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Old 04-24-2006, 04:54 PM
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Default 6 Stupid Health Mistakes: Scale; Friend or Foe?

2. You Avoid the Scale
For some women, the only thing in the house gathering more dust than the treadmill is the scale. "I have scale-phobia," admits one woman. "I have this thing about not weighing more than 132 pounds, but I haven't looked at my scale in months, so I don't really know how much I weigh."

She isn't the only queen of denial. "It always strikes me as funny how many women in my practice won't get on the scale," says Prevention advisor Mary Jane Minkin, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist in New Haven, CT. "They just refuse. And I always say, 'Why don't you get on the scale, and I'll look and you don't.'"

Doctors call scale-phobia an avoidance behavior. The idea behind it: If I don't know for sure that I gained weight, maybe I didn't. You're most likely to duck the scale after a few days, weeks, or months of eating whatever you darn well please.

"It's typical for people not to want feedback on the part of their behavior that's not going well," says Kelly Brownell, PhD, director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. "For some people, getting back on the scale can be a help. The trick is knowing whether or not it will motivate you."

If you're trying to lose weight, you may need the kind of feedback the scale provides, Brownell says. If you weigh yourself regularly, you can notice a gain when it's easier to shed--at 3 pounds, say, instead of 15. But it's important not to get so obsessed with the numbers that you're weighing yourself once or twice daily. Scales do lie. Your weight can vary from day to day--even hour to hour. You don't want to be discouraged when, despite all your best efforts, you put on 2 pounds between 6 am and 6 pm.

The Fix
Stay friendly with your scale while losing or maintaining your weight:

If you're trying to lose weight, get on the scale monthly. Do it first thing in the morning, naked, after you go to the bathroom. Schedule your weigh-ins at the same time in your menstrual cycle each month--not when you're likely to have water-weight gain.

If you're maintaining, go with daily or weekly weigh-ins. The real "losers" in the National Weight Control Registry--the largest study of people who've been successful at long-term weight loss--maintain their weights by stepping on the scale at least once a week. Don't freak out over a 5-pound gain; that's a normal fluctuation. If you find yourself drifting higher than that, the alarm bells should sound. That's the time to rein yourself in: Cut out the snacks, and get back on the treadmill.

Reprint from Prevention Magazine

Lori Ann

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