Monday, June 12, 2006

Parade Magazine; 6/11/2006

Dr. Michael O'Shea writes a "Better Fitness" column for Parade Magazine (the magazine insert that comes in most major Sunday newspapers). His column on June 11 is the first time that I can recall where someone agreed with one of my non-conventional tips - to weigh yourself often.

"Daily weigh-ins are key to keeping weight off, according to research of Brown University Medical School. By stepping on a scale every day, 61% of people in an 18-month study managed to gain back only 5 of the average 44 pounds each had lost. (Most dieters will gain back a third of their weight within a year)."

I'm a big proponent of getting in the habit of weighing yourself daily. I do. While many diet experts seem to recommend to pay attention to how well your clothes fit rather than the scale, I think that's bunk. You should pay attention to both.

Weighing yourself daily has several benefits. First, there's no escaping reality. When the needle doesn't tell me what I want it to tell me, I first check the scale calibration. If that doesn't work, I may try to run through a couple of excuses, but I usually end up where I should - realizing that I've been letting my eating get a little out of control.

Next, you learn more about how your body weight responds to certain things. I've learned that I usually pick up two pounds of water weight after enjoying one of my favorite Mexican meals due to the high sodium content. After a couple days, that weight seems to evaporate. Likewise, I found out that I could easily lose 3 - 5 pounds on a 100 mile bike ride. Because of this, I drink much more fluids and eat more often during rides in order to stay hydrated and energized. Now I feel better at the end and I rarely allow myself to lose so much weight on one back ride.

Finally, weighing yourself daily keeps your weight control on top of your mind. Avoiding the scale just makes it too easy to avoid the whole subject of weight loss.

It is a tough habit to start, but I do believe it's essential. In order to lose weight you have to be completely honest with yourself and the scale makes it that much tougher to delude yourself, unless, of course, you are better at calibrating the needle on scale than I.

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