Ignore your weight, watch your weight trend!

One of the most discouraging things about keeping track of my weight is seeing that I’m on a plateau that seems impossible to get past. It seems especially difficult if the plateau lasts more than three or four days…it’s very easy to fall into the rut of thinking “what’s the use, I’ll just have a candy bar since I can’t lose the weight anyway”. Fortunately, I’ve found an easy way to keep myself motivated!

One of the analogies that is explained in depth in The Hacker’s Diet is that the human body is nothing more than a glorified rubber bag. Since multiple pounds of food, water, O2, CO2, etc. all flow in and out of the body each day it’s quite possible to be losing fat but retain the water and other miscellaneous nasties that flow through the system. As unpleasant as it is to discuss, I can think of many times that I’ve weighed myself both before and after a bathroom trip and found myself much lighter than I’d care to think about.

So, why is the weight trend important? Put quite simply, the weight trend uses a 10 day moving average of your weight and slightly lags behind (see the attached chart). At first glance, the plateau towards the end of the month looks quite discouraging. But, as you can see, the weight trend is still falling downwards. The longer you are at a plateau the closer the trend line gets to your actual weight. So, there’s no need to worry about a plateau unless the trend line catches up! You can even safely ignore the minor fluctuations where your weight is higher as long as the trend is still on a downward slope!

The only con to utilizing trends is that you must weigh yourself every day! As a geek, I like raw data. I actually look forward to weighing myself each day because that means that I can play with charts and graphs and look at little blinky lights as my Palm V calculates everything for me. But, weighing yourself every day and utilizing trend lines allows you to catch variations in your caloric intake and energy expendature much faster than weighing in once per week or one per month.

There are many ways to calculate a weight trend and my preferred method is using Eat Watch for Palm OS and the miscellaneous tools to export the charts to this Web site. I realize that I sound like a broken record here, but The Hacker’s Diet explains the whole trend line in amazing detail and even shows how to calculate it by hand. Various other free tools are available…simply search Google for diet log moving average for various methods and tools.

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