Winning the battle
Every day now, for the last few months (since mid-June), I’ve climbed upon my scale, and had my weight read back to me. In general, I think that this morning ritual is more looked upon with dread, then with anticipation. However, for me, in the midst of this diet, I do tend to be a bit more optimistic about it. Granted, more mornings than not, I get on the scale, and it reports no particularly interesting change. Every once in a while though, I’ll notice a big drop off, where over the course of a single day, somehow, I appear to have just shed 3 pounds!
I’m here to tell you that a day like that is pretty fun. I walk around all day with extra bounce in my stride. The encouragement that I feel in those days is unbelievable. And, on the days where it isn’t going so well for me, the idea that in a few days time, I might see another of those drops, more than makes up for it.
I think that, in dieting and weight-loss (actually, for life in general) that daily measurements are critical to your long term success. I know that some diet books/people say not to do it but once per week, and that you shouldn’t be obsessing over your weight, but I have a different view of it, that I (obviously) think makes more sense.
The key point to scale measurements, in my opinion, is not to measure your ‘current weight’. There is little meaning in a single days measurement. However, when combined with charting, each of those measurements begin to combine to tell a tale. In particular, one type of chart is about to become your best friend. It’s called the ‘weighted running average’. The details are non-trivial, but the premise is simple. In weight management, we’re not supposed to be concerned with (or obsess over) any single measurement, but what does concern us, is the trend.
In the ‘weighted running average’ chart, we supply the daily measurements, and the chart supplies us with an average, over the last 30 days (the running part), and it gives more value to your more recent measurements than it does to those taken 4 weeks ago(the weighted part).
The glory of this method is that, even if you were to have an off day, where you just simply over-ate, for one reason or another, the next day’s measurements are going to show a significant upward swing. This might be viewed with discouragement. But, not so with the ‘weighted running average’. Odds are, even with the bad day in their, that your trend will still continue to head in a generally downward direction.
For me, this creates a unique freedom with my diet. I no longer need to be hyper-focused on the diet itself. I can have the freedom to splurge at my daughters birthday party, and have a few too many pretzels. Because I know that a single day is not going to have a terribly significant impact on my trend-line, and therefore, will not have a significant impact on my emotional commitment to the diet.
I’m not going to recommend that anyone try to manage this sort of thing by themselves, though. As I said, the math behind a ‘weighted running average’ is not simple arithmetic, and its probably best left to a computer of some sort. For myself, I use the site https://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/HackDiet . I’m sure there are a number of other sites out there that provide something similar, but I rather like the minimalistic approach. The site provides daily logs, charts, historical data, and trend plotting. Its definitely not the prettiest site out there, but it does work very well.
As a final note, here’s my current chart. I’m VERY proud of it. I think you’ll readily see why. The little diamonds are my daily measurements. The red line is my ‘weighted running average’. The dotted yellow line is my goal trend. To meet my goal (which is to lose 100 pounds in 50 weeks, or, 2 pounds per week), I must keep my red line under the yellow line. So far, so good.