Saturday Weigh In 8-12-2017

I weighed in today down .8 pounds to 148.6 pounds.  I actually had a great week.  It was my best week of this year in terms of steps, calories burned, and calories eaten.  I was within my points goal for the week as well.  I walked on the treadmill 5 days this week ranging from 20 minutes to 35 minutes.

This was also the 4th week in a row that Fitbit says I had a calorie deficit.  This was important because I have tended to be inconsistent the last few months where I haven’t put together several good weeks.  The post-surgery swelling hasn’t totally gone away but seemed a bit better.  I do still have some days where I have a lot of swelling.

I would have liked to have been at 148 so I wouldn’t have to pay.  And, except for one thing I think I might have gotten there (or close to it).  Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday so we ate out.  I was super careful what I ate and planned before going to the restaurant.  I typically have a pattern that I use on “good” weeks.  I usually eat the highest calories and points on Saturday and Sunday.  We usually go out to eat on those days.  Then, Monday is a low calorie/point day.  Tuesday through Thursday are in the middle, sort of the default.  Then, Friday is another low calorie/point day.  So most of my weekly points are eaten on the weekends.  Maybe a few on Tuesday through Thursday and none on Monday and Friday.  This usually works well so that I am at my lowest weight on Saturday when I weigh in.

Because of the birthday yesterday, I made Thursday the lower calorie day and Friday I ate a little more although more like what I would usually eat on a Thursday not what I would eat on a weekend day when I would eat out.  So, on paper, I actually had a calorie deficit of 475 calories for yesterday.

But, eating out at a restaurant involves eating higher sodium foods. Let’s see.  I’ll go check my food record.  I ate about 2000 mg more sodium Friday than I ate Thursday.  And, when I eat more sodium that really increases  my swelling the next day.  Given all that I think there is a good chance I would have been down more this morning if I hadn’t eaten out on Friday.

All of that said, I was really happy with the week.  I was particularly glad that I walked on the treadmill 5 days.  I took it fairly slowly since it has been a long time since I really consistently used the treadmill.  But, getting back in that habit is important.

 

Then and Now

In working on analyzing what I’ve been doing the last year or so, I went back and looked at a lot of the data that I’ve collected.  One thing I looked at was my Weight spreadsheet.  I created this spreadsheet way back in the 90s!  When I started it, I got out all my old saved Weight Watchers books (yes, I saved them) and my old, old graph I had done of my original weight loss when I joined Weight Watchers.

I had done that graph by hand in my Filofax way back when, adding to it each week from when I first joined Weight Watchers in 1988 to mid-1990 when I got to goal.  You can see the abrupt end to it.  Right after that last weigh-in when I was .2 pounds above my goal weight, I went out of town for a work trip and ate out 3 times a day for 2 weeks and came back more than 2 pages above goal weight.  I wasn’t over by that much (maybe 4 or 5 pounds) but I didn’t want to go back and pay.  I didn’t go back for year.

When I did go back I mostly saved my books from weigh in.  In the 90s, I took all that data and put it in a spreadsheet and added in any other paper I found that had weights on it (like from the doctor’s office).  Then, I would periodically weigh at home and started tracking in the spreadsheet.  I have posted about that weight loss history before.

So, I looked at this spreadsheet the other day when I was looking at my data.  A couple of things weren’t really relevant to the post I was doing then, but were still interesting to me.

Weight Loss Rate

One thing is how clear it is to me how much harder it is for me to lose weight now than it was almost 30 years ago.  I went back to Weight Watchers the final time in October, 2013 when I weighed 193.4 (high recorded weight had been 207.4).  It took me 21 months to get to my goal.  So that was a loss of about half a pound a week on average.  I often said during this time that I was slow loser and, in my mind, I was thinking that I always had been.  After all, I originally joined Weight Watchers in February, 1988 weighing 167 pounds.  I got to my goal of 125 on May 9, 1990.  So, it took me over 2 years to lose 42 pounds, working out to about .35 pounds per week.  In my memory, I thought of myself as having always been a slow loser.

