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Weight a month

The more observant (or obsessive) readers among you may have noticed something. I have not posted my weight today. No, this is not because I’ve removed my scale’s batteries in fear. It’s actually secret step four in PastaQueen’s Super Cool Strategies to Get Her Groove Back! I’m changing to monthly weigh-ins.

There are many different philosophies on how frequently you should weigh yourself: monthly, weekly, daily, or not at all. Now that I’m switching to monthly, I’ll have tried them all. My philosophy? Choose what is best for you at the time. Different approaches work for different people depending on your situation and your state of mind.

Not weighing myself at all led me to gain 200 pounds. I do not recommend this method.

When I started losing weight three years ago, I weighed myself weekly. This worked well for about a year and a half. My body was so huge that it burned a lot of calories. I could easily lose 3 or 4 pounds a week and do a happy dance every Saturday as I stepped off the scale. The numbers almost always went down, I was positively reinforced, and my fresh and vulnerable little psyche didn’t have to freak out every day over small weight changes.

But as I got smaller, my weight loss slowed down. I reached a point where the number every Saturday was not a reliable indicator of weight loss. Weight fluctuates over the week and during the course of the day due to silly little things like how much water you’re retaining or what part of the menstrual cycle you’re at. It was possible that I’d lost fat, but my weight was the same. At that point I started to weigh myself daily and looked at the average over the past 7-10 days. My weight would bob up and down by a couple pounds day to day, but I understood why. I was confident in my abilities to lose weight so I wasn’t freaking out over the daily fluctuations and gauging the process on a daily basis gave me a better sense of where I was than the weekly weighing had.

Right now I’ve reached a point where my biggest barrier is mental. As long as I know I weigh under 180, I find it more permissible to eat an extra cookie or have another cup of yogurt in the evenings. Once I go over 180, my warning bells start ringing and I go back into weight-loss mode. I become more careful about what I eat and I’m more diligent about exercise. But once I start seeing 176 or 175 show up on the scale, I start slacking again. Some people in the comments theorized that I’d hit my body’s most comfortable weight, but I believe I’ve really hit my mind’s most comfortable weight. So, I have to mess with my mind if I’m going to make any more progress. I was talking to my brother about this problem and we tried coming up with solutions.

“I could try screwing with the scale so it weighs me 10 pounds heavier than I am. But even if I could figure out how to do that without breaking a $60.00 piece of electronic equipment, I’d still know the reading was fake and just mentally deduct it in my head.” I told him.

“Why don’t you get a bag of something that you don’t know the weight of and hold that when you weigh in?” He suggested.

“Hmmm, that might work. But after awhile I’ll be able to compare day to day and know that I’ve lost x amount of pounds and then I’ll just subtract that from my last known weight.” Damn my math skills!

Then it occurred to me that the answer was completely obvious and I was too stupid to see it. I could just stop weighing myself. It’s a somewhat dangerous idea because it could completely backfire. If I start gaining weight, I won’t have that feedback from the scale to know I need to adjust. However, I will have other feedback, like the fit of my clothes. I can take my measurements too. And best yet, I won’t be able to tell myself I can have another fudge pop because I weigh under 180 since I’ll have no idea how much I actually weigh.

So, January shall now be known as the month without weigh-ins. I’ve known other bloggers who have done this and none of them exploded into the Stay Puft Marshmallow man in just a month. On February 1st we’ll see how it goes. Until then, the sidebar shall remain as silent and no beeps shall emit from my scale.

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31 Comments

sheddingpounds • January 5, 2008 at 10:31 am

pastaqueen, I hope this really helps. :)

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K • January 5, 2008 at 10:39 am

I think your reasoning is very sound, and I hope the new method works.

The only reason that wouldn’t work for me: I would forget about weighing myself ever again. I weigh myself every Monday (in theory) and I still don’t always remember to do it… I get the feeling you may be a tiny bit more organised, though!

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Dianh Soar • January 5, 2008 at 10:46 am

Excellent post Pasta Queen…when I was doing WW and had the weekly weigh in, being a slow loser, like maybe a half pound a week, the loss would often get buried in the bodily flucuations. Now I check my weight approx. every 10 days because I’m trying to loose some regained weight. Once I get 20 of the 30 off (I’m halfway right now) I’ll probably go to once a month because I know it will slow down considerably.

