Wednesday, 9 January 2013

You Don't Need a New Diet you Need an Effective Strategy

In years gone past, people prepared for Christmas by eating more plainly during advent. These days things have switched around and the month of self-denial is the month after Christmas as people try to shed their Christmas weight.

There's an abundance of diet plans these days. Many are indistinguishable from one another; others provide the opposite advice. But here's the thing: what most people need isn't the best available diet, because most of us that weigh more than we'd like know that we either need to eat less, or eat better things.

No, what most people need is the right strategy, and by that I mean the one that works best for them. For some it is the January/pre-holiday "fast". Getting rid of the excess after Christmas or before the beach. For others it's the crash diet. Statistically it's likely it will all go back on again, but it brings a measure of balance and at least stops things getting worse.The key is knowing what will work for you.

For me I can remember the moment I realised what needed to happen if I was going to lose weight, and 500+ days later I'm about 50lbs lighter. My solution may well not work for you - your strategy might be something else - but rather than write my "one weird tip" in an advert and make you pay for it, you can have it for free. Here it is in its most economical form.

Record your weight every morning with digital scales.

"Record" because your memory fades and you'll lose the firm knowledge of where you started. Sometimes it's even hard to remember yesterday's. Plus if you do it on a spreadsheet and you're a stats geek like me you can make pretty pictures. "Morning" because that's when your weight is most consistent (and lowest). "Every morning" because my (and I assume your) weight fluctuates far more widely than I (you probably) imagined. People often say they have lost or put on a pound since last week, but that's largely meaningless - it's less than the weight of a pint of water and might simply reflect what happened that day. And this is why I stress "digital scales". Analogue scales are just too inaccurate relative to the actual rate at which weight loss is occurring. There's minimal encouragement/chastisement to be had.

Recording it every day means that not only do you have an accurate picture of what is happening as well as maximising your motivation, it also means you learn about how your body changes with weight. I've discovered I put on weight very easily, but losing it takes a while. Unless that is after I've eaten a big meal (or five) when the weight drops fairly quickly, not because I'm getting less fat, but just because that extra tonnage is taking a while to pass all the way through.

But as I keep saying that strategy won't work for everyone. Other people do far better with a strategy such as WeightWatchers, which might be because of the simplicity of the points system, or be because of the group support aspect. For others it's more trips to the gym.

So if you want to lose weight this January think about your strategy, What will work for you? And if you've no obvious ones coming through try recording your weight every morning on digital scales.

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