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A fountain of water… springing… down?

December 2nd, 2010 2 comments

Alternate title: I didn’t realize I was thirsty…

Alternative Alternate title: Even when filled with living water, I still need to drink dihydrogen monoxide.

Although I’ve snarked before on the dangers of DHMO, the truth is two hydrogen atoms combined with one oxygen atom is the most important element to those that are living (plant AND animal).  [Sidebar: arsenic? really?After my frustrations of the last week of Novemeber, I immediately enacted my plan of not over eating and drinking MOAR WATER!  The downside to this strategy, without being too detailed to my gentile readers, is that I am now taking lots of breaks during the day.

But that’s the only downside, everything else is upside. Well upside in the downwards direction. Gravity is confusing, when you’re losing weight.  But I digress.  A couple of pictures. help to tell the story of where I’m going with this:

image

That double upwards spike had me seriously stressing. Through all that time I was taking a good food log, and getting in exercise, the day before the first spike I had a 4 mile run (then ate pizza. *facepalm*)  In this time I’ve also added weight routines on off run days, which might be the culprit for some of the weight gain. The old adage muscle weighs more than fat, while technically incorrect, muscle is denser than fat and adding more muscle mass is better for my metabolism, but it’s impossible to put on 6 pounds of muscle (or fat) in a week.  The problem was/is water retention.  The cure, oddly, Drink MOAR water.

SpongeBob Narrator voice: THREE DAYS LATER:

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Woo, thank you Sir Newton for inventing that gravity thing. Although gravity has nothing to do with the above chart, the increase in water intake (and, oddly, urine outtake) has reversed that scary trend in just four days.  People, if you’re breathing, drink water!  Especially when the heater starts working, and dries everything out… (Note: for further research weight loss bubbles as a result of colder temperatures?)

The other part of my last post, was the long dissertation on trend lines, and confusing math.  Let my break it down, The daily weigh-in numbers can act as either anchors or buoy to the trend line.  A weigh-in number below the current trend will drag it down, how much depends on how ‘heavy’ the weight (the more below the line, the “heavier” it is) and will pull the imagetrend line down. Similarly, a weigh-in number above the line acts as a buoy and lifts the trend up.  So in this chart, blue dots are the daily weigh-in numbers, and the red dots are the daily trend numbers.  Remember all that stressing about the fluctuating numbers on the scale each morning?  Well the trend numbers help with that. (I started using the trend after the scary spike!) If my numbers fluctuate a little up but stay below the trend, that’s good still on track.  If they spike above the trend line, then I’ll need to re-evaluate and make sure all the checklist (exercise, food log, water intake) items are in order.  A bit of freedom.

So, don’t freak out, I’m not stopping this journey train because of some wacky number.  I’m feeling too good about myself, and enjoying myself too much to get too grumpy. I’m just geeking out on the numbers, because that’s what I do. Also, I recognize looking at last post’s money chart, that I was due for a little plateau.  All signals are in the green, Houston.  Let’s light this candle.

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags: , , , , ,

Houston We Have A Problem

November 30th, 2010 7 comments

Alternative title: What’s to keep me from tossing this whole diet thing in the rubbish bin?

Alternative alternative title: Sanity please?!

image So November, what happened between us, we started out so promising (after that mean old Halloween time) then we blew up at the end.  Was I bragging too much?  Did my obsession with trying to get to my goal a bit too obsessive?  Obviously something went wrong, the daily weigh-ins might have been too confusing, frustrating, obsessive.  I don’t want to be too negative on you, November, after all I am now fitting comfortably in size 44 pants (down 4 inches!), and I played Thanksgiving Football without injury, and that Thanksgiving picture looks mighty fine!

But like when astronauts calling in from troubled missions to Houston in mid flight, I need to make some adjustments and course corrections.  I need to keep this bus driving downhill, so with the encouragement of a job well done so far, lets keep our eyes on the prize and set some goals.

