, Friday 5, RunningFriday 5: Five Reasons Why Losing The Final 15lbs Can Be Just As Hard As Losing The First 150

Friday 5: Five Reasons Why Losing The Final 15lbs Can Be Just As Hard As Losing The First 150

I think that every person who goes through the long, arduous process of losing a gang of weight deals with this, eventually, and it’s usually at the point where you’re within the final stretch of achieving your goals. It may not have a finite number on it but there’s a point where, if you’ve lost a slew of weight already, you’ll start feeling like your process as come to a grinding halt. And, while I’ve said it before, it still bears repeating: whenever you experience that plateau, it’s time to regroup.

…but that regroup is harder if you’re coming down from a long journey into those final pounds. Here’s five reasons why:

1) Calories count even more, now. Let’s get over the idea that calories don’t matter. They do. Now, as a very basic example, let’s take a 33 year old woman who is 5’4 and 250lbs, who is now down to about 150lbs. At 5’4″ and 250lbs, she need to eat somewhere around 2,400 calories to maintain her 250lb weight. Now that she’s lost 105lbs and is now down to 145, and has a body fat percentage of about 30%, she can do some more rough calculations for how to maintain her current size which will bring her to 1,352 calories. If she wants to go even smaller? She’d need to be mindful of her caloric intake, again, in ways that allot for the fact that 1,352 calories doesn’t have the same kind of “room for pleasure” that 2,400 calories had. It’s easy to create a caloric deficit when you’re starting at 2,400 calories. You can add an extra piece of chicken or another bowl of soup and be alright. If you’re at 145lbs? It’s a bit more of a challenge, which is why…

2) Exercise becomes far more vital. You, eventually, start getting into strange territory when you’re caloric intake is at 1,300 and you’re still talking about cutting calories in order to create a caloric deficit. It’s much easier – and, in some cases, safer – to simply exercise to burn off the calories you need. Because, quite frankly…

3) It messes with your head comparing the amount of food you used to eat with the amount of food you eat now. Now, granted, if you’re eating healthy bowls full of veggies, this might not mean much to you… but snacking, second helpings, and doggie bags start to look a little less sensible. You have to constantly check yourself to make sure that you’re not slipping back into habits that you enjoyed better with more weight. And just like you learned, subconsciously, what a “sensible plate” was at 250lbs, you’ll learn what a “sensible plate” looks like for someone who weighs your goal weight. This can be a challenge, because…

4) Habituation sets in over the course of losing that first 100 pounds that, though once acceptable, can run counter to your goals. Take the six-meal-a-day structure, for example. While lots of people – myself included – praise the six meals a day template for helping people disassociate with the feeling of hunger pangs being the green light to overeat, it becomes a problem as you shrink down. You can come down to 1800 calories and do okay on a 400-100-500-200-500-100 split. But if your caloric intake for a day is only 1300 calories, are you really going to live your life eating 200 calorie meals all day? Or, more realistically, a 300 calorie breakfast, 100 calorie snack, 300 calorie lunch, 100 calorie snack and a 400 calorie dinner? Even though it’s more realistic, it’s still a modification of the plan. The point is that you have to be more fluid – you have to be willing to assess and adapt to your new “size,” and even be willing to change things that originally didn’t need changing. Whereas you’d just eat a couple of apples at snack time, you might decide it’s now time for only one apple.

5) The pounds start to come off much slower. When you were 250lbs, you sassy 5’4″ lady, you… it was easy to burn calories! That 20-minute cardio session was all you needed to git’er done and see results. Running a 15-minute mile might’ve burned almost 200 calories for you at that size. At 145, though? You’ll be lucky if you burn even 100 calories with that fifteen-minute mile (hopefully you’re 15min-mile is looking more like an 11min mile at this point, though!) and will need to go hard in the paint to get the same caloric bang for your time buck. A 250lb body burns far more than a 145lb body both in action and at rest – as evidenced by the different maintenance levels quoted above – and the 145lb body would have to work awfully hard to get the same benefit that the 250lb body would experience. That Zumba class you loved at 250lbs might’ve been giving you that 250-calorie burn, but at 145? It might give you 170. Be aware. Look for more calorie-burning activities to get the most out of your time. You might enjoy Zumba, but you may also try a kickboxing Fight Club-style class too.

