Monday, July 18, 2011

Let's Break Some Rules!

Deer Mountain Trail - Rocky Mountain National Park
June 13, 2011

Back in February, when I was spending WAY too much time in the waiting area of doctor's offices, I came across an article in Family Circle Magazine called 6 Diet Rules To Break.  I found the article extremely interesting and decided that I wanted to write a post on each of these "rules" in the hopes of getting some spirited discussion underway.  I was sorely tempted to "borrow" the magazine especially knowing that I was going to be frequenting this doctor's office for awhile, but I didn't and hoped I'd be able to find the article online.  I was successful and as of today, it is still posted online if you want to jump ahead and spoil the anticipation. LOL!  I loved the way the article stated the "old" rule, their justification for breaking it and a revised plan.  I'll add my two cents worth to each, but it is my hope that you'll chime in with your opinion and rationale behind it.  So here we go with Diet Rule #1 To Break.

Words in italics and red print are copied directly from the Family Circle Magazine article (2/11)

Old Rule: Stay off the scale. Don't focus on numbers—instead, zero in on how you feel and how your clothes fit.

Break It: Regularly stepping on the scale is actually linked to better results, according to findings from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), the largest investigation of successful, long-term losers. Among people who dropped at least 30 pounds and kept them off for a year or more, those who weighed themselves most frequently had the lowest Body Mass Index (BMI). People who slacked off on weigh-ins were more likely to regain their lost pounds—and report a greater loss of control around food—than those who kept up with them. Researchers say getting on a scale regularly is crucial because you can catch (and rein in) a small slipup before it becomes a big problem.

Revised Plan: Step on the scale first thing every morning. But here's the catch: "Use the number only to find out if what you're doing is working," says NWCR researcher J. Graham Thomas, PhD. "Don't let the number determine how you're going to feel about yourself that day." If you're up 2 pounds from last week, scale back on after-dinner snacking or pack your lunch instead of grabbing takeout. Down a pound? Stay the course and keep up with your healthy habits.

Sharon's take on this one:  I am in total agreement with this although I know many are of the "throw the scale away" school of thought.  And maybe there is some merit to going by how your clothes feel, but for every one I know who doesn't bother with the scale, I can name two who tried that approach and it failed them miserably.  It was a nice reinforcement for me to see the statistics from the NWCR backing up the theory that it's better to use the scale as a tool.  

The part of this "rule" that I think must become very individualized is how often to use the scale.  Like any other tool, the scale can be abused and then become a negative reinforcement rather than simply a tool for measuring progress.  I think there is even some wiggle room in the "revised" plan.  Maybe you don't need to weight every morning.  Maybe a weekly weigh-in at your WW meeting is what works for you.  I think the common thread here is finding a regularity that works for you, a method for recording it, a mindset that lets you process the information before letting it go, and then sticking to the routine you've established.  

I have a simple EXCEL spreadsheet that I have used since October 1, 2006.  I weigh every morning and record the weight on the spreadsheet.  At the end of each week, the seven days are automatically averaged and that weight appears in big, bold, red letters.  The column beside the average weight is set to tell me if that is a gain or a loss from the prior week.  That's what I focus on for a moment as a tool to determine what I might need to do differently the next week.  It works for me and has been working now for almost five years.  And just in case you wondered, there are NO blank spaces.  I weigh every morning no matter how painful it might be!!!

In other news............................. Much was accomplished last week towards getting the work completed in our den, but much remains to be done.  At least we were able to cover up the construction work enough for us to use the den this weekend although we'll have to tear it apart again tonight.  

Out of somewhere came a brief reprieve in our weather including lower temps and humidity.  Yesterday, the sun never made an appearance which was wonderful!  Never thought I'd hear myself say that, but the cloudy skies allowed folks to spend a little time outside.  Mr. B had an all day board meeting, so I took MIL with me to the farmer's market and we had a great time.  

Mr. B finishes teaching his summer school class in less than two weeks and we have another adventure planned for some of the days between the end of his class and the time faculty reports back for the fall semester.   Ah, now there's a word I'm loving to say.   FALL - can't wait!!!    As for the adventure, you'll hear all about it!

The eating is going so great.  How can it be so easy one week and so difficult the next?  And what is it that changes or flips the switch in our heads that sends us spiraling from days/weeks of effortless healthy eating and the good feeling it generates into what feels like a death spiral of thinking molded bread sounds good slathered with curdled butter?  Geez!   At any rate, I'm happy to say right now I'm in the pattern of "effortless" and I sure hope it stays that way.  No significant challenges this week that I'm aware of and that's the way I like to face a new week!

What are your thoughts on breaking Rule #1?  Do you agree with the NWCR that the scale can help keep us accountable in several different ways?  What are your "scale" habits?

Look for Diet Rule to Break #2 later this week.


  1. Sounds like a great rule to break for sure! I know what I do if I don't face the scales: I pretend that my weight is the best number ever!! haha And then I get a big surprise when I DO face the scales.
    I need to WI. And regularly to keep myself on track.
    Good post!

  2. Hi Sharon! I really need to weigh more often. It's been "weighing" on my mind lately! Ha ha. :D I'd do better with a better set of stats to analyze if I weighed and wrote it down on a chart each week--like you've done for so long!!!! Yay for you!

