It’s the final two that never want to budge. That’s why we tapped celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak for research-backed ways to blast through a weight-loss plateau once and for all.
1. Pump some actual iron
Body-weight moves are great, but Pasternak says that picking up free weights will get you the most dramatic results in the shortest amount of time. You can’t target every muscles as effectively with just your body weight, and weights allow you to progress as you get stronger (by lifting heavier ones). Invest in two pairs of dumb-bells to keep at home; one lighter set and one heavier. Aim to use them for at least five minutes a day; research shows that intense ‘snack-size’ workouts are more effective than moderately intense, longer ones. And no, you won’t bulk up, unless you’re also taking testosterone shots and overeating!
2. Don’t give cardio too much credit
Of course cardio is a great way to burn calories, but research shows that many of us overestimate our burn and may subconsciously decrease other movement throughout the day to compensate (“I won’t take the stairs since I went for that run this morning”). Still log your workout, but maximise your movement throughout the day by making several small tweaks, like walking while you talk on the phone, or getting a standing desk at work. Doing so will seriously increase your weight-loss efforts, says Pasternak. This strategy will ensure you burn calories at a steady pace all day long, rather than torch a bunch in one session that you may end up counteracting later. Check out these cardio myths that are can cause weight gain.
3. Take a 30-minute power nap
Skimping on sleep increases your appetite, saps the energy you need to work out, and makes your body less efficient at burning fat. If you have trouble getting the recommended seven to eight hours per night, Pasternak’s research found that a single 30-minute nap daily could count towards your nightly total. It’s just long enough to allow you to sink into the stage of sleep when your muscles relax and your body temperature lowers (where you get the energy-boosting benefits), but not so long that you reach the deepest stage of sleep, which could cause you to feel groggy when you wake up. David Klein, M.D., a leading sleep physician with whom Pasternak consulted, says that if you had to choose, you may be better off nabbing a 30-minute nap versus an hour-long sweat session – the former will give you the energy to move more the rest of the day. Two rules so you don’t affect sleep later: do it in the early afternoon and don’t snooze for more than 30 minutes, says Pasternak. Find out more about what’s stealing your sleep.
4. Step away from your electronics
Unplug for one consecutive hour a day (doesn’t matter when) and you’ll be more active, says Pasternak. That’s because for the most past, you’re on your phone, checking email, and watching stuff. Instead use that hour to get in some of the 10,000 steps you should log daily (research shows that taking this number can reduce waist size and BMI). Download the app Freedom (macfreedom.com, for Mac and PC); it lets you block the internet for up to eight hours. Click here for why you need a social media detox.
5. Eat fat to shrink
One unfortunate side effect of losing weight: Your body burns fewer calories per day, so you don’t need as many. This is one of the reasons those last 2kg seem so impossible to drop. But that doesn’t mean you have to revert to a diet of only kale and radishes. Just be smart about the foods you do eat. Choose ones that keep you full and give you energy. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower the glycemic load of a meal, which helps stabilise blood sugar and keeps you full and energised. Get ’em in Pasternak’s favorites: avocado and almonds. Check out these healthy fats to feast on.
6. Confront your end goal
Fitness and weight loss goals need to be specific, says Pasternak. If you’re struggling with the last 2kg, pick a date by which you want them gone. Write that on your desk or fridge. Make sure it’s somewhere that you will see and read it regularly, so you’ll think twice about skipping a workout or eating a second piece of your co-worker’s birthday cake. And if you need another nudge, you can always think about the consequences when a temptation arises, like how you’ll feel shopping for bathing suits. Read this to find out how to set achievable goals.