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.
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.
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. 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.