How Important Is It To Monitor My Weight Loss?

Dr. David Katz answers the question: 'How Important is Monitoring Weight Loss?'

February 1, 2009 -- Question: How important is it to monitor my weight loss?

Answer: When we talk about losing weight, maintaining weight, we're really talking about changing something, because, obviously there was a need to lose weight in the first place, and that meant you got heavier than you wanted to be. Certain behaviors got you there, and you want to change those behaviors. So the science of behavior modification becomes relevant.

And there are many tips there that we can put to use in our efforts to lose weight and maintain it. And one of those is self-monitoring.

Now, self-monitoring could be keeping a food diary, it could be stepping on a scale. There have been recent studies to show that both of these strategies of self-monitoring can be helpful. You can track your food intake, you can track the outcomes of changing your food intake by stepping on the scale periodically.

My suggestion is you do this as a tool to help you achieve your health and weight goals, but don't become preoccupied, especially with measuring weight. You don't directly control your weight. You control what you eat. You control what you do, in terms of physical activity. Weight is not a behavior, it's an outcome. You don't have direct control over that, and genetics are a factor there. You're not in charge of those.

Also, if you are exercising more, you may build muscle and lose fat, so you are leaner, but not necessarily all that much lighter. And if you're looking for success or failure in the number that the scale gives you, you may actually perceive failure when, in fact, you're succeeding; you're getting leaner and healthier.

So, by all means, use self-monitoring, both of food intake and of the outcomes; you can use a pedometer to track your physical activity, too, if they're helpful to you. But focus on long-term health and vitality. And one of the best ways to measure if what you're doing with your diet and physical activity is working, is how you feel. And you don't need to consult a scale. And you don't need to consult a diary to answer that question.

If you feel, day after day, more energy, more vitality, you're on the right track. Stay the course