Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

September 16th, 2011 | Posted by Alison Spath in Weight Loss

This is the third post in a three part series about measuring the various aspects related to weight loss to more effectively achieve weight loss success.

This series began with the line “what gets measured gets managed“.

Part 1 was about counting calories.

Part 2 was about keeping track of your work out stats.

Part 3 is going to be about measuring your weight in order to manage it.

I am of the personal opinion that if you want to get serious about losing weight, calorie counting is the best approach for real results.

In the same breath, I do understand when people really, really, really don’t want to count calories.  And if that’s you, then there’s still something that you can measure in an effort to manage your weight loss.

Skip Counting Calories and Just Get on the Scale

It is definitely possible to lose weight without counting calories or without keeping track of every last detail.  But tracking something is still useful and effective at helping you reach your weight loss goals.

With that “what gets measured gets managed” quote in mind – that “something” that you measure can be your weight.

It’s Simple

1.  Weigh yourself every day.  Weigh yourself on the same scale wearing the same “outfit”  (i.e., your birthday suit or something very close to it) with an empty bladder.  First thing in the morning is my favorite time of day to step on, but whatever time you choose, try to make it the same time every day to help reduce the fluctuations that inevitably occur.

2.  Write it down. Record your numbers, make a graph or a chart or find some other way to see the trend your numbers are on.  (You can even use The Daily Plate for weight tracking alone!)

If the numbers are lower today or generally moving in a downward fashion – keep doing what you’re doing, it’s working.

If the numbers are higher today than yesterday or aren’t going down as fast as you would like – eat less today and perhaps find some way to move more.

It’s Simple, But Powerful

When the numbers are staring you in the face, there is no question about whether or not you’re losing weight.  There is no burying your head in the sand or wondering if what you are doing is working or not.

Those three little digits on the scale can be amazingly motivating to spur you into action.  Whether that action is to stay on course or if it means doing something different than what you’re doing now – just so long as you’re doing something.

Maybe those numbers will lead you to reading more about nutrition or finding new ways to make healthy food taste good.  Maybe you’ll make a different choice about what you’re going eat for lunch today or skip going back for seconds at dinner tonight.  Perhaps you begin to dig a bit deeper and try to figure out why you’re compelled to snack at night or why you eat when you’re not truly hungry.

Whatever the case, getting on the scale regularly is a great way to measure your progress and can be an effective way to find the motivation to make the changes needed to lose weight.

It’s Powerful, But There’s a Catch

While the scale can lead you to change, the catch is you have to get on the scale regularly.  As in, every day.  Some will argue that weighing yourself every day is a bad idea and can lead to discouragement.  But I’ll take the stance that stepping on the scale daily forces you to manage your weight loss every day too.  That’s when lasting change begins and is how those changes start to stick.

Charting your numbers can be helpful in avoiding the confusion and frustration that can come from fluctuations with water weight, that time of the month (ladies) or the timing of your last meal.

Obviously there will be exceptions like travel or maybe you use the scale at the gym if you don’t have one at home.  (Go get one!)  Those are the only exceptions.  Beyond that, you have to get on the scale even on the days you don’t want to.  Especially on the days you don’t want to!  That’s what makes it work.

Eating too much at a party yesterday or drowning your sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s last night cannot be your excuse for not stepping on the scale today if this is your method of measuring your progress.  If weight loss is the goal you’re after, then you still have to get on the scale today with out failIf you don’t want to know what the scale says, that’s exactly why you’ve got to get on and look.  That’s where the power is and is where you’re going to find the motivation to make a different choice today.

Why It Works

When you’re looking that number straight in the eye, that’s when you’ll see that you are the one who is ultimately responsible for what the scale says.  That’s when you’re reminded that you’re the only one who can make that number go in the direction you want it to go.

So while this approach can get you out of counting calories, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily any easier.  Real weight loss can be challenging and hard!  If you want to be successful at losing weight, you still need some source of awareness and accountability.  If the scale is what you’re going to go use, then really use it.

Get on the scale every day, even when you don’t want to.  Confront those uncomfortable feelings that arise.  That’s where the solutions to your weight loss struggles will be found.

If daily weigh-ins are too frustrating, then consider once a week a weigh-ins.  Whatever your frequency, stick to your schedule.  You’re likely to see quicker results when you’re weighing yourself every day or even every other day, but weekly weigh-ins may be all that you need to stay on track – and that’s what really matters.  Find what works best for you and run with it.

If you choose to go this route and aren’t getting the results you want?  Well then maybe it’s time to – **ahem**start counting your calories to figure out exactly what’s going on and where you’re going wrong.

If You Are Counting Calories

In conjunction with your food journal (calories IN) and keeping track your workouts (calories OUT), the scale is a great weight loss thermostat.

If you’re losing weight at the rate that you expect, awesome!

And if you’re not, well – at least you know that you’re not.  And like our friend G.I. Joe says – knowing is half the battle.

If you’re not losing weight at all or not as quickly as you expect, you can find the answer to the question “WHY?!” in the numbers.  Chances are, if you’re not losing weight, then you’re eating too many calories.  Go back and look at your numbers and figure out where those calories are making their way in so you can figure out what to do next.

If you’re convinced that you’re doing everything right and the weight isn’t coming off, then this could be the time to visit a medical professional and investigate if a metabolic issue or underlying medical condition is the culprit.

Whatever You Do, Do Something

The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people are willing to do the things that unsuccessful people are not.

So what are you willing to do?

Further reading:

10 Strategies for Weight Loss Success (Men’s Health, Strategy #1, Weigh Yourself Often)

Prevent Weight Gain with Daily Weigh-Ins (SparkPeople, sites an interesting weight loss study from Brown University Medical School)

The Importance of Weighing Yourself Weekly (Livestrong, discusses why weighing yourself daily isn’t always necessary, but that consistency is still key)

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