What’d I miss? Do you think I got anything wrong?

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By | 2017-06-10T11:21:03+00:00 January 20th, 2015|Fat Loss, Friday 5, Running|26 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.


  1. Dawn A. April 13, 2012 at 1:01 PM - Reply

    SO needed to read this today. Just had a for real light bulb moment when reading #4. Thanks!

  2. shanel April 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM - Reply

    I needed this today!! I’m now down 55 pounds and only wanna lose 15 more, but I swear, this has been the hardest last few pounds to lose, now I have some more motivation and better understanding and insight so I can finally get to my goal! thanks E:)

  3. BrainyBabe April 13, 2012 at 2:30 PM - Reply

    Fabulously clear and concise information about the reality everyone who’s losing will hopefully actually face. Because it means that so far the work has been paying off and now you’re within sight of your final goal. Thanks as always for this great blog. Peace!

  4. ATR April 13, 2012 at 5:55 PM - Reply

    I just dealt with this. I hit my official goal today but those last 20 were a beast to get off. You get comfortable and forget to do the work. You may not even go back to the old habits but you tend to not focus on losing as much.

    And I had to totally redo what I ate during a day several times. I’d essentially be overeating because I was holding on to what worked fine before but was no longer working. When I realized what was going on I changed it and things worked out.

  5. Shay April 13, 2012 at 9:15 PM - Reply

    This is so helpful! I’m just starting out (again) on my weight loss journey, but this blog is arming me with tips and tools for the long haul! Thanks do much for posting insightful and encouraging information to help ME out!

  6. Dee April 13, 2012 at 11:50 PM - Reply

    Needed this today. I have been losing less weight each week after losing 23 pounds. I find I want to eat more as well. I work out a lot to balance it and have started weights.

  7. Joy Weese Moll April 14, 2012 at 8:17 PM - Reply

    Terrific post with very helpful information.

    I would add this point: consider the possibility that your goal weight is 15 pounds lower than your body and lifestyle dictate. Goal weights aren’t written in stone and sometimes they need to be revised up at the end of the weight loss journey, without feeling like you’ve failed!

  8. Vee April 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM - Reply

    I am going through a plateau right now. I have been at the same weight for about 3 weeks now and I am working out 5 times a week at a high intensity.

    I am going to try to eat 1,300 calories per day my suggested amount is 1,496 to loose weight. I feel like if I go below 1,300 I will be so hungry.

    I am 5’1 and I weigh 141 lbs. My goal weight is 125-130.

    • Valarie April 17, 2012 at 4:53 PM - Reply


      I feel your pain. Being short means you get to eat even less than everyone else, and you have to work even harder. The caloric difference between me and my slender 6’4″ husband means he gets an extra 700 calories to play with during the day, and burns 1.5 times as many calories when we do the same workout. My weight loss also came to a dead halt at about 140 lbs. for a long time. The only way I was able to get any lower was to cut out almost all the sugar in my life, and start training for a marathon. Marathon training means I run over 20 miles a week right now, and I feel like I’m barely treading water at an average 1400 to 1500 calorie intake. There is a reason that so many models are taller than the average woman: easier to be ultra-thin that way.

      • Vee April 20, 2012 at 9:17 PM - Reply

        Thanks Valerie;-)

  9. AngieJ April 20, 2012 at 2:15 PM - Reply

    This is so helpful and what I need to read today. I’m trying to lose my last 5-8 lbs and it is a b**ch. I keep reminding myself I have to rev up the exercise AND watch those snacks. Cant get away with small ” extras” like I could 50 pounds ago. Thank you so much for your wonderful post.

  10. Meg April 24, 2012 at 7:46 AM - Reply

    Thanks for this. I am actually struggling with the last 20 lbs after losing 110lbs. It’s exactly what you said; there is much less room for error and those extra snacks and bites add up much more quickly than they used to. Our bodies are actually efficient and I have to change up my routine much more and be even tighter with the eating. Thanks for this – it’s always nice to be reminded that I’m not the only one who is going through this.

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