reached a plateau. Your metabolism is slower than it used to be (for every pound you lose your metabolism slows down by 20 cal a day) and your body is used to your current exercise routine and diet.
  2. Not enough emotional support. People who have to lose 30+ pounds usually have a lot of emotional support from friends, relatives and medical personnel. If a person is overweight then losing weight is the essential strategy that will help them resolve a lot of health problems.
  3. “Anti-support.” When you want to lose pounds just to reach your ideal weight then you might hear these types of comments from people around you “Why do you need to lose weight? You already look great,” “We love you the way you are,” “You will look too skinny,” “Stop torturing yourself and enjoy life (with no exercise and a lot of deserts!)”
  4. Procrastination. You think that you can lose those last pounds any time you really get to them that is why you indulge in special treats, skip workouts and eat out way too often. Your mind (read: laziness) tells you that losing those pounds is not critical for your well-being and that is why you always come up with a reason why now is not the best time to do it.
You will need a little bit more mental tweaking to lose weight if reasons 2-4 sound familiar to you and you will need a few lifestyle changes to get around reason 1.
I want to show you a few tricks that worked for me and I hope that they will work for you too.

Plan of Action

  1. Now IS the time. Make a firm decision that you are going to lose the last pounds right now. Set, ready, go!
  2. Eat more. I am not trying to sabotage all your efforts but if you feel that you are not eating anything and you still cannot lose any weight then eating more can actually help you. If you eat around 1200 calories a day and you are fairly active then your body does not get enough calories (1200 calorie diet if for people with a sedentary lifestyle). Your body is in shock and it starts saving fat and using muscles to get extra energy. You lose muscle mass => your metabolism slows down => you store more fat => you don’t lose weight and feel constantly hungry.
    The most important step is to know what to eat. If you start filling up on ice-cream and chips then you can forget about weight loss. The trick is to eat:
    • foods rich in water (vegetables and fruit),
    • eat a lot of lean protein (legumes, tofu, fish and seafood and lean poultry) and
    • healthy fats (try walnut oil for sautéing vegetables, grape seed oil for high-temp cooking and olive oil in salads, rice and pasta.)
    • Eliminate as much sugar as possible from your diet (say no to diet sodas, evening cocktails, and deserts) and
    • get your carbs from whole grain products rich in fiber.
    (If you want a more detailed plan, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be glad to provide you with a sample menu.)
  3. Go fishing. If you are not a very good fisherman then you can go fishing to the nearest grocery store and stock up on seafood.
    Let me tell you a short story. About a month ago my husband decided to use my scales and weigh himself. Immediately after that he came up to me and started complaining that I am not feeding him enough because he lost 10 pounds (he was not planning on losing weight at all!) The only reason why he lost weight was because we had changed our diet recently and started eating seafood instead of meat. Half of our meals are vegetarian and the other half are seafood dishes. We still eat regular lean meat maybe once a week or less.
    Good ways to add seafood to your diet is to have salmon, tuna or smoked salmon sandwich for lunch and of course grilled or baked fish for supper.
  4. Start interval training. Interval training burns more calories than any flat rate physical activity. Interval training is really simple: you add a short burst of high intensity activity (run as fast as you can, cycle as fast at the peak of your performance, jump etc.) and follow it with a longer period of moderate or low-intensity activity. The best starting ratio is 1:3 meaning that you run as fast as possible for 1 minute and then you run at a slower rate for 3 minutes (you can change time to suit your current fitness level).
  5. Follow a Zen-Body principle. The Zen Body I am talking about is not the one that is connected to Buddhism, meditation or any spiritual or religious practice. Zen Body (and this is my personal definition and term) is a body of a person who is mindful of what they eat and how they treat their body. It is a body of a person who is using a simple balance formula: cardio, strength, stretching and real food.
    Be mindful daily about how your body feels and what it needs. Pay attention to how you feel after eating different foods and satisfy your body’s need for exercise. Create a workout routine that you love and follow it feeling how your body gets stronger, leaner and more flexible day after day.
  6. Stay active all day long. Being active throughout the day is more beneficial to you then just going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week. It won’t only burn more calories but it will make you busy so that you don’t have time to snack or overeat. If you buy a pedometer and use it to set daily goals (your goal is around 10,000 steps but you can start with just 2000 to get yourself going) then you will be more likely to stay active throughout the day. .
  7. Keep a food diary. Food diaries might smell like last century but they are still some of the most effective ways to lose weight. Losing weight is nothing but a mathematical equation and if you can figure out when and why you are eating more calories than you should (or too few calories) then you will be able to make the right changes to your diet. Keep your food diary fun with a FitBook journal that will let you track your physical activity and your calories as well as set up goals and follow a well-structured weight-loss plan.
  8. Take a weight loss vacation. Sometimes you just have to get away from your regular routines to get the ball rolling. A lot of spas offer expensive weight loss retreats but you don’t have to go anywhere (or pay a lot of money) to experience the same benefits.
    • Make a healthy living plan for a week and try to hold on to it no matter what. Find the healthiest low-cal recipes (EatingWell magazine or Mayoclinic can be a good source of tasty recipes) and fix them this week.
    • Go extreme and eliminate any processed or sugary treats (except for fruit and natural sweeteners like honey).
    • Change your workout routine and try something new every day of the week. My personal winning combination is running (cardio) + Pilates (strength) + Yoga (stretching and strength). This formula works for me like a charm.
    • Don’t forget to indulge in some pampering spa-like activities like a hot bath, massage, manicure and pedicure and relaxing walks outside. This weight loss vacation should feel like a retreat and not like torture.
  9. Stop watching TV. What does TV have to do with weight loss? When you zone out on the coach you are more likely to snack, your brain literally turns off and you lose motivation for any activities as well as you lose track of how much time you’ve spent without any movement. Without TV you will have more time to stay active during the day and you will have more time for yourself or your loved ones.
I am sure that if you follow these tips then you will be able to get that scale moving in the right direction.If you have any detailed questions about losing weight (like sample workout routines, recipes etc.) please ask me in the comments below. I will be delighted to answer all of those questions. I would also love to hear your ways of fighting weight.
Balanced living is not possible without a balanced and healthy body. Start your trip to the body of your dreams right now!

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