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Posts Tagged ‘Lose It’

Why I weigh-in daily

January 19th, 2011 Comments off

Seems like it’s a popular topic on the LoseIt! forums, so here’s my chance to tell my story.  I started losing in April, on weight-watchers and used the scale at the gym to record my weights because I was too heavy for our old scale in the bathroom and it wasn’t reliable at all. 

The gym scale worked great, and I had great success.  Usually tried for the same day of the week, but the time would vary, morning to mid-afternoon as my schedule changed.  But it was in convenient, and after moving to LoseIt! in June my rate slowed dramatically.  I thought it was the normal plateau so I kept doing what I was doing and making small adjustments here, a bit more running there.  Travelled a lot in the Summer which I justified some of the slowness in just the environment of flying, staying in a hotel, and the stress of being away from home.

image In October I expressed frustration that my weight-loss rate was really slowing down, and I wanted to mix it up a bit.  We bought a new scale at Wal-mart and I started a month long experiment on daily weigh-ins.  This chart shows the raw data of the daily weigh-ins since I started.  Noisy is the word for that data, and imagine how I felt emotionally each morning. Up = Bad mood.  Down = Euphoria. Same = Grumpy.  It’s crazy to look at that data as a snap shot.  Our bodies take in a lot of ‘stuff’ over the day, The Hacker’s Diet uses the figure of 14 pounds of ‘stuff’ goes through our system daily.  So a snap-shot scale weight is almost meaningless without context.

Which is why I don’t really care about those numbers.  Well I do care, but only as they relate to the over all trend.  You’ll notice the fits and starts at the beginning of the dailys, I’ll give you a hint, the first spike was Halloween, the second Thanksgiving weekend, and the third smaller spike, right after the new year.  But the spikes, over time have gotten less volatile, and I think that’s the discipline of looking at my daily weight as it relates to the trend. 

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Here’s the same data with a 10 day moving average trend line overlaid in red.  Not near as manic as the daily weigh-in, and some early warnings become apparent in the data points (I didn’t start using a trend until after Thanksgiving the tall spike in the middle).  Armed with the trend-line early warning system (above trend weigh-in check out routines, and re-evaluate habits) I got through a 15 day vacation at the end of the year without a major plateau and buckling down when the work/school routine started put me right back on track.  So if you’re going to weigh in daily, use a trend of some kind to relate to your data, and don’t ride the emotional roller coaster of daily weigh-ins.

I also noticed that my Monday’s were almost always up, and my Tuesday’s were almost always down.  So I thought to myself, what if I changed to only recording my weight on Tuesdays. image I’ve gone back and made a chart of the Tuesday weigh-ins along with the trend points for those days.  The blue lines show the Tuesday weigh-ins for the same intervals as above.  The red-lines show the trend values from the daily-weigh-in (they’d be different if applied to only the weekly data).  The point I’d like to make here, is that for me I’m not sure I’d have really gotten the feedback that’s been valuable in finding and changing small habits if I’d only looked once a week.  As I noticed back around Thanksgiving, high-sodium and not enough water will spike me in the wrong direction.  On  this chart it just looks like a small little uptick, and I wouldn’t have really thought about the bad habit, and the rest of the graph might be a lot flatter if I didn’t make that connection.

The changing of my lifestyle isn’t a one thing, one time event, it’s lots of little changes, realizing portion size, the importance of water, the effect of junk food on my plan, emotional eating, etc.  Each of those came at a different time, and only when I had the data-points that gave me more direct feedback on the results of those choices.  If your reading this, your body is different, my results are NOT typical, so you need to do the work of checking in regularly to your patterns, finding your triggers and then finding solutions to change the way you react to your environment.  That might mean weighing in daily, or weekly.  That might mean just logging your foods for now, trying to just eat your maintenance amount of calories.  You’re in charge, and you can do anything you set your mind to.

iPhone apps that keep me on track!

January 13th, 2011 Comments off

Photo Jan 11, 4 06 11 PMHit my mini-goal of 4 pounds today, moving to next mini goal of 8.  Will try to hit that by Valentine’s Day.  I’m trying to put a blog up regularly to keep my writing skills finely tuned should I ever need to write a novel, or a short story.  Because, you should never start a sentence with because, nor do you know when you might by held hostage until a good work of fiction is done!  There, paragraph down and haven’t even mentioned the subject I want to write about. Take that! productivity!

