Why is it So Hard to Lose the Last Few Pounds? (You Aren’t Going to Like My Answer!)

If I could just lose a few more pounds, I would be happy…

How many times have you said that?

I know I have, over and over again. Feeling unhappy with the way I look, thinking that removing those extra 5lbs would make me fitter, faster, and of course….happier.

At some point in every single training segment, I would put Steve in an uncomfortable position by asking him, “do you think I am leaning down?”.

There wasn’t really a right answer.

If he said yes, a little part of me inside would jump for joy, “yesssssss, I am getting thinner”, but then the other part of me would say, “he’s lyyyyyyyinngg because he doesn’t want to upset you”.

If he politely said no, well, that brought a whole new host of self sabotaging thoughts, “everyone is going to know I am bigger”, or “ugh, this is so unfair, why do I love food too much”.

When family and friends would comment that I was getting a little too thin, I would kind of enjoy it, it would be nice to go into the race feeling like I was lean, fit, and ready to go.

Race weight, right?

You think that once you reach a certain weight of X you will be happy. That is all you have ever wanted, and you will just be so happy and confident and it will be amazing.

Besides, you have done the hard part, right?

Losing the weight.

Maintaining, well, surely that isn’t as bad?

But let me just tell you my friends, that even when I was at my leanest. I still don’t know what the exact weight was, I threw away my scale over a year ago, but I knew I was lean.

Yet, I still felt bigger than the other girls I was racing against. I still didn’t have the 6 pack or the v at the top of your arm, or the dreaded thigh gap everyone else did.

And I know what you are thinking, uhhhh yes you did.

And I did.

But I wasn’t happy.

I guarantee to you that every runner you look up to, idolize, admire, will be feeling doubts about their bodies. I would look in the mirror 5-6 times a day, flexing my abs, and feeling like they weren’t quite where I wanted them to be. If only I could get just a few more to make it to the level of the other girls around me.

Sounds like I was headed towards an eating disorder, right?

I probably was. However, I had one saving grace. I have said this all along, that my sweet tooth was able to pick up the slack to prevent me going over the edge.

I loved my sweets far more than I loved the idea of being a little thin, and I was not prepared to give up my daily dessert, nor restrict anything to reach that weight. If I wanted a burger and fries, I was going to eat a burger and fries.

My family and friends, the same ones who told me I was getting a little too thin, also told me they knew I ate A LOT. They saw me eat A LOT, that was not their concern, it was that even through eating a LOT, was it enough to keep my body at a healthy weight…as in, healthy for a fully functioning human being.

Actually, the answer was no. As you now know with my amenorrhea.

Despite eating a lot, and eating foods that weren’t great for me, the voices were still there, and they were constantly telling me that a few more pounds would make all the difference.

Now, I bet you have those thoughts too, especially if you are a woman. You look at the other lean runners around you, and think, well, if I could just lose those 3-10lbs, I would be so much more confident.

ANYTIME anyone talks about losing 1-10lbs, that is vanity weight.

That weight is not going to make a difference to your race, or your confidence! In fact, if you did get that off, you would find a new “goal”, just like Bhrett McCabe talked about in the podcast.

That is why we see so many people on weight loss journeys reach their goal weight, realize that they are not happy AT ALL, and often even less happy than before, now the fun has been sucked out of their life….and so they gain it all back again.

OR they go BEYOND their goal, because it is addicting, and spiral down a dark path.

You think you will reach that goal weight, be completely satisfied and content for the rest of your life, THAT is a weight that will make you feel good.

But it doesn’t work like that. Just like people think with running that if I could only get to X level, I would be happy…well you won’t.

Whatever time you run or level you reach, you will want more.

Look at me. My number one goal was to run for GB. I did it, but now I ALREADY have Tina 2.0 also wants to accomplish that goal.

And have you ever considered that the reason your body is fighting you so hard to lose those last few pounds is NOT because you are a lazy blob, but because it WANTS to be at that weight?

You are at your natural set point, and like it or not, your body is going to keep trying to get back there.

So, even if you diet, and restrict, and run extra miles, you will either keep ending up back at that weight, or you will be able to do it, but suck a lot of the fun out of your life AND/OR have health consequences to try to persuade you to go back to where you were.

I can’t believe I am saying this, but now I can reflect, I can see that I was indeed underfueled for my body type.

After working with Nancy Clark, I can confidently say that my body wants to be at the weight it is right NOW.

How do I know this?

Because I had a positive sign that my period is on its way (Yay!), my hunger has subsided, and my weight has stabilized.

As much as I hate to admit it, my body was not happy where it would end up at the end of the season. Actually, I might argue that I could have run better at this weight, or closer to it. My body would then be fully functioning.

