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The Scale – Friend, Enemy, or Just Additional Information?

For some people in our program, weighing themselves on a regular basis isn’t a big deal. For others, it’s a source of intense frustration, trepidation, shame, and obsessive thoughts. What the scale says can be a great source of feedback about how well behavioral change is translating into a healthier body. But it’s certainly not the only (or necessarily the best) indicator of progress. Other important indicators of progress include clothes feeling a little looser, having more energy, having less knee pain, feeling like it’s a little easier to move, improved blood sugar or triglyceride levels, not needing to take as much hypertension medication, or improved sleep apnea. Additionally, it’s critical to take note of how you are managing and integrating changes into your lifestyle—when stressed are you going out to take a walk or getting on the phone with a friend as opposed to eating? Are you eating breakfast, more fresh fruits and vegetables? Are you being mindful? Keep in mind that the behavioral changes you are making are what will help you not only lose weight but sustain the weight loss.

It’s also important to have realistic expectations of change as measured by the scale. Very few people lose the same amount of weight consistently every week. The majority lose some, then sort of hover around the new weight for a while, then lose some more. Plateaus are common during weight loss. Fit of your clothes and behavioral changes as described above are more accurate indicators of how you are doing.

There are times weight loss will be more difficult and you might not see as much change in that number. These times include

  • When you are on vacation

  • During times of increased stress

  • Over the holidays or when there is a big celebration

  • When you hit a temporary plateau

  • When traveling for work

  • Change in activity

We here at WCWMR don’t actually expect that you will lose weight during these and similar times. If you do that’s great, but we are happy if you manage to maintain your current weight during these times or if you only gain a little and then get right back on track. Persistence is key.

We generally recommend that patients weigh themselves once a week, fasting (having had nothing to eat), first thing in the morning, naked or wearing the same light clothing. This serves to check in and to be mindful and remind you of your decision to focus on managing your weight. Weighing and recording the weight has to come without judgement. It is simply a piece of information. If that works for you, that’s great. If not, please talk to our staff about ways to track progress that might be a better fit for you.

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