Reasons for Regain #2: I stopped weighing myself

Scale

I don’t remember when I stopped weighing myself regularly, just like I don’t remember when I stopped cooking. (The recurring theme of my Reasons for Regain series might be “not paying enough attention.”) During the years that I lost weight and maintained it I weighed myself daily and tracked my progress. Originally I used the FitDay program to record my weigh-ins, but at the beginning of 2010 I switched to an Excel spreadsheet. I never installed FitDay on my new computer, so I don’t have access to that old data and thus can’t find the exact day I stopped tracking.

Weighing myself daily forced me to be aware of my weight. When I was losing weight, I was very happy to be aware of my weight. “I’m getting thinner! Weeee! You are so awesome, Mr. Bathroom Scale!” However when I started to slowly gain back weight I was not very happy to be aware of my weight. “Oh, screw you, Mr. Bathroom Scale! Don’t forget who pays for your batteries!” So, it’s not that surprising that all that negative reinforcement around weighing-in made me stop weighing-in.

The Excel spreadsheet shows that I went through fits and bursts of tracking. I tracked all of January 2010, but then dropped off and didn’t weigh-in again until March. After that the next weigh-in wasn’t until August…of the next year. l’m fairly certain I must have stepped on the scale sometime in that 15-month gap, but I wasn’t writing it down, which is probably just as important as the weighing itself. If you don’t track your data it’s hard to see where you’ve been and where you’re going. Instead I was stepping on the scale, thinking, “Oh, dear Lord,” stepping off, and trying to wipe the whole thing from my memory. And it looks like I was successful at that!

In 2013 I had four bursts of weight-tracking, which is the most for any year in the spreadsheet. However each burst doesn’t seem to last more than a month. The ends of these bursts usually end with my weight ticking up several pounds, so I think I got discouraged and gave up, whereas if the weight had continued to go down I’d probably have kept tracking.

I’ve been tracking my weight every day since December 31, 2013 and I’ve been successful in losing several pounds. I plan to continue tracking for the rest of the year, even if I get bad news because ignoring a problem unfortunately does not make it go away.

Update on Reason for Regain #1: I stopped cooking
I’ve continued to cook more of my meals this year. I’ve found that:

  1. I am still running the dishwasher more than I used to.
  2. I am not going to the grocery store nearly as often as I used to, but when I do I’m spending more money. When I wasn’t cooking I’d usually dash to the grocery store for a few small things to eat every few days, mostly because I wasn’t planning in advance. Now that I plan, I can stock up on everything at once.
  3. However, I’m still not planning everything. I’ve been eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches lately because they are quick to assemble and I figure the protein from the nuts offsets the carbs in the whole-grain bread. (And if it doesn’t please let me just live in ignorance, ok?) So, I could definitely work more on the whole “planning meals in advance” thing.
Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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Erica • February 10, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Thank you so much for blogging about regaining! I have been in a lose/regain cycle for a while now and it helps to read about your experience.

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Amy P • February 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm

For the last year I have been slowly gaining about 15 pounds. I weigh myself almost daily but have not been consiously tracking it until now. To weigh myself I use 2 tools. The first is the Aria Scale that is sold by the same company that makes the fitbit’s. I love(hate) it because it automatically uploads to their website and saves the data. The second tool is a website called TrendWeight. It syncs up with the data on the fitbit site and creates a chart that averages your last few numbers and tells you if you are going up or down. My weight can fluctuate by like 5 pounds and I would get so angry. Now I look at the number on the scale, shrug, and check the website to see how I am doing. Good luck.

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Deb • February 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm

“Ignoring a problem unfortunately does not make it go away.”
Thanks for the reminder. I stopped weighing myself, too, because I knew what I would find. Bad idea! Why not get back on track when one has gained one pound? Why do we wait until it’s 15? My bad.
Thanks for being a partner/inspiration to get back on track and on the scale. Good luck! Love you no matter what.

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Kitty • February 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm

If I don’t weigh myself regularly bad stuff happens. Like you I have an Excel spreadsheet that I sporadically kept over the years. And, I would have time when it was going great and I recorded diligently. Then, there would be a long gap and a gain. Did this over and over.

One thing that helps now is that I have a Withings scale which is on WiFi. So I don’t actually have to record my weights. The scale does it for me. I DO still record themself, partly because I know that the scale does it anyway….

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Kimberly • February 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm

During thin times or fat times I weigh myself and track (via spreadsheet) daily. One of the reasons I got to my highest weight was that I wore stretchy clothes and never weighed myself. I was in complete denial. I’m also a grab and go kind of girl. I hate cooking because I hate cleaning. A few quick food ideas that help me is to have some cheese and nukeable turkey sausage or just a tablespoon of peanut butter that I can eat at night when I have the hardest time resisting the snacking demons. Lunches usually mostly involve fresh veggies, seasoning and olive oil and 5 minutes under the broiler and then the foil gets tossed in the trash. It sucks to regain, but the awesome thing is that you know what to do to lose it again. Keep it up!

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Laurie • February 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Please continue with posts in this vein. I’ve experienced the same. In fact, I’ve gained nearly all my weight back :( Simply LOVE your writing voice, Half-Assed, etc. You have a great gift.

