An easy routine to keep your weight in check

Betsy Ludlow, Founder-Zone Positive

Goal of this intervention is to provide you with an easy routine to keep your weight in check.

I don’t know about you, but I have been fighting the battle of the bulge for more years than I care to remember. It’s not that I’m really overweight, but I know in a flash when my clothes don’t fit right—and anyhow, the scale reminds me. It’s just not fair (I tell myself)… it takes me weeks to lose a pound or two…but just give me one vacation or a couple of restaurant meals full of small indiscretions (in my case, bread and dessert), and the pounds come flying back. I love to eat, I want to live a normal life and I hate to be paranoid about this weight thing… so what am I to do. Well, here’s the routine I came up with.

How to conduct this intervention:

Step 1: Make a list of all the things (behaviors) that help you to lose weight. Try and come up with 15-16 items that fall into this category.
Step 2: Use this list as a daily reminder of the things you either do or don’t do that may cause your weight to increase. For example, here is my list of ―things‖ that affect my weight. If I can consistently answer ―yes‖ to most of these statements, I know that I am likely to lose weight over time.

  • I ate between 1200 and 1600 calories today
  • I exercised for at least 60 minutes today
  • I did not have any dessert or ice cream today
  • I did not have any snacks between meals today
  • I ate dinner before 6:30 pm
  • I ate breakfast today
  • I did not have potatoes, rice or pasta today
  • I had no more than 2 slices of bread today
  • I did not eat red meat today
  • I did not have soda (including diet) today
  • I did not have alcoholic beverages today
  • I did not eat chips, sweets or baked goods today
  • I did not eat butter, mayo or oil today
  • If I had milk today, it was skim or 1%
  • I did not have a restaurant meal (or Starbucks) today
  • I was in a good mood today; low/no stress

Step 3: Use the worksheet below as a daily reminder. Revise the form to reflect your own personal list (from Step 1). At the end of each day, mark each item – yes, I did this or no, I didn’t do this. At the end of the day, how many ―no‖ check marks do you have? For me, if I had 5-7+ check marks in the ―no‖ column, you could bet I would see the impact on my weight the next day. By comparison, several days of consistently few ―no‖ check marks (i.e. 3-4) usually were rewarded with a drop in my weight.

Questions to ask yourself – some suggestions

  • Were you able to identify a list of things that tend to cause you to gain weight?
  • Did you keep a log for an entire week? If no, why not?
  • What were your findings at the end of the week? How many ―no‖ check marks did you typically have each day?
  • What happened when you were able to reduce the number of ―no‖ check marks?
  • What might you be able to do to achieve more consistency (that is, fewer ―no‖ check marks each day)?
  • What strengths, skills or other conditions do you think are necessary to succeed with this exercise?
  • If this exercise doesn’t work for you, what else can you try?

Expected outcome

You should, at minimum, achieve greater awareness of the actions that it takes each day to have an impact on weight management. You may even start to regard your list as a motivating challenge- to see how few ―no‖ checks you can come up with each day… and how many days you can sustain this level.

Consistent use of the journal over a one or two month period, with a steady reduction in ―no‖ check marks should lead to a loss in weight.

Don’t expect a perfect record, however. I try to be ―good‖ for 5 days (i.e. 3-4 ―no‖ check marks) and then let myself enjoy the weekend with 7-8 ―no‖ check marks.

Things to watch out for

Anyone who has tried to lose weight likely knows the pitfalls of dieting. This exercise is no exception:

  • Loss of motivation
  • Lack of consistent journaling
  • Not seeing results fast enough
  • Wanting a quick fix
  • Don’t want to work that hard
  • Nothing works for me- it’s hopeless
  • I’ll start next week or month after (whatever) is over
  • I already tried that… it doesn’t work for me

Focus on your strengths and see if you can identify ways to use these strengths as a way to succeed with this intervention.

Is there any science to support this intervention
There is no specific scientific research behind this exercise. However, there have been masses of research done to support the benefits of exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. One of the best reports out on this subject is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000). Healthy People 2010:  Understanding and Improving Health. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Healthy and Human Services, Government Printing Office.

Additional comments:
There are a few tips and ―loopholes noted at the bottom of the journal form: You can track calories by checking food labels or go to www.calorie_count.com. Also, one of my favorite iPhone applications is called ―LoseIt‖; it’s free and it helps you track your daily calories, your weight goal and your nutrient intake. It also gives you ―credit‖ for the exercise you do each day (in the form of calories deducted).

Exercise could include walking, cycling, swimming or other calorie burning activities (yoga is good, but it doesn’t count here!). Bread includes only whole wheat or multi-grain. Olive Oil is the exception to no oil. Starbuck or similar establishment—exception is regular coffee or tea. Take your weight first thing in the morning before breakfast and exercise. Be consistent.

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