How I Plan to Lose the Last 10 Pounds
30 years old, newly single, and for the first time ever, a little bit overweight.
Here’s how I plan on losing “the last 10 pounds”.
I’ll talk about how I got here, what nutrition & workout changes I’m making, and document my progress from week to week.
It’s an inside look into what happens when a personal trainer decides to lose the last 10 pounds.
- Part 1 – How I Became Overweight (What Denial Looks Like)
- Part 2 – My Starting Numbers
- Part 3 – My Nutrition Plan (The Experiment)
- Part 4 – My Training Plan
- Part 5 – What’s Next
I have mixed feelings as I write about my current goal to lose the last 10 pounds.
I’m still totally in denial about being even slightly overweight
These are my actual excuses as to why I wasn’t really overweight over the past year:
- It was temporary. I’ll drop back to 10-12% any day now, without trying (false)
- I was bloated, which is why my stomach stuck out in that shirt (false)
- I was stressed and not sleeping enough (true), so it wasn’t my eating habits (false)
- I was finally gaining muscle (bulking), and so it was okay to gain a few pounds of fat (false)
- I was standing in that picture with my back arched, which is why my stomach was sticking out (true, but still denial)
- I was told by a girlfriend that I had “strength coach abs” – strong, defined, semi-visible firm abs under a layer of chub – so I wasn’t overweight (false. And because I can still see my abs with a bigger stomach, I’m afraid that my visceral fat is high. Higher visceral fat is associated with higher mortality risk)
- My body fat scale was wrong!
(I even bought another device to double check).
Mind you, I’ve been hovering around 180lbs for almost a year.
To be clear: I still ate very healthy.
It’s not like I’ve been pigging out on pizza and cookies.
And when you’re losing the “last 10 pounds” – it never is!
I’m simply eating too many calories, even of the good stuff.
I’m not embarrassed.
(Consider this my permission to give yourself a break if you’re in the same boat as me)
I’m a little bit curious about what this will be like.
I’ve never had to try to lose fat. It always melted right off. I was always the “scrawny” kid.
I’m 5’8. I graduated high school at 140lbs. College at 152lbs. My body fat ranged between an effortless 8% and 12% all-year. Even gaining muscle was a challenge.
I’m excited about the opportunity to learn
As a personal trainer, I see this as a valuable opportunity. (Hence this blog series)
Before, I’d joke about doing my own “Fit to Fat to Fit” experiment. I thought I’d have to eat nothing but pizza and ice cream for it to even work. Apparently not.
It’s an invaluable opportunity to field test the recommendations I give my clients. It’s also an inside look to what they’re going through at this stage. Empathy is one thing, but experience is another.
Two things happened to make reality set in:
1 – I stepped on an InBody 270 at a fitness conference, which revealed that, Yes, my body fat is actually 21% (25% is obese for men)
2 – I went to a wrestling meet, and was reminded of what I used to look like as an athlete and as a cadet
And two things happened that motivated me to make a big change RIGHT NOW:
1 – I ended a romantic relationship.
2 – I booked a vacation to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for January.
(While it is true that structure breeds freedom and that habits create motivation, nothing is quite so motivation as being newly single or booking a vacation. Combining both is throwing gasoline on a fire.)
Weight Loss by the Numbers
I want to go from 180lbs to 170lbs.
To be shredded, let’s say 160-165.
170lbs might be my “happy weight” – where I can maintain easily with a physique I’m proud of, without obsessing.
For men, having a body fat higher than 25% is considered obese. There are significant increases in risk of cardiovascular disease at that cutoff point. ~20% makes me firmly overweight.
I consider under 15% to be lean, with under 8% to be shredded. For the first time in my life, I’m overweight.
I’m ~20% body fat. Semi-visible abs, but some muffin top going on. 34” inch waist.
On 11/11, I had an InBody270 scan. They’re the gold standard for accuracy in the fitness industry, so I’ll be going off of those results.
- Total weight: 182.5
- Skeletal Muscle Mass: 83.3lbs
- Body Fat Mass: 37.2lbs
- Body Fat: 20.4%
My goal is to keep my Skeletal Muscle Mass and Total Lean Mass as close to their current numbers while I decrease my Body Fat Mass. Keeping my protein intake high (1g per pound of goal weight) will help me with that, as will strength training during my drop to 170lbs.
If I keep my protein between 150g and 200g, I’m most likely to keep my lean muscle mass as I lose weight. If I had my protein too low, I’d lose weight faster BUT I would also lose invaluable muscle mass. That could create an unwanted yo-yo effect and my body fat % wouldn’t change as dramatically.
Another example of my denial:
I called this article “losing the last 10lbs”.
(Hey, it has a nice ring to it. I kept the title.)
As I crunch these numbers, it might be more like 15-20 lbs to reach 10-12% body fat.
If I only lose 10lbs, I’ll probably still be around 14-15%.
How I’m Going to Do It
My plan is to start a Ketogenic diet, cut my calories down to 1200, run an extra 10 miles a week, and join Crossfit. (Kidding!)
No, my real plan is very simple:
- Start tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal and make necessary adjustments
- Tweak my workouts slightly so that they burn more fat
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
The Plan for Week 1:
I’m starting with the same advice I give my clients:
Track your calories for a week, then make the necessary changes.
I want to understand what habits led me to 180lbs.
If I started a brand-new diet right out of the gate – I wouldn’t have any insight into my typical meals and habits.
There is one change I’ve already made.