But, when I looked at the data the other day I realized that really wasn’t true back then.  When I first joined Weight Watchers I lost 24 pounds in 4 months averaging 1.33 pounds a week.  The problem was that I then became inconsistent about going and bounced up and down for the next 5 months and regained about 10 pounds of what I had lost.  I went back weighing 152 pounds and lost 10 pounds in 3 weeks!  I got down to 137 and then started bouncing around again.  I got back to almost 155 and then went back and lost 25 pounds in about 4 months, averaging 1.3 pounds a week.

If I take out the times that I regained and quit going to meetings for a while (you can see those jagged lines in my graphs above), I actually lost well over a pound most weeks.  And, there were times I consistently lost more than that.

That didn’t happen in this weight loss time from October 2013 until I got back to goal.  The biggest gain I had was 1 pound (right after Thanksgiving).  And, I didn’t have any large periods when I quit going. So, why do I lose so much more slowly now than then?  There are 3 possible culprits:

Age and metabolism – I am older than I was then.  As you age, you lose muscle mass which means you burn fewer calories.  Most calculators to determine metabolic rate ask your age.  They use age basically as a proxy to determine your body fat.  The Katch McArdle metabolic rate calculator uses your body fat as part of the formula so doesn’t ask for your age.  Basically it will give the same results for a 30 year old and a 60 year old if they have the same weight and body fat.  This is one reason that strength training as you age is important.  You want to try to strength train to preserve as much muscle mass as you can.  But, I didn’t do that for many years so I lost muscle mass over the years.  And, I am skinny fat now with a high body fat.

But, back then while I wasn’t muscular I think I was probably fairly normal in terms of body fat for my weight so I burned more calories.  That said, I don’t think this explains the entire reason I lost more rapidly then.  Even if I assume a better body fat percentage than I think I had back then, that doesn’t explain all of my higher weight loss rate back then.  I do think it is probably the biggest part of the reason, but can’t be sure since I don’t know my body fat back then.

Food – Maybe I was eating a lot less calories back then than I did when I was losing weight this time around.  But, I don’t think so.  I averaged between about 1170 and 1200 calories a day while I was losing weight this time.  I didn’t track calories back then but I don’t think it was less.  Weight Watchers used an exchange program then and you had minimum amounts of certain exchanges to eat and I always ate them.  I think it would have been at least 1200 calories a day.

Activity – However, I was more active back then.  I think this is a factor.  In my mind, I think of myself as always being sedentary since I had a desk job and most of my hobbies (reading, computer) were sedentary.  But, looking back, I am definitely more sedentary now than I was then.  Now, I live in a 1 story house.  I work from home.  I spend most of the day at a desk.  To even get to 5000 steps in a day I have to set an alarm and literally walk from one end of the house every 30 minutes and keep count of steps to make sure I get enough of them. I do this even if I don’t “need” to do anything in particular.  I am walking just for the steps.  When I was losing weight this time around I did exercise.  I walked on the treadmill or in the neighborhood and for a lot of the time went to the Y for strength training.

Even so, I was more active back when I first got back to goal.  I had a desk job then, but I worked in an office so there was walking from the car to the office.  I went to the offices of other people.  I often left my office and went to meetings.  I was single then so had to run all my own errands.  And I exercised more.  Then, I didn’t have the knee problems I have now.  I worked my way up to exercising to fairly intense exercise videos, usually for an hour a day.  So, yes, I was more active then than I am now.

I would like to be as active now as I was then.  Some of it I can’t do much about.  I have a 1 story house (had a 2 story townhouse back then).  I work from home.  I don’t need to run as many errands.  So, I don’t have as much natural daily activity as I did then.  As for exercising more, it is hard to say.  Early in this blog’s history I really cranked up on exercise.  It was great. And, I was burning more calories.  But, then I had a trabecular bone injury and had to stop walking at all for months.  And, my knee started hurting when for a time I really increased exercise.  So, I would like to exercise more but I’m not sure the body will cooperate.  (Well, I can exercise much more than I’ve been doing the last 6 months I just don’t think I can go back to what I could do 27 years ago).

