Last summer after a long winter, spring and summer of unfettered and overly indulgent eating and drinking, I once again faced the nasty conundrum of not being able to fit into my pants. If I sucked in my gut and forcibly pulled the two zippered edges together, which at this point the separation felt about as wide as the chasm in the Grand Canyon, I could just about zip up the pants and button the top tab (and pray that the button wouldn’t pop off like an uncorked champagne at some point in the afternoon). Soft pillowy masses of flesh flopped over my pants like fizz from an overflowing soda. The only problem was that they didn’t disappear like the carbonation.
At 145 lbs, 5’4″ I now teetered dangerously close to the overweight category based on BMI. I had been here before and didn’t wish to go back. I knew I wasn’t being healthy. Once I came back from vacation, I immediately began making changes in my life. I drank less. I exercised more. I ate modest portions. I began losing weight from these simple changes. I read more about fitness. I added barbell weight training to my regime. I lost even more weight from the fat loss. I gained muscle and strength. I tried intermittent fasting.
Along with these behavioral changes, I used Hacker’s Diet Online to track my weight. Hacker’s Diet Online is more than an online tool for recording your weight. Although it has diet and exercise advice too, for me the most useful part of Hacker’s Diet Online is exactly how it tracks your weight. Most people get discouraged by the normal daily fluctuations of weight in their weight loss journey. Even though they may know cognitively that weight gain/loss of a couple pounds day-to-day is a part of normal variation, emotionally it can be discouraging to see a “weight gain” of a pound when you had been good about sticking to your diet the prior day. Hacker’s Diet Online takes care of this problem by presenting you with a rolling 10-day average.
You enter your weight for a particular day in the log below. The graphical display above plots two different numbers. The open circles represent the weight you entered on that day. The red line represents the rolling 10-day average. This averaging smooths out the huge every day variability in weight that you could experience. By looking at the average, you can determine whether you’re steadily losing or gaining weight. See in the month of February, there were days when I could have gotten discouraged because it looked like I had fallen off the band wagon and “gained weight.” But instead by looking at the average, I could see that I was steadily losing weight and up and down variation of my weight was partially driven by normal fluctuations. I knew that as long as the rolling average was going down, I was doing fine.
I didn’t discover Hacker’s Diet Online until February, which by then I had gotten down to 137 lbs for the first entry. I’m currently at around 132 lbs. This means that I’ve lost about 13 lbs over a 15 month period. That’s slightly less than a pound a month.
And I’m absolutely fine with this. I know that we can safely lose 1-2 lbs a week, but frankly for someone who’s at my height and weight, losing a 1-2 lbs a week is quite aggressive. I’ve discovered that I’m (for better or worse) too lazy to be that aggressive for a long period of time. This slow pace of steadily losing fat has turned out to be a blessing because 1) I now can fit into my clothes now and 2) I can eat and exercise in a way that suits my lifestyle without going crazy because I’m not trying to meet a target loss each week. The first chart shows you the changes in my weight over this past year (red is the rolling average and gray is the individual weight entry). As you can see, there’s been some huge variations within a short period of time (hello, bloating!), but I keep my eye on the red line. And I wanted to show you that even these really small changes in weight loss adds up to a sizeable loss after a period of time. So yes, while from month to month, a net loss of less than a pound isn’t much, about a year later, I’m wearing smaller size clothing now and I’m no longer fighting to zip up my pants.