To weigh, or not to weigh, the age old question

I keep my scales right next to my cooker, that way its just one extra step between preparing food and cooking it.

I keep my scales right next to my cooker, that way its just one extra step between preparing food and cooking it.

It's a recurring theme. 

"Geoff (made up): I want to lose weight, I've tried everything, I cannot lose weight, my metabolism is just off, I'm unlucky.

Me: Have you tracked what you eat?

Geoff: Yeah I have for a bit, was a while back though.

Me: How did you measure what you ate? do you weigh?

Geoff: Oh no I can't be doing with all that, I have a life you know"

I hear it over and over again. The simple fact is this, most people do not know what 100g of broccoli looks like, and they certainly don't know what is actually in 500g of lasagne. If you are not weighing your food it is literally guess work. If you then show me a food diary that is based on guess work, my programming becomes guess work, and if there is one thing I am not signing my name to, its guess work. You could be getting everything right; exercising regularly, sleeping well, social life and stress management in check and even eating the right stuff, just simply too much of it. 

I use (and prescribe) MyFitnessPal and it does take some adapting, playing and getting used to. I accept that and work with that. Until such a time that you learn how to find a park bench approach or balance, tracking and weighing is a skill, a skill that you need to grasp. It is a skill that you will always be able to review and come back to the rest of your life. I liken it to riding a bike:

"Me: Can you ride a bike?

Geoff: Yeah of course.

Me: Do you ride it to work?

Geoff: Sometimes, its a bit inconvenient though..

Me: But you could ride if you wanted to...?

Geoff: Yeah sure. 

Geoff learned to ride his bike once and its a skill he can always call upon when or if required. Tracking your food accurately is exactly the same. In fact just swap the words 'ride a bike' and 'ride it to work' for 'track your food' in the dialogue above and you will see my point. Except the answer is NEVER 'yeah sure'. It is always guess work which leads to frustration and invariably failure to achieve goals.

I am fully aware that it is inconvenient and even irritating to log and weigh all your food as you go but it is a fundamental skill that, like a bike, you will be able to draw upon for the rest of your life. For ALL clients who engage in programming with me it is a skill they have to master, without exception. 

Programming is an absolute doddle for me if I have a square diary to work with, it almost feels like cheating!
— Luke R. Davies

What we find is that people are often really surprised at how easy it is once we are up and running and they get an accurate reflection of what they actually consume. Programming is an absolute doddle for me if I have a square diary to work with, it almost feels like I am cheating! People often think there is some magic solution to dieting that they have not found yet. The basics are that magic. But you have to do them, however unappealing. A friend of mine David Jarvis, top trainer and stage competitor in London described the "sexy basics" where the battle is really getting people on board the fundamental simple basics of success, both in movement and nutrition. It is my opinion that if your previous strategy has not enabled you to reach whatever your goals are, then learning to track is one of my fundamental "basics", whether i've made it "sexy" enough for you to buy into it or not remains to be seen.

The Sexy Basics
— David Jarvis

You do NOT have to track and weigh forever as the process will sharpen your perception and awareness of what you are eating, that's half the battle. If however you are on a goal driven program to get lean, and I mean 6-pack lean then you might want to track for the duration of that program. 

Scales do not need to be expensive, for example this one for £8.

Stop guessing, start weighing.

Luke R. Davies :)