Bad news for the "ditch the scale" movement...
While recent efforts from fitness and wellness authorities have advocated skipping the scale and ignoring the numbers in favor of taking a more holistic approach to health, new data suggests that approach could be backfiring.
A recent study published by the Journal of Obesity suggests that stepping on the scale could actually be a necessary—and beneficial—part of any weight loss journey.
The Cornell-based study, which followed participants for two years, found that those who had a regular practice of weighing themselves and recording the results were more likely to lose weight. And here's the kicker: that same group kept the weight off more consistently than those who avoided playing the numbers game.
While it's common that "about 40 percent of weight lost with any dietary treatment is regained in one year" according to Cornell, participants who kept careful note of their gains and losses were able to maintain the weight lost in the first year throughout the second year of the study.
How does one best reap the benefits of this information? According to David Levitsky, professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell and the paper’s senior author, "You just need a bathroom scale and an excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper."
By making daily weigh-ins a part of your morning routine and recording the results, the researchers believe that the results of weight-shedding behaviors feel more real and immediate, making it easier to keep up those behaviors from week to week and to continue to make positive choices to support this progress.
"We think the scale also acts as a priming mechanism," explained Levitsky, "making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight."
There is a catch, however. According to the study, this method was significantly more successful in helping men lose and keep off the pounds than it was in aiding women. Though Levitsky hasn't zeroed in on the possible causes of this discrepancy yet, there are more long-term studies already in the works.
In the meantime, this is a five-second adjustment to your morning routine that could yield some powerful results. It's a trade off we'd happily take.