Not long ago I had a heart-to-heart conversation with a friend of mine, we’ll call him "Joe," who desperately wants to lose weight. He called me to ask for help. After he told me his journey of trying “every diet you can think of," Joe began to recount how he doesn’t eat “that much” and that he always tries to eat organic.
When someone needs to lose 150 lbs. and has been gaining and losing weight their entire life, it’s very discouraging and difficult to know where to even begin. I think he expected me to comment on his current diet habits and give him nutrition advice. However, having consistently worked with individuals and groups who are obese for the better part of a decade, I did not want my friend to get caught up in unnecessary details. When a lot of weight needs to be lost, focusing on non-essentials instead of central issues is perhaps the biggest distraction to genuine progress. So instead I asked, “Do you own a bathroom scale?” When he told me he did I said, “I only want you to do one thing. All I want you to do is weigh once per week - that’s it.” To make a long story short, he wholeheartedly agreed that every Monday morning he would weigh in and record it on a piece of paper.
Recently I ran into Joe (almost two months had passed) and I asked him how he was doing. He told me he got a personal trainer, but he didn’t appear very encouraged nor that he had lost weight. When asked about how his weigh-ins were going, he said he hadn’t been weighing, and that he actually had not weighed in at all, not even one time!
Maybe we can draw a few important lessons from Joe.
- First, quality studies with thousands of individuals have shown that regular weighing is an important and effective behavior for managing weight.
- Second, denial is a major hindrance to taking authentic action – seeing an objective number on the scale which provides valuable feedback on all your behaviors each week helps prevent denial.
- Third, and perhaps most importantly, losing weight is hard, and it’s even harder on your own. The more weight you have to lose, the more challenges usually accompany that weight. Having zero accountability is rarely wise, and makes the journey much more difficult! Enrolling in a research-based program to help could make all the difference.
If you’re wondering how I responded to Joe, I encouraged him to be honest with himself and where he was at. If he avoids the scale he’s avoiding reality and has no positive/negative feedback on anything he’s doing.
If your bathroom scale isn’t moving in the right direction, or accountability is something lacking on your weight loss journey, consider contacting the expert team of healthcare professionals with CHI Health Weight Management, (402) 572-2333.