Whether you’ve been on a long weight loss journey and hit a plateau, or if you always seem to hover just out of reach of your goal weight, losing those final five kilos can feel like an impossible task. Danielle Smith, personal trainer and founder of Glow For Life, shares some common reasons people get stuck at the final hurdle – and how to make some simple tweaks to ensure you bust those last stubborn kilos once and for all.
- You’re not organised enough
Food preparation and planning in advance is key to making sure you diet doesn’t derail too frequently, Danielle reveals. ‘Take an hour or two on your weekend to plan and set some meals you can take with you while you’re on the run,’ says Danielle. ‘You get such better results because you know exactly what’s in the food, it’s all portioned out and you miss that situation where you’re like, ‘oh, McDonalds is the only thing that’s around’. When my clients facilitate a change in that area, they feel more in control of their lives, because even if plans change or get thrown out, they know they’ve still got their healthy, packed lunch ready to go.”
- You have inflammation in the body
“When your body is inflamed, the nutrients in your food don’t get absorbed,” explains Danielle. “Your body is not going to lose weight if it’s trying to fight the inflammation.”
Signs that you might have inflammation include fatigue and sluggishness, bloating, gas or irritable bowel symptoms, joint pain or stiffness, an irritated throat, coughing or stuffy nose and itchy or ruddy-looking skin. Danielle says it’s important to get your stomach and stomach lining in a great place by eating foods that don’t cause inflammation. “Processed foods are the biggest culprit,” says Danielle, ‘Try to avoid eating anything out of a packet, and focus on fresh food whenever possible.”
Danielle adds that there are other factors that can also contribute to inflammation.
“Stress can be a big cause of inflammation, as can your exposure to toxins or chemicals,” she says. Inflammation is also common in conditions such as arthritis, autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergies.
- You’re not tracking what you’re eating
Sometimes the reality between what we think we’re eating and what we’re actually eating can be markedly different, and Danielle says keeping a food diary is instrumental in helping people see exactly where they might be slipping up.
“It’s not that people have to keep it for the rest of their lives, but it’s great to use as an educational tool,” she says. “People will say, ‘I’m eating healthily and don’t eat that much’ but when they become accountable and keep a diary, it becomes a real eye opener,” she says.
One area in which a food diary can highlight issues is with portion control.
“Someone will be like, ‘yeah, I’m eating really healthily, I’m eating quinoa!’ but then you do a food diary and find they’re having two or three cups of it,” she says. “So it’s [about] eating the right stuff but eating the right amounts of it.
It’s also important to know what macro nutrients are in your foods. “One client thought an avocado was a protein. It’s teaching them so they can facilitate really good habits and become aware of what they can eat, and how much of it.”
- You’re not lifting weights
Danielle says many of us still struggle to get our heads past the outdated thinking that cardio exercise is the key to weight loss, when we should be looking at strength training as well.
“Women will say, ‘oh I don’t want to do weights because I don’t want to bulk up’ and they’ll spend hours running on a treadmill or cross trainer,” says Danielle. “Weight training is so much more effective because it builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the more your metabolism is increased because you require more calories to feed the muscle,” she says, adding that while women might be building muscle, they “won’t get really bulky”.
Danielle stresses that this doesn’t mean cardio training is off the table completely.
“It’s just getting that balance and not thinking you need to wear yourself out with cardio for results,” she says. “Opt for some high intensity stuff, get in there with some battle ropes, kettle bells or even [do some] boxing.”
- You’re not varying your exercise
Danielle explains that regular adjustments to your fitness program are essential for ongoing success.
“You can work with tempo, rep ranges, weight – every four to six weeks you should change your program so your body doesn’t get used to it,” she says. “So one month you might be doing three sets of ten and the next week you might be doing a 6-12-25 program, or something called time under tension, where you might do a rep and hold it for a certain amount of time, which shocks and challenges your body further.”
- You’re after a quick fix
Danielle says people often fall down in their weight loss goals when they have the mentality of making quick, temporary changes for fast results.
“Health isn’t about a quick fix, it’s a lifestyle choice and a journey, where there’s going to be ups and downs,” she says. Her advice is to simply adopt a positive attitude and avoid the all-or-nothing, good-food-bad-food mindset.
“Someone might have a cheeseburger and beat themselves up so badly about it that they then sabotage the rest of the week,” she says. “Instead, think of it that you can have a cheeseburger every now and then, but plan for it and allow for it and get out of that good versus bad mindset.”
- You’re holding yourself back
The mind has the biggest impact on our ability to lose weight and Danielle says there are a host of psychological issues that can hamper our efforts.
“Some people place a lot of pressure and expectation on weight loss, [they might say] I’m going to achieve career success, or I’m going to have a perfect relationship if I lose weight. We try to encourage people to say, ok, if I’m not happy in my job, maybe that’s something I need to address separately.”
Danielle adds that when people have other issues going on that they’re not addressing, it’s at this final weight loss hurdle that they begin to feel defeated.
“Some women have this sense of, ‘I’m not worthy enough to achieve these results’, so they start to self-sabotage when they get close to their goal.”
If that sounds like you, Danielle recommends “doing a big mindset makeover, things like keeping an appreciation journal or even looking into your eyes in the mirror and saying positive affirmations about yourself. Once you start to believe it, everyone else will start to believe it because you’ll ooze confidence. You’ll start to believe you’re worthy and start to achieve your goals.”