Like many of my patients and readers at the start of this New Year, you may have made a pledge to lose your extra weight. Congratulations! And, because I want you to be successful, I’d like to tell you about 2 strategies that can give you the winning edge…
Weight Loss Success Strategy #1: Befriend Your Scale
Most people have one of the most powerful weight loss coaches right in their own home. But it’s probably hiding beneath your sink in your bathroom or covered in dust from lack of use. Remember your scale? In the last decade we’ve been fed a lot of hype about the value of weighing yourself on a scale regularly. The diet experts argue that a scale doesn’t tell you how much of your body weight is fat and how much is muscle. A better guide, they say, is to let the fit of your clothes be your guide. Also, the up and down fluctuations can be discouraging to weight loss. But, I believe that if you use your scale the right way, nothing could be further from the truth.
The real problem is that people have gotten away from the simple task of weighing themselves once a week. Note, I said once a week? The weight loss gurus are correct in one thing – weighing yourself several times a day/week, can be discouraging if you’re trying to lose weight. That’s because your body weight can fluctuate by as much as 3-5 lbs from the beginning of the day to later at night. It all depends on the amount of fluids and the amount of salty foods you’ve consumed during the day.
But weight can also fluctuate by several pounds from day to day. Did you know that most everyone weighs less on a Wednesday? As strange as that sounds, it’s true, according to a study out of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. So, weighing yourself too frequently can make it seem that you’re not making much progress.
Used the right way, though, your scale can help you stay on track with your weight loss program. Getting on the scale once a week, same time, at the beginning of your day, more accurately reflects your actual weight loss during that week. In the Cornell Lab study, they found that dieters lost more weight when they weighed themselves once a week.
Daily weigh-ins may help some people stay on track better with their weight loss program, but to others it can become a source of dieting frustration. Not seeing the scale move downward after a couple of days of “being good” can make you feel like you’re doing something wrong or wasting your time. The key is to weigh yourself once a week, same time of day, before breakfast. Keep track of your weight in a journal from week to week. If you’ve been faithful to your diet and exercise efforts, you’ll start to see a pattern of success.
Weight Loss Success Strategy #2: Ban Your Critics
The second big “dieting downer” is being around critical people. You know the ones. Friends, family, co-workers, those people in your life who seem to think it’s their appointed duty to remind you that you’ve got a few pounds to lose. That is until they know you’ve started on a weight loss program and are making progress. Then their critical remarks can take on a whole different tact. Why?
Research out of the University of North Carolina shows that your decision to lose weight doesn’t always bring a positive response in the people in your life. As a result, they may subconsciously try to steer you away from success with criticisms, behavior, designed to keep your relationship with them the same. In their mind, if you don’t lose weight you won’t:
a. Leave them for someone else
b. Be more attractive and fit than your friends
c. Get that promotion, move forward in your life while they’re stuck in theirs
The underlying issue is that your weight loss goals causes the people in your life to look at themselves. What they see might not be awe-inspiring. Your new-found improvement goals/success shines a bright spotlight on them to do the same.
In addition, the people in your life can become insecure as your relationship with them may change when you lose weight. You look to them for approval when you have a negative self-image. But instead of inspiring and supporting you, their remarks can wind up sabotaging rather than inspiring you.
For example, a “friend” tells you, “When you lose weight, everyone’s attention will be on you.” Underlying message: You might become more attractive than me. And your spouse can say something that sounds innocent, but has a marked message. For example, “Honey, when you lose weight, they’ll be less of you to love.” Underlying message: Stay fat because, I’ll be insecure about how desireable I am to you. Even co-workers aren’t exempt. For example, a remark like, “Ever notice that there are no slim people in management?” Underlying message: If you lose weight, you’ll get promoted and leave them behind.
Negative remarks from friends, relatives, spouses, really stem from their growing insecurity that you’ll change after you’ve lost weight. Maybe you won’t find them so attractive anymore and you’ll find a new friend, spouse, or job. This is especially true if they’re not involved with the weight loss program with you.
It’s up to you whether you want to put up with the critical remarks or build up your resentment and stress levels. If you really want to lose weight, you should be aware that your relationship with some key people in your life might change. For better or for worse. The Cornell Food Lab study showed that people who are chronically exposed to negative remarks from people in their immediate circle, actually gain weight rather than lose it.
The key to staying successful in your weight loss efforts is to keep communication open between yourself and your friends, family, coworkers, etc. Address any fears they may have about the outcome of your self-improvement goals. If they seem less than supportive, you might ask them to join you so you can support each other. You might want to make a friendly competition out of self improvement goals between you and your friends, family, coworkers, etc. You could also make a fun group project out of it.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Weight Loss is Not Always Beneficial for Romantic Relationships http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131030103502.htm
Family Criticizing Your Weight Loss? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141219160554.htm
Weigh In Once a Week or You’ll Gain Weight, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141217171430.htm