Look at the Big Picture

It’s so often that a good or bad weigh-in dictates the tone for the rest of our day.  At the clinic, we weigh once per week.  Some folks say that daily at-home weighings are also healthy.  Others think it’s obsessive and leads you to panic over minor variations in weight.  I lie somewhere in the middle.  The truth is, I feel the more data I have, the better.  I log my morning weights into a spreadsheet most weekdays.  I bring this up because my weight loss as measured at my weekly clinic visit was abnormally high this time.

Weigh-in 4/10/13

To the uninitiated, this means that my current body weight is 191.8 pounds.  My loss from last week was 2.6 pounds.  My loss from the start is 256.9 pounds.  Many would say, “Rock on!  Great week!”  In my head, my initial reaction was, “Careful, Daniel — you’re not within the 0.5 – 2.0 pound per week range that’s typical of healthy, sustainable weight loss.”

I stepped off the scale, thought for a minute, and walked away content.  I am looking at the big picture here, and I understand that this is just a snapshot of how much I weighed at 4:50PM on 4/10/13.  Compared to how much I weighed at 4:30PM on 4/3/13, there is a 2.6 pound difference, yes.  Before I get into the laundry list of excuses, let’s just take a look at the big picture.

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 9.23.54 AM

Nothing here looks catastrophic.  Nothing here seems out-of-control.  I have my peaks and valleys, but my general trend is a steady decrease in body weight that’s not speeding up or slowing down.  Having the morning weights allows me to visualize these things easily.  Just looking at this chart set my mind at ease.

Even more revealing is graph of each of my weigh-ins since starting the weight loss program in 2011.

Weekly Weigh-In Graph

With the exception of the change in slope around January 2013, which I transitioned from meal replacements to 100% conventional food, my progress has been generally quite steady and predictable.  This single data point does not disturb me.

Now, on to the factors that could have made this week’s number wonky.  Part of the difference was water weight.  I didn’t say “could have been,” but “was.”

WaterJug

I drink at least one of these each day.  Today, I just happened to be behind on my water consumption.  That jug of water weighs over 5 pounds, and I normally would be half-way through it by weigh-in time.  Today, I didn’t spend a lot of time at my desk, and I didn’t spend a lot of time sipping my water.

“The clinic owed me a pound.”  As you’ve seen, I keep my own set of books, and I cry foul when things seem amiss.  Let’s look at my morning weights for the last couple of weeks:

Morning Weights

From 4/10/13 to one week prior (4/3/13), my weight change was only 0.8 pounds.  That meant that I would have expected to walk into the weight loss clinic and only have lost around a pound today.  That is, provided the number on their chart from last week was right.  

Let’s look at my weight loss from last week based on my morning weights.  My morning weight for March 27 was 196.6.  Compared with my morning weight for April 3, my weekly loss for last week, as measured at home, was 1.6 pounds.  Now, compare that to the clinic data.

Clinic Weights Early April

While the weights from home versus clinic cannot be compared because I’m being weighed on different scales at different times of the day, the changes in weight should coincide.  Last week, when I calculated at home that I should have lost 1.6 pounds, the clinic only registered me at 0.5 pounds.  “The clinic owes me a pound,” I thought.  And this week, when I expected to have lost around 1 pound, the clinic paid me back my pound plus interest!

Next week, I very well may show a slight gain in weight if the 191.8 figure turns out not to be spot on.  And you know what?  I’m at peace with that.  The point is, if you nitpick about daily, weekly, or even monthly weights, you’ll drive yourself crazy.  Collecting the data is very valuable to me, but I don’t spend too much emotional and mental capital over-processing it.

 If you’re doing the right things, and you’re experiencing weight loss over time, just keep on keeping on, and the pounds will take care of themselves.

This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain.

This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain.

PS:  If you are interested in tracking your own weights at home, try out my handy-dandy weight tracker spreadsheet template.  It’s as easy as Pi.

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