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Clare • January 5, 2008 at 10:51 am

This may be hard at first, but it is great discipline! I had to learn this when I went from weekly Weight Watcher weigh-ins to monthly to keep my lifetime membership. It taught me not to obsess so much and to just live, for goshsakes, without worrying that the scale would go up the next day. I’m guessing you’ll use your clothes a lot as your guide–I’ve gotten so I can say, “Oops, pants a bit snug–better go on the wagon before my next weigh-in!” and it all works itself out. I also am more loving to myself–”giving” myself a couple pounds to play with.

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Melsky • January 5, 2008 at 10:53 am

I think I may start weighing myself once a month and keeping a chart of it. Thanks for the inspiration.

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Donna B • January 5, 2008 at 11:19 am

Sound idea that I plan to put in the back of my mind once I meet my goal. Right now I have 80#’s to lose and need the encouragement of the scale. People who have a lot of weight to lose should gain knowledge and strength by the time they get close to goal about their “changed” eating habits that they should be 100% comfortable with your philosophy. Good Luck!

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kyle • January 5, 2008 at 11:22 am

Good luck with your new strategy! I’m looking forward to seeing if it works for you and I have a feeling it will.

For me, I have to weigh myself daily. On the days I don’t weigh myself those are the days I eat the most, and then when I overeat the next day I say, “I won’t weigh myself. I’ll give myself a day to eat healthy and compensate for eating poorly yesterday.” And then not weighing myself leads to vicious overeating again. It never fails. That’s why, even on days when I’ve eaten 6,000 calories the night before I still make myself get on that scale even when I don’t like what I see.

I figured out what usually works for me so I hope you can find the same to help you get your groove back :)

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Comrade Gogo • January 5, 2008 at 11:24 am

This new strategy just might do the trick. You seem to know yourself pretty well, and this could be a tactic that circumvents your mental block. I’ll be rooting for you and I’m really interested to see how this affects (hopefully positively!) your efforts and mentality :).

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Kalyn • January 5, 2008 at 11:32 am

Interesting. I know, some people claim I am obsessive/compulsive, but most of the time I weigh myself every morning (before coffee of course!) I keep a little “week-at-a-glance” calendar on my kitchen counter and write down what I weigh. I do forget sometimes, especially when my weight is right where I’d like it to be. When it creeps up a few pounds and I’m doing phase one (like now!) it helps keep me on track. Works for me, but I think the biggest rule about the psychology of dieting is that there aren’t a lot of rules; everyone has to do what works for them at that time. I am currently working on getting my exercise groove back too. I got really sick in November/December and pretty much quit exercising, and it feels good to get back to it, but it’s always hard when you first get started! Luckily I’ve been doing this long enough that I know it will get better!

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Chubby Chick • January 5, 2008 at 11:59 am

Good luck! Sounds like a great plan! I can’t wait to find out how it worked for you. :)

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Kate • January 5, 2008 at 12:56 pm

When I first started my journey, I weighed once a week, and like you, that was great, because I was losing, but as I lost weight, the losses slowed down, and therefore so did my motivation, so I started to weigh daily, then I just got obsessed. Never a good thing to jump on the scale 18 times a day. But now I am back to once a week, and it seems to be good for me.

Hopefully this is exactly what you need!

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r • January 5, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Can I be honest? I can’t say i get it. It’s of course your body, but i’d wait till a few months after the book comes out to do something like that.

Studies show daily weigh-ins prevent regain. Among daily weighers, only 39 percent regained 5 pounds or more, but 68 percent of those who weighed themselves less frequently did.

http://health.dailynewscentral.com/content/view/0001787/63/

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April • January 5, 2008 at 1:16 pm

It sounds like you know your body well and you’ve accomplished a lot, it’s ok to relax a little bit. Stressing over your weight day to day isn’t great for your mental health. Hope this helps you get back in your groove, reading your blog helps me keep mine.

