Hey friends. Vegetarianism has been working for me so far–granted, it’s only been a few days and I’ve been eating in a plant-strong university dining facility. Actually I’ve been eating mostly vegan except for Greek yogurt and a couple spoonfuls of ice cream. I just don’t see how I’d ever be able to give up dairy completely. I love desserts too much. I know you can make vegan desserts, but I’m not going to pretend that they’re as indulgent as dairy based desserts. I mean, my favorite desserts are cheesecake and cannolis for crying out loud. But I’ll never say never.
Anyway, I haven’t really written about weight management yet, and I think a lot of people are interested in that, and with good reason: over two thirds of Americans are classified as overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25. Now, I have a few problems with how low a BMI can qualify someone as overweight, but the statistic is still staggering.
At this point, most public health experts believe that focusing policies on preventing obesity is much more realistic than attempting to treat all the people who are already overweight, and I agree. This is not to say that you shouldn’t try to lose weight if you are overweight; of course you should! It will add years and years to your life. I just mean that it is more efficacious for policymakers to focus on prevention. One of the hot topics in obesity research right now is how self-weighing can prevent weight gain. I’m actually working on a long-term research study at my university that is trying to prove just that. I just joined the study, but it’s been going on for a year and the data so far show that the experimental group, the people who we require to weigh themselves at least 3 times a week, show no weight gain, while the people in the control group, who weigh themselves only every 6 months, have gained 2 pounds on average. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but a 2 lb per year weight gain adds up pretty quickly.
I used to count calories when I was trying to lose weight, which was really effective for me, and I continued counting calories after I reached my goal weight to maintain it. I also weighed myself once a week. I gotta tell you though, it took a lot of time and brainpower to always be calculating in my head how much of everything I could eat to stay within my calorie limit. When I heard about this daily weighing idea, it seemed like a much less time consuming way to regulate my weight than counting calories. It turned out this was even more effective for me than counting calories. The knowledge that I have to weigh myself the next morning curtails most overeating I’d be tempted to do, because I know it would show up on the scale. Even though I know that just because overeating makes me gain weight immediately doesn’t mean I’m necessarily gaining weight in fat (just gastrointestinal weight), it stops me. It’s a very powerful psychological effect, for me at least.
A lot of weight loss counseling professionals don’t recommend you weigh yourself more than once a week, and I think that’s a good idea for people trying to lose weight. Because weight loss happens more slowly than people would like it to, I think it would be very frustrating to weigh yourself every day if you want to lose weight. But if you’re just trying to prevent weight gain, I don’t think it’ll make you crazy, or make you develop an eating disorder, unless you already have a tendency towards them. I think it will make you much more aware of what you’re eating, and that can only help you. One thing you have to know though, is that your weight fluctuates all the time within a few pounds for reasons you can’t always explain. After I had been weighing myself daily for several days, I started to get used to my weight staying in a certain range. I only get worried if it gets above that range.
In my ideal world, as I’ve said before, the food system wouldn’t promote obesity like it does (academics call ours an obesigenic environment), and regulating weight gain wouldn’t need to be such a concern for most people. However, until the system drastically changes, the likelihood is that we will all gain a certain amount of weight every year, increasing our risk for all kinds of health problems. The people who weigh themselves frequently may be at a distinct advantage. Just something to think about.
On that note, what do you think? To weigh or not to weigh?