Here is a tip. Whether you are trying to lose weight or gain, the first thing you should do is weigh yourself. I’ve noticed a surprising number of people that would like to lose weight or obviously need to but have no idea what they actually weigh.
Could be they know they are too heavy but are afraid to admit it. Or perhaps they dread dieting and exercise. Or maybe they are just feeling guilty. If you are carrying too much body fat, ignoring the problem won’t make it disappear, and in fact the longer you wait, the harder it will be to correct.
Stepping on the scale frequently, while not perfect, provides excellent feedback and motivation. Members of the National Weight Control Registry database would probably agree. This is a group of folks that have lost 30 or more pounds and kept their weight off for at least a year. According to results of one survey, 75% of Registry participants weigh themselves at least once a week, with many weighing in daily. Founders of the database believe that members use regular weigh-ins as an early warning system and have a plan or strategy ready if their weight hits a specific threshold.
I don’t have a weight problem, but I’ve found that weighing in before and after exercise is an extremely accurate way to monitor dehydration.
A few years ago I ran the Singapore Marathon in scorching temperatures. In preparation, I discovered that I was losing too much fluid on my long runs (up to 6 pounds in 2 hours). Despite the heat and humidity in Singapore, I was able to maintain a decent pace even through the last 6 miles because I made sure to drink at every aid station. Weighing in before and after workouts lets you know how much fluid you’ve lost and how much you need to replenish.
Don’t be surprised if your weight varies considerably throughout the day. If you step on the scale daily, I suggest weighing yourself at the same time each day, preferably early morning before exercise or eating.
I would also weigh in after you workout just to see how much fluid you’ve lost. If you are trying to lose weight, then it’s also a good idea to record and track your weight every week, say Monday mornings.
While it’s possible to lose body fat without seeing immediate results on the scale, it’s unlikely that overweight or obese individuals will drop significant body fat without also seeing weight loss on the scale. Keep at it and before long the pounds will begin to drop, preferably at a rate of 1 or 2 pounds a week. Any faster than that is a sure sign that you are losing too much stored carbohydrate and water.
If you are trying to lose weight and see no downward trend in your weekly numbers after 3 or 4 weeks of trying, then it’s probably time to ask for advice from a nutrition expert or other health professional.
Dave Elger is a well respected authority within the running community having written hundreds of articles on the topics of running and wellness. You can contact him at http://www.daveelger.com. He also supports the Okinawa Running Club.