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G.G. • January 5, 2008 at 1:28 pm

I think what you’ve described is an excellent plan. Stepping away from daily weigh-ins and focusing on following the principles that helped you lose the weight in the first place may help you get over that plateau or block or whatever it is (boredom, maybe?) you’re experiencing now.

One word of advice, though? I’d pick the measurements-tracking method over relying on how your clothes fit. As someone who regained a lot of weight, I can tell you it’s amazing how one’s brain can play tricks when it comes to how your clothing feels–at least mine did. There’s something about body measurements that is concrete and objective–judging how your clothes fit may be too subjective.

Good luck!

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Lora Ramirez • January 5, 2008 at 1:29 pm

I’ve read several articles regarding daily weigh-ins and for a while I was doing exactly that. Yet, I wanted to bang my head in frustration because though I ate exactly the same meals and snacks I had a weight fluctuation of plus or minus 2 to 5lbs. in a 24 hour period! What I do now is weigh myself every 3 days and write in a food journal almost daily. I think you should do what makes you comfortable with your body and spirit. :)

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TOWR • January 5, 2008 at 2:29 pm

I’ve tried every method: weighing, not weighing, weekly, daily, monthly, blah! I think each one has worked for me depending mentally on where I was in my weight loss. Right now I’m not planning on weighing until the end of the month, but it’s more out of fear than anything. I really don’t want to know what the scale has to say to me right now so I’ve muzzled it by hiding it at the top of my closet. I’m sticking to what I know works for my body and after a month of that, I shouldn’t mind too much what the scale says. Long story short: I support you in your decision. :)

PS I saw a mango slicer thing yesterday at the store and thought of you. I glanced around for an apple corer/slicer but none were to be found.

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Dinah Soar • January 5, 2008 at 3:07 pm

“r” made a good point about waiting to change your strategy until after the book came out…but I have 2 comments…one, your goal was not primarily to publish a book and live up to the book, your goal was to loose weight and the book is a testament of sorts of your journey/experience…the book should reflect you, not you reflecting the book…if you’d gain some of your weight back and not be at half of your previous weight would it impact your book deal?

The other thing, the artile “r” referenced says reasearch SUGGESTS—which is different than proves—that those who weigh daily fare better.

Just my 2 cents worth, or should I say 2 cents more since I commented earlier? :-p

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sharon • January 5, 2008 at 3:23 pm

What an excellent idea.

I go by clothing fit, FWIW. Jeans without stretch, straight from the (hot, no cheating) dryer work well for this.

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Mark • January 5, 2008 at 3:45 pm

I think you should shift to daily weigh-ins (and post them).

A single monthly data point is going to be meaningless anyway. Unless you take your weight daily over the week leading up to the end of the month and average it, it’s not going to be that accurate, and interpreting it will be difficult (but on the other hand, the tea-leaf reading will make an easy blog post).

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Melanie • January 5, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Monthly weigh-in sounds like a good idea. I think my curiosity would get the best of me personally. Good luck! If that doesn’t work for you, you could always make 175 your new 180. Just an idea…

PQ – I tried making 175 my new 180, but I just couldn’t make it work. It was like trying to get myself to believe in the Easter Bunny.

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Cindy • January 5, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Thanks for this post…it has given me something to think about, as usual. I have gained over the fall and I am struggling to get back on track. Thinking about the weigh-in thing, and its impact on the whole process makes me realize that I REALLY need to stick to the daily weigh-in, as my grip on this is tenuous, at best. And I have to get better at the food journal. I try to write daily, and when I don’t, I do my best to “catch up.” But lately, it is harder to be 100% honest with myself. This si tricky, because I am the only one who sees it, but somehow I am too ashamed to write everything (or I almost leave something out, but then fill it in, etc…). This “shame” is part of the whole problem, I think.

Bottom line—-I am not nearly as ready as you to make a bold move like weighing in monthly. But you have a good reminder~ everyone needs to do what works for THEMSELVES! So for me, it will be daily weigh-in, daily journaling, and daily mantras, to keep me on track.

Best of luck with your latest venture!