The first is: Stop eating too much! Looking at the charts, my calories again have bubbled up over 2500.  I need to keep them right at that mark, even on my hard exercising days when I think it’s an excuse to indulge, I’m cheating myself on the longer term.

The second is: Start drinking. Drinking water I mean, jeesh internet, I’m not a lush!  I need to drink enough each day, and then a little more.  I think I was attacked by a bit of dehydration near the end of the month, be it from too much pepperoni (see my facebook photo album), allergies, or just not drinking enough.  So I need to drink 5-6 of my 20 ounce water bottle a day (so says About.com)

Finally, I need to chill out on the celebration/pity parties after each morning weigh-in.  I need a plan, something to make me realize that while the numbers fluctuate, they are going in the right direction.  Enter some things I found in The Hacker’s Diet from a link in the LoseIt.com forums.

In the chapter “Signal and Noise” the book talks about moving averages and trends.  Which is something I understand fairly well, especially when looking at data (like weight data) that fluctuates regularly.  But the numbers I record in LoseIt.com don’t automatically smooth, there is some smoothing in the longer term charts (3 months and above) but that doesn’t really help in the 4 weeks curve that just shows raw data, nor the weekly view that shows 7 days of data.  The timing of when the week starts can be troublesome too, if it hits on a peak or a valley you can totally get the wrong message.

So, anyways, back to smoothing, and trend lines.  I made myself a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet using the data exported from the 1 year Weight Trend chart at LoseIt.com.  Now the first 3 months are my starting weight, so I removed them, the next 7 months are weekly measures, that have some value in the long term, but what I’m really interested in is the last 30 or so days of daily measurements.  From the Hacker’s Diet I used the formula for a “exponentially smoothed moving average with 10% smoothing” which is basically yesterday’s trend subtracted by today’s weight multiplied by one tenth then adding that result back to yesterday’s trend to get today’s trend. (or the excel formula =(-(Cn-Bn-1)*0.1)+Cn where weights are in column B and trends are in column C.

image When graphed you get a chart like above, the left side of that chart shows my weight and trend measurements for the month of November.  The right side of the chart is my projection or weight loss based on losing 0.30 pounds per day, or a little over 2 pounds for the month of December. Realistically, what I want is to have a strong majority of blue data points below the red data points for the rest of the year.  If I do that, I’ll make my goal of getting below 300 pounds (by the TREND line) before the annual lifting of the sparkling cider plastic glass.  Which would totally rock.

And so as to not end on a downer, I extended that trend-line to the data for my entire journey, and I’ve been here before, and the direction has always been in the correct direction.  Click more for the money chart.

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Categories: Life, Losing It Tags: , ,

Sometimes I do eat – Food Porn and I’ve lost almost 40 pounds

November 19th, 2010 2 comments

imageThe nanny-like Center for Science in the Public Interest has disclosed this years Xtreme Eating 2010 list.  This year they’ve aimed there laser-like sensationalistic dietary probes at the following fine dining institues:

  • Five Guys Burger and Fries
  • Cheesecake Factory
  • California Pizza Factory
  • P. F. Chang’s
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Chevy’s Tex Mex
  • Bob Evan’s

With the surprising shocker that these houses of hash have menu items that are full of calorie laden entrees.  I’m shocked, shocked… actually, I’m not… and really, CSPI you are a bunch of amateur hacks! Have you never seen an episode of Man versus Food, or Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives?  Them there shows can really show you how to stack on the calories!

Now, if you haven’t been paying attention, I’ve been on a weight-loss journey for the past 8 months (and probably for another 8 months, and possibly even beyond that!) and while staying within my calorie goals have managed to dine rather successfully at the aforementioned eating establishments (and others too!).

Five Guys isn’t too bad, hold the cheese, share the small fries with my son, and I’m out the door with about 900 calories (not to say that pre-diet I would scarf down 2000 calories with hardly batting an eye).  Logging my calories has opened my eyes to what I used to eat, and I’m much happier keeping within the boundaries of my calorie counting way.