    :-) Marion

  3. I wish I knew what that switch was too! Glad it is going so well:)

    I'm a daily weigher and have been for as long as I can remember in my adult life. What strikes me about that article is the simplicity with which they suggest we weigh but don't let the number impact our emotions. As if it was that easy!! But I think that this is one of those "one size does NOT fit all" things. What works for you and me does not work for the next person. So I'm all about trying to find what fits ones own needs. For me, the scale stays!

  4. I feel vindicated! I have the need to weigh every day to tweak my program. (Although I admit going a bit overboard with that!) It is hard not to let those unexplained jumps not negatively impact me emotionally. Most of the time, however, I write down the number and move on.

    I wish I knew where that switch was in my brain, too. Especially the one that keeps telling me that I want ice cream.

    I'm looking forward to this series and I didn't jump ahead to look at the article. I didn't want to spoil it.

    I hope your den gets repaired very quickly so that you have your santuary back soon.

  5. I weigh every day so if I'm up a bit, I can have a light eating day and drink more water and exercise an extra 5 or 10 minutes. If I'm down a bit, I just keep doing whatever I did for the past day or two. I don't obsess, it's just another tool for me.

  6. I think once I reach my goal wight or begin to maintain, I will weigh in regularly. For now, I will not. It is just too frustrating and the focus becomes too much on the number. I have not really lost any weight for a long time, but I can feel a difference in my body and in the way my clothes fit. SO, I would say, set a target and weigh in on that target date that works for you. DOn't hide the scale or ignore the scale, but set up some target that works for you. For me, I am weighing in only once a month (or at least I try!). Next WI: July 23.

    Take care, Sharon and thanks fro a great and thoughtful post,

  7. Clearly, it's a matter of preference (or of sanity) for each individual. Some people get obsessed with the scale -- weigh four times per day, track it on a spreadsheet, allow the number to determine self-worth, self-efficacy and more. For those people, focusing on healthy eating, moderate amounts of exercise, and how clothing fits might be a better approach to maintaining both physical and emotional health. For others, the scale is a useful tool.

  8. I'm over here in the weight is just a number section. It took me a long, long time and many failed weight loss attempts to give up the obsession with the scale and focus on what I do instead, and it seems to have worked for me, so I'm sticking with it. If it stops working, I'll re-evaluate, but I'll never again feel like a failure when I do weigh.

  9. I think it all depends on what the number on the scale does to each individual. If it derails your efforts and makes you feel bad so you seek out food for comfort then weighing everyday defeats the purpose.

    I weigh myself most days but not everyday. I use it as but one tool to measure how I am doing. It's not always a valid sign, really how my clothes fit tells me a lot more.

    I think like most things everyone has to do what works best for them and that seems to be something different for some of us!

  10. I do weigh everyday, but I do my best to not let it effect my mood. I do, however, can tell when I have been doing good or not. I am all for breaking and not breaking the rule - oh, double negative or would that be double positive?! :)
    I got on a friends scale this weekend and established that her's was broken and I was right - like my scale numbers better.

    I think I saw this same article sometime back. Hope that you will share the others rules with us in future posts. Oh, wait, think you did say that.

    Staying MOtivated MO

  11. Interesting rule, Sharon. I've read the books that day 'weigh once a week, " and I've seen people who weigh daily.

    I can't say. I know that when I don't weigh myself, it's like giving myself permission to eat with abandon. ... if I don't know how bad it is, I don't have to do anything about it.

    But when I get on the scale too often, I tend to let it dictate my mood.

  12. Oh that scale! It loves to be the center of debate and confusion. I do better weighing first thing every morning,but I have been staying off for the last little while. Once I am feeling better in my skin, I'll start back to daily, morning weighing.

  13. Hi Sharon! I like to use the scale. I have gone for several months without weighing, but then actually found myself hyper critiquing other parts of my body looking for weight gain. Not good. I also found out I can vary widely with weight and still wear the same pants, so that tool is not the best for me. Since I don't really put a ton of stock in what the scale says most times, I am okay weighing and don't flip out over the constant fluctuation.

  14. The scale is an interesting tool, that's for sure. Here's one thing about this--I think the goal of the article is weight LOSS (i.e. diet,) right? The NWCR's research is all about weight MAINTENANCE. So their information about people being successful that weigh more frequently is referring to maintaining a weight loss.

    I believe there is some information (WW?) that weighing less frequently during active weight loss periods is more successful. I do think it is much more accurate to weigh once a week. With all the things that can make your weight fluctuate, it is difficult to not 'celebrate' an unexpected weight loss, or to 'comfort' ourselves with an unexpected weight gain. At least that's been my experience.

    I've done it every which way myself. Currently I weigh at least twice a week, and try to stay off for a few days if I have been traveling or eating salty foods.

    Good blog subject for discussion!

  15. I have a daily date with my scale. As a 13-year maintainer, it clearly works for me.

  16. I'm in total agreement! I used to avoid the scale at all costs. Guess what? I ended up at 263 pounds. Denial is never a good thing.

    Like you, I weigh in EVERY matter what. I don't always like what I see, but it's kept me from going too far off course.

  17. I totally have to weigh every day. Can't trust my clothes!!

    Keep focused!