A big weight-loss journey requires consistency, determination, and commitment. However, many of our readers have noted that those last 10 pounds are some of the hardest to take off. If you’re dealing with a similar predicament, these expert tips offer the advice you need to hit your weight-loss goal — and keep it off for good.
Go High Protein, Not Just Low Calorie
If you’re having a hard time shedding weight, you might be focusing too much on counting calories and not enough on protein. According to Esther Blum, MS, RD, CDN, CNS, and author of Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat, high-protein foods take more work to “digest, metabolize, and use, which means you burn more calories processing them.” Esther says that eating adequate protein also ensures that you keep your precious muscle tissue — something that is often lost with a low-calorie diet.
Lift (Heavier) Weights
All of the fitness and health experts we reached out to shared one common thread: lift weights, and don’t be afraid of heavy weights! Former Canyon Ranch director and group fitness expert Aimee Nicotera says that lifting heavier weights than you’re used to might be the “nudge your body needs to change”; she also promises you won’t bulk up from this shift. Esther Blum explains that lifting heavy weights raises our body’s hormone levels, offering your body the “natural ability to burn fat for a full 24 hours after your workout.” If that’s not enough proof to head to the weight room, I don’t know what is!
Manage Your Stress
According to Sports Club/LA trainer and lifestyle coach Julie Barrett, MS, RD, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight really boils down to one thing: stress management. Julie says that when our bodies are under stress, “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. Julie recognizes that “not all stress is bad” (and we can’t completely eliminate stress from our lives), but there are some stressors we have control over such as “poorly controlled blood sugar, excessive caffeine consumption, over training, and poor digestion.” If you start working through stressors, you’ll start seeing results.
Hire a Trainer
If your gym routine is feeling ineffective and you’re not sure how to make the proper changes, group fitness expert Aimee Nicotera says that hiring a personal trainer can make a huge difference. She recognizes that this isn’t an easy financial decision for most people, but a good trainer will “meet your individual needs, hold you accountable, and challenge you.” Even a handful of sessions with a professional can totally revamp your workout routine and help you reach your goals.
Up Your (Healthy) Fat Intake
Just the word “fat” makes some people steer clear, but adding more healthy fats to your diet can help your body shed weight. Julie Barrett, MS, RD, says to eat more fat from organic plant sources like “coconut oil and nuts” and to choose “grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised animal sources.” Many sources of healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, salmon, and walnuts offer the added bonus of being high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight inflammation.
Change Up Your Workouts
Keeping things fresh and mixing up a workout is important for so many reasons. Not only does it stop your body from hitting a hard plateau, but you’ll also be less likely to get burnt out. Esther Blum says that the same old workouts week after week will only “maintain your fitness levels and make no strength or muscle gains whatsoever.” If you want to see changes, you’ve got to make changes. If you’ve always wanted to start running, kick off your program with our 35-minute interval plan that alternates between walking and running. For ladies who have been timid about heading into a yoga class, try our beginner sequence.
Cut Out Processed Foods
Cleaning up your diet is essential on any weight-loss journey, but whatever processed foods are still lurking in your diet have got to go! Healthy living guru and dietitian Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, recommends that “if anything you eat comes in a package, read the ingredient list first. It should read like a recipe you could whip up in your own kitchen.” If you haven’t been fastidious about reading labels in the past, you might be very surprised at the slew of chemicals and additives that go into even the most common processed foods.
Drink More Water
Drinking water before meals helps you eat less and keeps belly bloat in check, but staying hydrated all day long can actually help you burn more calories. One study showed that people who drank eight to 12 glasses of water a day burned more fat than those who only drank four. Always keep your water bottle handy, and fill up whenever you’re running low. Not only will proper hydration help with weight loss, but it will also keep you healthier all year long.
Get on the Sleep Train
Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your emotional state, but it also affects your physical body big time. Research shows that feeling sluggish the day after a poor night’s sleep causes people to eat an average of 549 extra calories without even realizing it. In addition, lack of sleep also slows down your metabolism, making you burn 20 percent fewer calories a day. If you deal with insomnia or have been having a hard time sleeping lately, check out these 25 sleep tips, full of effective solutions.
Build a Support System
Going solo on a weight-loss journey can work for some, but many folks find that building a support system is essential to staying on track. Many of our readers have found that Weight Watchers meetings have helped hold them accountable, and there are plenty of online forums out there where you can grow your healthy network and meet people with similar struggles, goals, and accomplishments to celebrate!