Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Damage Control Scale

Ideally, when you make diet changes to improve health and body composition, they should be permanent.   Now, it's normal to crave and occasionally indulge in some of those foods from your old diet, but how much is too much?  Simply put, I used my scale to find out. 

What I Did

I started weighing myself daily.  As mentioned in my last blog, I recently lost 12 lbs and am weighing about 179 lbs now [1].  Assuming I regularly strength train, I find that my optimal physique seems to be between 178-183 lbs.  As long as I fall within that range, I do not concern myself with fluctuations from the previous day - this is natural with constant changes in water mass.  I live my life as usual and eat as I enjoy (typically a diet of vegetables, fish, eggs, meat, and fruit with the occasional dessert).  On the morning that I find myself at or above 184, I pay close attention to my diet until returning to the desired range.

As a mesomorph, I have the ability to become fairly thin or overfat [1, 2].  This system not only allows me to enjoy my daily life without stressing over the minute details of what I eat, it also serves as a reminder that I am never "above" returning to the overfat physique that plagued me as a child and in my mid 20s.  Since employing this strategy, I have exceeded 184 lbs. only once, and some minor and immediate diet improvements quickly returned me to the desired zone.

Try It for Yourself

If you are interested in using the scale as a damage control tool, here are my suggestions:
  1. Once getting to a physique that you are happy with, weigh yourself every morning for a few days and take note of the range of fluctuation.
  2. Come up with a weight range that you feel comfortable staying in.  Make a promise to yourself that you will not stress over changes within this zone - remember: fluctuation is normal!  
  3. Determine a wake-up call weight, a weight that will prompt increased attention to your diet and lifestyle (Note: this concept is not for those who are in the first six months of a strength training routine, as these people are likely gaining several pounds of lean tissue).
  4. Weigh yourself every morning and live your life without the concern of how many calories or carbs you are eating.  Eat real foods, strength train regularly, and if you are not adhering to your diet as much as you need to, the scale will alert you.


Floriana said...

That's a great nip it in the bud sort of strategy. I have no doubt this works really well for maintenance. I'll remember that for when I come to that stage.

A lot of people find it helpful to weight every day during weight loss, too, but my own experience has not been so great with it. I did it for a while, but had to stop when the number directly influenced my mood for the day. That was a bit too obsessive for my comfort.

Dr. Sean Preuss said...

Hey Floriana,

That's my concern: that people put too much stock into slight fluctuations, whether weight loss or maintenance. I like the daily weighing-in because it makes me accountable for all of my dietary actions, but I don't stress over slight changes and realize many do.

Floriana said...


Perhaps you could blog about that - share your thoughts on how to get into the right mindset and not stress over the daily fluctuations.