Hi Hayley,  

I am in my mid-thirties. After being very lax with exercise in the previous 4-5 years, I made time these past 9 months to get fit again, return to my previous clothing size, and lose the extra pounds gained primarily in the last couple years. I have met the first two goals and I feel that my current fitness base is in many ways, an improvement compared to my late twenties. However, two things plateaued roughly 4 months ago - I have been unable to shed the last 5 lbs of weight (half my total weight loss goal), and roughly 1+ inch(es) of waist measurement. I do believe that my target weight/waist is adjusted for "lack-of-youthful-metabolism" (hope I phrased this right) and "daily variations", and I am certain I do not have 5 lbs of additional muscle. I know measurements are not the be-all, end-all indicator of fitness levels, but I am correlating the two for my particular situation and am reaching out for a sanity check.

Assuming similar food/dietary intake, is the weight indicative that my current activity level does not match my previous life? Can any of this (waist size for example) be attributed to natural body changes of women in their mid-thirties (note: no pregnancies or health issues)? My exercise choices are also different, but surely that cannot explain the huge variation? I used to do group-based activities with natural core & strength (e.g. racket sports, dancing). Now, my exercise is rooted in endurance with occasional core workouts (both are new to me).

In essence, I want to be sensitive to current life and reality, but do not want to give myself excuses when there are none. Any advice in setting healthy targets for different life stages is appreciated.

Thanks for your insight!

P/S: "lack-of-youthful-metabolism" is my attempt at saying, given my current work-life-age combo, I realistically expect to be a couple lbs heavier than I was at 25.


I was just talking about this with a client this morning.  She was complaining to me that even though she hasn’t had a drop of alcohol for the entire month of January, she has not met her target weight. Sure, she’s lost 8 pounds (why was she not more excited about that?) but struggling to lose those last 4.

The reason we always seem to struggle to lose those last few pounds is because it is freaking hard.  The more weight you lose (and have to lose), the harder you have to work to keep losing weight.  It’s similar to running, or any athletic accomplishment you are trying to achieve. When you first start running you can almost knock 5 or 10 minutes off each of your 10km time without even trying. But as you start to get faster you almost have to double your training effort to achieve the smallest of gains. Think how hard Olympic sprinters work to milliseconds seconds off of their race times. They put in years of dedication for literal fractions of time.

If you really want to lose those last few pounds you have to work hard. I mean like 60 minutes of heavy breathing, puddle of sweat hard. AND, you can’t cheat in your diet, not even in the slightest of ways. I’m not saying it is impossible to drop your last few, but it takes so much more effort and dedication. There is a lot more being comfortable at being uncomfortable while striving to lose your last bit of weight. It is saying no to all of your indulgences and yes to more time sweating and meal prepping. You absolutely can’t grab a muffin on the go so have your bag of almonds ready to go in those moments of hunger (but just a few because even too much of a good thing can be detrimental to our success). Also, don’t think that once you hit your target you are “there” because our “perfect” weights sometimes are the hardest to maintain.

Another reason it is tough to lose those last few is because we become ok with maybe not quite getting to our ultimate goal and I am as guilty of this as anyone. I set a goal for January to give up wine completely and at 18 days I convinced myself I had done enough. Anyone else do this? Get a little tired of the early morning gym sessions and miss their post work glass of wine? Weight loss (and results) takes time so if you give up early, even for a day or two, it will set you back. If you really want it you have to really work for it.  

As for blaming those so-called natural changes in our bodies for why our waist may not be the same as it once was, you are going to have to stop that. It is lifestyle changes that causes the weight gain not body changes (most of the time that is later in life hormonal changes to play a factor, but in your 30s, generally, that’s not the case). As we get older we move less. We sit at work more, we sit with our friends more and we sit on weekends more because life is tired. One or two pounds of weight gain in a year can easily go unnoticed but add that up over 10 years and you’re carrying around an extra 20 pounds.    

You seem to have the right idea about what is going on and it sounds like you just need a little push. Nothing is stopping you from losing those last few pounds other than yourself. Not your age or your job. It just boils down to how hard you are willing to work. Consider this your push.   

Here is Selena Gomez leaving a pilates class yesterday in LA.