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Living Well : Support and Motivation

Self-Monitoring

Self-monitoring is one of the 4 secrets of successful weight maintenance—and there are plenty of simple ways to do it

Keep track to stay on track

We’ve talked a lot now about the four habits of people who lose weight and keep it off. Successful long-term weight losers tend to:

  1. Eat smart
  2. Stay active
  3. Eat breakfast
  4. Weigh themselves

We’d like to explore the fourth habit and the importance of monitoring.

We hope you've been using tracking tools to monitor your meals and physical activity. These tools have helped you keep track of your progress—but did you know that just tracking your weight and habits could’ve been helping you lose weight? We call this self-monitoring.

Studies have shown that weight losers who self-monitor more frequently achieve more success than those who do it less often. The better you keep track, the more likely you’ll be to stay on track. For example, self-monitoring methods require you to:

  • Keep track of your weight. The more you weigh yourself, the more likely you are to lose weight and keep it off. You should weigh yourself at least once a week—once a day if you can.
  • Keep track of what you eat. The more you use a food planner and tracker, the more weight you're likely to lose and keep off.
  • Keep track of your physical activity. It helps if you keep track of how active you are. The better you keep track, the more active you’ll probably be, and you may lose more weight.

An app for that!

You can make it easier for yourself with technology. There are gadgets and cell phone apps that can help you keep track. Several studies have looked at the modern electronic methods and found newer techniques to be as good as or better than traditional tracking on paper. Here are some examples that could help you keep up with your own weight-loss or weight-maintenance plan:

  • A pedometer can help you keep track of how much you walk.
  • You can use the Internet or electronic devices to help you keep track of the foods you eat. This technology can give you easy access to nutrition info on the go. Also, some devices are equipped with customized feedback messages to help you keep on track. Some people find it easier to track their habits with an app or a device than with a paper journal.
  • A scale with a memory function can help you track changes in your weight, as well as how often you weigh yourself.

Keep track of your weight

Weighing yourself has helped you measure your progress, but it can also be key to helping you keep the weight off. People who weigh themselves on a regular basis (every day or 3–4 times per week) are more likely to maintain their weight loss and have a lower body mass index than those who weigh themselves infrequently. People who let the habit slip were more likely to gain the weight back.

There are several ways in which weighing yourself may help you keep weight off. When researchers looked at the habits of people who didn’t regularly weigh themselves, they found that it wasn’t the only healthy habit these people let go. Those who let their self-weighing habit slide had less self-control and ate more fat in their diet.

Weighing yourself less often may be part of a larger pattern of less careful behavior. If so, then forgetting to self-weigh may not be the sole reason people gain weight. People who are starting to backslide may be afraid to weigh themselves; they might not want to find out what the scale will say. If this is a concern for you, there are two things you need to know:

  • First, the same study found that people who weighed themselves more often lost more weight even if they slipped up in other areas of their plan.
  • Second, another study found that people who weigh themselves more often view their bodies more positively. They may even feel better about their weight than those who weigh themselves less often. So in the long run, getting over your fear and stepping on the scale might not only help your waistline, it may also help you feel better about yourself.

So how does keeping track of your weight help you keep it off? You may catch weight changes early, which can help you fix a small weight gain right away so you won’t have to change a big one later. Just making the effort can keep your goals at the top of your mind; so keeping track may help you stay on track.

Keep track of what you eat

Tracking what you eat may get harder over time. You might find it hard to keep a good food planner and tracker or perhaps you’ve slipped up from time to time. That’s normal. There may have been days, or even weeks, when you just didn’t track the foods you ate. Studies have shown that 3 out of 4 people give up keeping their food diaries by the end of one year. As the months wear on, you may wonder if it’s still worth keeping your food diary. It is. The better you keep track, the better you’ll keep up with the plan. Studies assessing how well people keep track of the foods they eat found that those who are more consistent about their food diaries lose more weight.

So you might try a simplified diary or instead of recording what you eat every day, do it on 3 days out of 4. But as long as you keep a food diary, you will likely do better than if you stop.

Keep track of your physical activity

One good way to keep active is to keep good records. If you regularly track your physical activity, it will be easier to stay active, and you’ll probably lose more weight. Five studies looked at how keeping track of physical activity affects habits. These studies found that people who filled out their exercise diaries consistently were more active during the week. But that’s not all: they also found that the people who kept better records had less trouble staying active. So keeping good records may not just help you do more physical activity, it can also help you enjoy it more. And you may lose more weight: at least one study found that people who kept better track of their physical activity also lost more weight than those who did not.

Final thoughts on self-monitoring

All told, if you keep track of your habits and your weight, you may do better than if you don’t. There are a lot of tracking options out there so, do your research and find tools that work for you.

