Why did daily weighing help? Even though the researchers provided the students with no information about dietary and exercise habits, the women who stepped on the scale each day naturally found ways to control their weight. If they saw an increase, they either ate less or moved more.They skipped snacks, skipped dessert, shrank portions, or stepped up their exercise efforts. They didn't count calories, but the feedback of the scale gave them constant nudges in the right direction.
You'll need to strike a careful balance between denial (it's just water weight, I don't need to do anything differently) and negativity (I gained weight, I may as well eat whatever I want). Many factors affect your weight beyond the size of your fat cells. You can expect your weight to fluctuate by about 5 pounds based on the amount of fluid your body is retaining, the regularity or irregularity of your bowel habits, and the amount of carbohydrate stored in your liver and muscles. In the study I just mentioned, the college freshmen plotted their weight on a graph such as the one on page 158. A slight up- and- down line was nothing to worry about. A steady upward line, however, meant they needed to take corrective action.
What types of corrective actions should you take? Your first action should be to see if you've strayed from your Phase 2 menus or cut back on exercise. If so, reestablish those habits. If you're gaining despite carefully following the Skinny menus and tips described in the rest of this chapter, then see your doctor.You may have a health problem that's affecting your weight. Read chapter 10 to see if a sleep problem, a weight-gaining medication, or something else is affecting your weight. And try to make small dietary or lifestyle changes. Can you add five or ten additional minutes of movement a day? Can you fill up on fewer calories by eating even leaner, sneaking more veggies into a meat dish, or shrinking your starch portions?
Fight hunger with lean protein plus vegetables. As you maintain, you may ?nd that at times, you feel hungrier than usual. During these times, increase your lean protein and your vegetable portions. By eating more of the right foods, you'll be able to more easily eat less of the wrong foods, and you'll more easily maintain your weight, too. But remember, just cutting back on calories is often not productive and can lead to overwhelming hunger because the counterbalancing systems get activated.To maintain your weight, it's always better to add than to subtract. Eat more filling foods, so they naturally displace the fattening ones.
Turn off the tube. People who regain weight tend to watch more TV than people who don't. The average American watches four hours a day, and more than 60 percent of average Americans are overweight or obese. Research completed at Brown University and a number of other institutions, however, shows that successful weight maintainers watch far less. More than a third of people who have maintained a 30- pound weight loss for a year or longer watch fewer than five hours a week and another third fewer than ten hours.The more TV study participants watched, the less they exercised and the more weight they regained.