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.

Results From an 8 Week Health Challenge

8 weeks ago (give or take a few days) I joined a challenge on reddit’s LoseIt sub – it was an 8-week challenge with at least two goals in mind: to allow individuals to try to lose weight, and also to collectively walk a bunch of steps. I’m being admittedly reductive in the description but it was actually a lot of fun.

I set an 8-week goal of losing 12 pounds, which would take me from 269.8 lbs to 257.8. By week 5 I had lost 2.6 pounds on the scale; but that’s also around when I unfortunately sabotaged my efforts and stalled a bit. I didn’t lose any significant amount of weight, and it looks like I possibly gained 1 pound on top of my starting number. Not so hot. But I did put up some crazy numbers in terms of steps and activity minutes. Here’s what I did, week-to-week (daily average steps):

Week1234567
Steps 80349589536386608912100348255

So, based on the daily average, I did about 411,929 steps! I could probably get a more accurate number but that would involve going back over 98 days or so…not quite what I want to do right now. Anyway, I’m quite happy with the work I put in despite not getting results that I wanted.

I don’t think I’m going to change anything up right now, except to try to stick within my calorie budgets as much as possible. I would like to see my scale weight go back down to 269 by the end of this week, if possible. If nothing else I’d like to get my trend weight lines to get moving back down instead of up.

I will tell you this…beer is probably the number one enemy for weight loss. That’s what started my 2-3 week setback.

Weight Loss Roller Coaster

This is not new that I keep posting about weight loss, as it’s something I’m working at – constantly. I recently completed a review of my weight data from 2013 to current day, and it disappoints me to learn that while I lost 40+ pounds by the end of 2014, I gained it all back by 2018.

At my lowest I hit 228 pounds (November 2014); that was from a starting number of 272 (February 2013). Today, August 6 2019, I’m still at 272. I knew that I was climbing back up on the scale over the past 3 years, but seeing it laid out in a spreadsheet made it pretty painfully obvious.

Clearly, I’ve talked a lot about my strategies for weight loss on this blog. Just as clearly, my strategies have not worked. I can’t remember exactly what I did when I lost the weight 5 years ago, but I at least know that it was a combination of diet (via MyFitnessPal) and going to the gym. I still have a gym membership, I just haven’t gone in several months – but it’s not like I’m inactive, it’s just not practical to go to the gym in Summer months when there’s so much to do outdoors.

5 years ago I wasn’t armed with the knowledge of CICO, though, so I feel like this time around it should be a bit simpler to approach. Of course that’s the thinking that I’ve been trapped in for a while, now. But since giving myself this kick in the pants, I’ve outlined a new plan.

  • Reduce daily calorie goal to aim for a 2 lb / week loss (so for right now, ~1555 calories per day)
  • Get back to the gym, 3 times a week. Doesn’t matter which days, and need to be there at least 30 minutes per session (if it’s a short session, it has to be all cardio).
  • I’ll allow myself to eat back maximum 50% of my exercise calories – since they are not accurately tracked, anyway.

Given this plan, I should be at 232 pounds by January 2020 at the latest. I anticipate setbacks, that’s a given. So buffer zone…end of January 2020 to shed 40 pounds. But my “real” goal is to try to hit that number by December 22 2019.

I’m not going to finish at 40 pounds, though. According to most sources, a healthy weight for me should be 148-153 pounds. That seems a bit extreme so probably my next goal after 40 pounds is to get down to 200. That was the original goal, back in 2014. I just never got there.

2019 1st Quarter Check-In

It’s been a while now since I’ve had a meaningful health update on my blog – lately it’s been a lot of stuff of a promotional nature (podcasts, mainly). I haven’t really written anything of “substance” in a bit. This won’t change that, but at least will change up the routine a little.

Physical Health

I can’t remember right now when my most recent weight update was, but luckily all of the digital entries I have at my disposal are helpful in this regard. I closed out 2018 at 274.0. Today (as I write this, “today” is a Tuesday) I weigh 271.8, with Happy Scale telling me my moving average is 271.4. So let’s call it 271. Down 3 pounds in 3 months; not terrible but not where I’d like to be either.

I’ve been up and down when it comes to properly logging food in MyFitnessPal. Some days I lack the discipline to stick with it (I get lazy, or I am purposefully ignoring the fact that I know I’m over-budget). What has been happening lately is that I am solid with logging for a few days, and then fall off the wagon.

I haven’t figured out a solution to this yet – the best solution is that I just log consistently, every day. However this doesn’t work for me mentally. Something I need to brainstorm.

Mental Wellbeing

This is one category I’m happy with. It’s not perfect, but I’m definitely doing better than the physical side of things.

Reading – I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ve finished 2 books in the first 3 months of the year, and am making good progress on 2 others at the same time (“Dune”, and “Gone”). I’ve rolled my reading into a new podcast too, and while that’s not taking off very fast, I’m having a good time with it.

Writing – Yeah, haven’t done a ton with writing. I was going to work on a fiction project as my “project” for 2019, but instead of moved to creating a new podcast. I have some stretch writing goals for my blogs, and this I guess is part of it.

