Health & Wellness Articles

Take the Stress Out of Weighing In

Regain Your Power Over the Scale

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3 Ways to Take the Stress Out of Your Weigh-Ins
  1. Be clear with yourself about what that number on the scale really means. That number on the scale only tells you how much you weigh at that moment. It tells you absolutely nothing about what kind of person you are; what life has in store for you; whether or not you’ll ever look the way you want to look or feel the way you want to feel; or how other people see or think about you. If you experience thoughts or feelings like these just because you see an unwelcome number on the scale, then your expectations about what weight loss can do for you need a major overhaul. You may want to take the Is Weight Loss Stressing You Out? quiz to see if you need to do some work on that front—before you paint yourself into a corner you can’t get out of.
     
  2. Remind yourself that you are choosing to use the scale as a weight loss tool. It is NOT your judge, jury and executioner. It’s probably a good idea to post this reminder where you will see it each time you step on the scale. It can help to include a short list of the most important reasons why you are trying to lose weight in the first place, and some of the ways you can measure your progress towards those goals (besides the scale).
     
  3. Use the number on the scale to actually help your program work for you. If you’re going to use the scale as a tool, you might as well do it right. Try keeping a journal (or better yet a computer spreadsheet) where you track your weigh-ins (daily, weekly or monthly), your total calories eaten during that time period (from your Nutrition Tracker) and your calories burned through exercise (from your Exercise Tracker). Once a month, add the numbers up and see if things are going the way they “should” be. Figure out your total calorie deficit for the month, and see if your weight actually behaved according to the "3500-calorie deficit equals one pound lost" formula. If it didn’t, then try to figure out why, using a method like this:
    • First, go back to basics. About 90% of the “mysterious” differences between what should happen and what does happen can be traced to underestimating calorie intake and/or overestimating calories burned. For the next few weeks, double check yourself on your calorie counting, portion estimating, etc., and make sure you’re not leaving anything out of your nutrition tracking.
       
    • If that doesn’t solve the problem, figure that there may be something wrong with the estimates you are getting for your exercise calorie burning and/or your non-exercise calorie burning (your basal metabolic rate—BMR). Consider investing a little money in a heart rate monitor with a calorie estimating feature to wear during exercise, and/or having your BMR tested at a local gym with a device called the BodyGem (costs about $50). Use this info to adjust your calorie intake and/or your exercise, and see how this new plan works for the next month.
       
    • If all else fails, talk to a dietitian or your doctor to rule out any unusual metabolic problems, or medical issues. But again, 9 times out of 10, it's most likely a simple problem with getting the right numbers. Continued ›
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

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