What to Do About Losing the Last 5 Pounds

  • Written By:Lauren Slayton
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If you really want to lose 5 pounds, I suggest not stressing about the last 5 pounds.

Here’s a little secret. Wherever you are right now, in an office or commuting, or any time you’re around a group of people many of those people want to lose weight. They may be male or female, they may appear fit or not so much, they may be 18 or 80, but chances are, they wouldn’t object to dropping a few pounds. Sure, there are bigger issues such as climate change and our upcoming presidential election (which by the way, will affect our weight), but we all get dressed and undressed and how we feel, in our skin, matters. Whether clients are referred to be, by their cardiologist or they come in to tackle gastrointestinal issues, most clients check the weight loss box.

I meet with clients one-on-one in my New York City office for the better part of most days. Inevitably, as one session ends and another begins, clients will check each other out. Sometimes, I’ll hear, “Ok why is everyone leaving your office thin?” To which I’ll defect saying, “You never know how someone feels or what’s going on with them.” And while this is 100% legit, I do have a fair number of clients who wish to lose “the last 5 pounds.” So, if you’re a last-5-pounder or curious about those who are, here’s some food for thought.

Let’s consider history

Clients often ask me what I feel they “should weigh.” The first thing I’ll do, when helping them answer this query is to look at their history. Whether it’s 5 pounds or 50 pounds look at your weight history. If the number you desire, is a weight you’ve been in the last decade, stomach viruses and juice cleanses aside, that’s a reasonable goal. If it’s a number you’ve never been, or were for your prom, college graduation or wedding, I’m going to discourage setting that as your goal.

Your goal weight can be a trap, trapping you into feeling that when you see a certain number, all your body 'stuff' will instantly evaporate.

Are you a dissatisfaction addict?

Once we’ve discussed milestone events and their associated weights, I’m going to dig into what these last five pounds mean to you. Many clients I see are firmly entrenched in the “not good enough” mindset. When I goal set with clients, I’ll steer them away from the “goal weight” concept. Your goal weight can be a trap, trapping you into feeling that when you see a certain number, all your body “stuff” will instantly evaporate. While the last 5 pounds as a certain ring to it, many clients will lose these 5 and then suggest “a few more for wiggle room.” Wiggle room is lovely but I’ve been doing this long enough to detect when it’s someone who, despite progress on the scale, still needs body image support.

Our weight, and weight loss, isn’t linear

The weight most clients wish to be for a beach vacation or a reunion is different than where they hover, in day-to-day life. Aside from travel and big events, we all have a range of behaviors. If you’re declining the bread basket, taking nights off from drinking and, as we say, “closing the kitchen” after dinner your weight will be different than when you’re saying yes to every work, birthday treat, ordering take-out nightly and taking 500 steps a day. Are you “bad” when you’re choosing treats or fun? Of course not, we all have those days or weeks. But if it’s a few weeks of this, you’ll likely gain 3, 4 or 5 pounds. I’m an advocate of veering — of not being 100% healthy, 100% of the time. But with this, even as a nutritionist with over 20 years of practicing what I semi-preach, I have a range. Accepting this is empowering as it assumes you have the power to make the choices that will dictate what the scale says.

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Losing weight means having a couple of 'no' items.

We’re all adults, right?

Are you a cynic? I love a cynic. If you’re thinking, “She says she’s a nutritionist, is she going to tell us how to lose five?” Sure. While many of my clients admit having their thyroid tested in the hopes they’ll find the answer. The majority of the time, the answer is behavioral not medical. Losing weight means having a couple of “no” items. For one person, this might mean no eating after dinner, for another it might be no weekday drinks. We all have a sense of our nutritional kryptonite. Timing is a biggie- look at the time of day you eat, for the first time and when you finish. I have various secret weapons from magnesium to green tea, I’ll have client incorporate those for a little metabolic boost. But you want to know the best solution for long term weight loss? Its stress reduction. So, if you really want to lose 5 pounds, I suggest not stressing about the last 5 pounds.

Lauren Slayton is a nutritionist and the founder of Foodtrainers.

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