Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pudge won’t budge tip of the day: Weigh yourself

If your holiday season was filled with too much food and drink, you’ve no doubt vowed that in 2009 you’re going to lose a few pounds—or more. To help you (and, ahem, us) quickly melt away that excess holiday “cheer,” we’re posting science-backed weight loss tips throughout the month of January.

First step: Assess the damage. There’s nothing fun about getting on the scale, especially when you know you’re not going to like the number, but experts say it’s crucial to know where you stand instead of skirting the issue. And don’t stop there—weigh yourself every day from here on out. A study in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine reports that for folks who want to lose weight, daily weigh-ins are an incredibly successful strategy. Those in a weight gain prevention program who weighed daily lost an average of 4 pounds over two years, whereas weekly weighers in that program gained 1.5 pounds on average over the two-year period.
I asked the study author Jennifer Linde, Ph.D., why the scale can be such a powerful tool. “I believe that daily weighing provides feedback that promotes behavioral changes as needed,” she said, noting that daily weighers continued to melt off pounds after a second year of stepping on the scale. In other words, you’re more likely to pass on fries at lunch if you noticed your weight was a little too high that morning.

The key here, says Linde, is to step on the scale at a consistent time each day (preferably first thing in the morning), and to be aware that a 1 to 3 pound variance from time to time is perfectly normal—depending on how much water you’ve had, salt intake, hormone fluctuation and more. “However, if you notice the number consistently going up or down over a period of one to two weeks, then the scale is likely to be recording a more ‘real’ upward or downward change,” says Dr. Linde. Posted by Liz

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