Ask the Doctor: Don’t Diet and Stop Weighing Yourself

This post was originally published on January 2, 2014. It was last updated on September 18, 2017

Q. I’d like to lose weight, but no matter how much I exercise, the pounds won’t come off. Even worse, looking at the same number on the scale each day is driving me crazy! Help! What can I do?

woman on scale 200x300 Ask the Doctor: Don’t Diet and Stop Weighing Yourself Photo

A. Stop weighing yourself! Getting on the scale every day (or worse, several times a day) will make you more anxious and obsessed than being mindful of what you eat. When the needle doesn’t move (or heaven-forbid, actually shows a gain) frustration only leads to resignation and acceptance of being overweight, driving you to eat more.

If you want to measure weight loss, buy a measuring tape and follow the inches off your waist, thighs, and arms. These measurements more accurately reflect your success and often show a decrease before the scale does.

4 Easy Steps to Lose Weight Without Dieting!

There are many easy techniques that you can implement for weight loss without actually dieting! Let’s review them now.

1)  Eat At Home

This helps with your budget, as well as your bulge. Restaurants pack on the calories for taste in areas where you may not see them. Vegetables are cooked with butter and salt is added with other seasons. In addition, the basket of warm dinner rolls you see on the table while hungrily awaiting your meal may be too tempting to pass up.

Meals can be quite tasty and done quickly at home as long as they are planned ahead. Make a few meals and place them in individual portions for the freezer. Get bags of prewashed salad. Steam vegetables for a few minutes in the microwave. Grill chicken cutlets. (The George Forman Grill will sear both sides at the same time and leave the inside juicy in only 6 minutes). A survey done by Consumer Reports shows that most “successful losers” dine at home 5 nights a week.

2)  Restaurant Guide

If eating home is not an option, there are several tips to calorie-cutting meals:

  • Order an appetizer as a meal
  • Order a take-home container to be brought with the meal and divide the portion to take home before eating
  • Share a main course with a friend
  • Order a child’s portion (if allowed by the establishment)
  • Skip the salad dressing. Squeeze a lemon on the salad instead.
  • Skip the sauces and ask for the courses to be cooked dry.
  • Fresh fruit makes a great substitute for the typical desserts

If the meal is a buffet, try these techniques:

  • Choose a 10-inch salad plate instead of the 12-inch dinner plate for your meal. Remind yourself; you are going through the line only once.
  • Portion control – only one protein (chicken, fish, meat) goes on the plate and the size should not be larger than your fist
  • Have a strong breath mint or chew on a mint before the buffet. Then food won’t have the same taste appeal.

According to a study by Dr. Brian Wansink, people who ate consistently from smaller plates lost 10-20 pounds a year and saved between 100 and 200 calories each day.

3)  Cutting Urges/ Habits

  • Do you feel like you need to have that burger lunchtime when you pass by all the fast food places? Try a grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce. A nice thick and well-grilled Portobello mushroom will taste a lot like steak or hamburger.
  • Do you need that Starbucks’ coffee on the way to work? A 16 oz. cup of flavored latte is 250 calories vs. a nonfat one for 130 calories and 6 grams of fat are cut to 0. Having the coffee at home with a flavored milk substitute brings that same 16-ounce cup to 35 calories. Over time, it is savings of as much as 1000 calories a week!
  • Pace your meals. Savor the taste of your food and chew slowly (20 times per bite). Not only will you enjoy your meal more, your feeling of fullness will be triggered earlier.

4)  Drink Wisely

  • Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is not only healthy but eliminates eating urges as well. Midmorning hunger sensations have been shown to actually be synonymous with dehydration.
  • Have a sparkling water with lemon at dinner instead of the cocktails, which can eliminate as many as double the meal calories. Substitute soda for the sparkling water as well. Research showed that this alone eliminates as much as 2.5 pounds per month. If you need to have a drink with friends, alternate it with water to cut down on dehydration and save some calories at the same time.
  • Limit alcoholic beverages. In addition to the added calories, studies show that alcohol slows down the metabolism.
  • Drink green tea. This ramps up the metabolism through catechins to burn off more calories. Additionally, slowly drinking a hot beverage takes away the urge to eat more.

As you can see, if you take simple steps each day, you will not only lose weight but also feel better.

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