Applied Nate Silver – definitely reaching plateau

I’ve already covered a big chunk of my weekly status with the previous post, but let’s do the regular reviews starting with the “money graph”:


The recent data (green markers) clearly shows my much reduced rate of weight loss (compared to my aggressive loss plan), but the good news is that it is loss, albeit at the much slower rate. I have changed my habits (a bit more eating, the fasts, more protein, strength training, real biking, less overall exercise) since returning from vacation and the graph clearly shows this. BUT, I’m also getting near my long-term target (180lbs before allowing “normal” eating and exercise and then I’ll level off around 185lbs, exactly at the overweight boundary). I doubt I’ll achieve my “bottom” any sooner than 1Aug2013, given my planned camping trip which will throw off my plan significantly. But I think I can achieve my plan, that is, 70lb loss in one year and plateauing at an achievable steady-state, also with a bit better upper body strength (some restoration of lost muscle during severe weight loss).

Not there yet, so don’t count any chickens before they hatch – still have two more months to stay focused on weight loss.

May was not a good month (ideally I might have been able to reach my long-term goal during May had I stayed fully focused on maximum weight loss). My calorie burn from exercise, for the entire month, was the lowest (by a little) since I started this plan. Overall, about 85% of my weight loss was due to exercise, despite fairly aggressive reduction of calorie intake (in short I confirmed what I already knew, only exercise works for me to lose weight; if I’d just done calorie reduction my weight loss would have been modest, just barely enough to get me out of obese status, so exercise is really critical).

For comparison here’s my daily data (pre-vacation) during my rapid weight loss:


This does show a fair amount of daily variation, although not as bad as my newer data:


So not only has the most recent 6 weeks of data been about half the average weight loss (slope of trendline) the scatter is significantly greater (already covered in an earlier post) as partially demonstrated by the lower r^2 of the recent data. So clearly, in addition to reduced exercise during May, I lost some focus on weight loss (I was deliberately focusing more on strength training but that’s as much excuse as explanation).

So I’m not there and I didn’t achieve my plan (missed by about 7 lbs out of 75lbs planned, so only about 10% miss, which isn’t too bad). Lots of things distracted me in May but I can’t let this just slip into less focus until I finally achieve my goals (despite distraction of upcoming trip). So keep it up, at least two more months!

I have one more graph that shows my daily variation in more detail (clearly consistency has been my main problem during May):


The blue bars show my actual daily weight (average of multiple scale values, at least 5) which does show my downward trend (loss, about 7lbs in 6 weeks). The upper set of bar show daily variation (red is gain, green is loss). The green (losses) are more numerous but that correlates with the overall loss during the period. The second half of the period shows how the variations (either up or down) have gotten more severe. Clearly a 2lb/day change is NOT a 7000 calorie change in food intake, so this variability is some sort of strange body adjustment just to absolute food intake (not calories), i.e. something like regaining/losing glycogen and its associated hydration. The average of all these changes (both up and down) is 0.94lbs/day variation which is much larger than the long-term change of 0.17lbs/day decrease.

So the variability in the scale (which requires a lot of repeated weigh-ins) and daily variation is “noise” that almost completely swamps the signal (certainly over any short period). This does mean that simple weigh-ins (esp. a single sample on the scale) are completely useless as a steady-state measuring tool. That means all these tedious analysis I do (and post for you to ignore) is necessary.

The raw data for this most recent week shows how much it’s now hard to monitor my weight and especially detect “progress”:


Given the really low value of r^2 it’s really not possible to say there is any trend here at all. But the real issue was the big upticks in the first two days after last week’s weigh-in (Sunday eating, Monday party). I responded to the upticks with my fast and basically got back to no change. Then another fast (yesterday) + extreme exercise (1700 calories burned) just barely eked out a net loss for the week. Had I eaten “normally” yesterday I would have definitely shown a gain for the week.

So, in short, I’m nearly at my bottom, though not at my target. My behavior during May was more like “steady-state” than aggressive weight loss so I lost focus before I should have. That will be my reminder to stay focused after I come back from camping trip since only casually paying attention to weight is not sufficient.

Also I really don’t think there is any plan I can use for eating breakfast. If I eat nothing I’m hungry for a hour or two, but I can resist until I “snack” (apple and almonds) in the late afternoon. OTOH, if I eat breakfast I’m hungry all day (unlike what the nutrition scolds claim). I tried steel-cut oats, non-fat yogurt, and blueberries – yuck. Then I tried Alton Brown’s approach to oatmeal (saute the steel-cut oats in butter, cook with cream and buttermilk, use raw brown sugar); it’s OK, but left me hungry all day. So I can’t visualize any steady-state plan where I eat breakfast, which is not much different than I used to do. I need to get more protein (the Muscle Milk is helping, a quick 20g of protein without too many calories, but that too makes me hungry, even worse if I have bread as well). So any breakfast I’d actually like to eat is too much and messes up my discipline for the day. I’ll continue to experiment some (I did like my yogurt, blueberry, agave smoothie, but it’s too low in protein) and see if there is something that works. No breakfast and lunchtime salad with low-fat dressing was better, but that still put me over for the day, even with Weight Watcher meal in the evening. The fanaticism for nuts the nutrition scolds have doesn’t work for me because my almonds are too much like snacks and with “permission” to consume I consume too many. So finding a sustainable eating plan is still a challenge, so the plan I outlined in my previous post (5.2 diet) is probably the only workable solution.

We’ll see – a continuing sage, stay tuned.



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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