You'd think that the first step for someone who has decided to lose weight would be to weigh herself. The truth is that I never weigh myself when I'm making the effort to change my lifestyle. You might think this has to do with the grim facts staring me in the face. After all, there is little more disheartening than being fat and seeing an indicator on a scale showing you with perfect clarity just how fat you are.
My reluctance is rooted in a desire not to be discouraged. One of the problems with scales is that they are almost too accurate an indicator of your weight. They can encourage, certainly, but they also discourage. If you are very overweight, they can be particularly disheartening because all of your efforts may result in such a small increment lost that you decide the sacrifice seems hardly worth it. What is worse, normal weight fluctuations due to water retention, bowel movement patterns, and simply weeks when your body is being stubborn about changing your condition can show that you may have gained or made no progress at all. You can't trust the scale to give you accurate feedback.
Rather than trust my progress to the scale, I trust it to my body and my clothes. I look at my body, especially my arms, and see if they are changing shape and size. Since you lose weight in your limbs first, this is where you can see it. Also, the hang of my clothes has been changing. Pants and dresses actually get longer as well as looser. That's because the flesh that used to prop them up has shrunk.
If you know your body's weight gain and loss patterns, you can also look at the areas which gain weight last and lose first for changes. For me, that is my mid-section. When my weight is lower, I have a pretty small waist to hip ratio so my breasts will seem bigger and my hips' curvature more pronounced as my waist shrinks. For the record, this is a pretty desirable way to lose weight for women, but it's not something that I can claim any effort in accomplishing. The potential for an hourglass figure with a bigger bottom is simply part of my genetic code. At any rate, I know where to look to see where things are changing.
I don't know if my method is one I'd recommend for just anyone since it took 2 weeks to see the earliest results in my arms and two months to see it in my waist, but it is rewarding. I find it a more satisfying way than fretting daily over the scale. At my current size, it's also less disheartening because I don't know just how far I have to go until I reach my goal weight. Perhaps knowing where I have started will just make me despair at how far I have to go. When I get closer to the end (something I expect to take more than a year, possibly as long as two), I'll probably start checking my weight on a scale because progress will be harder to see through clothes or visual inspection.