Most dieters have been there: the weight comes off well to begin with and they are buoyed with enthusiasm for their new lifestyle, but as they close in on that last half stone no amount of exercise or healthy eating seems to make a difference. Those final pounds can appear stuck like superglue.
The answer to this is that, barring medical issues, you are eating at maintenance levels, in other words, the calories that you are consuming are more or less equal to those that you're burning.
It's at this point, no matter what plan you're on, that it really pays to take a good hard look at what you're eating and drinking to see where you could shave off some calories.
Here are some suggestions that might help:
- If you aren't already doing so, keep a food diary. Most people are surprisingly bad at remembering what they've eaten/drunk throughout the day, especially if they are prone to nibbling whilst preparing meals or eating kids' leftovers, for example. A totally honest log where you record EVERYTHING that you consume might be all that's required to show where you need to make changes.
- For food items that you eat regularly, choosing smaller ones where possible can make a difference. For example, bananas come in a wide size range and if you opt for a small one instead of a large one that could save 40 or 50 calories. You could also aim to eat the smaller slices in a sliced loaf, medium eggs instead of extra large ones, etc. - little changes that add up significantly over time.
- If the taste isn't too off-putting, then substituting lower calorie versions of calorie-dense foods is an obvious route to go down. You've probably already done that to some extent as part of your diet plan, but if there are still some full-fat or full-sugar items that you're clinging to (mayonnaise, butter, cheese, fizzy drinks, for example) you may have to consider swapping them for lighter alternatives.
- If you've already made all the substitutions you're willing to, tighten up on your measuring so that you know you're not overdoing things. That squirt of ketchup or dollop of salad dressing you're accustomed to adding may be twice as much as the portion size stated on the label, and if it's a calorie-dense food you could be racking up a good few excess calories if you don't measure.
That said, even measuring spoons have to be treated with caution: it's quite easy to heap peanut butter into a tablespoon in such a way as to almost double the quantity - and thereby the calories - so be aware of how you're using them.
Lastly, if you're angelic all week but find weekend socialising is hindering your efforts, try alternating your alcoholic drinks with diet fizzy drinks or water - you can considerably reduce your calorie intake that way, and hopefully get those scales moving!
David Bowie, owner of Healthy Fit Life, is a mobile personal trainer and sports massage therapist working in the Farnham and Camberley area.