I panicked the other day when I realized I had not weighed myself in 4 days.
4 days you say. Ugh, who wants to step on a scale at all?
I do. As often as possible.
Why? Because it is a tool of successful dieters and 2011 marked the year I followed evidence based medicine to the tune of dropping 45 lbs.
I modeled a lot of my behavioral changes on the National Weight Control Registry. This registry follows dieters who have lost at least 30 lbs and succeeded in keeping it off. One tool of the successful (or technique I guess you might call it) is weighing yourself regularly.
In fact, 44% of those enrolled in the National Weight Control Registry weight themselves once a day and 31% weigh themselves once a week. So, 75% of successful dieters weigh themselves once a week.
I first heard this fact at a grand rounds given almost 5 years ago. I wasn’t at the stage of change to lose my
weight (in fact, I still had about 15 lbs to gain before I got my act together). But the speaker was very compelling (meaning engaging and evidence based) and I furiously took notes, hoping that one day I would be ready. I even kept the piece of paper (see photo, I kept it after all these years with “Stages of change” even scribbled at the top). By the way, in addition to weighing yourself on a very regular (if not daily) basis, successful dieters also did the following:
- ate 1,400 calories a day
- divided their calories into 5 meals a day
- 1 hour of moderate intensity exercise a day
In January (of 2011) I decided I needed to get my act together. I started by weighing myself almost every day. I did this before I started journaling or making any changes to my eating habits, calorie consumption, or exercise. I chose weighing myself because, quite frankly, this seemed like the easiest way to start. I didn’t have to do anything else but step on a scale and record it. If I wasn’t committed enough to doing it 3 times a week, how could I possibly commit to journaling, exercise, and changing what I ate? So, it tested my stage of change. Once I had weighed myself regularly for a month, I felt like I had committed to something (because, let’s face it, if you can’t step on a scale at least once a week, what is that, 2 minutes of your time, how are you going to commit to the other aspects of weight loss?).
Weighing myself regularly accomplished three things:
- I succeeded at it. I weighed myself at least 3 times a week and wrote it down. I mean really, it doesn’t seem hard, but when you have tried and failed numerous times at losing weight it’s easy to feel like a big, fat failure. So, actually accomplishing something weight-loss related helped me feel better about myself. I thought, “Well, if I can do this, I can probably do something else too.”
- It helped me accept that I needed to get rid of 40 or so pounds. Seeing that scale day in and day out was reality, because up until then I had been disguising my reality of way to tight size 14 pants (talk about a button crisis) by wearing extra-large scrubs on a daily basis. If you want to lose weight, you have to accept your reality.
- It became an intervention. I found that when I started weighing myself, I stopped gaining weight (and trust me, I ended 2010 with a runaway culinary express that started mid November). Whether it prompted a conscious change in my eating patterns, checked my id, or what ever I don’t know. Probably a combination of things.
So if you want to lose weight, invest in a scale or if you have one at work, use it. Weigh yourself on a regular basis. Just commit to that one thing.
75% of successful dieters weigh themselves at least once a week.
If they can do it, I can do it.
If I can do it, you can do it.