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How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?

Now that I've been through both the cycles of losing weight, maintaining the weight loss and back to losing weight, I thought I'd share my thoughts and what I've noticed about the scale.

Weigh Yourself Once a Week
There is a great deal of debate about whether to weigh yourself every day, or once a week, or to give up the scale totally and use other ways to measure progress such as a tape measure. I am a fan of the scale. It works for me. It's funny, it's when I gave up the scale that I gained all of the weight in the first place because I lacked the "checking in of reality". That said, when I was losing initial weight, I weighed in once a week as my official "count". I would hop on the scale on about Tuesday to see my unofficial progress and then on Friday I would record what my official "weigh in was". Then, when I was more in maintenance mode, I started to get on the scale frequently, almost every day or at least every other day. If I'd see the scale up a pound, I would eat fewer calories or run around more, if it was down a pound, I would feel like I could order dessert.

Then a few months ago, I decided I would like to lose another 10 pounds but I still had the habit of hopping on the scale all the time. I can't tell you the frustration I've experienced. It's driving me nuts, If it's up a 1/2 pound I"m bummed if it's down I'm elated, if it's the same I'm frustrated. But the last couple of weeks, I waited as long as I could. Today, I waited until Thursday, 6 whole days from the last weigh in and I'm so much happier. I haven't been driving myself crazy with all of the daily fluctuations and I feel like I'm making progress.

Recommendations for a Good Scale?

The PEERtrainer Community Leaders own and recommend the purchase of the Tanita BC533 Glass Innerscan Body Composition Monitor. Some quotes: "It's pricey but totally worth it. It measures body fat, body water, muscle mass, and ots of other things, and I like to see if I gained weight if it was because it was muscle or water weight so I don't freak out." "I bought a $29 digital scale from Costco and DO NOT recommend it. It was a Weight Watchers scale."

The Importance of Social Support and Self-Monitoring
Group and peer support is a highly proven method for losing weight and getting healthy. It is one thing to learn how to lose weight and eat more healthy, it is another thing to put this into practice on a consistent basis. Friends and family are of limited use because there is only so much burden they can bear. Getting the support of an anonymous group of people each day can make the critical difference. Self-monitoring is the other method, backed by volumes of research, that is highly correlated with weight loss success. You keep a log of your food, exercise, goals and thoughts. When you do this each day it keeps you accountable to yourself, and brings this aspect of your life to the top of your mental agenda. When you are writing each day, you are thinking about the things you write about. This begins to change how you think and facilitates better decision making. When you make better decisions, and have a broad support network, you are very likely to lose weight for the long term. When you do both these things, the odds of success increase dramatically.

A free, online resource that facilities both social support and self-monitoring in an easy to use (and anonymous format) is PEERtrainer. You sign up, start or join small groups and teams. You log your food each day, and the others in your group see your log and provide support, motivation and accountability each day. It is like a virtual support group available on the internet whenever you need it. It is highly effective and has been featured in The New York Times, Fitness Magazine, Women's World, Business Week, ABC News, CNET, Fast Company...

Diets That Work You have heard over and over that diets don't work. The traditional American idea of dieting is "portion control" or reducing your caloric intake. These approaches fail because you are only reducing portions of unhealthy and fatty foods. There are new diet approaches out there that seek to fundamentally change what you eat. These diets slash the amounts of saturated fats and sugar that you eat and radically increase the amount of plant-based foods. The Fat Smash Diet (by Dr Ian Smith) is one such popular approach, and Eat to Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman is another. These approaches are not about lowering carbs, or getting more protein or counting Weight Watcher points. They about fundamentally restructuring your eating habits. When you reorder your diet to eliminate processed foods, slash dairy and meat consumption and increase your intake of fruit, vegetables, beans, rice- you will lose weight and reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a host of other diseases. Improper nutrition is at the root of most diseases. Animal based foods contain cholesterol and boost the levels in your body. Plants do not contain any, and help reduce levels in your body. As blood cholesterol levels decrease, cancers of the liver, rectum, colon, male lung, female lung, breast, childhood leukemia, adult leukemia, childhood brain, stomach and esophagus levels will decrease. The more you reduce meat, dairy and processed foods in your diets, the healthier you will be.

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