Lean Six Sigma

An Easy Trick to Reduce Your Resistance to Losing Weight

(Image Credit: Doug Buckley of http://hyperactive.to)

Measurement is an important aspect of assuring and improving quality(*). As a result, I think about it often, especially in the context of maintaining and losing weight. My BMI is not bad (23.5) but I don’t like to exercise, so I try to eat without reckless abandon. But I have one little tiny problem.

“Weigh Yourself Often” is a commonly reported success strategy for losing weight. But what if you’re too scared to step on the scale???  That kind of gets in the way of being able to weigh yourself a lot.

I hadn’t stepped on the scale to weigh myself in about… well… a year. I admit, I’m scared of it. In fact, every time I go to the doctor I specifically tell them NOT to tell me what I weigh – unless it’s REALLY GOOD. (Usually they say nothing, which I’ve never been able to interpret. I’m hoping that they just don’t want to speculate what I would consider “good”.) I don’t want to hop on the scale and see a number that makes me feel lousy about myself all day (and maybe the next day… and the next).

I just know that it’s an invitation to disaster to see those HUGE numbers upon which I’ll allow an entire coral reef of self-loathing to grow uninhibited, attracting the slithery fish of dismay.

But a few days ago, I put on a pair of dress pants that I hadn’t worn in a while, and they almost fell off. I had to make sure I didn’t stand up too straight or accidentally suck in my gut while I was wearing them, otherwise they would have fallen off. (I have to wear them again next Friday and I’m going to safety pin them together to be safe.) As you can imagine, this made me feel pretty good, and stirred belligerence in the face of the bathroom scale!! So I climbed on the scale this morning in optimistic defiance and saw a number that was pretty darn good. If I lose 10 lbs, I will weigh the same as I did in junior high. So I think I’m pretty motivated to bump off those extra 10 just to say “I did it”.

I did have a contingency plan, though. I realized that the thing holding me back from actively monitoring and reducing my weight was the NEGATIVE EMOTION associated with getting on the scale.

The key is to MEASURE in a way that doesn’t stimulate those negative emotions. So if you live in the US and want to lose POUNDS, set your scale to KILOGRAMS. Start weighing yourself using a measurement scale that you have no psychological or emotional attachment (or resistance) to. The first number you see will mean nothing to you, and as you actively work to reduce your weight, that number will go down. You will not be scared of the scale any more. After you start feeling good, then feel free to convert your new weight back into the measurement scale you’re more familiar with. The new number you weigh might not be your target weight, but at least you will know it’s a weight at which you feel good.

And isn’t that the point?

(*) “Measurements provide critical data and information about key processes, outputs, and results. When supported by sound analytical approaches that project trends and infer cause-and-effect relationships, measurement provide an objective foundation for learning, leading to better customer, operational, and financial performance.” – Evans & Dean, “Total Quality: 3rd Ed.”

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