Don’t avoid the weighing scale – it may be your best friend on the journey to weight loss.
Two studies have shown that consistent self-weighing may help your determination to shed those extra kilos that are weighing you down. More frequent and consistent weighing has been linked to a positive effect on a person’s confidence to lose weight.
In the latest study, a team at Boston College tracked 148 participants over 12 months for a behavioural weight loss study. All of them were grouped according to how often they weighed themselves as they were dieting.
The study, led by Yaguang Zheng, of the Connell School of Nursing, found that those in the “high/consistent” group weighed themselves, at least, six days a week. Those in the “moderate/declined” group tended to not be very regular with checking in on the weighing machine – they went to two days after starting with four-five days a week. The last group – tagged “minimal/declined” – went from five-six weigh-ins a week to none at all.
The participants “confidence to avoid eating” was assessed at six and 12 months in specific situations such as when they were in a bad mood, when food was at hand and when there was social pressure to eat.
The “dramatic” results showed that those in the high/consistent self-weighing group had the largest increases in their confidence to avoid overeating. Those in the other two groups showed no change.
Clearly, there’s a clear relationship between people who’re confident about their relationship with food and the frequency at which they weighed themselves.
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The two-year study, published in the Journal of Obesity a few months ago, found that frequent self-weighing and tracking results on a chart were effective for losing weight and keeping it off, especially for men.
David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University and the paper’s senior author, said: “Stepping on the scales should be like brushing your teeth.”
This is “contrary to the popular theory that frequent trips to the scale could be confusing, discouraging or even psychologically dangerous”.
“You just need a bathroom scale and an excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper,” said Levitsky. “The method forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight. It used to be taught that you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily, and this is just the reverse,” he added.
Dori Steinberg, an obesity prevention and treatment researcher at the Duke Global Health Institute in Durham, N.C and lead author, believes those who weigh themselves frequently can start connecting the dots to see patterns and act on them.
“If you go out to a buffet dinner, you could be up 4 pounds the next day,” she says, which could lead you to choose to consume fewer calories that day. “Or if you change a behavior like snacking at night, you might see your weight drop three days in a row.”
So don’t avoid the weighing scale; get on it every morning and face yourself and your fears! You may end up losing that extra flab!