Last year I went overseas to visit family for a few months and came home 5lbs heavier. And while I was still within the health weight range for my height, that didn’t change the fact that I wanted to lose those excess pounds.
However, it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. If you’re in a similar situation, you probably want to know how to lose the last 5lbs of vanity weight, right?
So let’s talk about how I did it.
What Is Vanity Weight?
First of all, let’s briefly go over what vanity weight actually is.
Vanity weight is weight that you don’t have to lose for health reasons – it’s weight that you want to lose, because you prefer the way you look and feel without it.
Here’s an example – I’m 5’5 and usually weigh around 125lbs. As I mentioned above, last year when I was visiting family overseas for a few months, I gained 5lbs.
I was still within the healthy weight range for my height, so those extra 5lbs weren’t technically an issue from a health perspective.
But I didn’t like the way I looked or felt. My clothes felt slightly uncomfortable and my face looked rounder than usual. And when I bent over, I could feel a spare tire forming around my mid-section.
I also knew that if I didn’t do something about it there was a chance that next holiday I would gain another 5lbs and suddenly I’d have 10lbs to lose, instead of 5.
Why Is It So Hard To Lose The Last 5lbs of Vanity Weight?
There are a number of reasons why it’s so hard to lose the last 5lbs, and some of these may be difficult to admit to.
You’re Being Lackadaisical
First, there’s a chance that you’re simply being lackadaisical – in other words, you’re taking the approach of “it’s just 5lbs, I don’t really have to do much to lose it.”
Of course, if you’re not actually losing the weight then that’s incorrect. Clearly you do have to do something to lose it, otherwise it wouldn’t be there.
If that sounds familiar to you, don’t worry – I’ve been there too. -For some unknown reason, I just assumed that my excess weight would just “fall off” when I arrived home. Of course, it didn’t.
Your Body Has Adapted
The human body is incredible at adaptation. Unlike most plants and many animals, we can live in almost all regions of the world, from deserts to snow-covered mountains. Our skin produces pigments to help deal with sun exposure (i.e. a tan.) Our immune system can learn how to fight off many bacteria and viruses.
This is all incredible, but when it comes to weight loss, this adaptation may be one of the reasons you’re finding it difficult to lose those last 5lbs.
When you do the same exercise and eat the same food/calorie intake for an extended period of time, your body becomes used to that. It learns how to survive based on the circumstances it’s under and as such, it can stop responding how it used to – i.e. you stop losing weight.
How to Lose The Last 5lbs of Vanity Weight – 5 Things I Did That Worked
Ok, now we’ve gone over what vanity weight is and why it can be difficult to lose, let’s go over the 5 things I did to shed the pounds.
TRACKED MY CALORIES
Tracking my calories isn’t something I do on a regular basis. I have a good handle on how many calories are in the food I eat and I understand portion control.
However, when I had to lose those extra 5lbs I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and started tracking my calories.
Why? Because it’s very easy to go over your calorie goal.
When you’re not trying to lose weight, this isn’t a big issue if it happens occasionally. It takes about 3500 calories to gain 1lb of body weight, so eating an extra couple hundred calories every now and then isn’t likely to make much of a difference in your weight.
However, if you’re trying to lose weight it’s a different story.
It takes 3500 calories to gain 1lb of body weight, and the same is true in reverse. To lose 1lb of body weight, you’ll have to have a 3500 calorie deficit.
In other words, if you want to lose 1lb per week you’ll have to either burn an extra 500 calories per day or eat 500 less calories per day (or a combination of the two, which is the healthiest option.)
I recommend tracking everything you eat on a normal day and seeing how many calories you consume. Then determine how many calories you want to cut and how many you want to burn through exercise.
Tracking this through an app like MyFitnessPal is the best way to ensure you stay on track.
STARTED MY DAY WITH A MORNING WALK
When I arrived home, I made the decision to start my day with a morning walk, despite the fact that it was the middle of winter. (I just made sure I had a good pair of winter boots for walking in ice and snow without slipping or freezing my toes off.)
