I’m a female in my 40s who has been dieting for about four months now. I’ve lost 27 pounds, but I can’t seem to lose any more. I feel like I can’t eat any less, but I still have 40 pounds to lose. What can I do? Maybe I’m eating too little.
It sounds like you’re visiting that dieting vacation spot better known as the weight-loss plateau. It’s that frustrating place where your weight remains at the same spot, even though you’re “sticking to your diet.”
Unfortunately, dieting and losing weight can cause your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories) to drop to what seems like a crawl — especially if you’re cutting back too drastically in the calorie department. Believe it or not, losing a half to one pound a week is a reasonable goal.
Some sedentary women need only a minuscule 1,600 calories a day. Cutting your calories much lower than this will make it difficult to eat a healthy diet and awfully frustrating when it comes to having fun at meals. You may be able to shave some unnecessary calories off your plate by choosing leaner cuts of meats and modestly cutting back on your fat intake.
Switching from lean ground beef to lean ground turkey will save you about 100 calories for a three-ounce portion. Replacing the one-ounce schmear of regular cream cheese with the same amount of the light stuff saves about 35 calories. And using two tablespoons of light mayonnaise instead of regular mayo will cut out 100 calories out of a tuna sandwich.
Another place to trim calories is with alcohol. A patient of mine was having difficulty dropping those stubborn last five pounds until she made the decision to cut out the eight-ounce glass of wine (165 calories) and handful of crackers (75 calories) that were a nightly pre-dinner ritual. Removing those 240 daily calories from her diet allowed her to continue to lose about half a pound per week — and gradually to reach her weight goal.
The best way to get you off the weightloss plateau is to exercise. It’s a super way to increase your metabolism and burn a few extra calories. The good news is that you don’t have to invest lots of time or money at a gym. A 160-pound person can work off about 180 calories by going for a brisk half-hour walk at lunch, raking leaves in the yard for around 45 minutes, or cleaning the house for about 40 minutes. This daily movement would result in using up over 1,000 calories a week — contributing to just shy of half a pound of weight loss.
Try weaving exercise throughout your day. Instead of a coffee break, take a five-minute walk break. Try using the restroom that is the furthest from your desk. And forget the elevator — use the stairs. At home, do one chore around the house every night such as washing a few windows, scrubbing the tub, or straightening up a closet. This will get you out of the kitchen and free up your weekends to do something fun…like going for a bike ride!