Think back to when you started your journey to better health. You’ve made permanent changes in your eating habits by choosing healthy foods, eating smaller and more frequent meals and incorporating exercise into your daily routine.

It is likely that you’ve seen wonderful changes in your body and mind due to your healthy lifestyle changes. But, you’ve hit a wall and you can’t seem to figure out why you can’t lose those last 5 pounds.

All along, the weight has been coming off so quickly, and then it came to a halt. You are frustrated and ready to throw in the towel. What should you do?

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First, understand that it’s basic science. The lighter you are, the less calories your body burns to engage in every day physical activity.

The stubborn “last 5 pounds” is a problem many people face in achieving their ideal body weight

If you are one of those people, here are some questions you should ask yourself to help you achieve and maintain the weight you are most happy with:

1. How much are you actually eating?

At the beginning of your health journey you were likely keeping a really good eye on what foods you were choosing and how much you were eating. As time went on and the weight came off, you might not have been as aware as you were months ago when you started. Your portion sizes might be getting a bit larger or you may be engaging in mindless snacking without even noticing it.

If you are at the point where you are struggling to lose the last 5 pounds, it is a good idea to check back into the amounts of food you are eating and when you are eating. Return to the task of writing down everything you eat and drink and at what time of the day.

Take note of what triggers are causing you to eat at that very moment. Are you actually hungry or are you eating due to boredom, stress, social pressures, etc.? Tuning back into your physiological hunger and satiety signals and becoming more conscious of your portions is a great place to start to help you shed those last few pounds.

2. Is your exercise routine becoming monotonous?

Variety is key when it comes to your food choices, but it is equally important when it comes to your exercise routine. A likely reason why you are having trouble losing the last 5 pounds is due to muscle memory.

If you teach your body to do the same workout every single day, your muscles not only learn how to perform that exercise, but they learn how to break down and rebuild that muscle tissue, so that it becomes easier on your body and therefore, results aren’t as apparent.

Also, the easier your cardio routine gets, the less work you have to put in, which means the less calories you are burning. The best advice to give when it comes to exercise is to switch up your exercise routine every 30 days.

Try different workouts for each body part and incorporate interval training to really rev up your heart rate. If you aren’t already, incorporate weight training into your exercise routine. Lifting weights will burn an additional 30% more calories!

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3. Are you getting enough sleep?

People often forget about how important sleep is for all aspects of your health, both physical and mental. Studies have shown that sleeping less than 6 hours a night affects your ability to lose weight and can lead to a higher risk of obesity.

The reason is this: when you don’t get enough sleep, your satiety hormone (leptin) decreases and your hunger hormone (ghrelin) increases. This hormonal imbalance causes you to become hungrier which can lead to overeating and poor food choices.

This is definitely something to consider when figuring out why you can’t lose those last 5 pounds. Make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night!

4. How much alcohol are you drinking?

Alcohol is another sneaky culprit that contributes to the halt in your weight loss. Alcohol is devoid of nutrients but not of calories. If you are drinking 2-3 alcoholic beverages per week, you are adding to your caloric intake which is likely affecting your weight loss. Cutting out alcohol can be an effective way to losing that excess weight.

5. Is losing that extra 5 pounds a realistic expectation for your body?

Maybe the most important question you should be asking yourself is if you really need to lose those last 5 pounds. Instead of focusing on an “ideal” body weight or a specific number, realize that every person has a natural healthy body weight that they can achieve and maintain for life. And, this number might not match your “ideal” number that you decided you want to weight.

Take a moment and look at what your goal weight is. Is that number realistic? Is it healthy? It is important to understand that as you get older, your body changes and it is not realistic to be the same jean size or number on the scale that you were when you were a teenager.

You might get down to your dream weight for a short period of time through strict dieting and exercise, but this weight can’t be maintained because the calorie restriction is too severe, and not realistic or healthy for your body.

If you have reached the point where you make healthy food choices, maintain variety in your exercise routine daily, get adequate sleep, keep alcohol to a minimum and feel happy this is a sign that you’ve achieved a healthy body weight.

Your body’s resistance to losing those last 5 pounds could actually be its innate control mechanism that prevents you from starving, which is a normal part of human biology.

As I always say, listen to your body – maybe those last 5 pounds don’t need to be lost!

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