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BrightAngel • January 5, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Recently you said:

“I do know that part of the reason I’m eating too much…is because at that moment I care more about eating than I do about weight maintenance.”

I’ve been maintaining a very large loss for the past 23 months, and I know that this is ALWAYS the reason for weight gain.

CAUTION: To my ears, your comments about:

(1) not working toward losing your last 20 lbs to Goal, and

(2) only weighing once a month

sound very much like DENIAL sneaking into the picture.

Remember, Denial is like sleep.

You don’t know you’ve been in it until you wake up.

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Happy • January 5, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Hey, not weighing myself led *me* to gain weight, too! I too do not suggest that approach. What a coincidence.

I think this monthly weigh-in idea is an interesting one, and given your specific barrier it just may work.

Another commenter mentioned that they’d never get on the scale again, and that would be my fear for myself, but maybe with the accountability of the blog you won’t have that problem. I think taking your measurements throughout the month is a very good plan, though. It would keep you focused in between weigh-ins.

It seems like once you get to your final goal, going back to daily weigh-ins might be wise. Granted, I say that because it would be wise for me, which doesn’t necessarily mean it would be wise for you.

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ann • January 5, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Good luck!

It actually sounds like your body is ready for a brief rest before losing the rest of the weight – that happened to me, I remember – my body took “breaks” when I would losing nothing or next to nothing for a few months.

Maybe just count on keeping your weight stable for the next three months or so – and then gear up to lose again.

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Marshmallow • January 5, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Is it wrong that I focused on the ‘Marshmallow man’ reference at the bottom and thought you were talking about me? O_O

Whatever suits you at the time, I agree. I have three running sets of data – weekly, daily, and monthly; all of them have their pros and cons. It’ll be interesting to see how you benefit from monthly weigh ins :-D

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Manic Mommy • January 5, 2008 at 10:53 pm

Hey there! THank you so much for stopping by Manic Mommy’s and leaving the nice comment. I appreciate you wanting to help the blood cause!

Also, when it gets closer to your book debut time, PLEASE let me know and I would love to promote it on Manic Mommy/do a review/whatever I can to help out! I am really excited to read your book and I think it will be a great motivator for every one of us out there trying to lead a healthier lifestyle… which, on that note, I have lost 7.6 pounds on WW since December 1!!!

: )

Happy New Year, and thanks again so much for the comment and the help!

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Shawna • January 6, 2008 at 2:45 am

Hi Pasta Queen. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but am a first time commenter, and I can empathize with your mental block. I have very similar stats, about the same height and struggling with the same weight range. For me, every time I hit around 170, I have a mental weight loss breakdown and bounce back up 5 or 10 lbs.

I mostly wanted to say that I hope your experiment with monthly weigh-ins is a success. I have recently discovered that regularly taking my waist measurement is a good motivator, at least for me. It doesn’t have the negative stigma attached to it than the scale has.

I am starting my own experiment as well … I am no longer waiting to do anything “until I lose X pounds”. I will buy clothes that fit me now, not 5,10,15 lbs from now. I will try out new recipes now even if they are not as diet-perfect as grilled chicken breast. Etc.

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Mia • January 6, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Good for you trying something new. Not weighing has been a really good thing for me, not only emotionally, but also fitness wise. That said, I really don’t think there’s a “right” way to deal with the scale, it depends on the individual, like you said.

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Zentient • January 8, 2008 at 10:30 am

The “best diet tips” range from “throw out your scale” to “weigh daily or you’re in peril”. What’s the truth? The scale is a tool, to be used to benefit YOU, and how you use it can change over time.

If monthly weigh-ins don’t work, try something else or go back to what you were doing. No big risk, just try it and learn from it, like you’ve been doing all along in your spirited adventure!

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Stephanie Quilao • January 9, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Very insightful distinction, “your body’s comfortable weight versus your mind’s comfortable weight.” Those really are two different things.

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Jim Purdy • January 13, 2008 at 11:42 am

Monthly? I think that I need feedback more often than that, usually every day. When I go too long between weighing, I sometimes get a bad surprise when I finally do get back on the scales.

Good luck. I’ll be eagerly watching to see how you do.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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