Data vs. Information

The concept of Self-monitoring was likely new to you when you began to learn about maintenance.  On the one hand it seems very concrete, as we discussed self-weighing.  Our second lesson was more psychological, about cognitive restraint.  Self-monitoring brings together the details and the significance.  Numbers by themselves are simply data.  Understanding and interpreting the numbers turns them into information.  

From the 2006 paper on the STOP Regain program, where the intervention groups had close to a 50% success rate:

“…frequent self-weighing could be either a cause or a consequence of weight-loss maintenance. The fact that participants in the intervention groups had been taught to use their weight data to regulate their eating and exercise behaviors may be what made this strategy effective for these groups but not for the control group.”

So it may not be simply the act of self-weighing that was increased in the more successful groups, but the application of the numbers to evaluate results and plan for the next step.  Lifestyle change and maintenance needs to become individualized.  We can’t go the rest of our lives off a plan someone else has written.  However, it does seem that getting to that point requires support and encouragement.

“The face-to-face group, as compared to the control group, also gave higher ratings for setting a weight-loss goal, counting calories, and keeping a graph or record of eating and exercise.”

That sounds like a lot of numbers, and my husband thinks I’m a little crazy with them when he sees my self-monitoring chart.  But the numbers are just breadcrumbs so that if I find myself off track, I can go back and find the path.  The big picture is knowing where I am, and where I can go next.

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