Take Off Those Last 10 Pounds

These tips can help you get to your goal.

By John Casey
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD

It's been a long and sometimes difficult road. You've been sensible, taking off just a pound or so per week with more exercise, careful meal planning, and calorie counting. And now, you're just a few pounds from your goal weight.

Why then, has the effort become so much harder? You're hungry more often. You're not losing weight as quickly as you've been accustomed to. Frustration mounts. It seems you've hit some kind of wall, physical and emotional, that threatens to keep you from your goal.

You're in the dreaded "last 10 pounds" zone (though in reality it may be more like 12, or 8, or 5). And it's dreaded for good reason. Many dieters find this stage of weight loss the most difficult of all -- even harder, in some cases, than the transition from weight loss to long-term weight maintenance.

"We cannot precisely say that it is the last 10 pounds," says Werner W. K. Hoeger, EdD, FACSM, director of the Human Performance Laboratory and professor of kinesiology at Boise State University in Idaho. "In general, weight loss is faster during the initial phases of a diet plan, while the last few pounds are more difficult to lose."

Power Your Way Through a Plateau

To keep focused and motivated, it may help to know what's going on inside your body, says Hoeger, author of Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness.

When you're dieting, you may lose weight faster at first because of an initial loss of lean body mass. When the loss of this lean component stabilizes -- because your body needs lean body mass to perform the activities of daily living -- your weight loss becomes much more gradual.