1. Avoid weighing yourself too frequently - once a week is enough. The timing of your 'weigh-in' is also important, as having gone without something to eat or drink for a few hours and having just spent a penny could make several pounds difference and give a low reading; whereas the opposite scenario could imply a higher than actual weight. In fact the difference between the two results could be as much as half a stone! So make sure you weigh yourself once a week, at the same time, after the same routine, and on the same scales. That way, your weight is more comparable to the previous week. Sometimes a better way to judge whether you are slimming down and changing body shape is just by monitoring how your clothes feel.
2. Ensure you have set a realistic goal weight for your body type and age. It may be helpful to consult with a nutritionist for advice. The most important thing is to reach a healthy weight - it is not about trying to get back to the size 8 body you had at 18, now you're 35 and have had 3 kids!
3. Go back to keeping your food diary religiously. By tracking what you eat, you may discover that you're actually consuming a good deal more calories than you'd imagined.
4. Check serving sizes by weighing food. It is very easy for portions to start to creep up over time. Measuring and weighing food may seem tedious, but this is a common reason for weight loss slowing down or stopping. (And also have an honesty check with yourself that you haven't started picking at food which 'doesn't count' because you didn't eat the whole thing!)
5. Start exercising! To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Trying to lose weight by merely controlling your food intake is only one side of the coin. You must also increase your activity level to burn more calories, and this can also help to kick-start your metabolism. Start by just trying to walk more. Buy a pedometer and build up to the target of 10,000 steps per day.
6. Step up your exercise level. If you are already exercising regularly, you may need to give your metabolism a little boost by increasing the amount or intensity of your workout. For example, if you exercise for 20 minutes each day, increase this to 25-30 minutes. If you are already exercising quite hard, try varying your workout routine. For example, if you do 20 minutes cardio and 30 minutes strength-training, switch them around. Add weight training to your workouts. Lifting weights helps build muscle mass, which, in turn, burns more calories. It is recommended that you should change your exercise programme every 6 weeks to stop your body becoming accustomed to the routine and it not having the same benefit it did initially.
7. Drink plenty of water! Water helps speed up the metabolism.
8. Don't starve yourself - this will have the opposite effect! If you eat too few calories, your body will try to protect itself by slowing down your metabolism and hanging onto its fat for survival. Also avoid going for too long without food as this can trigger the same effect. Ideally eat something such as a piece of fruit every 3 hours (women) or about every 5 hours (men). This reassures your body that food is plentiful and facilitates calorie burning.
9. Be determined! Focus on your successes to date and remember the fact that weight loss is simply about creating an energy deficit - do this and you will lose weight. Stick with it and continue to exercise regularly and calorie count your diet. The last few pounds may be stubborn, but they WILL come off in the end!