Applied Nate Silver – Disaster! Not Believable – 4

As I accumulate more daily weigh-in data it is looking more and more like the day-to-day weights are very noisy and so it was just “bad luck” that two weeks ago my Sunday “official” weigh-in showed the “not believable” value followed by last Sunday also having an anomalous value. I’m surprised I didn’t notice this before, but of course without data I can’t say whether these large fluctuations may be a recent phenomenon or not.

But my “panic” over the bad results may have had a silver lining as shown below:


This is my daily calorie consumption as recorded in the BodyMedia diary. It’s fairly easy to see my reaction to the disappointing weigh-in by redoubling my efforts at reducing calorie intake. But has that accomplished anything?


Yes, now with enough data it’s looking like a fairly significant effect. The line drawn between the two red dots is my “money graph” data, that is the consensus of the weekly weigh-in estimates. In this case I omit the anomalous week 19 point and thus show a weekly loss of 1.28lbs (as indicated by the slope of the trendline).

OTOH, the line drawn just through the daily data, starting with the first highly anomalous day and continuing to today shows a much steeper drop of 4.08lbs/week. But more important today’s actual measure weight is way below the recent medium-term trendline.

Taking a look at this on a broader scale reveals

weekly20_3daily1 I think it is reasonable to assume that the much more rapid decline in last two weeks, while distorted by whatever biological factors are causing some much variability and thus having a high starting value and low ending value nonetheless shows a much more rapid decline of recent than over longer-term. In short, my panic and disappointment over bad results led to a feedback loop where I adapted and thus improved my rate of loss.

This is important (to me, of course, perhaps boring to you, Dear Reader) since it shows:

  • the possibility of early detection of an unwanted uptick in weight
  • the possibility of immediately adjusting and wiping out that uptick

And the point of this is that will be very important when I (hopefully soon) enter the maintenance phase of this program. Getting weight off is often easy for most people and as my 55 pound loss proves it’s relatively easy for me. But staying at a target weight, that is the challenge, for me and most people. My firm belief is you eventually return to previous weight through one little unnoticed (and with no response) uptick after another. During maintenance some upticks are going to be inevitable, so the real issue, to success maintenance, is, IMHO, responding to those unwanted upticks quickly and decisively and effectively. Literally one is in diet mode all the time, just some weeks we can eat more than others.

All those various fad diets and stupid nutrition hearsay “rules” are just junk. It is just calories in and calories burned and all food has calories and all calories are the same (such foolishness that some much wrong nutrition advice wants to claim otherwise) and eating whether many small meals or one large one or what time of day or whatever – NONE OF THAT MATTERS! It is the bottom-line, too much food, too little exercise, that’s what makes us fat.

I think all these gimmicky “diets” just don’t want to admit this because: a) it’s too hard and we, especially Americans, love easy answers, and, b) the real thing to both weight loss and weight maintenance is all this Nate Silver obsession with data and with analysis of that data (learning what works and what doesn’t to turn raw data into conclusions). Most people would never use this data-driven approach I do, since I’m a geek and a sucker for graphs, but this, not gimmicky diet plans, is the key to success. Know what’s going on with your weight and when it isn’t what you want do something about it. And keep doing that every single day of your life. That’s the hard answer, but this will work.


About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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