Manage your weight loss program by measuring your results
You must learn to measure a number of things in order to successfully lose weight and make healthy choices. If you do not measure them, then you will have no idea whether you are losing or gaining weight. Here is a summary of them:
See weight gain or weight loss - weigh yourself weekly
You will not see weight gain or weight loss daily, with very limited exceptions. If you overeat one day you will not see your weight jump, and if you starve yourself for a day or two, the chances are you will not see your weight change. But by weighing yourself weekly you can see if what you are doing is working. If it is not, then you need to reevaluate what you are eating. Not weighing once a week is missing a chance for an early correction. Some refer to daily weight as “toilet” weight—as it can vary so much by, well, you know. Weigh yourself once a week, under the same conditions—usually in the morning with no clothes.
I like the Tanita® scales (available at a number of places) because they also show your fat content. While some can argue as to how accurate these are, it will point out a trend. If you are building muscle and losing fat, the weight will stay the same, but you will see the fat content decrease.
Know your basal metabolic rate
The amount of calories you burn will change based on your age, your weight, and your activity status. As you lose weight, recalculate your basal metabolic rate. Some people simply do not understand that as you age, you need to eat less. If you become less active you need to eat less. If you want to be a 130-lb. person, then you need to eat like a 130-pound person. Knowing the calories you burn daily will help you determine the choices you make.
Know the calories you eat - your body is a perfect calorie counter
It will count those calories you eat even if no one is watching you eat them. You should also. We are creatures of habit but it is easy to change what we eat over time. But to do so it is important to know the calorie content of what we eat.
Keeping a journal of what you eat, and the calories, opens your eyes as to why you are losing or are not losing weight. You have to measure the calories and be certain that the portion size is right. We have a simple journal that is made for this. It can fit into your purse, pocket, or briefcase easily, and it allows you to keep tract of your BMR, weight, calories, and you can even use it as a daily planner.
Know your food portion size
Many people often miscalculate the portion size of what they eat. In a movie theater I purchased some peanut M&M’s and saw that there were only 155 calories per serving. So I ate the whole bag. Later, not really believing that this bag contained only 155 calories, I noticed that the bag contained four servings—I had actually consumed 620 calories! So knowing the true serving size of what you are eating is helpful.
A proper serving size of meat is four ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards—not more. On the other hand, a serving of vegetables may be half a cup, not one tablespoon.
Lose weight - know your target heart rate
Exercise is a key to weight loss but it is not everything. Unless you are training and running a marathon, the chances that you can exercise enough to be able to eat junk food without gaining weight is impossible. Exercise is an adjunct. But in order to exercise properly, you need to get your target heart rate up. The maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age in years. So, if you are 40 years old, the 220 minus 40 is 180—that is the maximum heart rate. But your target should be 60 to 80 percent of that (so for our 40-year-old the target is between 110 and 140 beats per minute). For more information about this see our workbook. If you are not getting your heart rate up during exercise, then you may not be working at it hard enough.
Count your steps. We really like walking. It is safe, easy, and almost everyone can do it. Get a pedometer and clip it onto your belt. See how much you walk during a normal day, and then see how much you walk when you add a mile or two. Too often people tell me “I walk all day long, I don’t need to walk more.” Well, measure it. On my busiest day I walk maybe 3000 steps. The only way I can get the 10,000 steps a day in is to walk two miles per day above my normal activity level.
Healthy food choices are better than exercise for weight loss
It is easier to lose weight making healthy food choices than by exercising, but to make those food choices, you have to take control of them. While that chicken sandwich may sound like a great diet choice at the deli, remember the extra mayonnaise, cheese, and other sauces may make it a calorie-rich food, not a healthy choice for weight loss. Saving those extra calories by making healthy choices is a lot easier than trying to exercise. So don’t get discouraged— take control!