That would also explain why I would gain weight so quickly after a goal race.

You have to ask yourself the same question. When you are injured or in your down time, do you gain weight FAST? Constantly hungry?

Sounds like you might be in the same boat as me. Your body WANTS to be a little heavier, especially during the repair process.

Sure, you can force your body to a particular weight like I did, and it will function the best it can.

But why don’t we let the results do the talking?

Trust your body to tell you what is best for you, and what you need, and stop fighting it to strive to look like impossible perfection.

There is no such thing as perfection, and when we keep trying for it, we are just making ourselves feel worse, every single day.

I can barely believe I am typing this, but I actually feel more at peace with my body now than I did when I was at my leanest. I know that my body is happier, and I don’t feel the need to look in the mirror 10 times a day, or feel guilty if I get fried chicken from Merrick on occasion (I do live in KY after all!).

Your body knows what it wants, and I am definitely still eating healthy, I would definitely still be able to run well off this type of fueling.

I am not saying it is easy by any means, and that I am SUPER confident now. I had a moment in the store yesterday where I was trying on clothes and it felt like nothing fitted. For the first time in my life, I understood the frustrations of other women who had said nothing fitted right, and it didn’t feel good.

But I remind myself my body is happy, and those who love me are not judging me for the way I look anyway, in fact, a lot of them say I look much better now.

Think about this next time you talk about losing a few more pounds.

Is it really worth it? Or would you rather show the world through your smile as you are truly happy with who you are? There may even be some questions from my chats with Nancy Clark, Renee McGregor, and Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani that you may not have even thought about. I loved those episodes and I hope you listen to them intently.

Do you have these thoughts?

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10 Comments. Leave new

  • I absolutely think every single athlete struggles with this, myself included. I know exactly when I thought I looked my thinnest and I loved the way I looked but it was impossible to maintain and I was constantly restricting and it was horrible!! I’m not thrilled with how I look now but I know this is definitely where my body is happiest, my training is going well and I eat pretty much whatever I want to fuel my workouts. It’s such a struggle and I’m looking forward to what Amelia Boone has to say!! I bet it involves #restdaybrags 🙂

  • This rang so true for me! Getting really lean always resulted in my body rebelling in some way. Accepting that I have a set point has been liberating – granted, it means I’ll never be as thin as I want to be, but it also means that I know I can eat a reasonable amount and not completely blow up.

  • This is wonderful news, Tina! Project 2.0 is on its way – yay. Also – I love your outfit! I just might have to look for one similar to it.

  • Thank you Tina! Just having finished my last marathon, I am now focusing on strength and speed for shorter distances. And the principles apply. I’ve come to accept that I’ll never really have a six-pack or a chest that would make me go taps aff as soon as the sun hits – and I may never shift the post-marital podge… but I am totally OK with that.

  • This is such a great article…thank you, Tina. You’re 100% right: anything <10 pounds is vanity weight. I used to put so much pressure on myself to emulate elites (I'm FAR from it) until I ran a half where the winner probably had 40# on me. Weight doesn't dictate fitness or speed as much as I let myself think it does. Thank you so much for writing a message many of us needed to read xxx

  • “And have you ever considered that the reason your body is fighting you so hard to lose those last few pounds is NOT because you are a lazy blob, but because it WANTS to be at that weight?” this couldn’t have come my way at a better time, thanks for sharing, yet again xoxoxo

  • Thank you for your honesty and authenticity through your journey. Are you willing to share your positive sign that your period is on its way? I’m struggling with the same thing.

  • Thank you for this, Tina! You are so right – sometimes I want to lose a 5 pounds because I feel like my thighs look too big, but then I step back and look at my recent races and realize that I’m at the weight my body wants to be to perform well. My weight shifts ever so slightly from racing weight to off-season weight, and I’m learning to be okay with that if it means balancing health and running well.

  • I have been on your end and now I’m on the opposite end. Being perimenopausal I had gained weight. I know when I was where you are Tina I wasn’t happy even though I thought I was. Now, being in the opposite end I’m definitely now use to this excess weight. I am not happy with the weight part. What I do know is that my body is transitioning and clearly needs to be heavier. I know that everything will balance out and as my body shifts my weight will find a new happy place.

  • Jill Ben-Dor
    May 29, 2017 8:37 am

    As usual – wonderful article. I’m about 2 or 3 kilo more than I was for my last Ironman race in October, but feel great – except for those days when the number on the scale determines my mood for the day. Thankfully, though, days like that are far and few between lately. Oh, and Tina – suggestion for podcast interviewee – Simon Marshall, Phd, who wrote, together with his wife, the amazing Lesley Paterson – The Brave Athlete – Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion. Such great stuff!

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