Updated: Aug 14
The one thing that all weight loss and diet programs have in common is that they use the scale as the success indicator. In other words, if the scale moves down, the program is working, and you feel successful; if the scale does not move down, then the program is not working, and you feel like a failure.
I know what you are thinking; the whole reason a person goes on a diet or joins some weight loss program is to lose weight. Of course, you will use the scale as your success indicator. Isn't it the goal of any weight loss or diet program to lose weight?
How am I supposed to measure progress and see if what I am doing is working?
On the surface, that makes a good argument, but if you dig a little deeper, you will see that using the scale as the success indicator almost always backfires, and let me explain why.Most people need to change between 3 to 5 habits to lose weight. Most weight loss programs help people change all the necessary habits, all at once, to see results fast. In most cases, the scale moves down, and people feel successful, but what happens then? 95% of people who lose weight with those methods burn out by too much change and gain the weight back. So that is the problem with making all the necessary changes in your life all at once. Although you saw the scale move down and felt successful, you still burned out and quit.As you might have heard me say many times before, the only way to achieve sustainable weight loss is to make permanent changes in your daily habitual behaviors.
The best way to make permanent changes in your daily habitual behaviors is to work on changing one habit at a time.But here is the problem with that approach if you use the scale as your success indicator. As I mentioned before, on average most people need to change between 3 to 5 habits before they start to lose weight.So, let's say after developing the first habit, the scale does not move, so then you develop the second habit, but the scale still does not move. Using the scale as your success indicator might frustrate you and make you feel that this is not working. If you are one of those people, who needs to change at least 4 habits before you lose weight, so even after changing the 3rd habit, you don't see weight loss, chances are you will feel like this is not working, and you will end up quitting.
So you see whether you lose weight the fast way or the right way, chances are you will end up quitting if you use the scale as your success indicator.So what is the solution? Don't use the scale as your success indicator; instead, use your progress on the habit you are trying to develop. I understand that weight loss is the program's ultimate goal, but keep in mind that weight gain is only a symptom of your habitual behaviors.
Your habits are the real problem, so your successes indicator should be on how you are progressing on changing the habits that got you overweight in the first place. The only thing the scale will tell you is if you changed enough habits to lose weight.Let me give you an example of how I track progress with my clients. After the initial consultation, where I identify all the healthy habits they are missing, which we need to develop, we list them in order of importance and start with the first one.
So let's say for this example, the first healthy behavior we want to develop is the exercise habit. I don't expect for a second that somebody who does not exercise at all will start to exercise and become active 5 days per week. So, instead, we start slow. The first week we want to make sure that you walk 3x for at least 5 minutes each time and you do some form of weight training at least once. As long as you do that the first week, we consider that a successful week. The following week we want to step it up, and let's say you end up walking 4x that week of at least 5 minutes, and you ended up doing 2 resistance training workouts. That is great; this is another successful week because you made progress. You exercised more than you did the previous week.
The idea is to get to the point that you do some form of aerobics, like walking 4 to 5 times per week of 20 minutes or more each time. Also, we want you to get to the point that you do some form of resistance training 2x per week. As long as you make progress towards that, consider yourself successful. Once we have developed the habit of exercising, we move to the next healthy habit, and we follow the same process. As long as we are making progress toward developing that habit, we are successful. As far as the scale goes, we do a weigh-in after developing each habit.
If the scale did not move after developing the first habit, it does not mean we are failing; it means we have not changed enough habits.And this is how we move from habit to habit until we have changed enough habits to affect the weight and health. The one thing to keep in mind during the process is that it's never about whether or not you can lose weight; it's about how many habits you need to change before you start to lose weight.