So you’ve arrived at the summit of your fitness odyssey with only a few metaphorical steps to go before you’re standing atop the zenith. The zenith represents your goals, which you likely set out for yourself weeks, months, or perhaps even years before. It’s been a long, painful, and difficult journey, but you now feel and look better than ever — though there’s still one more thing standing in your way.
One final plateau. It’s that last bit of stubborn fat or weight that you can’t seem to shake: the final 10 pounds.
This is a rather common issue that people struggle with. When you first set out to lose weight or get in shape, things seem to move rather fluidly at first. Depending on how overweight you were to begin with, you may have seen some incredible progress up to this point. The weight was seemingly melting off after some simple lifestyle changes, and as a result, you’ve made it this far.
Yet now that you’re within shouting distance of hitting your target mark, you’re struggling. The wheels are stuck in the proverbial mud. And it seems that no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to make any progress. Fear not — there are a few things you can try to get you over the final hump.
It may seem counterintuitive, but since your routines are no longer effective (except at maintaining your current level of fitness or bodyweight), you’ll want to ditch them. You’re merely going to shake things up a bit and see if your body responds in the way that you’re hoping: by dropping that last few pounds. The question is, what exactly should you do?
Try these four suggestions, as they have worked for other people in similar positions.
1. Up your fluid intake
Chances are, if you’ve already lost a significant amount of weight or become a gym junkie, you’ve learned a thing or two about hydration. Well, if you want to really push through that final plateau, you’re going to want to pull out all the stops and drink even more fluids throughout the day. You’ll want to make sure you are constantly drinking — water, preferably. You can use fluids to reduce the amount you’re eating as well, cutting down on your caloric intake to hit those deficits and target stubborn fat. Of course, you’ll want to stick to a disciplined diet as well, but if you still have 10 pounds to lose, you’ll need to burn off 35,000 more calories.
2. Change up your routine
As previously mentioned, you might want to consider changing up your routine, and that goes for what you’re doing in the gym in addition to your diet and sleep schedule. Though you’ll still want to make sure you’re getting some cardio in as well as your important compound lifts, try changing up your auxiliary exercises — give kettlebells a shot, for example. Or switch up your days, the time of the day you’re working out, or even your reps/sets. The idea is to throw your body a curveball — and force it to adjust. Hopefully, that adjustment includes burning off the last few pounds.
3. Try working out on an empty stomach
This one is a bit different, but have you ever tried working out on an empty stomach? It’s easier if you’re used to hitting the gym early in the day, but there is evidence floating around that exercising without having eaten anything for some time beforehand can help you burn off more fat. The idea is that your body doesn’t have any carbs at hand (from recent meals) to dig into, so it’ll tap into your fat reserves for energy. Try getting in a fairly long run — say, an hour or so — early in the morning without eating. It may be the shake-up you’ve needed to finally break through the plateau.
4. Sleep more
Instead of upping the intensity, you can try the exact opposite — get more sleep. Sleep is the cornerstone of health, and yet many of us forgo time in the sack in order to do other things. In terms of weight loss, getting enough sleep is essential. So, you can try experimenting with changing up your sleep pattern. Try getting an extra hour in at night, or taking a nap or two during the day, if you can. If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are things you can do to help settle yourself into a new routine — we even asked an expert. Take a snooze to try to sleep your way through those stubborn last several pounds.