A few thoughts on the “last 5 pounds”
If you have ever been on a diet (STOP right now if you are!) or tried to lose weight, you know about the famous and dreaded “last five pounds”. They are the five measly, yet seemingly impossible, obstacles between you and your goal weight.
For some, weight loss can come easy at first. A few simple changes to your diet or exercise regimen, and the pounds can melt away. As time goes on, however, and you try to keep up the pace and rate of weight loss, you will find out that the “fight”becomes harder and harder.
Most women beat themselves up about not being able to lose the “last five pounds”no matter how hard they try. The things they did to lose all the rest of the weight simply do not apply anymore.
When a friend asked me how to lose the “last five pounds”the other day, I started thinking a lot about it. And my response is this blog post.
If you are hoping for a quick, simple secret from a personal trainer on how to lose the “last five pounds”, you can stop reading now. You will not find that here. What you will find is a greater and more complex approach to the topic, and food for thought. This article is for you. Yes, you. All the women (I do realize I am making a generalization here) who have ever tried, or are currently trying to lose the “last five pounds”. These are questions I want you to spend time thinking about:
Where did the “goal weight” number come from?
Was it a number arbitrarily picked because a celebrity with a desirable body shares that weight? Was it a number that sounds speakable if someone (god forbid!) asked how much you weigh? Was it a number that you weighed in high school and, in your opinion, represented the best shape you’ve ever been in? Unless your “goal weight”is a number (a range of numbers is much more realistic and preferable) carefully calculated by a nutritionist or dietitian, than your goal weight might be absolutely unattainable for you. Your body might be at its lowest possible weight under the current circumstances. Women’s bodies change with age, lifestyle, pregnancies, hormonal influence, onset of medical conditions, etc. If you simply pick a goal weight because it sounds good, you could be doing your body a huge disservice.
The “last five pounds”may have been the previous five you already lost. That might have been the end of the weight loss road for you. Without proper guidance and help from a qualified professional, you will never know. And you could be doing long-term damage to your body in the process.
What will you do when you get there?
When you actually hit this “goal weight”, then what? What will it mean for you to have achieved that number? Will you step on the scale daily to be sure that it does not budge one pound in the higher direction? And what if it does?
Holding onto a single number and placing an unrealistic value on that number can cause tremendous amounts of stress, anxiety, and general unhappiness for a person. It does not leave any room for balance in one’s life. Take some time to think about the value you have placed on your “goal weight”. If losing the “last five pounds”is the first thing you think of when you wake up, and the last thing you think about before bed, it is likely getting out of hand. Try and shift your thinking to how you feel when doing certain things. Would you like to be able to climb the stairs without huffing and puffing? Would you like to run a mile without stopping? These accomplishments can happen at LOTS of different weights.
What do your refrigerator and cupboards look like?
I’ll say it simply: processed foods are the devil. If you want to be healthier, more fit, and have glowing skin & healthy locks, give up all processed foods. Processed foods contain all sorts of ingredients that I can neither pronounce nor spell. They aren’t real and they do NO good for your body.
What constitutes processed food, you ask? Think about a food, let’s say Goldfish crackers. Ask yourself: can you find this food in nature? If you went camping, would you find the item growing in the ground, from a tree, or would you find it in the sea? If the answer is no, (and for Goldfish, its definitely NO!) then it has been through some sort of processing. The more processed, the worse for you it is, generally speaking.
Check your fridge and your cabinets. Do you have chips, crackers, cereal, pasta, bread (sprouted bread is acceptable), anything with food coloring or artificial flavors? Is your fridge full of soda (regular or diet), cold cuts, microwavable meals, or anything with the words “low-fat”? If so, GET RID OF IT ALL. It’s not helping you become healthy.
What are you doing for exercise these days?
If you started your weight loss plan by doing 20 minutes on the elliptical machine 3 days per week, and you are STILL doing that today, you need some change. The body is VERY smart and after just a few short weeks of predictably doing the same activity over and over, it will find a way to use the least amount of energy possible for this activity. This means diminished return for the same effort, as time goes on.
Change up your workout. Add strength training if you haven’t before. Try cardio intervals instead of a longer, steady-state cardio workout. Take a new class and get a good sweat. Make some sort of change to your workouts, and be honest- they MUST be a true challenge in order for your body to reap all of the benefits.
The concept of the “last five pounds”is definitely one that many women think about at some point in their lives. It is one that perhaps causes people to have negative and self-deprecating thoughts and feelings about the efforts put forth to reach an “ideal weight”. It is my hope that this blog post has caused women to stop and reflect on what the “last five pounds”actually means for them. It is my goal to shift the general thinking in women to go from a numeric, weight-oriented goal to one that includes feeling healthy and completing tasks such as doing a push-up, pull-up or running a 5k.