I will say I don’t like eating at Cheesecake Factory because they don’t publish nutritional information either on their website, or in their menus.  To earn my business, restaurants should provide nutritional information in an easy to understand manner.  The Lose It! application has a good selection of Restaurants that do provide their menus nutritional information publically.  Which Five Guys Burgers and Fries does, even though they top the list of the CSPI’s bad boy’s of food, I’m not thinking a lot of people go to Five Guys for their lighter fare.  It’s a hamburger joint for cripes sake. 

The key, in my journey, is to know what I’m going to eat, and even plan my restaurant visit before I get there, knowing that I might eat a lighter lunch, or add a few more minutes at the gym to keep on track.  And sometimes, the more rare the better, it’s okay to let loose and get a belt-buster, and then get back on track the next day.  No guilt, steady progress, keep moving.

Motivation through number crunching…

November 18th, 2010 Comments off
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Daily Weight Measurements - Last 4 weeks

The last time we spoke, I said I was going to start an experiment of daily weight measurements.  The chart to the right show the results of that experiment.  I wish I could attach a comment of my thoughts at the moment my blurry morning eyes register the blue glow of each mornings revelation.  I’m fairly certain that it would reflect a rollercoaster of emotions followed by some exhortations like: stick with the plan, weight fluctuates, stupid scale, shouldn’t have had that Halloween candy – jerk, etc.  Still you can see the regression the whole counting calories while exercising thing actually works.

Not that I ever intellectually doubted the calculus of calories in – calories out = change in weight.  Emotionally though, I think I’ve been in the SKEPTIC category for many of the past years.  But that roller-coaster curve is hard to deal with day in and day out.  Especially the day after Halloween uptick, followed by the only two-day plateau (actually, I was unable to weigh-in that day as I was out of town, it could’ve been worse!)

Still I want a little more feedback, a better understanding of the trends. I know it’s an up and down thing, and as much as I’d like weight loss journey to be a steady slide to the bottom, ending with a asymptotic slope continually approaching my ideal weight, I know that won’t be the case.  So how can I find motivation in my daily journey of weighing in, counting calories, and compiling daily mile posts.  Back to Excel and the numbers that make up that curve.

duration lbs per day lbs per week
last 4 wks 0.20 1.45
last 3 mos 0.13 0.93
last 6 mos 0.12 0.85
from start 0.16 1.15

LoseIt.com has a great little feature that lets you download the data that goes into displaying that chart.  So let’s do a little linear regression or rough averaging, or what not.  So what I did was take the most current weight, and subtract it from the least current for each time period. I then averaged that for the number of days in the time period to get lbs per day.  I simply multiplied that number by seven to get lbs per week.

So while my numbers aren’t exactly in The Biggest Loser territory, they are at least consistent, and I’m encouraged that since I’ve started my daily weigh-in experiment, I’ve beaten my historical average by a comfortable margin (even WITH Halloween! ha! take that spiritual realm!).  I’m also glad to see that from the beginning of my journey, I’ve averaged a little over a pound per week in shedding the pounds.  I’m hoping to meet my initial goal of 299 by the end of the month, then put a stake in the ground for the next goal.  Hitting the goal before Thanksgiving is my prime directive at the moment, don’t want to delay that goal into the Christmas season, or heaven’s forbid the new year!

Putting the best chart… after the fold

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Trends … Trends … Trends

October 26th, 2010 2 comments

Alternative title, garbage in – garbage out.  Or — Hey lookie, I think this might need to be adjusted.

Using LoseIt.com the over the last three months has enabled me to start spotting trends.  In my last diet number geek post, I lamented that might weight loss had hit a plateau and while still losing I wasn’t losing as quickly as I had.  I had changed systems from WeightWatchers to LoseIt, and had gone astray. The next three charts (from loseit.com) makes my point.

Read more…

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags: , , , ,