There are a lot of negative connotations associated with weighing yourself. While stepping on the scales and seeing that your weight has dropped is a rewarding experience, plenty of people walk into the bathroom in the morning with a sense of dread – fearing what will stare back at them on the dial.
With the above in mind, some argue that the act of weighing yourself can not only be discouraging, but can even be psychologically damaging.
In this article, I will help you to decide whether you should weigh yourself. I will address both the pros and cons of doing so, and give you the information you need to make the best decision relative to your unique personality and circumstances.
The process of losing weight can be simple and sustainable, or complicated and ultimately unsuccessful. I advocate the former approach over the latter.
To illustrate the simplicity of weight loss, if someone asks me what they should do, I suggest they implement just one small habit to start with. They’re typically surprised that my recommendation has nothing to do with consciously trying to eat less.
Instead, the simple habit I recommend is this: every time you decide to eat something, before you do, drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes. Do this before every single snack and meal.
When it comes to dieting, most of us want to lose weight as quickly as possible. We draw on our disproportionately large short-term motivational reserves to embark on an ambitious weight loss campaign that promises big rewards in a short space of time.
It can work too. One can lose an awful lot of weight very quickly by following many popular commercial diets. However, it is often for naught, as the weight creeps back on over the succeeding weeks and months.
What most of us don’t consider is a diet that offers sustainable and controllable weight loss of just 1lb (or less) per week.
Does that sound like a slow death to you? It shouldn’t. You’re framing your opinion of such a diet based on your experience with fad diets – those that impose restrictive rules and require enormous amounts of willpower. But a diet that promotes gradual weight loss over a long period of time only involves relatively small sacrifices and simple adjustments in your mindset to produce positive results. Meanwhile, you can largely go on eating just as you were before.
Controllable weight loss and long-term weight management should be about small increments, not huge leaps. After all, huge leaps one way usually lead to huge leaps back in the opposite direction.
I used to eat footlong Subways like they were going out of fashion. It wasn’t at all unusual for lunchtime to involve an entire 12” meatball marinara sub with cheese and calorie-packed chipotle sauce.
However, in recent years, I had weaned myself off footlongs and onto mere six-inch subs. Over time, the new habit of eating smaller subs firmly established itself, and I no longer craved footlongs. in fact, the mere thought of eating a footlong sub was often overwhelming, as I knew that my stomach couldn’t easily manage that volume of calories for lunch. (This is great example of how habits can change your underlying motivations, but I digress.)
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me and for the first time in a long time, my well-established six-inch sub habit was challenged a few days ago. I was queuing up in Subway at lunchtime when I was struck by an overwhelming urge to order a footlong.
The last post on Healthy Enough (before this one) was published on 3rd June 2014 – over three years ago.
Three years is a long time. Whether you’re a longtime Healthy Enough reader or new to the blog, you might wonder where I’ve been for the past 38 months or so.
I’d say you’re right to wonder, and that you deserve an explanation. After all, I’ve set a high bar in terms of what I want to achieve with this blog – given that I’ve been absent for so long, why should you treat me seriously?
At least, that’s how I see it. I’m 6’1″ and a notch or two under 200lbs. Consult a BMI chart and I’m technically overweight, but I feel pretty healthy, and I’d rather trust my own subjective measure than one so simplistic as BMI.
But here’s what I’m not: what most guys want to be. You know – toned, lean, buff, head-turning. And I wish I was, as many of us do.
According to Science Daily, the number one reason diets fail is because dieters underestimate the amount of calories they consume.
In reality, it goes far deeper than that. Miscounting calories isn’t the problem. That’s only an indicator of a far greater issue: that the dieting measures most people take are overly prohibitive.
Many of us associate dieting with restriction and sacrifice — doing things we don’t want to do in order to improve ourselves. That association (and the subsequent actions we take as a result) is typically what trips us up when it comes to losing weight.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I have discovered that you can lose weight and keep it off without making any drastic lifestyle changes. Furthermore, I’ve made it my personal goal to reveal this truth to as many people as possible, which is why you’re reading this.
There are a bunch of reasons as to why you should drink more water – not the least the fact that around 60% of your body is made up of the stuff. It stands to reason that you should keep your levels topped up. But for the purposes of this article, you should drink more water because it encourages weight loss and increases satiety.
One study conducted at Virginia Tech offers evidence of water’s weight loss effects. The following is a paraphrased summary of that study courtesy of Wikipedia:
Davy et al. took a group of 48 overweight and obese Americans aged 55 to 75 who were considered inactive and divided them randomly into two equal-sized groups. The control group followed a calorie-controlled diet equating to approximately 1,500 calories per day for the men and 1,200 calories per day for the women. The second group followed exactly the same diet but drank 500ml of water before each meal. Both groups kept up the diet for 12 weeks.
Although both groups lost weight on average, the water-drinking group lost about 5lbs more on average (an 30% increase in weight loss). Because the water-drinking group reported feeling both more full and less hungry, the researchers believe that the water acts to suppress appetite.
Subjective effects also reported by the water-drinking group were feeling less hungry, having a clearer mind and a better ability to think. There were no negative effects reported.
While this study is far from perfect (for instance, the sample size and physiology of the subjects is limited), it does point towards the positive effects of drinking plenty of water. Furthermore, the study is backed up by an enormous volume of anecdotal evidence of the benefits of water consumption on weight loss.
Finally, drinking water prior to meals is advised in order that you do not confuse thirst signals with hunger signals. In my experience, it also encourages you eat less than you might otherwise.
Seriously. Life’s too short to cut out the things that you love the most: whether that be chocolate, cake, nachos, fries, or all of them (hopefully not on the same plate).
Following a diet that prevents you from eating your favorite foods is a bad idea for two reasons:
It’s incredibly hard to sustain in the long-term
It can make you utterly miserable
Successful long-term weight loss and weight management is not about being miserable. It’s about moderation, not dieting extremism. After all, if you’re going to be following a diet for the rest of your life, you need to make damned sure that it involves you eating all of the things that you love.
Chocolate, chips and cake can all be part of a healthy diet. Moreover, if you like those foods, they should be. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
According to Brian Wansink, head of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab and the author of Mindless Eating, dinner plate sizes have increased 36% since the 1960s. That corresponds with an increase in obesity in the US from ~15% in 1960 to ~30% in 2004. While we should all recognize that correlation does not necessarily lead to causation, the relationship between these two variables is thought-provoking.
With the above in mind, you’ve probably read that if you use smaller plates you’ll eat less. However, that is not necessarily the case – a plate that is too small can simply convince you to go back for seconds or thirds, thus rendering the whole exercise pointless.
So instead of using smaller plates arbitrarily, find your ideal serving size (by measuring your meals and using the Portion Reduction Method) then grab yourself a set of plates that makes your meals look suitably piled up. A mountain of food on a relatively small plate will seem bigger to you than a meal spread across a larger plate.