Weight Loss by Numbers

Weird title, I know – after all, weight is already just a number. So what do I mean by “weight loss by numbers”? In short, it’s reducing my efforts (eating, exercising, etc.) to data points. This is my latest “scheme” to get on track with losing weight.

The other day I found – by accident – a really useful spreadsheet designed to help you nail down your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure – the amount of calories you burn per day). It’s the kind of spreadsheet that requires a lot of data – to work well, at the very least, 4-6 weeks’ worth of data. It took me a little bit to figure out what I needed to do to get value out of it, but once I did, I found I really love it.

How it worked for me

For the past several weeks I’ve been working with a max 1555 calories per day, and that was based on some TDEE calculations and MyFitnessPal goals. The idea was to be in a 1000-calorie deficit from my TDEE. Well, this spreadsheet takes into account your weight and calorie intake to calculate your TDEE. This is, I feel, slightly more accurate than the calculators available online. What the sheet is doing is calculating the TDEE based on how calorie intake is affecting your weight the next day.

All that said – what it’s telling me today (at the time of writing, Wednesday) – my TDEE is approximately 2650, which means I need to eat about 1650 calories daily to lose 2 pounds per week. There are some missing days in my data, unfortunately, but this is a very good approximation of where I should be. Since I’ve committed (mentally, at least) to being diligent with logging, I believe I should get even more relevant data as time goes on. I’ll be able to adjust my daily calorie intake more correctly.

So – here’s hoping I can make the right adjustments and get going with my weight loss. I want to get back to where I was 4-5 years ago, and keep going from there. Biggest roadblock to overcome in the coming days: I need to keep logging. That’s really all there is to it.

What about Breakfast?

I’ve seen plenty of things said about breakfast; the most popular is that it’s “the most important meal of the day“. In my experience, this is simply not true. I rarely eat breakfast, and I don’t suffer for it. Unfortunately, I do not have empirical evidence; I can’t tell you whether I’ve been negatively affected by it (are my insides rotting because I’m not eating breakfast?), and I also can’t tell you that my positive weight loss results can be directly attributed to not eating breakfast (it’s not – it’s tied to my calorie deficit that I try my best to maintain).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vauvau/11855393546
Not a typical breakfast for me. Photo credit:
Clemens v. Vogelsang

I thought I would do a bit of research for this instead. I performed two different searches:

  1. “Is breakfast really necessary?”
  2. “Why should you eat breakfast?”

I wanted to word each search to try to get a tailored result; with the first search term, I expected to see articles that either support skipping breakfast or at least tell you that it’s a personal decision about whether or not you need to eat breakfast.

The second I purposefully worded it “pro” breakfast, to see if I would get something that supported the idea of eating breakfast. I was also curious with this search term to see if the articles I got were backed by anyone with an agenda (i.e. food companies). So here’s what I found out.

Is breakfast really necessary?

I found this article from the BBC: “Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?” Go ahead and read it, I’ll wait.

One of the very first things I noticed is that this article tries very hard to remain neutral, and even links to some interesting stuff about the food industry pushing studies that support eating breakfast. The most interesting thing I took out of the article was this section about trying to determine a relationship between breakfast and obesity:

What they found was that it wasn’t breakfast itself that caused the participants to lose weight: it was changing their normal routine. The women who said before the study that they usually ate breakfast lost 8.9kg when they stopped having breakfast, compared to 6.2kg in the breakfast group. Meanwhile, those who usually skipped breakfast lost 7.7kg when they started eating it – and 6kg when they continued to skip it.

Jessica Brown – Nov 28 2018

And, of course, this line here:

A 2016 review of 10 studies looking into the relationship between breakfast and weight management concluded there is “limited evidence” supporting or refuting the argument that breakfast influences weight or food intake, and more evidence is required before breakfast recommendations can be used to help prevent obesity.


Jessica Brown – Nov 28 2018

The entire article goes back and forth between whether or not breakfast is good or bad. One study says yes, another says no. One scientist says simply “don’t have a late dinner if you skip breakfast”. It goes on.

The final conclusion seems to be: nobody agrees, so just pay attention to your body (in other words, eat when you’re hungry). OK, let me circle back to this after the next section.

Why should you eat breakfast?

The very first search result was definitely pro-Breakfast: “5 Reasons Why You Should Eat Breakfast“. Again, I’ll be here.

Once again, first impressions: what the search result doesn’t tell you is that this is a sponsored post. From the article: “This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of belVita for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.” OK, so immediately I know that this is supported by the food industry; but perhaps there’s more substance here.

Breakfast is a must for all of us.  It is the most important meal of the day.  A nutritious breakfast is very important for our health and weight management, but not having it at all is the worst option.  5 Reasons why you should eat breakfast: burns fat, keeps blood sugar even through the day, helps to fight daytime cravings, lower incident of heart disease, keeps our brains sharp, helps with concentration and productivity.

Amy, A Healthy Life For Me

This is the opening paragraph. It goes on, but I’ll reflect a bit here. First, there are no indications that there’s any sourcing for these claims. The author just states them as fact. I just finished reading in the BBC article that many of these reasons provided are contentious and studies both prove and disprove them. I’m a little disappointed in the effort here.

