Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Weight Diagnosis - Or, Why It Pays to Be a Nerd

Small amount of panic last night, as I set a high-water mark on the scale. Haven't been this heavy in a looong time. Yet at the same time I've felt like I've been losing weight. What the heck is going on here? How can I be gaining and losing weight at the same time?

I track my weight daily, mostly. Sometimes I skip a day or two, but just interpolate between. It goes into my training log and spits out a graph. The graph tells the tail...

Seems like there is a strong periodic function at work here. A strong peak followed by a decline, denoted with the red arrows. Roughly correlating to a week in period. There's no denying it. I know exactly what it is. Weekend eating.

You can see how it starts. Went off the training plan and saw a rise on the scale, but it (mostly) went away. "I got away with it". Repeat the next week. Since the spike seems to go away during the week... I'm tricking myself into believing I'm losing weight. Fresh off a perceived "weight loss", I think "I can have this ____, I'm losing weight and did a long ride today." The problem is... I'm not losing as much as I'm gaining as the blue trend line clearly shows.

This is how weight creeps up over a period of weeks, months, years. Insidious.

This is advantage of a detailed training log. It's not about numbers -it's about understanding. Spotting changes and trends in you body, and develop plans to address the changes if negative, or celebrate them if positive. I sometimes question the need for it. I often don't pay any attention to the detailed graphs, etc. But this is the perfect example of why I keep the info...

I'm a lot less panicked than last night. Now that I know what's going on... it's clear what changes I need to make to arrest the gain. I was thinking I needed some sort of draconian change to reverse this. A crash diet or something? But I really don't. Only need to be more careful with my weekend nutrition. Rather than creating a drastic panic-inspired swing, I can make a small modification to my lifestyle that pays off over time. Much healthier than doing crash dieting.