A new study found people who weighed themselves daily and recorded those results lost more body weight and better maintained that fat loss than those who didn't.
The two-year study, conducted at Cornell University and published in the Journal of Obesity, gave 162 overweight participants a lofty goal: lose 10 percent of their initial body weight.
Researchers asked 88 of the participants to weigh every morning and track their results on a chart. The remaining 74 folks neither weighed nor tracked.
Participants who weighed daily were nearly three times more likely to lose at least 5 percent of their initial weight that first year: 29 percent vs. 11 percent in the non-weighing group.
Even better, the daily weighing group was nearly twice as likely to keep off that weight during the study's second year.
"This is important because studies show that about 40 percent of weight lost with any dietary treatment is regained in one year, and almost 100 percent of weight loss is regained at the end of five years," writes Krishna Ramanujan of Cornell University's Cornell Chronicle.
Tracking and measuring weren't the whole picture here; participants also implemented their own diet plan for weight loss. According to David Levitsky, professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell and the paper's senior author, "everyone found their own way of losing the weight."
Regardless what other strategies they implemented, this study emphasizes measuring and tracking can bolster fast, lasting fat loss. "Self-weighing and visual feedback may be a useful strategy combined with other techniques to promote healthful weight loss," researchers concluded.
The Cornell study follows a study earlier this year, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which also found daily weigh-ins helped people lose more weight.
For the record (pun fully intended), I don't think you need to weigh daily. Once a week should suffice, where you note your weight; the measurements of your waist, hips and thighs; and whatever else you want to track or improve since, after all, anything you can measure, you can improve.
Most importantly, write down those numbers. You could take pen to paper, or download a cool tracking app on your smartphone. The key becomes recording those results, period.
Interestingly, my clients rarely have a problem measuring, but they loathe tracking those results. "I can keep them in my head," some said. Nope: Tracking keeps you on track, but journaling your results becomes another critical aspect of success.
Studies prove this. One at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research -- one of the largest and longest-running weight-loss maintenance trials ever conducted -- found people who wrote down what they ate lost twice as much weight as those who didn't.
"It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories," said Jack Hollis, Ph.D., one of the study's researchers.
Journaling can support your fat loss journey in other ways:
You get the bigger picture. "It's only when individuals are asked to write down everything they eat and drink that the true story is told," writes Kristin Kirkpatrick. "The importance of keeping a food diary goes way beyond just the food we eat."
You identify what triggers a problem. Food intolerances and sneaky sugars seriously sabotage your success. They often blindside you, but when you track every bite in your food journal, you're much more likely to identify the culprit and pinpoint which foods cause you problems.
You discover food's emotional connection. "I often ask my clients to jot down not only their food choices and amounts but also the time of day, location and emotional level during their meal or snack," writes Kirkpatrick. "This can help people assess how stress may be controlling their food choices."
You see how much progress you've made. Seeing that you've lost four pounds that first week, boosted your water intake, or no longer crave your coworker's double fudge brownies gives you motivation to stay the course and keeps you inspired to make the most of your maintenance plan.
Journaling makes inexpensive therapy. "I guarantee you will learn things about yourself and may just be able to figure out how to change what you are doing to create the body and life you want to live," writes Irene Rubaum-Keller, who recommends starting with a two-week journal trial.
Like many clients, you'll probably find journaling becomes a permanent tool for fat loss and maintaining that success. Ultimately, this becomes your journey to a leaner, healthier self.
If you've ever kept a journal, did you just record food intake or did you track other things too? Share your story below.