In my two decade plus quest to lose weight, I heard a lot of different opinions on how often you should weigh yourself when you’re “on a diet”. One school of thought encourages stepping on the scale every morning, while some disagree and say it is better to do a weekly weigh-in so you don’t “obsess over the scale”. While I sympathize with the second idea, I strongly believe a daily weigh-in is the way to go. To borrow and often used analogy, if I am flying a plane from New York to LA, I want to know as soon as I am going off course so I can nudge the wheel back in the right direction and get to my destination on time!
Daily monitoring and tracking are important tools on the Weekday Fast plan. If you were put in charge of an extremely important project at work and told that your outcome would be judged carefully to determine how successful you had been, you would probably do the following if you wanted to be successful.
- Put in place a mechanism to carefully track your ongoing progress…
- Pay close attention to the time and materials you were using…
- Evaluate your progress on a daily or weekly basis to see what is working and what is not…
- And use that feedback to change and improve your methodology to maximize your performance.
By doing these three things, you are MUCH more likely to succeed in your project, right? Congratulations, YOU are hearby in charge of the most important project of your life – YOU. That’s right, YOU are now in charge of “Getting Healthy, Getting Fit & Living Your Life”. Here are the tools to track and measure your progress.
Weigh Yourself Every Day
Every morning you should weigh yourself and have some sort of mechanism for monitoring your weight. This is important for several reasons.
- When you weigh yourself the morning after a Fast 5/2 day, you will nearly always see that you have lost some weight. This is an important REWARD in the Cue, Response, Reward cycle for the new habit you are developing for fasting two days a week. Your Cue is time – Monday or Thursday. Your RESPONSE is to reduce your caloric intake to 500/600 for the day, and your REWARD is the weight loss you will see on the scale. There are other rewards for a Fast day such as feeling great, thinking clearly, sleeping better and the other health benefits, but none are so clear cut and precise as seeing that you’ve lost a specific amount of weight on the scale.
- You must MEASURE something if you want to track it. As I’ve said, you will adapt to this way of eating in a few weeks, but for some people there will be some natural second thoughts before that adjustment is complete. When you can pull up your spreadsheet or smartphone app and see that graph line trending down, it will keep you motivated.
You will need a decent quality, digital scale that is accurate to at least one decimal point. I bought this one on Amazon for about $60. It has Bluetooth capabilities, and you can set it up for up to four family members. Each person can load their app on their smart phone, and every day when you weight it sync the results to your profile. You can pull up graphs and charts showing your progress on both the app and their website! In addition to pounds/kilograms, it also measure bone density, water %, muscle mass %, fat% – so you can see your progress in all those categories too.
For the most accurate results, you should weigh at the same time every day so your results are consistent. The best time is first thing in the morning, as you will be your lightest after you first wake up and use the restroom. Remember water is heavy! “A pint’s a pound the world round.” That first 32oz glass of water you are going to drink will actually add TWO POUNDS of weight! Of course it’s temporary, but still you can see that your weight will naturally fluctuate during the day as you ingest and eliminate foods and fluids. First thing in the morning when you haven’t been drinking any liquids for many hours, but you have eliminated all of them, is the time you will be at your minimum daily weight, and therefore the best time to measure it. So get on the scale and then head to the kitchen for that first glass of water!
Along with weighing yourself daily, you should also develop the habit of logging everything you eat into the free MyFitnessPal app. Download it to your smart phone and also log in and familiarize yourself with the web interface. MyFitnessPal has thousands of foods, including most restaurant menu items, in their database. As such, you are able to accurately track exactly how many calories and how much sugar, fat, carbohydrates, protein and sodium you are consuming.
An added benefit to tracking everything in MyFitnessPal is it makes you aware every time you eat and accountable to yourself. If you know you are going to have to log that extra donut in, you are less likely to eat it after all.
Buy a Food Scale
You can get an inexpensive digital food scale on Amazon for about $10. This will allow you to measure your food accurately (especially on fast days), so “6 oz of baked chicken” REALLY IS 6 ounces of baked chicken. Also, it’s kind of fun to be able to weigh everything in the kitchen. Is that pound of hamburger meat really a pound? Does a pint of water really weigh a pound? Now you’ll know!
Track Your Progress
If you are utilizing a weight tracking app and MyFitnessPal, that may be enough to track your progress. I also have a “Daily Food Log” spreadsheet I’ve developed that I use that lets me track not only my weight and food choices, but also my moods and “how I feel” each day. This can allow you to stop trends and identify if there are certain foods that don’t agree with you, or interfere with your progress. For example, this is how I realized that any day where I have pizza, pasta, or go to a restaurant for dinner is not going to be a day where I weigh less the next day. Does this mean I don’t eat pizza, pasta or go to restaurants? Heck no! But it avoids disappointments and allows me to plan my indulgences.
Measure Your Success and You’ll Have More Of It!
One of the key components of the Weekday Fast plan is taking back control of your food choices. With just a few tools and a little time each day, you can have a good record of “what works and what doesn’t”. You can eat anything you want, but when you know how that choice is going to affect your body and weight, you can make a more informed choice. One week it might be “I’m up a few pounds, better skip the pizza this week.” Another it might be “Heck yeah, I’m eating the pizza tonight. I know I’ll probably gain a bit but I’ll knock it right back down on my Thursday fast.”