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What Gets Measured Gets Managed?

March 18, 2011

Thank you for all your get well messages – I feel much better today and even managed to get my gym workout in, which I was very happy about. I hate getting colds, but in general I tend to recover from them quite quickly so I’m very lucky.

In my job we’re obsessed by measurement and the title of the post is a phrase we use quite a lot. I thought it quite apt to write about measurement today for a couple of reasons. Firstly I’ve read a few posts recently with a measurement theme to them – whether it be calorie counting, the numbers on your Garmin or what the scales say. Secondly, over the past few days I’ve been struggling myself with whether I should go back to measurement.

You can find my whole story on my about me page, but in short I haven’t weighed myself or calorie counted since last August when I last went to Weight Watchers (I’ve been weighed a couple of times during doctors’ check-ups since then). I gauge how well I’m maintaining my weight by how my clothes feel and I use measures like how fit and strong I feel and the condition of my skin, hair and nails. When I’ve been losing weight I’ve found it vital to get weighed regularly to provide feedback on how I’m doing, but I’ve never weighed myself at home. When I lost weight in my mid-teens the nurse at my local GP’s surgery weighed me every two weeks and when I lost it more recently I attended Weight Watchers most weeks. I also counted calories (or “points”) when I went to Weight Watchers. However, I realised that I’d drive myself crazy by carrying on doing those things and I wanted to eat a healthy diet without worrying about every morsel that went into my mouth.

Lately my clothes are feeling a bit tighter and I’ve found it difficult to stick to a healthy diet as much as I’d like (I’ve had a couple of weekend blow-outs). Yesterday morning I decided I would weigh myself and then track my weight for a few weeks in order to lose a few pounds. I was surprised that the scales said I was two pounds lighter than the last time I was weighed. Yet, my clothes definitely feel tighter. One of the fundamental problems with scales are that they all read differently. I also weighed myself naked at 6am (maybe TMI, but relevant), whilst the last time I was weighed it was the evening and I was fully clothed.

Yesterday I also decided to track my calorie intake using a free trial of Weight Loss Resources. I got half way through adding what I had for breakfast and realised that there was no way I wanted to count calories every day – it takes so blinking long! I actually was a bit light on calories yesterday, but I ate less than I normally would because I felt a bit poorly. I think on a normal day I would be hitting about the right numbers.

For me the problem with any kind of measurement is that it can very easily become an obsession. A little bit of determination and obsession was appropriate when I needed to lose weight (my BMI was above 30), but my life doesn’t need to be consumed by numbers.

I’ve had time to reflect and feel that I do want to lose a few pounds and want my clothes to fit better again. I’ve set a few sensible ground rules though – I’ll weigh myself the same time every week on the same scales and only once a week. Once I’ve hit my target I won’t continue to weigh-in every week, with the aim of maintaining using my current methods. Oh … and I won’t be counting calories.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2011 8:09 pm

    Its true. My therapist always tells me that there is no point in daily weigh ins as so many things can contribute to weight shifts and fluctuations (water, how much food youve consumed the day before, how much youve drank, if youve been to the toilet, etc), and it can totally mess with your head. Ideally, Id say scales should be banned, end of, but if you really have to weigh yourself, every week or every other week is fine, as long as you done become obsessed, because it can so easily happen. And I also agree on the counting calories life is far too short!

    Much love x

  2. March 18, 2011 9:09 pm

    I used to count all the time, its just automatic for me because I had to for medical nutrition therapy and my other courses… You are so right though, it can easily become obsession!

  3. March 18, 2011 9:55 pm

    I use WLR, but you can create recipes and food plans which have all the food in them, so it only takes ma about 5 mins to select my daily food from my favourites.
    BUt I agree it is not for everyone- ideally I would just eat healthily but I find it hard still to work out how much I need, I either eat too little when I exercise, or too much when I dont, and the middle ground is hard to find. Plus it is motivating me against eating biscuits etc at work when I know I have to enter them later!

    • March 18, 2011 10:08 pm

      I totally agree that there is a real value in tracking and I know from experience with Weight Watchers that it does gte quicker. It just not for me at the moment.

  4. March 19, 2011 1:44 pm

    I did try the one day trial of wlr and I agree, theres no way that I could calorie count every day – as I eat so varied it would be more difficult than having just a few fave recipes pre loaded and far more bother than it would be worth, for me at least. I think it sounds like you have a good plan in place to take you forward 🙂

  5. March 19, 2011 8:17 pm

    Ugh, I am terrible for numbers obsessions (hello Garmin girl!). I think if you know you have a predisposition to that, then yeah, it’s better to avoid putting yourself in a position where it will kick off again (leave the Garmin at home Alison!)

    Have I somehow missed it in your post? I don’t see a plan in lieu of calorie or points tracking…

    • March 20, 2011 10:33 am

      The plan is to avoid refined carbs and chocolate and eat sensible portions. On reflection, writing down what I eat, even if it doesn’t have calories next to it would be helpful.

  6. March 20, 2011 10:28 pm

    I used to count calories a lot, but it was getting out of hand. Now I just eat healthier and make better choices. It looks like you have a great plan in place!

  7. March 20, 2011 10:35 pm

    I can REALLY relate to this post. I plan on writing my own post regarding calorie counting etc. soon, as its something that does affect me, just as I know it does a lot of people who read my blog.
    In regards to the losing a few pounds, its great that you are approaching it healthily! Even though it might take a while, not crash dieting, and instead cutting out the occasional ‘treat’ is the way to go!
    Oh, and i’m glad you’re feeling a bit better 😀

  8. March 20, 2011 10:59 pm

    This is a really interesting post – I think counting every calorie could get to where it was more about that than what you’re eating, if that makes sense!
    I think your way of doing things, all round, is definitely the right one 🙂

  9. DonnyFan permalink
    March 21, 2011 12:05 pm

    I think that to be successful with weight loss/maintaining that some kind of accountability is necessary, whether it be the number on the scale, calorie counting (and believe me, once you get into the swing of it on WLR it doesn’t take long to put all your food into your diary as someone else mentioned, you create your own recipes etc), points, syns, etc etc.

    The thing to watch for is that it doesn’t become obsessive because then it can be quite detrimental.

    I had a conversation with friends over the weekend where some of us weigh ALL our food, right down to the gram, and others will be a bit more laid back about it.

    It’s all about finding the right balance for YOU.


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