MSN Health & Fitness:
Losing weight is tough, that goes without saying, but losing the last few pounds is arguably the toughest part. Sure, getting started is hard and following a weight loss plan is never easy, but after you’ve made a bunch of progress, and are a mere five or 10 pounds from your summer goal, it may seem impossible when you hit that last plateau.
Don’t get discouraged; that last obstacle may seem overwhelming, but there are ways to overcome it. Whether you need to reevaluate your diet, upgrade your exercise regimen or get more sleep, these 10 tips will help you shed the last few pounds before summer arrives.
GET SERIOUS ON WEEKENDS
It might be tempting to enjoy your downtime on the couch with a bowl of popcorn or at the bar having a few drinks with friends, but research from the Washington University School of Medicine has shown that weekends present a big problem for waistlines. People tend to eat more on the weekends (even when they’re on a diet) and they don’t seem to notice, according to the study. Researchers suggest planning weekend meals and paying attention to portion sizes to avoid the pitfalls that sneak up on Saturday and Sunday.
Most of us recognize the importance of staying hydrated, but do you know exactly why hydration is so important for your weight loss goals and overall health? Water keeps you energized, boosts the immune system and keeps joints and muscles in good shape, all important aspects of staying healthy. In addition to those benefits, staying hydrated will ensure you’re not carrying excess water weight and since feelings of thirst are often mistaken for feelings of hunger, drinking water will keep fleeting cravings at bay.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep is a major factor in weight loss that many people simply don’t consider. Getting the right amount of quality sleep helps regulate your appetite, metabolism and energy levels during the day. Getting less than six hours can lead to hormone imbalances like an increase in ghrelin and a decrease in leptin, both of which throw your appetite out of whack and can compromise your weight loss goals.
This isn’t the first time you’ve heard about the importance of goals to weight loss success and it certainly won’t be the last. Setting personal short and long-term goals gives you a clear path, a way to measure success and, most importantly, motivation. In order to be successful, you need to define your own goals and then start taking steps to meet those goals.
CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL
If you’re having a tough time losing the last few pounds it might be time to cut out beer, wine and liquor from your diet. Most people don’t realize how many calories are in their cocktails and another problem is that people tend to lose track of how much they’ve had. After you’ve had a few drinks, you’re also more likely to make poor food choices, so cutting out the booze can help your weight loss goals in more ways than one.
UP THE INTENSITY
The essence of quick and effective cardio, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is perfect for those looking to shed the last few pounds. The high-intensity routines are centered around bouts of all-out exercise followed by short rests or active recovery periods, so most HIIT workouts take no more than 30 minutes. If you’ve been exercising regularly, but haven’t seen great results lately it might be time to try out this fast, tough and effective workout, which also brings a great afterburn effect.
TRY STRENGTH TRAINING
Lifting weights and hitting the pull-up bar isn’t just for body builders anymore, people with all kinds of fitness goals are realizing the benefits of strength training. On top of burning calories and giving you a toned look, strength training builds lean muscle mass, which helps burn calories more effectively even when you’re not working out. For weight loss benefits that extend beyond your time in the gym, incorporate strength training into your workouts two or three times a week.
TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT YOUR DIET
If you’ve seen your weight loss success start to taper off, it might be time to reexamine your diet. Check your food diary for processed food, high-carb meals and foods that are high in sugar and then work on making better substitutions going forward. A diet that helped you lose weight two months ago might not be helping now, as you lose weight you’ll need to readjust your diet in order to lose more.
MOVE MORE DURING THE DAY
Even if you exercise regularly, moving throughout the day is essential to both weight loss and overall health. Working in more movement adds up to surprising calorie burn and lowers the risk of serious diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Reaching the common goal of 10,000 steps per day is easier than you might think—here are 10 tips make it even easier.
It’s hard to say where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, keeping records is key to future success. Writing about your diet, workouts and sleep will help you spot patters, address weak points and realize even small improvements, which is a big deal. Research has backed food diaries as an effective tool for losing weight and keeping it off, so if you haven’t been keeping track maybe now is the time to start.
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