Some years ago, when I knew I had weight to lose, you couldn't have paid me to get on a scale. Now, I think I know why that was so.
Yes, I'm talking about denial. As long as I didn't see the dial on the scale going up, I could go on believing that I still weighed the same as the last time I checked (about 10 months and 15 pounds earlier).
But I'm not alone — according to a University of Illinois research study, people who are overweight and obese were more likely to underestimate their weight than those in a healthy weight range. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), obese men were more likely than obese women to underestimate their weight. Out of 3,500 college students surveyed, more than a third couldn't accurately report their weight.
Thirty-three percent of men surveyed actually fell into the obese weight category, but only about 17 percent believed they were obese. On the other hand, nearly 28 percent of women were obese and 21 percent described themselves that way.
Although it was hard, I am glad I realized that I needed to get on a scale to get a realistic view of my weight. It was only then that I was able to come up with a plan to shed the pounds. That plan involved eating whole foods instead of the processed "diet" foods I had been eating (because they obviously weren't helping), and finding a way to fit exercise into my schedule. After much trial and error, I came up with a plan that actually worked for me. Here are a few of the foundational rules:
- Weigh yourself about three or four times a month (about once a week or so) to be sure you have a realistic view of your current weight. Don't obsess over your weight by checking the scale daily. Small fluctuations are normal, but can be discouraging; don't put yourself through unnecessary agony.
- Instead of buying frozen "diet" dinners, set aside one day each week to prepare all of your meals and snacks. You can even pack and freeze each serving in its own container, so you'll get the convenience of the processed meals without all the preservatives.
- Find a friend to be your exercise partner. This way, you can motivate each other whenever the going gets tough. Also, having an exercise partner forces you to schedule your exercise time, which makes it more of a reality. Otherwise, you may just sit around saying you'll exercise "later."
Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!