Other parts of mental health – Recently my workplace’s health team shared an article about fostering mindfulness – I gave it a quick skim but I saved it for later. I think I’m going to go back to it. Not something I usually think about but sometimes it feels like something I need.

Overall, I’d say I’m doing pretty well. I feel like I had some more things to say but I had to take a break from writing and came back to this the next day, so that’s that. I will try to get some more things written in the near future. I have a couple of gadget reviews that will be fairly easy to write.

Weight Loss Update

I wish I could come up with more creative titles for these; but as it stands this is what it is: a weight loss update.

Recap

My goal for March 5th 2019 was to lose 22 pounds and weigh in at 154 pounds. I forget exactly how many weeks I gave myself but I started in November. That should have been plenty of time to reach the goal.

Reality

But I didn’t quite make it. The long and short of it is that I couldn’t get the scale to budge and as I got closer to the March 5th date, I ran out of weeks in order to lose the weight I wanted to. In total I lost 5.5 pounds, 16.5 pounds off from my actual goal weight.

Solution

Well…I don’t know really what my solution is. I’m just going to keep doing what I started back in February, which was to be stricter with logging my calories (both in and out).

I came up with a method originally of tracking my net calories, and it worked overall, so I think I’m going to continue with that. I just need to tweak my setup and try better not to falter.

According to Happy Scale, if I stick to 2 pounds per week, I’ll hit my goal (still 254) by April 24th; on my current overall rate it won’t be until January 2020. What I deemed my “realistic” goal (average of 2, 0.34, and 1 pound per week), it looks like June is my target date.

I think I’ll be happy if I can hit 254 pounds by May 1st. That gives me 8 weeks to hit my goal.

On Writing

Not referring to Stephen King’s book here (a book I plan on coming back to this year, actually). A few weeks ago I had this great idea pop into my head for a short story. Then a few things in life happened, and I haven’t really thought about it much.

The idea is still there – I haven’t given up on it exactly. I actually transformed it from one idea into something else in my little notes, I’m just not writing it. I find that I’m back into a reading & podcast groove that is taking me away from the writing head space.

Still, I have it tucked away for future use. It’s part of my 2019 goals to start and complete a piece of writing, so this falls under the “started” pile.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a writing prompt I found earlier in the year that I’m no longer going to use. It comes from the Writing Excuses podcast:

You are about to cut into a cake…and it speaks.

Have fun with that!

Quick Weight Loss Update

Back in November I wrote out a goal – that I wanted to lose ~20 pounds by March 5th 2019 (my 35th birthday). The only reason I picked my birthday was because 5 years ago, I had a huge weight loss goal for my 30th birthday, and I mostly attained it.

Anyway, suffice it to say it has not been going well. I started at 276 lbs November 28th. January 28th, I was at 275.8. Between then and now, I’ve flirted with reaching 270 but have gone back up. I know the reason: inconsistent food journalling / calorie tracking.

This week I gave myself a wake-up call and readjusted my calorie goals to aim for a 2 lb / week goal. I’m fine with 1 lb / week but this way, I aim high and won’t be disappointed if I get less than that.

I started the week at a really low weekly weight loss rate, but with my re-focused efforts have improved to a 0.40 lbs / week rate. I’ve started using Happy Scale to take some of the math away from me (I feel my own math is at times suspect), and it’s telling me that at this current rate, I’ll reach 270.1 lbs by March 3rd. That’s not ideal but better news than when I started the week.

Oh, I should mention what I’ve been doing to realize this change. I found a post on reddit on /r/LoseIt that gave me a different way of tracking my progress; to save you a click, I’m subtracting my daily calorie burn as measured by my Gear S3 from my calorie intake. The difference is either a calorie deficit (good thing) or a surplus (bad thing).

To lose 2 lbs / week I need to hit a 1000 calorie deficit weekly – 500 for 1 lb. As long as I’m in that range I’ll be in good shape! Now…to stay disciplined on weekends. That’s the real challenge.

Notebook Habit

I’ve got what I consider to be a “weird” hobby (or habit?) – writing in notebooks.  I consider it weird, because I have no practical use for notebooks – other than my “bullet journal” set up, I don’t really write down anything of substance day-to-day.  And yet, it’s an extremely enjoyable thing to see my personal font jump out just right from the page.

Excerpt from a notebook
Excerpt from a notebook

OK, the picture I just included is a little on the messy side.  But what I hope it illustrates is just the right balance of colour and shape of the letters that seems to look…”right” on the page.  This is the part where I consider my hobby / habit weird.  I don’t spend as much time writing things out as I used to, but finding the perfect paper and perfect pen (or sometimes pencil) for that paper is fantastic.

Every now and then (and now is one of those times) I go on a little quest to figure out, “what can I use my varied selection of notebooks for?”  The question is often unanswered, because either I give up or the feeling just fades away before I get a chance.  Predominantly I use it for planning my day or writing things down I don’t want to forget.  But that is purely functional – I actually want to write something out rather than use a planner.

