Embarking on a weight loss programme without monitoring your progress is like navigating without a compass. How will you know whether or not your plan is effective?
Monitoring weight loss enables you to detect and quantify the success or failure of your weight management programme and to review your methods and chart your progress. It should be part of any diet and exercise plan aimed at losing weight. Monitoring motivates you and enables you to stay focused.
Set realistic weight loss goals using objective measurements such as your desired weight, BMI, waistline measurement and clothes size. A BMI above 25 is considered overweight, over 30 is obese. If not sure what to aim for, consult your GP.
Record all your baseline values in a journal, including the size of your dresses, jeans or skirts.
Aim for Steady Progress
An effective weight loss diet is one which you are prepared to stick to for life. There are no short cuts. Only a healthy eating plan and moderate exercise are safe and guaranteed not only to enable weight loss, but to bring about healthy and long lasting weight loss. It is recommended to lose no more than 0.5 kg a week. Crash diets are starvation diets. They are detrimental to health and may lead to low blood pressure and nutrient deficiency with catastrophic results.
Monitoring Weight Loss
The following suggestions will help in monitoring weight loss:
- Weigh yourself on a regular basis. Monthly weigh-ins are preferable, but if you can handle once a week go for it. Use the same scale and ensure similar conditions. If you take your weight first thing in the morning with an empty stomach and bladder, keep doing it that way and make sure you put on the same clothes in order to avoid bias. Use a reliable scale. However, note that if you exercise, you may gain more muscle protein as you lose fat, so weight loss should always be used in conjunction with waistline measurement to get a better picture of the effectiveness of your weight loss methods.
- Use a tape measure to monitor your waistline. Bear in mind that waistline measurements are affected by intake of food, drinking water and swallowed air. Record your waistline measurement under similar conditions to get an accurate measure of your progress. You may also measure hips, thighs, upper arms and chest to effectively monitor weight loss. See how many inches or centimetres you lose every four weeks or so, and adjust your diet and exercise accordingly.
- The size of clothes you fit into provides an objective measure of your weight loss progress. Each month try to fit yourself into a smaller size. You may use those in your wardrobe which you used to wear when you were leaner or else try out clothes in shops. If you try out High Street clothes stick to one cut because some stores have more generous cuts than others. For men the belt can be an effective weight loss monitoring tool and a good one as it gives an indication of the weight around the waist. Check and note the position you buckle comfortably as time goes.
Chart your progress by recording everything in a journal, and see how effective your plan is.
Monitor Your Diet
Diet is an important part of any weight management plan. Know the amount of calories you take in your diet because it is the excess which is converted to fat. Get nutritional facts on food packets, recipes and charts, and incorporate everything in your meal planning and intake. A food journal to record your food intake comes in hand. The bulk of your calories should come from nutritious, healthy food.
Exercise and healthy eating are essential for weight loss. In combination they keep the weight off for longer.
To lose the 0.5kg a week recommended by experts, you need to burn up 500 more calories a week, or consume 500 less. To increase compliance, divide the calories between diet and exercise.