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Debbi Does Dinner • February 10, 2014 at 8:18 pm

These are the exact reasons why I regained my weight too. So, so stupid. Even though I know what works, it just isn’t happening. So glad you’re back tracking and weighing. Good for you!

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Caroline • February 10, 2014 at 10:23 pm

I did weekly weighing for awhile. Daily or near daily was good too. Bottom line is if I’m not weighing , I’m checked out. Once I did once per month and I basically stayed the same.

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Vickie • February 10, 2014 at 10:53 pm

If you eat a piece of PB toast, it is one piece of bread (vs two in a sandwich). Also PB on a raw apple or banana is good. But don’t end up eating extra fruit because of it.

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Vickie • February 10, 2014 at 11:08 pm

I don’t so much plan each meal as batch shop/cook so the things I eat are ready.

I slightly undercook cook 3 lbs of green beans. I slightly undercook 3-4 bunches of asparagus. I roast a whole bag of (real) carrots, 2jumbo white onions, 6-9 red potatoes, 1 lg can no salt added whole tomatoes. I bake a lg pkg of skinless/boneless chicken breasts. I make a lg batch of soup. I wash and prep raw broccoli, carrots, celery. I bake a couple sweet potatoes. Carton of Egg whites, yogurt, fruit, raw nuts, etc stocked.

(There are 3 of us home these days, two away at college)

So then I don’t cook meals. People just open refrigerator and pick what they want.

This whole foods, general type of Batch cooking, in my experience, is a common thread among maintainers.

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Meg • February 10, 2014 at 11:58 pm

Re: Grocery shopping

Haha, I just had a conversation (ahem, possibly a disagreement) w/ Harold about how it might SEEM like I spend a lot of money on food when I do the big shopping trips, but it’s actually cheaper because when we have something nice to eat at home, we don’t order in as frequently.

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Meg • February 11, 2014 at 12:00 am

@Vickie – I try to keep yogurts, fruit and cutup veg ready to go, but prepping entire meals beforehand sounds really smart.

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KalynsKitchen • February 11, 2014 at 6:49 am

I am terrible about planning meals ahead! What I’m working on for now is just planning for one day. So when I eat breakfast, I try to decide what I’ll be eating for lunch and dinner that day that’s a healthy choice.

How I wish you lived next door to me. I always have a freezer overflowing with healthy stuff that I need to give away!

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JenFul • February 11, 2014 at 2:02 pm

@KalynsKitchen – I wish I could eat all your free, healthy good too! I can’t handle the snow though, so I’m staying here in the south :)

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Kate • February 11, 2014 at 8:32 pm

When I reached the highest weight in my life, I hadn’t been weighing myself in quite some time. Then one day I stepped on a tinny department store scale and was horrified. That moment still stays with me. I just came off a 30-day green juice fast. I weighed myself daily then and do now. In fact, I have been doing it for quite a few months. I discovered that when I didn’t weigh myself for awhile, my weight would climb up. Also weighing myself told me what was working and what wasn’t.

My go-to meal now is quinoa with kale, coconut oil, and sometimes mushrooms, artichokes, etc. I sometimes make a big pot of it to last for a few days. Quinoa has plenty of protein and other nutrition. I also continue with the green juices, plus carrot juice. For me, I couldn’t really begin to lose weight until I went I began juice fasts.

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Jen • February 13, 2014 at 8:44 am

Sounds like you are moving in the right direction. I think I’m going to have to find a healthy food blogger to move in next door to, though.

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beth • February 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm

You might like a rotisserie chicken once a week. It is more expensive than making your own but you can get quite a few meals out of it and no cooking involved!

Check your local grocery stores; different stores have them on sale different days of the week. On sale they are about $5.00.

For me, avoiding the scale always leads to weight gain.

Congrats on the weight loss!

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Sarah • February 17, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Hey there. New reader :) I am currently working on your book, Half-Assed, and decided to swing by your site. I am 23, 300 lbs, with psoriasis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and PCOS (one of those nasty little diseases that make losing weight even HARDER- as if it’s not hard enough, right?) About 10 months ago I was doing well, was mentally in the right place to change my life, weight and all, when I was in a severe motorcycle accident. I have spent the last 9 months trying to recover, and my weight was put on the back burner. Now that I am able to move around again, nearly like my old self, I am back to it. I hope you know how hard your book is making me laugh, making me look inward at myself, and motivating me to get back on track. So much of what you said was so relate-able. Thank you.
I look forward to catching up on your blog. Keep it up, you go-getter, you!

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Anita Redard • February 18, 2014 at 11:44 am

I’m happy you are getting back on track. Remember the old cliché: “People don’t plan to fail. They just fail to plan.” You GOTTA plan your fuel. Thinking of it as fuel instead of food also helps. FUEL-not love, reward, etc…
Really enjoy your writing!

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Marshmallow • February 19, 2014 at 1:12 am

Heya Jen, I am loving your bravery and honesty with these posts in this series. I’m not going to try to give advice or anything when I haven’t exactly been successful in my weight loss endeavours in the past (which is why I don’t focus on it anymore), but I say thank you for sharing it all with us :)

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Dagny Kight • February 25, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I love peanut butter. Try switching to PB2! It really is good and the chocolate flavor is great too!!

bellplantation.com

Good luck!

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Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

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