Weight loss – part 9
This is the ninth, and final, part in a series about weight loss including diet, exercise, measuring your success and keeping the weight off when you stop.
Over the last few months I have found out about all sorts of diet and exercise related issues that should help with weight loss. However non of it is any good if you can’t effectively measure your progress or keep the weight off once you’ve reached your goals.
Sleep – the ultimate weight loss aid?
Before I start on the technicalities of measuring or maintaining weight loss I thought I should include a brief reminder about the benefits of sleep for weight loss. Some time ago I did a post about sleep. Something that I was aware of when I wrote that post, but failed to mention, was that sleep has been known to assist with weight loss. Whether it is the improvement to cortisol levels, the reduced time to eat anything, or something else at work, sleep for weight loss is certainly something that many people have commented on (including Dan John).
Bodybuilding.com have done a great article looking at the issue of sleep for weight loss and they’ve got plenty of reasons for why sleep may help. Personally I’m always up for another reason to sleep (even if it is harder to get plenty of sleep in the summer months) so this is definitely an avenue worth pursuing!
Keeping track of weight loss
So you’ve written your weight loss diet and exercise plan and you’ve set your goals. How will you know if you are succeeding?
A problem I encountered was the inaccuracy of my callipers. I had hoped that these would make a big difference to measuring progress, but instead I found that I quickly dropped off the bottom of their measurement scale. I only had to look at myself in the mirror to know that I wasn’t below 12.6% body fat. Callipers are probably very accurate if you are in the middle of the range, but if you are at the extremes the accuracy starts to suffer.
Similarly, my weighing scales get used in the shower since the bathroom has a carpet. Unfortunately I get a range of readings depending on where on the shower tray I place the scales. I usually do my best to put them in the same corner of the shower tray each week, but I know this isn’t an accurate measure either.
I rely on a tape measure instead. It’s simple, effective and can measure in millimetres. However, John Barban wrote an excellent post about measuring weight loss, reminding people that as they get closer to their goals and it becomes harder to remove those final little bits of fat they may find that even a tape measure is not accurate enough.
As John says, the best way to measure is to look in the mirror. Personally I struggle to see the small changes and have found a photo record works best.
How often to weigh and measure
As a general rule, when I am in a weight loss cycle I weight and measure myself first thing in the morning (before my morning cup of tea) once a week. I try to go for the same day each week but this is obviously affected a little bit by where I’ll be that morning, so it sometimes shifts by a day or two.
Imagine my surprise therefore when I read that researchers at the University of Minnesota found that those who weighed themselves every day lost an average of 12 pounds whereas those who weighed themselves once a week only lost six pounds! This is definitely something worth looking into when considering how often to weight and measure yourself, although there has to be a practicalities aspect here too. Perhaps a quick hop-on-hop-off with the weighing scales every day and a full weigh and measure session once a week?
Keeping the weight off
An article in That’s Fit highlighted the problems that people face with regaining the weight after they lose it. I wasn’t surprised to read that even people who lose weight through surgery regain the weight.
The problem is in the habits. If you change your diet or exercise plan too drastically (or, in the case of surgery, don’t have to change it at all) then your habits will not change. Those poor eating and exercise habits that caused the fat to accumulate in the first place will still be in place and the fat will quickly come back.
If you want long-term weight loss the lesson seems to be that you need to not only address the weight loss phase but think about making longer-term changes. As a result I’ve rapidly become a fan of not only hitting the weight loss hard and fast, but making sure that within that I build in good habits and knock out the problem habits that had started to creep in. Create sustainable habits, such as eating dense but lean higher protein foods that fill you up without adding in too many additional calories.
That’s the end of the weight loss series. If you’ve made it all the way through the series then congratulations (and many thanks). Best of luck with your weight loss plans!