nutrition

A Simple Trick to Keep Weight Off: Weigh Yourself Regularly

weighing yourself

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know how hard it is. That’s why it’s so important to keep the excess weight from coming on in the first place. And one method for doing that is to weigh yourself regularly. I know there are lots of opinions on this with some experts saying to never weigh yourself but I think regular weigh-ins are helpful for keeping you on track.

You might think it’s better to just see how your clothes fit. If they’re getting snug, it’s time to cut back. But this doesn’t always work. Clothes stretch and people like to use the “it must have shrunk in the dryer” excuse when pants get too tight. A scale is more reliable.  And it seems to get people to take action more than the tight-clothing approach.

How often should you weigh in? Some people like to weigh themselves every day, but I think that’s a lot. And once a week weigh-ins can be misleading. For example, just one day of salty meals before a weigh-in could add on a couple pounds of excess water. So I tell people to weigh in 2-3 times a week. That way you can get an average for the week.

If you see your weight creeping up by a couple pounds, take action. Cut portions a little and bump up your activity level. These small changes can help get rid of those few extra pounds. And losing 1-2 pounds now is much easier than trying to lose 20-30 pounds later.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


How to Break Through a Weight Loss Wall

We’ve all been there. You’re working out and eating right, but suddenly the number on the scale isn’t moving down anymore. It’s just standing still. As the Avaglianos enter their last challenge they may find they’ve hit this weight loss wall. It’s very common and extremely discouraging, but there’s a reason for it. Perhaps the first big drop in weight was mostly water or your metabolism has slowed down. It’s even likely that now that you weigh less, you are burning fewer calories.

No matter what the case, don’t get discouraged because other changes may be happening. You may be losing inches and not pounds—which is just as important. Also you’re eating better and exercising so your overall health is going to be improved.

To get back on the weight-loss track, though, you’ll have to make some adjustments. Consider boosting your workouts (either in length or intensity) to burn more calories. Alternately, you may need to lower the number of calories you are taking in. Finally, make sure your weight loss goals are realistic. After all, if you can’t maintain the weight loss you’re striving for, there’s probably no point in losing it in the first place.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


Peggy, Week #21: Diet Dangers on the Road

The Avagliano Family

This has been a long week emotional week that resulted in some diet slip-ups, but overall I think Peter and I did pretty well. We took a 2,700-mile road trip to drop off our oldest three children at college. The week of scheduled drop-offs coincided with Amanda’s band camp week, so Amanda would have to stay at home.

First stop, Michael at UNCSA in Winston-Salem, NC where he will be studying Design and Production (technical theater). Michael is a 17-year-old freshman. Michael’s move-in time was 8 a.m. on Tuesday. This meant that we had to leave NJ on Monday, and spend the night in Winston-Salem. We stayed at an Embassy Suites hotel, which had a nice breakfast buffet; the eggs were cooked to order. The school ran the move-in better than any other college we went to. We pulled up and unloaded our car, and the RAs moved the stuff to the hallway outside of the rooms! The dorms are definitely old-school, with residents in each hallway sharing only two showers and toilets!

We had the opportunity to meet Michael’s roommate and his parents while moving in. 
A parent orientation filled the day, and ended with a BBQ. We spent another night in North Carolina and checked in on Michael to insure that he had everything he needed.

Next stop, FSU in Tallahassee, where Katie is trying out for the Marching Chiefs. (In High School, she marched with the Marching Braves, so making the marching band in college would be a promotion.) Katie is a sophomore, but has spent the first year abroad, so it was her first year on campus, too. We did not have a lot of room in the car, so we had to buy most of the stuff for her room in Tallahassee.

Katie could not move in until Friday night, so we had all day on Thursday to shop for her dorm. Katie had to go to practice at 7:30 a.m., but her move-in time was scheduled for 8 p.m. Why would a college think this is a good move-in time? Christina, Peter and I spent the time exploring Tallahassee. We picked up Katie at 5:50 p.m., and discovered that we could move in a little early, at 7 p.m. So we ate dinner, and moved her in. We spent the night in Tallahassee, and left shortly after we dropped Katie at practice.

Our last stop was Ringling College in Sarasota, where my daughter, Christina is studying Motion Design. She left most of her stuff in storage, so we simply helped her to move in. It was her first apartment-style dorm, so we stopped at Walmart and picked up a few essentials–plates, glasses, etc.

Our 2,700-mile road trip from New Jersey should have been a good opportunity to stick to my diet. I loaded the car with fruit and celery on the first day, but I soon found myself purchasing a candy bars at the rest stop and eating a whole bagel for breakfast.

After a day of indulgence, I realized that I still want to feed my feelings, rather than simply feel them. Peter and I made an effort to try harder. We did manage to make some healthy choices: yogurt sundaes instead of ice-cream blizzards. Going to the gym at the hotels and even swimming one day in the pool. Not bad, right?

How do you stay away from tempting foods when you’re on the road? Post a comment and tell me here.


Challenge #6: The Grand Finale

healthy family challenge 2012

It all comes down to this. After five months, the Lehmans and Avaglianos will have to use all the skills they’ve learned before a final weigh-in. Who will come out victorious? And who will win the entire Healthy Family Challenge 2012? Check in every day as our families head toward the finish line.


Cut the “Diet” Foods

When I started working with the Lehman family, I noticed that they ate a lot of “diet” foods. I call them “diet” foods because they are specifically marketed to dieters. These foods are lower in fat or calories or claim to actually cause weight loss (e.g. “Eat this for a week and lose weight!”).

The problem I have with these foods is that many of the ingredients are not real food. Look at the label and you’ll likely see food dyes, artificial flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated (trans) fats and one or more artificial sweeteners. Ironically, some studies that have shown that artificial sweeteners can actually increase hunger and cause weight gain! A similar link was found with fake fats.

Another problem I have with “diet” food products is that people use them as an excuse to overeat later. They figure if they only had a diet soda and fat free chips for lunch, they can splurge at dinner. They end up eating far more calories than if they had skipped the low calorie chips and diet soda and just had a regular lunch!

If you tend to buy a lot of foods aimed at dieters, try replacing at least half of them with real, whole foods:

  • Choose whole fruit over fruit-flavored “diet” snack bars or cereals.
  • Buy plain yogurt and flavor it yourself instead of buying flavored “light” yogurt.

If you’re not sure what to buy, here’s a rule I often tell Tiffany: Always read ingredient panels. If you can’t buy those ingredients in the grocery store, go find a different food. That simple rule will quickly shorten your grocery list to basic, whole, healthy foods.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.