To weigh or not to weigh

How often should we weigh ourselves and is it necessarily the best indicator of how healthy we are?

Having worked with many hundreds of weight loss clients I have witnessed the full range of human emotions at the weighing scales.

Do any of these resonate with you?

 “Wow, I’ve lost more than I thought – all that hard work has paid off and I deserve a reward. I’ll have that chocolate bar I’ve been resisting all week”

“What? Is that all? I’ve worked so hard I can’t believe I’ve only lost that! What’s the point in carrying on? I’ve denied myself all week and for what? I might as well have that chocolate bar I’ve been resisting all week – in fact I’ll have two”

“How can the scales have stayed the same? I’ve been really good this week, honestly. There must be something wrong with the diet/scales. If I haven’t lost anything next week I’m giving up”

A recent study published by The Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behaviour has shown that while weighing can be a useful tool to help adults manage their weight it can have negative psychological outcomes for adolescents and young adults. The study found that increases in weighing can be significantly related to increases in weight concern and depression and decreases in body satisfaction and self esteem.

You can read the full article here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/ehs-smb110315.php

I think we’ve been conditioned to believe that a number on the scales or the label on an item of clothing is all that we need to make us happy. Is this true?  Ask yourself how you have felt when a size in one store fits perfectly but is too small in another store?  The difference may be as much as 2 sizes. All that tells us is that manufacturers have different standards but the impact on our psychological well being can be very negative indeed.

So, what is the answer?

Look for other ways to measure how we are. Our clothes are the best indicator of all. If you find that your clothes are getting tight, do you need the scales to confirm what you already know?

I have met clients who believe that the only thing keeping them on track is weighing themselves every day. If it works then I am happy for them but if I’m honest, it feels like a prison sentence to me. My most successful weight management happens when I don’t weigh myself.

How about you?

Sue Arkle Co-Founder DietMaps

Counting bites not calories

There is new research (Timeslive.co.za) that suggests that counting bites, not calories, could help with weight loss. I’m not sure what to make of this.

For the study, researchers from Brigham Young University in Utah asked a group of 61 participants to count the number of times they lifted food or drink to their mouths.

They were then asked to commit to taking 20 to 30 percent fewer bites over the next week.

The 41 participants who successfully completed the task lost an average of 1.6 kg at the end of the experiment.

The very fact that they were focusing on how many bites they were taking could have been enough to make the difference. If you think about it, how many times in a day do you really concentrate on what you are eating, do you register exactly when and how much you eat.

Now those of us on diets may well be counting calories, planning meals, staggering our eating, fasting some days etc.  This all takes effort and it strikes me that counting the number of times you actually take a bite each day is another useful tool as long as you are also combining this with planning exactly what it is that you are biting into!

Helen Clarke, Co-Founder DietMaps

Dieting goals – a good idea or not?

2 pounds a week. A stone by Christmas. Exercise 4 times a week. Size 12 by the summer

Goals come in all shapes and sizes. For those of you who have looked at goals in depth you will no doubt be familiar with this  acronym which is widely used when setting a goal:

S – specific

M-measured

A-achievable

R-realistic

T-timed

E-enthusiasm

R – reward

They all speak for themselves except perhaps the last two. The idea with these is that if you are enthusiastic and attach emotion to a goal , you are more likely to achieve it. The reward ( not food) is what the payback will be for you if you achieve this goal. Better health, greater self-esteem, smaller clothes etc…

We all make dieting goals at one time or another but should we?

Goals have their place and for some people they are an absolute must. We’ve all read the articles from successful slimmers saying that the goals they set were what kept them focused but is that true for everybody?

The flip side of this is those people who feel pressured when they have set a goal, especially if the possibility of achieving that goal is a long way away.

So what makes the difference between those who thrive on goal setting and those who shy away from, or feel pressured by goal setting?

Well, it could be a number of things like the type of goal they set, whether it’s a long term or short term goal, how specific they have made it and also and most importantly whether their personality type gravitates towards goals or away from them. 

There are certain personality types who need a goal, their natural character traits lead them towards having a focus. If you are naturally a person who likes detailed, structured pathways then a number of short term goals, all set out from the outset will help you achieve what you want to.

A long term goal with no intermediate steps is unlikely to be achieved as you may well lose your way.

If however you are a more social outgoing personality type it’s essential that you involve others in your goal. After all, you will need to factor in a social life and their support will be invaluable.

For the personality type that knows their own mind, is assertive and goal driven, then the goal is a must but only if the individual is setting their own goal. If it’s a goal that is foisted on them and they are not truly comfortable with it , then they are set up to fail.

As you can see a knowledge of yourself and your innate personality can be the difference between the use of a goal, the type and length of a goal and whether you are successful or not.

Helen Clarke, Co-Founder DietMaps

Why can’t I lose weight?

Why can’t I lose weight?

Imagine how many times a day that question is said in somebodies head or out loud around the world everyday. It’s a universal question that concerns a proportion of the human race especially in the West.

Well let’s look at this and see what the common factor here is. We are all human, we all need to eat to live and we all live our lives as we see fit. And there is the difference, everyone sees life and every experience within it through their own lenses. Two people can sit in the same room and describe it differently, two people can look at a menu and choose very different foods but both believe they are eating healthily.

If you take this one step further, we need to look at what it is about an individual’s personality that affects the way they eat, when they eat, what they eat and why they over eat in certain situations.

We all have strengths and weaknesses that are fed by our innate personalities, do you know how yours affects your ability to lose weight and keep it off?

Companies and businesses have known the value of personality profiling for years. They have used it to decide whether somebody is right for a job, or if someone can take on a leadership role. There are parts of our personality that make it easier to work one way rather than another so why not use this information when it comes to dieting and weight management?

I can see little point in restricting a person who is naturally very sociable to a meal replacement diet that means they cannot eat out with their friends. If this was imposed on them, imagine how long it would take for them to break their diet.

If a person naturally likes to know exactly where they are and what is expected of them and they are set on a path with no real boundaries or goals to lose weight, they will surely lose heart and return to their old ways.

In my mind, you cannot expect to succeed if you don’t really know yourself and where your likely pitfalls or triumphs are likely to be.

How many of us really know ourselves and if we asked those around us to describe us, would their evaluation be the same or would we be a little surprised by their response?

Are you brave enough to ask?

Helen Clarke, Co-Founder DietMaps