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Stepping on the Scale, Charting Progress May Help Weight-Loss Efforts

Help enact behavioral change by adding a step on the scale to your daily routine and charting your progress.

It seems like every other week there’s a new motivational strategy on how to lose weight. The key is figuring out what method works for you. Most people quickly lose interest in food journaling and tracking devices, showing the importance in keeping efforts simple. Gretchen Rubin found in her own life that she was able to keep a normal journal going (rather than just quitting in the first week) when she stuck to writing one sentence a day.

A similar mentality has been applied to a two-year study by researchers at Cornell University; they found that stepping on the scale every day and keeping a chart were effective methods to losing weight. The researchers explain that once weight is lost, about 40 percent of people gain the weight back in the first year, and 100 percent of those usually gain it back at the end of five years.

Senior Author David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell, explained in a press release:

“You just need a bathroom scale and an Excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper.”

He continued to explain that this tactic “forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight. It used to be taught that you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily, and this is just the reverse.”

The study consisted of 162 participants, who were split into two groups: an intervention and a control. The intervention group was told to lose 1 percent of their total weight in any way they wanted. After maintaining that weight for 10 days, the researchers told them to lose another 1 percent, continuing to tell them to lose little 1 percent increments until they had lost 10 percent.

The researchers noted that the weight-loss program “[seemed] to work better for men than women, for reasons we cannot figure out yet.” They believe, though, that constantly weighing oneself and tracking results helps to reinforce behavior.

“We think the scale also acts as a priming mechanism, making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight.”

Read more at Science Daily.

Photo credit: MARK GUNTER/Getty Images


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