I’ve made an educated guess that I’ll need to eat 2400 calories each day to lose weight, since I’m fairly active. When I reach 2400 calories for the day, I stop eating. I’ll stop before then if I’m just not hungry.
The trick is that I’m treating this like a science experiment:
- I have my hypothesis (2,400 calories per day).
- I will collect data (How much weight did I lose after a week).
- If I lose weight – my hypothesis was correct, and I continue on with my plan. I make no unnecessary changes.
- If I don’t lose any weight or enough weight – my hypothesis was incorrect, and I adjust the variables (lower my calories)
- I collect data each week, and adjust accordingly until I reach my goal
My goal for each week is 1.5-2lbs lost. Seemingly small, yes, but a 1% reduction in bodyweight each week is actually ideal.
A 1% rate of loss will also help me retain my hard-earned muscle mass as I lose weight.
What about Macronutrients?
My goal is to eat at least 170g of protein each day.
170 is my target bodyweight, and this amount of protein will help me recover from strength training.
It will also help me to retain my muscle mass as I lose fat.
I don’t really care about my carb or fat intake. Not yet. Not until Week 2 or 3.
It doesn’t matter what your macronutrients are, so long as you eat the correct amount of calories AND eat enough protein. You can eat as much or as little carbs or fat as you want after that. It’s personal preference.
Research reviews (like the fantastic ISSN position statement found here) clearly show that:
- The total calories matter most when it comes to weight loss
- A high protein intake (near a gram per pound bodyweight of your goal weight) is ideal for maintaining lean muscle mass as you diet. This is critical
- There is no best diet for everybody. It’s all about finding an approach that you can do consistently.
- Low-carb diets are as effective for losing fat as high-carb diets.
- Low-fat diets are as effective for losing fat as high-fat diets.
- Keto, Whole30, Intermittent Fasting, Atkins, DASH, Zone, and every other diet are equally effective in the long run
Bodybuilders do recommend 40-50% of your calories each day be carbs for building muscle.
I typically have a hard time building muscle mass, so I’m curious to see what my unconscious carb intake is like. But I won’t change it until I observe my current habits for longer.
I suspect that I eat more of a high fat, high protein, low carb diet. In later weeks, I’ll see how my body responds to more carbs and less fat.
Before this, I was working out 4-5x per week on average and following a power-bodybuilding program.
It mixed 2 heavy powerlifting days (high weight, low reps, high rest) with 3 bodybuilding days (moderate weight, medium to high reps, moderate rest). The goal was to build lean muscle mass and to gain weight. It works well for me.
I switched to 3 days of full body density training, following Jim “Smitty” Smith’s AMD 2.0 program. It pairs conventional strength training with Escalated Density Training (EDT).
EDT consists of two 8-minute blocks of two back-to-back exercises. It’s like AMRAP from Crossfit, but much smarter, safer, and more effective.
For example, I’ll perform 8 minutes of squats paired with rows. My goal is to get as many reps as possible with a challenging weight. It combines intense weight lifting with cardiovascular conditioning.
It should create a perfect environment for burning fat while maintaining or even building some muscle mass. Each week, I’ll try to complete more reps within the 8 minute circuit.
I’ll perform one day a week of 20-30 minutes of interval training on a bike, which has been shown to be superior for fat loss. I’ve also set a goal of a combined 30 minutes of jump rope a week. It’s as much for skill development as it is for getting into better shape.
And I’ll perform one day a week of long, slow distance cardio by walking for 40-60 minutes while keeping my heart rate between 120-140BPM. This method is called Cardiac Output training.
It’s valuable for reducing stress and lowering a person’s resting heart rate. Since the rest of my workouts will be intense, I’m using this workout to keep me healthy and balanced.
It’s not a lot of extra cardio because my strength workouts provide nearly an hour of conditioning a week.
3 workouts, each with 16 minutes of conditioning (2 x 8 minute circuits) = 48 minutes of metabolic conditioning a week
In sum, it’s 2-3 hours of conditioning a week between the walking, interval training, jump rope, and strength workouts.
Remember – fat loss comes primarily from your nutrition changes.
My workouts are just bonus. They’re optimized for fat loss, but not crazy or unrealistic. In terms of volume (total sets x reps x weight lifted), it may be less intense than my previous power-bodybuilding routine.
This is an important note that will keep me healthy:
I’m not making a big, dramatic swing in how much exercise I’m doing or how much total weight I’m lifting.
I’m just arranging my strength workouts to burn more fat and boost my fitness.
Sudden, drastic increases in training intensity or frequency can lead to injury.
Don’t make that mistake!
To Recap: How I Plan to Start Losing the Last 10 Pounds
- I’m tracking my calories every day to get an idea of my current eating habits
- I’ll make any necessary changes to my eating plan after weighing in on Monday
- My workouts are 3 strength & conditioning sessions, 1 interval session, 1 slow cardio session, and an assorted ½ hour of jump rope each week. Nothing crazy. It’s a total of 5 hours of exercise a week, plus all the walking I do as a personal trainer on the gym floor.
I’ll check back in next week with a new post with my updates and my progress.
Meet the Author: Devin Gray
Founder, Head Coach
NSCA-CSCS, FMSC, Pn1 Certified
B.S. in Exercise Science – Texas A&M University
Devin is the owner & head coach of Optimize Fitness & Performance. He helps people become stronger and perform their best. Devin is especially focused on helping people with injuries learn to workout safely after they finish physical therapy.
You can book a free 15 minute coaching call with Devin by clicking here.