For one, you may be pursuing an unhealthy ideal and don't really have 5 pounds to lose. But even if you do need to shed a little more fat to be healthy, the best way to get to your happy weight is to focus on your health, not the scale. "I'll never forget that when I moved to the U.S. from Canada and I had to get health insurance, the insurance companies were charging me a premium, because according to the height-weight charts I was morbidly obese," says Pasternak. "I was 5'11 and weighed 235, and according to the charts, I was 56 pounds overweight—I was lean and healthy, but I just had a lot of muscle mass, which weighs more than fat."
So how can you stay on track without weighing yourself? Focus on your habits, not the number. Pasternak recommends making some daily health goals (like the ones he outlines in 5 Pounds) and asking yourself every night if you've completed them. "If you can answer yes, then that's success, because you have direct control over your behaviors, whereas you don't have direct control over the scale," he says. "You're hoping that your healthy behaviors will show up on the scale, and quite often they do, but not necessarily on our schedule." And as long as you're feeling better and looking better, what does it matter what the number says?
"When I use the term '5 pounds,' it's more of a symbolic 5 pounds," says Pasternak. "It's like, you want to look 5 pounds lighter, you want to feel 5 pounds lighter, you want to move 5 pounds lighter—but that doesn't necessarily always equate to the scale being 5 pounds lighter."