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INDICATION

Qsymia® should be used together with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in adults with an initial body mass index (BMI) of:

  • 30 kg/m2 or greater (obese) or
  • 27 kg/m2 or greater (overweight) in the presence of at least one weight-related medical condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol

Limitations of Use:

  • It is not known if Qsymia changes your risk of heart problems or stroke or of death due to heart problems or stroke
  • It is not known if Qsymia is safe and effective when taken with other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal weight loss products

It is not known if Qsymia is safe and effective in children under 18 years old

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Do not take Qsymia if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or become pregnant during Qsymia treatment; have glaucoma; have thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism); are taking certain medicines called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or have taken MAOIs in the past 14 days; are allergic to topiramate, sympathomimetic amines such as phentermine, or any of the ingredients in Qsymia. See the end of the Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in Qsymia.

Qsymia can cause serious side effects, including:

Birth defects (cleft lip/cleft palate). If you take Qsymia during pregnancy, your baby has a higher risk for birth defects called cleft lip and cleft palate. These defects can begin early in pregnancy, even before you know you are pregnant. Women who are pregnant must not take Qsymia. Women who can become pregnant should have a negative pregnancy test before taking Qsymia and every month while taking Qsymia and use effective birth control (contraception) consistently while taking Qsymia. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to prevent pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking Qsymia, stop taking Qsymia immediately, and tell your healthcare provider right away. Healthcare providers and patients should report all cases of pregnancy to FDA MedWatch at 1-800-FDA-1088, and the Qsymia Pregnancy Surveillance Program at 1-888-998-4887.

Increases in heart rate. Qsymia can increase your heart rate at rest. Your healthcare provider should check your heart rate while you take Qsymia. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience, while at rest, a racing or pounding feeling in your chest lasting several minutes when taking Qsymia.

Suicidal thoughts or actions. Topiramate, an ingredient in Qsymia, may cause you to have suicidal thoughts or actions. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you: thoughts about suicide or dying; attempts to commit suicide; new or worse depression; new or worse anxiety; feeling agitated or restless; panic attacks; trouble sleeping (insomnia); new or worse irritability; acting aggressive, being angry, or violent; acting on dangerous impulses; an extreme increase in activity or talking (mania); other unusual changes in behavior or mood.

Serious eye problems, which include any sudden decrease in vision, with or without eye pain and redness or a blockage of fluid in the eye causing increased pressure in the eye (secondary angle closure glaucoma). These problems can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new eye symptoms.

Possible side effects of Qsymia include:

Mood changes and trouble sleeping. Qsymia may cause depression or mood problems, and trouble sleeping. Tell your healthcare provider if symptoms occur.

Concentration, memory, and speech difficulties. Qsymia may affect how you think and cause confusion, problems with concentration, attention, memory or speech. Tell your healthcare provider if symptoms occur.

Increases of acid in bloodstream (metabolic acidosis). If left untreated, metabolic acidosis can cause brittle or soft bones (osteoporosis, osteomalacia, osteopenia), kidney stones, can slow the rate of growth in children, and may possibly harm your baby if you are pregnant. Metabolic acidosis can happen with or without symptoms. Sometimes people with metabolic acidosis will: feel tired, not feel hungry (loss of appetite), feel changes in heartbeat, or have trouble thinking clearly. Your healthcare provider should do a blood test to measure the level of acid in your blood before and during your treatment with Qsymia.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus who also take medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. Weight loss can cause low blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus who also take medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus (such as insulin or sulfonylureas). You should check your blood sugar before you start taking Qsymia and while you take Qsymia.

High blood pressure medicines. If you are taking medicines for your blood pressure, your doctor may need to adjust these medicines while taking Qsymia.

Central Nervous System (CNS) side effects. The use of prescription sleep aids, anxiety medicines, or drinking alcohol with Qsymia may cause an increase in CNS symptoms such as dizziness and light-headedness. Do not drink alcohol with Qsymia.

Possible seizures if you stop taking Qsymia too fast. Seizures may happen in people who may or may not have had seizures in the past if you stop Qsymia too fast. Your healthcare provider will tell you how to stop taking Qsymia slowly.

Kidney stones. Drink plenty of fluids when taking Qsymia to help decrease your chances of getting kidney stones. If you get severe side or back pain, and/or blood in your urine, call your healthcare provider.

Decreased sweating and increased body temperature (fever). People should be watched for signs of decreased sweating and fever, especially in hot temperatures. Some people may need to be hospitalized for this condition.

Common side effects of Qsymia include:

Numbness or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or face (paraesthesia); dizziness; changes in the way foods taste or loss of taste (dysgeusia); trouble sleeping (insomnia); constipation; and dry mouth.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. These are not all of the possible side effects of Qsymia. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to VIVUS, Inc. at 1-888-998-4887 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Please read the Qsymia Medication Guide and Full Prescribing Information.

The Q and Me Patient Resources and Education site is based on the LEARN® Program provided under copyright license (September 15, 2010). All rights reserved.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Do not take Qsymia if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or become pregnant during Qsymia treatment; have glaucoma; have thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism); are taking certain medicines called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or have taken MAOIs in the past 14 days; are allergic to topiramate, sympathomimetic amines such as phentermine, or any of the ingredients in Qsymia. See the end of the Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in Qsymia.

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