Spreadsheets and Weight Loss

This is going to be really out of date by the time I actually post this, but I really couldn’t wait. My weight loss has stalled of late, and the biggest reason is my lack of discipline in logging. Not surprised there. I’ve been trying and trying to re-focus and get going on this week after week, but I keep dropping the ball.

Weight Loss Spreadsheet
Weight Loss Spreadsheet – The Basics

So today (editor’s note – April 25th), I drew up a new spreadsheet. It’s basic, so I’m hoping that will help me keep motivated to fill it out – and properly, at that. This means that I need to have mostly accurate data from MyFitnessPal to get any use from the numbers.

I hope to see some great numbers at the end of the month.

What I hope to get out of this exercise is to see if my logging is accurate. My goal is to lose 1.5 pounds / week, which means I need to have a calorie deficit of 750 per day (based on 500 calories per day = 1 pound of fat). If I’m logging correctly – and my smart watch is giving me accurate results – I should see it accurately reflected in the final totals at the bottom.

The reason I’m tracking MyFitnessPal (“MFP”) totals vs regular totals is because the numbers for MFP are slightly different than when I use a TDEE calculator. The difference is only 100 calories or so, but this is becoming my “control” month to see whether or not I should stick closer to my TDEE or if MFP is close enough. When I get to the end of May I’ll have a look at the results and make some decisions.

Other notes about the spreadsheet – I need to make sure to re-adjust the BMR & TDEE numbers every 10 pounds. I don’t anticipate that happening this month, as long as I stick to 1.5 pounds per week. As I intend to keep this spreadsheet going, however, it’s a good reminder to keep in the back of my head.

The waiting game starts.

The War Against CICO

The War Against CICO
The War Against CICO

There are a lot of articles lately in the fitness world about the “phenomenon” known as CICO.  CICO stands for “Calories In-Calories Out”, and generally it refers to the simple fact that to lose weight, you must burn more calories (“Out”) than you consume (“In”).  I think it was shortened to CICO because it’s just an easier way to remember the term, and it is kind of catchy.

I don’t want to give these articles more views; but just do a quick search online of “why cico doesn’t work” and you’ll get a bunch of hits.  I haven’t given a lot of time to these to read them in detail, but many of the articles suggest that CICO is a fad diet that won’t work for sustainable weight loss.

They use a strawman argument to suggest that proponents of CICO think you can eat all the junk food in the world and lose weight.  Technically, this is true!  If you eat all your calories in junk food, but you burn more than you eat, you WILL lose weight.

The problem with these articles is that they focus on the junk food aspect.  They harp on this over and over, telling you that not only do you need to eat “healthy” (which in itself is a very vague term that’s not helpful at all), but you need to include an exercise regimen in your weight loss plan.

What they overlook is that using the “junk food diet” part of CICO is a means to an end.  The /r/loseit subreddit doesn’t advocate eating whatever you want, whenever you want, all the time.  What they suggest instead is to start this way – don’t change what you’re eating, but change how much of it that you’re eating.

As you start logging your calories and seeing how much your regular food costs you in a day, you begin to learn about other foods that are more calorie-dense and leave you feeling full.  In effect, following the CICO principle teaches you to eat healthier.

In short, you need to learn about how weight / fat loss works (CICO is the mechanism of fat loss) in order to learn how to eat better.

It’s important that you remember most of these websites and articles waging war on CICO are in the business of selling a product to you; whether that’s a weight loss tips newsletter subscription, or diet pills, or a weight loss plan – they have some sort of service that they are trying to push.

Technically speaking, CICO is not a threat to their well-being – but they perceive it to be.  They probably sell some worthwhile information (and when you read the articles, they all circle back to the fact that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose fat), so being armed with knowledge is not a bad thing.

But their perception is that if people knew the basics of weight loss, no one will buy their services.  So, they attack the principle of CICO framing it as a weight loss fad that doesn’t work.

Keep this in mind when you’re reading conflicting information out there.

A bit of progress

When I last wrote about my weight loss goals, I was trying something new: “flexing” my calories for the week, in an attempt to give myself fewer calories during the week and more on the weekend.  Well, that didn’t work out exactly as planned.

I’ve reverted to just focusing on my daily number.  The short reason is that it was a pain in the butt to manually track everything.  Actually, that’s also the long reason.  Anyway, the point I’m making now is that going back to basics and tracking my daily numbers still works.  And since I’m making sure I am active every day, I’m not at all worried about going over my daily goal a little bit.

But enough writing – how about some friendly charts?

Libra Scale Data October-November 2017
Libra Scale Data October-November 2017

FitBit 28-Day Step Average
FitBit 28-Day Step Average

Net Calories - 30 Days
Net Calories – 30 Days

I’ll quickly walk you through what you’re looking at here.  In the first chart, that’s my scale results since October 27th.  I think what it’s saying is that I’m currently on track with my goal weight, but I have some work to do.

The second chart are my FitBit steps for the past 28 days.  That’s how I’m staying active.  Most weeks I reach my step goal (10,205 currently – I may need to alter it) almost every day.  This is helping to make sure my NET calories are a reasonable difference from my daily goal.  I try my best not to eat back anything.

And the third chart are my net calories.  You can see there are some missing days, as well as some really low ones.  I missed a couple of entries, and not all of them are complete.  But with the exception of one day there – I’m well below 2000 net calories.

So things are going well.  I could be doing better, but I could easily be doing a lot worse.  It’s a lot easier to ADD pounds than it is to lose them.