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The Best Ways to Track Your Weight Loss Journey (And Those to Ditch)

The Scale

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Like it or not, the scale can help you track your progress. For some, consistent visits to the scale could lead to greater commitment to weight loss. But if you're the type that has the urge to weigh yourself every hour, or if you'll freak out when salty meals or that time of the month impact the numbers you'll face, then perhaps regular weigh-ins aren't for you. When you do want to give it a shot, keep in mind these 4 Rules for Weighing Yourself.

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Fitness Apps

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Although too much staring at your phone or computer can prevent you from exercising, certain fitness apps on these devices definitely can inspire you to move more. A Neilson report found that almost one-third of U.S. smartphone owners have accessed apps in the fitness and health category in one month alone. (And there's good news: free fitness apps work just as well as expensive activity trackers.)

Wearable devices can help count your steps and calories burned, while apps can help you manually log meals and workouts. But it takes a certain type of person to reap benefits from these monitoring methods. If you're tech savvy and you don't mind inputting and interpreting data, then these tools can help to motivate you to healthfully compete against yourself each day. But if you prefer not to wear your fit tech or if you're feeling overloaded on data already, don't worry, you're not alone—and there are are plenty more options that might fit better with your lifestyle and schedule.

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Food Diaries

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Whether you do it on your computer, smartphone, or an actual notepad, keeping a food journal is one of the best tools for keeping tabs on what you're really eating. In fact, people who kept a daily food log lost twice as much weight over six months compared to those who didn't jot down what they were feeding themselves, according to a study by Kaiser Permanente.

The trouble with this method, however, comes if you don't maintain the habit. Here's where honesty and consistency count; if you're only committed to recording certain meals on some days, or if you constantly forget to record your food, then this method may not be for you. The results will be skewed, and you'll have put in time and effort for little to no real return. (Here's How to Make Food Journaling Work for You.)

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Your Clothing

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No matter how many times you blame the dry cleaners for shrinking your pants, at some point, you may need to admit that your weekly run for XL frozen yogurt with all the toppings needs to be scaled down. Don't rely on the clothing you wore in sixth grade or any article that may be an unrealistic reach. Instead, rely on a pair of "reference pants." These are pants that you keep tucked away in a drawer most of the time, but you try on the last day of every month. If your goal is to lose a few pounds, feeling these pants fit better is incredibly motivating. On the other hand, if maintaining your weight is difficult because you burn calories like a furnace, then these pants will let you know if you need to up your calories.

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Your BFF

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Your closest friends, co-workers, and relatives can be your biggest cheerleaders—or, sometimes unintentionally, your worst saboteurs. On the surface, it's not always easy to tell the difference between them. If you're in the process of losing weight, there are people who can provide support through selfless, motivating words. You know they have your interests in mind. But steer clear of any anyone who is patronizing or insincere. If you've lost weight or put on a few pounds, they may be quick to comment and judge your actions, causing more harm than help. (Watch out for these 5 people jealous of your weight loss.)

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The Mirror

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Using a mirror is tricky because not everyone sees their reflections accurately. Some people who are overweight avoid mirrors altogether. On the other hand, those people who are thin may "see" a body much larger than they truly are.

A mirror is a reflection of yourself, but not your self worth; use a mirror to get a glimpse of how your body looks and to check that your clothes fit comfortably and properly. Having a buddy to exercise with or to help share meals could be priceless, but in the end, your most important fan can be seen in your own mirror.

Photo: Corbis Images

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