Successes are the best motivation
Finally being slender and feeling better again in your own skin – with this goal in mind, most people start on their diet. But if you want to lose weight and want to keep it off in the long term, you need some patience. Crash diets with the promise “5 kilos in 5 days” usually do not work – in addition, there is a risk that the perceived yo-yo effect will kick in and that after the end of the diet you will start to gain weight really quickly.
A decrease of approximately half a kilo per week is realistic and at the same time ambitious – so to lose 5 kilos, you should plan for approximately 10 weeks. In order to keep you motivated, you should also record the achieved interim goals and celebrate them appropriately. It is important to let the numbers speak regularly for themselves, because this way you can determine whether you are on the right track with your diet programme. Therefore, weigh yourself regularly and measure whether you are losing weight on your belly.
Weighing on the scales – how often and when?
Especially in the first diet phase, many people try to weigh themselves every day – because they hope that the change in diet and the ramped up exercise programme will show results directly on the scales. However, since our body weight can fluctuate from day to day and is not constant over the course of a day, it is usually recommended that you weigh yourself only once a week. The decisive factor is that an overall downward trend is recorded – but a “bad” week should not demoralise you in the least.
How often? Once a week on the scales, always on the same weekday – preferably set a fixed weighing day from the outset.
When? The ideal time for the weight check is in the morning before breakfast.
What should you take care to do? Always use the same scales. Wear underwear or nothing on the scales. Always weigh yourself with an empty bladder and before you’ve had anything to eat or drink.
Just because nothing is happening on the scales does not necessarily mean that you have actually not lost any fat. If you have been taking much more exercise than before, it is possible that muscle mass has been added – and muscles are heavier than fatty tissue. Furthermore, your body weight also does not provide any information about where the fat is deposited. However, this is crucial for your health.
Good to know: Body weight is used together with height to calculate the so-called body mass index (BMI). You can find our practical BMI calculator here.
It’s a question of the circumference of the abdomen
Today, we know that a big belly – in contrast to the “hip cushioning” that may women complain about – represents a health risk. So-called “visceral fat”, which accumulates in the abdomen between the organs, is particularly dangerous. Because, in this fatty tissue, hormones and inflammatory substances are formed that can promote cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The good news is that, while the fat cushions are quite persistent on the hips and bottom, abdominal fat disappears relatively quickly when you adapt your diet accordingly and move more. Because the body attacks this energy storage unit as a first resort.
Every centimetre less on the belly brings you a little bit closer to your desired figure – and also benefits your health.
The size of the belly (also called waist circumference) is another measurement for checking the success of a diet. The fact that the fat cushions are disappearing from the belly can of course be noticed by the fact that the waistband on your trousers no longer digs in – but your motivation gets an additional kick when you can see it in black and white. In order to measure the circumference of your belly, you only need a measuring tape – it’s simplest if someone helps you.
Measuring abdominal circumference: How it works
Your abdominal circumference should be measured in the morning before breakfast.
- Stand upright in front of a mirror with a naked upper body.
- Apply the measuring tape half way between your rib arch and your hips.
- Inhale and exhale once deeply, do not pull in your stomach when you do this.
- At the end of the exhalation, read the value on the measuring tape.
- With an abdominal circumference of > 80 cm in women and > 94 cm in men, there is already a slightly increased health risk.
Good to know: But the significance of the abdominal circumference has its limits. A large person has a greater abdominal size than a small, petite person, even without fat. The so-called waist-to-height ratio takes into account the height of the body as well as the circumference of the waist. Learn more
Document diet successes with photos
Record your diet successes with photos. The physical changes are certainly not visible immediately, so a few weeks should pass between your photo shoots. The following tips and ideas can help:
- In particular, the development towards a more streamlined you can be traced if you always take the photos in the same (light) clothing, for example in front of a white wall in the home.
- Make a whole-body image with front, back and side views at each of your personal photo appointments.
- The way smaller fatty deposits disappear can often be seen on close-ups of the upper body (also from the front, back and sides).
- Create a separate photo album for your diet project. Regardless of whether you save or print the photos digitally, always record the respective date of the images and your current weight.
Avoid pitfalls and keep your motivation: tips and tricks
Make a “contract with yourself”
Who hasn’t had one? The inner voice that stops you from keeping to the diet and from sticking with it consistently. But how can you outsmart it? Our tip – make a “Diet Contract” with yourself. At the beginning of your diet, record in writing how much weight you would like to lose in what period and also formulate your target goals (for example, a half kilo per week). Note how many calories you want to cut down per day and how often you want to exercise. On the internet, you can find countless templates – let yourself be inspired and set up a customised “Diet Contract” that fits exactly to you and your project. Important: in no case should the document disappear into a drawer, because then it will quickly lose the desired effect. For example, hang your contract on the mirror in the bathroom or in your wardrobe so that you can see it on a daily basis.
It can also be helpful to include your partner, family and friends in your project so that they can support you. Or do you prefer to keep your diet project secret at first and then to surprise your friends and family with the results?
Good planning is everything
In everyday stress situations, it is easy to throw your good resolutions out of the window. Because there’s no time to cook in the evening, because the refrigerator is empty or because… – well, there is always a reason. Therefore, it is sensible to write a diet plan for the whole week (e.g. for 1,400 kcal per day) and to ensure that all the ingredients are in the house at the right time. This is how you can look forward to delicious dishes and ensure that a gap-filler pizza doesn’t end up on your plate.
Apropos refrigerator and store cupboard: Avoid temptation – if chocolate, crisps, etc. are available, it’s only possible for the very few to resist them.
Provide for emergencies
Mean little traps form the small emergencies in daily life when you are losing weight: There wasn’t enough for breakfast and now everything’s a rush? The meeting took longer than expected and now the cafeteria is closed? Then the risk is large of falling into the hunger trap and of reaching for the chocolate bar or the delicious cake from the baker’s. Make sure you have prepared for such situations and keep apples, rice cakes or a protein bar ready in the office or in the glove compartment in the car. A tub of low-fat yoghurt in the refrigerator can also help in such cases.
Good to know: Sometimes, it is not the hunger factor that sends you off on a diet tangent. Frustration with your partner, anger in the office or simply boredom can also distract you into eating. Nutritional experts talk about “emotional eating”. If this is the case, you should get to the bottom of the underlying causes and behaviours of this.
We often eat from pure habit – at the computer, in front of the TV or when on the mobile phone. As we usually feed these cravings for snacks with sweets, chocolate or crisps, all these calories end up in the stomach and finally as pounds on the hips. The problem with “snacking” is that we don’t always notice how much or what we eat – suddenly the bowl is empty and the calorie limit has gone through the roof. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to stop bad eating habits. If you cannot stop snacking, try to trick yourself and replace the snacks with healthy alternatives such as carrots, cucumbers or peppers.
No movement on the scales?
In the initial phase of the diet, the pounds just melted away and then suddenly the scales remain stubbornly still. This can happen in particular if you are consuming too few calories and the body switches to its back-up programme for hunger phases – the metabolism is curbed and energy consumption decreases. You should not allow yourself to be discouraged but actively take measures to counteract this. Check whether you are eating enough calories. Maybe you can intensify your exercise programme a bit? It is important that you don’t throw in the towel but remain consistent.
Losing weight – your health also benefits
Anyone who loses extra kilos is not only rewarded with a slender figure and a better body feeling. The positive effects that can be achieved through a change in diet and more exercise often show in an improvement in blood values. Blood lipid levels (e.g. cholesterol) and fasting blood sugar in particular can often be reduced. The same applies to blood pressure.