But the article does go on, as I said; it provides some basic information about protein and fiber – still not sourcing anything – and repeats the 5 basic reasons from the opening paragraph.

In general this article is not very helpful and even though it is sponsored content, I think more care should have been given to find sources for the information given.

So, what about breakfast?

As I mentioned at the start of this post, and found out from the BBC article, it ultimately depends on your own body and your needs. But what I think you should pull from this article is more about how careful you should be when searching for answers about something.

The positive or negative spin you put on a search term will definitely influence your results, and you need to be careful about what you’re reading. There are a lot more sponsored content pieces out there these days, so it can be difficult to determine what’s fact and what’s not.

Either way, this was a fun little exercise that supported my own personal viewpoint.

How I Learned to Stop Drinking Pop and Love Flavoured Soda Water

When I was younger I used to drink regular pop all the time – usually Coca Cola. I long since switched to diet pop and never looked back.

But recently on a whim I decided to try President’s Choice Blue Menu sparkling water. It was 89 cents for a tall bottle, so I figured I would give it a try. I’ve never been a fan of soda water – for some reason, I just find the carbonation negatively affects the taste.

But this PC sparkling water was flavoured – watermelon, to be specific. Probably not the first flavour I’d normally choose, but I thought I’d give it a try; the flavour really helped. At first, it took me a bit to get used to. The carbonation was still a bit overpowering, but after getting through the bottle, I enjoyed it.

From the watermelon flavour, I branched out to a few different ones. They have lime, lemon, orange – quite a range. I liked them all. So far from the PC line of sparkling water my favourite of theirs is the Blueberry Pomegranate. You can smell the blueberry flavour as soon as you open the can, and it tastes really good.

I find that I drink the sparkling water a lot slower than pop; I think the carbonation is a a bit harsher than traditional soft drinks. I did some very brief research (read: one google search and glance over a wikipedia article) but I can’t find anything that seems to substantiate this. Whatever the case is, I find that I enjoy these drinks more because they take longer to drink, and it’s a good thing that they last longer. Sometimes it kind of just sucks when you run out of a nice drink too soon.

Since discovering my affinity for flavoured sparkling water I’ve branched out a bit and tried some different flavours. Perrier has a really great-tasting strawberry flavour, and I recently tried a Montellier lemon-flavoured drink. I’m happy to stick with the store brand because it’s much cheaper than these “premium” brands of drinks.

I highly recommend switching the flavoured sparkling water, if soda/pop/soft drinks are an issue for you. Nothing beats regular water, but when you want something different – these fit the bill.

Health Notes + Quick Dailyio Review

I’ve not seen very much progress in the weight loss department over the last 90 days.  My numbers have pretty much fluctuated up and down, meaning I’m more or less maintaining my weight rather than losing.  That’s fine, it’s definitely better than gaining.  

I know the reason for this too – I’ve not been properly tracking my calorie intake via MyFitnessPal.  It’s been a combination of a number of things – either I skip days entirely, or I only enter a portion of my diary, or I don’t record “treats” – the bottom line is that I’m not keeping track of what I’m eating, so I’m not holding myself accountable to the weight loss.  

In looking at my numbers, I think part of the reason for this is because I set my daily food goal too low.  It looks like I based it on losing 2 pounds a week – which is pretty aggressive, but it meant that daily I was only allowed 1690 calories.  That’s really low.  I asked some questions yesterday about what I was doing, and the person responding felt my calorie deficit was really high.  That’s when I looked at my numbers and agreed with them.  Helps to get outside perspective every now and then.  So I’ve done a reset, based my numbers on my TDEE – 500 per day (so the goal is: 1 lb per week).  

We’ll see how this goes.  I’ve also decided not to focus too much on the exercise front; I will be going to the gym, going for walks, playing some sports, etc.  But I feel that I’m putting too much emphasis on getting my daily steps in and I’m not getting as much reading done as I’d like to.  

Edit: My overall goal too is to help me feel more comfortable with the clothes I’ve bought.  I liked them in the store, but when I go to put them on at home for work, I don’t like the way they look.  So there’s a confidence thing going on too.

Daylio

I’ve recently started using the Daylio app.  I’m…not at all sure how they came up with that name, but it serves a specific purpose that I was looking for.  Namely, to track how I’m feeling.  Mostly I wanted to do this for days when I feel “down”, to try and figure out the reason behind feeling that way.  

I wanted something simple, quick, and give me the option to look back on it later to track trends.  I stumbled upon Daylio quite by accident, because I was originally thinking of tracking this kind of thing in my bullet journal.  I saw someone recommend Daylio and it turned out to be exactly what I needed.  

I stuck with the free version for a while, but they ended up having a 50% off sale – so I jumped on it and bought the paid version of the app.  To be honest, I think most people will be fine with the free version – I probably would still be using it for free had there not been a flash sale.  

But the app is pretty basic.  You open it up, add an entry (which is done by clicking on an overall mood and associating with an activity), and that’s it.  You can type notes if you want to, but it’s completely optional.  The simplicity of the app is what makes it great.  I believe the paid version opens it up to add more “moods”.

Overall it’s only something I recommend if you need a quick tracking app.  It’s not an in-depth thing that has a lot of utility.  I would say that if you need help with mental health in a serious capacity, this is not a solution.