It’s been said a million times before, but dieting is hard work. Years of neglect and poor dietary choices can be devastating to the human body, and reversing such damage takes much effort and perseverance. Making matters worse is that dieting seems to lose its effectiveness as more pounds are shed; dieters often claim that the last ten pounds or so are the hardest to get rid of. By altering your dieting and exercising strategies, however, you might be able to finally reach your elusive weight loss goal.
Why the Last Pounds are So Hard to Lose
What makes the “final 10 pounds” obstacle so frustrating is that there is no single explanation for it. Rather, there are multiple factors that can work to grind diets to a halt. One such culprit is the muscle loss, which can occur when dieters fail to engage in strength training while dieting. This has the effect of slowing the body’s metabolism, the term that describes the process for converting food and drinks into energy. Even if fat accounts for most of the weight you lose, the body will still slow its metabolism in order to cling to its remaining reserves of fat.
Another problem is that dieters are sometimes victims of their own early successes. For example, suppose a person begins their diet by limiting themselves to 1300 calories daily. While this tactic will initially produce encouraging results, it leaves you little wiggle room for adjustments in the latter stages of your diet. In other words, someone at a 1300 calorie per day limit will be hard-pressed to restrict their caloric intake any further.
Reaching the Top of the Mountain
Some people, flustered by the few pounds standing between them and their ideal weight, simply give up on dieting altogether. Though this reaction is understandable, it would be a mistake to abandon your diet with your goal clearly in sight. The human body is a complicated machine, and accomplishing such a difficult task as losing weight requires much patience and thought. If your diet seems to have lost its effectiveness, then the following techniques might help you finally get over the weight-loss hump.
Get Even More Exercise – It may seem that performing 45 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity would be enough to reach your weight loss goals. While this might be enough to burn off most of your unwanted weight, you will still likely fall just short of your target. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention argues that 60 to 90 minutes of moderate daily exercise is needed to keep extra weight off permanently.
Try New Exercises – In addition to spending more time at the gym, you might also stand to benefit from trying out new forms of exercise. If regular walks are no longer yielding the same impressive dividends as they used to, consider adding some running, swimming or biking to your regimen.
Make Good Use of Circuit Training – Circuit training might sound complicated, but it’s actually not too hard to pull off. This type of training simply involves performing a combination of 8 to 10 exercises focusing on specific muscle groups. These exercises are done in quick succession, with only 10 to 15 seconds rest in between, and can be perfumed with either machines or free weights.
Below are some types of common circuit training workouts:
With Machines: Exercises include chest presses, triceps rope press downs, lateral pull downs, leg extensions, leg curls and abdominal crunches. For optimal results, try combining relatively light weights with a higher number of repetitions (12 to 15 should do the trick).
With Free Weights: Exercises include squats, dumbbell dead lifts, dumbbell biceps curls, triceps dips, lateral raises, flat dumbbell presses, one-arm dumbbell rows and sit-ups. When it comes to using dumbbells, it’s best to work with moderate to heavy weights. Your number of repetitions should be between 8 and 12.
Be On the Lookout for Sodium – Sodium has received a lifetime’s worth of bad press, with research linking excessive consumption of this mineral to high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney failure. It can also derail your diet; when your body has an overabundance of sodium, it begins to retain an excessive amount of water. In turn, this extra fluid serves to increase your bodyweight.
While sodium is bad for your body, it can be very profitable for food producers, as this mineral prolongs the shelf-life of foods while simultaneously boosting texture, color and taste. Consequentially, even health-conscious individuals can find it difficult to avoid this additive, since it is used in a surprisingly large and diverse range of foods
Though sodium has a near ubiquitous presence in our modern food supply, it is still possible to reign in your sodium intake. Carefully read the nutrition labels on foods before you put them in your shopping cart. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to consume no more than 2000mg of sodium per day.
Keep Tabs on What You Eat – Thanks in large part to the advent of processed and fast foods, it’s easier than ever to quickly scarf down hundreds of calories. The problem is that many people are unaware of how many calories are lurking inside their favorite guilty pleasures. For example, a single doughnut can have between 300 and 400 calories, a half a bag of chips can contain 600 calories, and that fancy latte you had earlier might contribute an extra 350 calories or so to your body.
Furthermore, many people lose track of what they eat over the course of a day. Over time, all of those doughnuts and lattes can really add up. While keeping a daily food diary might seem like a hassle, it can also help you find extraneous calories that can be cut from your diet. When recording what you eat, try noting each item’s portion size and calorie count (for many products, this information can be found online).