Starting the day with a morning walk is a great way to burn calories (around 100 calories per mile for a 180lb person) but it has another additional benefit.
Starting your day with exercise helps get you in an active mindset and that often has a trickle down effect for the rest of the day.
Think about it like this – have you ever noticed that when you have a stressful morning, sleep through your alarm and barely get out of the front door on time, it negatively affects your entire day?
It’s the same concept.
When you start your day with exercise, it motivates you to continue those healthy habits for the rest of the day.
DRANK ONLY WATER
I’ve been a huge water drinker my whole life. I’ve never drank soda in my life, I don’t buy juice or energy drinks and I don’t drink alcohol.
And up until I visited my family overseas, I also wasn’t a coffee drinker. However, that changed when I was overseas.
My family are huge coffee drinkers and that kind of rubbed off on me. Every morning I started to drink a large coffee with creamer. I would frequently buy a flavored frappe when I was out and would often make myself another coffee with creamer in the afternoon.
Sure, it tasted good. But a grande frappuccino has 230 calories and the average creamer has about 25 calories per serving. That’s an extra 280 calories per day that I was consuming.
When I arrived home, one of the first things I did was go back to drinking only water. If I felt like a warm drink to start my day, I would make myself a cup of tea.
Swapping out calorie-laden drinks like flavored coffees, juice, energy drinks, soft drinks, etc., for water is not only healthier, it will save you a ton of calories and go a long way in helping you lose those final 5lbs.
STARTED INTERMITTENT FASTING
When I first heard about intermittent fasting, I was intrigued. As a health coach and personal trainer, I’m interested in anything diet and fitness-related.
There are many evidence-based benefits of intermittent fasting, but I never felt the need to practice it myself until I had to determine how to lose the last 5lbs of vanity weight that I was carrying.
I decided to give intermittent fasting a try, and I was impressed with how much “lighter” it made me feel.
Breakfast has always been a difficult meal for me to eat in the first place (I think a lot of people can relate to this.) I often find myself not hungry at breakfast and growing up, I remember forcing myself to eat breakfast because “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
For me, intermittent fasting meant eating my last meal at 5:30pm and then not eating again until 9:30am. This follows the popular 16/8 protocol, which refers to a 16 hour window of fasting and an 8 hour eating window.
Eating dinner early made this easier and 9:30am is usually the time I start to feel hungry anyway, so it worked out well.
After realizing how well intermittent fasting worked for me and taking note of the many health benefits outside of just weight loss, I actually decided to continue with intermittent fasting on a 5/2 schedule (5 days of intermittent fasting, 2 days off.)
IMPROVED MY SLEEP HABITS
A lack of sleep is linked to obesity and other health issues, which is why I decided to make getting enough sleep a priority.
I’ve always been a relatively good sleeper but when I was overseas I found myself have a lot more late nights – going out with friends, staying up late watching movies, going to the casino (yes, I don’t mind the occasional flutter at the slot machines.)
I’m relatively young (mid 30’s) so I didn’t think this lack of sleep would be a huge issue, but after a while, I really started to notice the negative affects it was having on me. Namely, I didn’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning and exercising, and I felt like a needed a large flavored coffee every morning to kickstart my day.
When I arrived home, I made a conscious effort to improve my sleep habits which allowed me to start the day feeling refreshed rather than tired.
If you have trouble sleeping, make sure you check out this list of bedtime essentials.
Final Thoughts on How to Lose The Last 5lbs of Vanity Weight
And that’s how I managed to lose my vanity weight. I can’t say that any one of these things were the deciding factor in my 5lb weight loss because I did them all, so they all worked in unison.
But as you can see, it’s definitely possible to break through that final weight loss plateau and lose those pesky 5lbs. Switch things up, step out of your comfort zone and realize that you have to do things differently if you want different results.