So my search has started.  At the absolute least I will probably start writing out my blog posts by hand before typing them out here.  Ultimately, I would very much like to use up the notebooks that I’ve spent good money on 😉

Data Dump

Back in March, I got a Samsung Gear S3 smart watch to replace my FitBit Charge 2.  I’ve been doing a lot more tracking, etc. with it than I ever did with my FitBit.  But until now, I haven’t really looked at the data.  Well, now’s my chance.  Here’s all of the health data I’ve recorded.

Sleep

My data actually goes back to January – I assume that some data got imported when I did some syncs with different apps.  Here are my average sleep times for each month:

  • January – 7 hrs 26 mins
  • February – 7 hrs 47 mins
  • March – 7 hrs 56 mins
  • April – 7 hrs 0 mins
  • May (to date) – 7 hrs 2 mins

My average sleep efficiency recorded for April/May was 90%.  I’m not actually quite sure what “sleep efficiency” is, and whether or not that was a metric that Samsung came up with.  It turns out, it’s an actual number you can figure out yourself.  Here’s how verywellhealth.com defines it:

Sleep efficiency is the ratio of the total time spent asleep (total sleep time) in a night compared to the total amount of time spent in bed. For example, if a man spends 8 hours in bed on a given night, but only actually sleeps for four of those hours, his sleep efficiency for that evening would be 50% (four divided by eight multiplied by 100 percent).

So it looks like I’ve been sleeping pretty well, on average.

Steps

  • March – 8112 average daily steps; average distance 6.07km
  • April – 8247 average daily steps; average distance 5.63km
  • May (to date) – 8813 average daily steps; average distance 5.92km

I seem to be fairly consistent with the average daily steps.  My goal is 10,200 currently, and I’ve hit that 18 times (according to my ‘badge’ list – the last time I hit it was this past Monday).  The most steps I’ve walked to date was March 14th, when I hit 16,838 steps.  The previous record before that was 13,392.

Exercise

  • March – 99 average active minutes
  • April – 103 average active minutes
  • May (to date) – 115 average active minutes

You can tell that I’ve been more active as the weather gets better.

Heart Rate

  • March – 46 bpm Minimum | 68 bpm Average | 200 bpm Maximum
  • April – 45 bpm Minimum | 67 bpm Average | 171 bpm Maximum
  • May (to date) – 49 bpm Minimum | 69 bpm Average | 177 bpm Maximum

I’m not sure how to analyze this data, to be honest.  Is that good?  Bad?  Looking at the average, specifically; I figure that the minimums/maximums will probably be outliers anyway (and the max would be recorded during exercise).

I did some brief research, and found a formula for figuring out targets for training at least.   Using that formula, my max heart rate should be 186-188.  So it looks like except for March, I’m well within that range and have some room to work harder.  I found a Livestrong article that suggests 60 to 100 bpm is “normal” for ages 10 and up.

So there you have it.  I’m interested to see how my numbers compare for June/July/August.  I anticipate that my steps / exercise will probably increase vs the comparable numbers for March/April/May.  I think that it would be realistic to shoot for a 65 bpm average as well.

The Weight Train

In my mind, I had some kind of vision of a cartoon-y train to use as a picture for this post, but alas, it was not meant to be.

For the past…I don’t know…30 days?  I’ve been holding steady with my weight.  I went up, but have come back down.  Currently I don’t know my status, because I don’t have a scale handy.  You see, I’m in the process of moving so things are all over the place.  One of those things is the scale.  Anyway, this is all related.  Oh, and a warning, this post is going to be more of a ramble than something I’ve actually thought and planned out.

Early on in the moving process we decided that we would pack away things like dishes, cooking utensils, give away some pots and pans, etc.  Essentially means that we are currently unable to actually cook anything at home.  As a result we are eating out a lot.  Being in a small town at the moment, our options are rather limited.  It’s a little stressful at times, too.  So since February something or other I haven’t even bothered logging anything other than my daily weight.

I’m trying to keep some rough estimates in my head for when I eat, so that I don’t over-indulge, but for the most part I’m not worrying about it.  Unfortunately this is probably going to have the side effect of setting me back even further than I’ve already done.  Still, I would rather take the trade-off of not worrying about my current food intake vs. reducing some stress around a big move.

I was doing some thinking and I want to set some different goals.   My weight used to be my primary goal, and was a measure of success.  I don’t think that’s cutting it, for me though.  There’s got to be a reason why I keep going back and forth with logging, not logging, juggling my calorie limits and “do I eat back calories or not?”, and so forth.  And I think that putting too much attention on my weight is one of the leading factors.

So my goal for the rest of the Spring and Summer is to set a new goal.  Haha.  I have to do some thinking, but I need to set a goal that is measurable and attainable.  I will still have a weight number in mind, but that’s secondary.  Some of the things I have kicking around in my head include going back down shirt / pant sizes, improving my softball game, and so on.  What I need is a solid plan instead of a loose ramble.

Work in progress.