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When Dieting Should You Weigh Yourself Every Day?
How to Break the Weighing HabitFace it, if you weigh yourself more than once a day, you are a serious scale addict, and if you let the number on the scale affect how you feel, and whether it's going to be a good day, you are probably a bit too involved with that appliance. Danger, danger! Step away from the scale!
The scale simply cannot tell the difference between muscle and fat, and while fat is bulky and lumpy, muscle is sleek and shapely. Muscle also gives you strength, agility and power. Muscle tissue can be used as fuel, but it is not your body's primary fuel source.
Fat on the other hand is a storage fuel for times of famine. It also shields our body's organs and provides a protective layer from the outside world. Without some body fat we cannot survive, and without some muscle you'd not have the strength to get out of bed. But while fat is necessary, many of us have a bit more saved up than is necessary.
Most of us never consider our body's ratio of fat to muscle. We instead rely on the bathroom scale. We've been told we need to weigh a certain amount, or be within a certain range to the point that many who start eating well and exercising consistently abandon their plan when they don't quickly see a difference on the scale. Even when their body is visibly changing, they still are disappointed if the scale won't budge.
If You Didn't Weigh Yourself, How Would You Know You Were Losing Weight?Consider for a moment, those first hints that something is changing: Your waistband may be getting looser, your rings may be slipping off, your face may start to look a little slimmer, and your shoes, yes your shoes will start to become too big for your feet. Many will start losing in the hands and feet first. That's just dandy, I know. We all strive for skinny fingers and toes, but I didn't design the body, I just own and operate one.
You may own and operate a car? Do you take care of it the same way you take care of yourself? Do you store gasoline in the trunk, in case you can't find a gas station? Probably not. Do you stockpile extra oil and batteries? No, probably not. Then why do you worry about dinner when you haven't finished eating lunch? Have you ever gone ahead and eaten something because you might get hungry later? Why do we worry so much about food when there is no scarcity that I've noticed? Where I live there is food at every corner, 24-hours a day, at the bank, the gas station and even the neighbor's garage sale.
Interestingly, I've found that when the scale suddenly showed a loss, greater than expected, it seemed to induce in me a desire to remedy the situation. I'd overeat that day and the next, somehow unraveling any good I'd done previously. Even with all the knowledge and sense in the world, we still become unsensible in the face of that judge, the bathroom scale!
What Happens When the Scale Shows a Loss? Usually Congratulatory Eating.I think the problem isn't that we are unhappy by the numbers so much as we expect certain numbers. If you are dieting, then you are wanting to see a lower number, but what happens when you do? Do you reward yourself for a job well done? Do you decide you've done so well, you might as well have a treat? The scale habit can adopting other ways to measure your progress, and starting a daily journal which gives you a way to chart what you are doing. You're not stopping one thing so much as you are starting another. Ending one habit always involves beginning another.
Get a small notebook or journal to take notes. If you want a fancy, leather-bound book that's fine, but don't stall on starting this exercise with the excuse you don't have the supplies. Use a scrap of paper you found on the ground if you have to, but starting today, you are going to track your hunger levels all day long.
Tracking the Elusive HungerRate your hunger level on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being starving, and 10 being so full you'd explode if you ate another bite (most people should never experience either 1's or 10's). On this scale a 5 would be comfortable, 6 slightly above comfortable (maybe could have stopped sooner), 7 you over ate, and an 8 is starting to be a bit ridiculous, especially if you supposedly want to lose weight. A 9 or 10 is flat out crazy.
A 3 could mean you're hungry. Not starving, not going to come unglued if you don't eat, but hungry. A two is waiting a bit longer than you probably should, and a 1 doesn't occur except when you're simply tied up and cannot stop to eat or you've gotten yourself stuck in a situation where there simply is no food long past when you've gotten hungry. You should rarely feel the hunger of a 1 or the fullness of a 9 or 10.
You must decide the levels for yourself, but I'd suggest making an effort to wait until you are a 3 or lower to eat and making an effort to stop at or near a 5 or 6. Sometimes you may notice the sensation of hunger, note your hunger level, and then choose to wait. Don't worry about it whether you eat or not for now. The purpose this week is to make a chart and get used to keeping track of something besides your weight.
Reward Yourself for Doing the TrackingEvery day you successfully write down what time and your hunger level, you get a gold star, or a smiley face, or some other "fun" reward. Rewards should not be food. Instead make them be nourishing to your soul. Some people like stickers, some like to reward themselves later with a massage, new outfit, whatever you like is a-okay with me. I like to reward myself with a massage once a month (I'd rather get one every day like Bob Hope, but that's another goal).
Your goal is to achieve 5 or more "rewards" for the week. If you only manage two is that bad? Heck, no. It's fantastic because it's an improvement over the week before. Next week make an effort to at least achieve what you did the week before and possibly exceed it. Slowly you'll develop a new habit, until you're achieving 5 or more days every week of waiting for real hunger, and stopping at satisfaction. When you learn to understand your body's various hunger signals, you'll start losing pounds and inches, I guarantee it.
Inches lost, is what matters. I couldn't care less how much I weigh. What if my body was solid gold? It would weigh a lot wouldn't it, and would I care? No, I'd feel pretty darn good about it actually. I'm worth my weight in gold, and so are you.
Putting Hunger In PerspectiveI recently read a book by the only man to have survived alone on a raft at sea for more than a month - Steven Callahan. In Adrift, Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea, Callahan recounted how while slowly starving he dreamt of food, "My body knows what it needs. For hours on end fantasies of sweet ice cream, starchy baked bread, and vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables water the mouth in my mind."
Reading an account of Callahan's survival in the face of sure death was inspiring to say the least. My husband is making arrangements to build a boat designed by Callahan, a 22-foot sailboat so he too can take off on a singlehanded sailing adventure across the seas. My husband believes he could survive as Callahan did, while I'm telling myself I'll die of starvation if I don't eat in the next half an hour. Adrift puts these things in much better perspective, I'd say.
By Kathryn Martyn, Master NLP Practitioner, EFT counselor, author of Changing Beliefs, Your First Step to Permanent Weight Loss, and owner of OneMoreBite-Weightloss.com
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