We've all been there – trying to budge those last stubborn five kg – but dietitian Melissa Meier knows the secret to shifting them for good.
Surprisingly, losing just a few kilos can be far trickier than losing a huge amount of weight, because the leaner your body, the more your body wants to hold on to what it has. The last five kilograms is always the hardest, and when the scales just won’t budge, it can be pretty disheartening – but it’s more than doable, so don’t stress.
Before we dive in, it’s time for a serious, long-hard-look-at-yourself-in-the-mirror kind of reality check. Ask yourself: what’s so special about the number on the scales you’re trying so hard to achieve? Perhaps it’s simply a number you pulled out of thin air a few months ago, and isn’t actually ideal for your body.
Remember, if you have to do any kind of extreme diet or over-exercise to get there, it’s not the weight your body is meant to be. What’s more, you could have built muscle and lost fat at the same time, so your body looks the way you want it to, even though it’s not reflected on the scales.
Check in with how you actually feel in your own skin and how your clothes are fitting before you try and lose any more weight. You might surprise yourself and find you’re actually content just the way you are.
Five tips to lose the last 5kg
If you really do have five kilos to lose, here’s my top tips to help you get there – but don’t expect it to happen quickly. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race.
#1. Be mindful
Often, we eat simply because it’s routine, and not because we’re genuinely hungry – and with weight loss in mind, that’s bad news. Not only can non-hungry eating slow down weight loss, but it can potentially even cause weight gain, so before you dig in, identify whether you’re truly hungry (read: is your tummy grumbling?), and if not, wait until you are.
#2. Keep a food diary
I’m not a fan of carefully tracking every single thing you put in your mouth for months on end, but doing so for just a few days here and there can be a game changer. It can open your eyes to what you’re actually eating and help you to identify small habits that are derailing your weight loss efforts.
Did you realise you have a biscuit with your morning tea every day? Or a couple of slices of cheese every afternoon at 3pm? Perhaps you’ve eaten dessert every night without realising.
#3. Practise portion perfection
It’s easy for portion sizes to gradually creep up over time, so it’ll pay to recalibrate with measurements every couple of weeks. Your morning muesli, for example, could have started at a healthy half-cup portion, but may now be close to one cup – instantly doubling the kilojoule content of your breakfast.
#4. P. L. A. N.
Healthy eating doesn’t just happen. You need to write yourself a meal plan, stock your kitchen accordingly – and then stick to it. I find it’s easiest to start with planning dinners, focusing on a variety of proteins and cuisines rather than the same old meat and three veg rotations. Once dinner is done, you can plan on leftovers or otherwise for lunch, and don’t forget a couple of quick and easy breakfasts, too.
#5. Watch the liquid kilojoules
Calories don’t just come from food, but fluid, too – and it can really add up. Think about it: a large milky coffee to start the day, a vino (or two) on weeknights, some cocktails over the weekend and a few soft drinks thrown into the mix… Before you know it, you’ve drunk hundreds – possibly thousands – of extra calories across the week without even realising. With this in mind, stick to water when you’re trying to lose weight, at least most of the time.