Hey, look at my iphone, look at my Mii, now back to my iPhone, and back to Mii.  Sadly you aren’t Mii. right… on topic!

Ahem.

This is a special page of iPhone apps that I use regularly.  My essentials are along the home row and I use them everyday.  The others are used less often but still good resources to tracking my diet, hydration and exercise.  This post I’ll just highlight the essentials.

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Lose It!: This is my main app to keep me honest.  It is my food diary so I’ll open it at least 4-6 times a day to record my meals and snacks.  The simple functions are easy, a comprehensive food database that include many brand name foods along with a good sampling of many restaurants and even fast food joints.  The database made it easy to start off and as I went I added foods that weren’t in the database.  Once a food is added, you can use it again and again.  The Lose It! plan for losing weight is to figure out your basic metabolism by using your height and weight, adding to that an activity level score to get a baseline for how many calories should keep you at your present weight.  Then you pick a planned amount of weight to lose in half pound increments.  The math works out that if you want to lose 2 pounds a week (7000 calories) your calorie goal will be 1000 calories less a day.  Everybody is different so there might be slight adjustment per person, but that is the basics.  The application is joined by a top-notch web application that syncs with your on phone log and gives you a plethora or reports to obsess over.  Recently, the site has added an awesome social networking layer so you can meet other losers and encourage one another. It’s a free app, and worth every penny!

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RunKeeper Pro! (RunKeeper Free):  This, like Lose It! was on my phone for about a year before I started using it regularly.  Since I’ve used it regularly, it has been three-four times a week app.  It’s core is a GPS tracking application that tracks your route live while you run, along with speed, elevation and all the other stuff that comes with GPS location services.  Much like Lose It!, RunKeeper syncs your runs that you enter on the iPhone with it’s website which provides additional tools to look at your history.  You can enter manual entries from the gym when your on stationary machines.  RunKeeper has a free app, but to get the most from the application, it’s a good investment to get the Pro version ($9.99).  Right now RunKeeper is running a promotion, you can download RunKeeper Pro for free through January.  Even if your not ready to start walking or running immediately it’s a good idea to grab the Pro app now, to avoid the normal fee.  RunKeeper has some additional add-ons, an Elite account ($9.95) will get you additional reports and the ability to track your runs live which is a neat feature when you’re running a race, or a long run to keep your loved ones informed on your location.  They also have Fitness Classes (different fee for each) that downloads a schedule and run intervals to help you train for a fitness goal.  They just pushed out active heart-rate monitoring this past week, or with select Polar devices you can upload your HRM data to the web-site post-run.   Great application, continuing to deliver new features and a good social networking layer to collect Street Teams to keep you motivated.

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Water (Water Your Body): this is currently a $0.99 app (limited promotion, that’s been running since November), and it’s a really nifty application to help ensure your drinking enough water.  It also has some in application awards and badges to encourage you to hydrate.  The app has a reminder badge on the icon to remind you (after you log your first drink of the day, how many more drinks you need to take to reach your goal.  No social networking layer with this application, but it doesn’t need it, it does the one thing it advertises very well.  Good visual representation of the water your drinking, and has a load of factoids about water that was interesting to read through.  There is a free application with advertising by Brita floating around, so if the buck gives you pause, grab the free one.

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True Weight: Another $0.99 cent application and I think this is only really required if you weigh yourself everyday.  A weekly weigh-in over time will show you the progress from sticking to your plan and meeting your goals.  However, if you’re like me and impatient and want to see the numbers everyday, then give your mind and worries a break and lay down the buck for this app.  Our bodies are wonderful machines, but we take in and push out over 14 pounds of “stuff” a day, so our weight is bound to fluctuate day to day.  By recording your weight in this application everyday, it calculates a moving average.  This is great if you’ve noticed a one day jump of a pound and start to worry, and realize it’s still a half pound below your average.  Good for piece of mind for the scale OCD types like me.  Nice graphical interface, and a 1 to 3 month chart keeps me motivated to stay on track.  You can even use the graphs as an instant brag page to friends over coffee.  What’s not to like about bragging.

So there is my essential iPhone app review for weight loss.  You can get in the game for $2 through the month of January, or wait until February and shell out 11.99.  Either way, it’s a bargain for how you’ll feel after shedding that holiday excess (or in my case … YEARS of holiday excess).

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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