Measurements

Way back when I got to goal the first time, I measured myself fairly often.  And, during the years thereafter I occasionally took measurements which I put in the spreadsheet. When I started losing weight in late 2013, I periodically took measurements.  I didn’t do it often because, frankly, it was difficult.  Post-pregnancy even before I lost a lot of weight I had a lot of loose skin and as I lost weight it just got worse.  Eventually I had a panniculus which was the loose skin and fat hanging down from my abdomen:


 

This made measuring difficult.  I never quite knew where to measure for the hips.  Instructions always said to measure the widest part.  Was that the fullest part of the buttocks (as some instructions said) or the area of greatest protrusion shown above.  Those weren’t the same.  Or should I measure underneath the panniculus?  But, nonetheless, I did measure periodically.

One thing I found out was that my waist and hips were bigger this time around at similar weights than they were back the original time. For example, back in 1988 when I weighed 169 pounds my waist was 33 1/4″.  But, in 1997 (post-pregnancy) at 164 my waist was 35 1/4″.  And then, in 2014, at 162.2 pounds, my waist was up to 36 3/8″.  Of course, those numbers are consistent with my having had a child and my having a higher body fat as I got older.

The last recorded measurements that I have in my spreadsheet were from September, 2015 when I was 147 pounds.  I quit measuring after that as I was at goal and I also knew I would be having the tummy tuck and felt I would wait to measure after that.

Anyway, back in September, 2015 weighing 147 pounds at home my waist was 36 1/2″ at the narrowest point and 39″ at the belly button.  My hips measured with the panniculus were 42 1/8″ and were 40″ measured under the panniculus.  I have a few measures from the 80s around that weight.  The waist measurements range from 31 to 31 1’2″ and the hips from 38 5/8′ to 39″.  As you can see, 27 years later at the same weight of 147 my waist was 5 to 5 1’2″ bigger and my hips were a little over 3″ bigger (due to the panniculus).

What was interesting to me was to measure myself since surgery and see the difference.  I actually hadn’t made the comparison until just the other day.  I had measured since surgery but had forgotten I had the September 2015 measurement so hadn’t compared them.  At similar weight, post-surgery my waist at the narrowest point is 32″.  This is 4 1/2″ smaller than before I had surgery.  My belly button measurement is now 35″ which is 4″ smaller than before surgery.  And my hips are now 40″ which is what I was before surgery if I measured under the panniculus.  I hadn’t actually realized how dramatic the change was in inches before and after:

The above photo is shortly after my liposuction so I still have quite a bit of upper abdominal swelling but you can get an idea of how the waist and hips have changed.

And, one good thing is that I can see that post-surgery my measurements are much closer to what they were at the same weight in 1988.  The waist is only 1/2″ to 1″ larger and the hips about 1″ larger.  I do know I have more body fat now that I had then.  I can see it on other parts of my body like my thighs, but those differences are relatively small.

This is Why I Like Data

This is why I like and keep all this data.  I like and find valuable being able to go back and see what my waist was pre-surgery and compare it to where I was back in 1988.  It enables me to see progress over time and helps me to analyze the data so I can try to figure out problems and find solutions.  I need to actually start taking my measurements again regularly once the swelling is gone from the tummy.  I still have wild fluctuations in my waist  post-liposuction.  It can go from 32″ to 34 1/2″ from morning to evening.  Very frustrating.  But, measuring it does help me to see that the big number is temporary since it is down 2″ or more the next morning.

Weight Watchers and the Anti-Dieting Age

I recently read a fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner called Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age. The article covers a lot of ground dealing with weight loss in general with some specifics about Weight Watchers.  It is a mixture of general information about weight loss in the current age, along with information about the personal struggle of the author.  Under the title of the article is written, “The agonies of being overweight — or running a diet company — in a culture that likes to pretend it only cares about health, not size.”  The author is the primary example in the article of the overweight person and Weight Watchers is the diet company.

The article starts with an anecdote about Weight Watchers in January, 2015.  At that time, Weight Watchers had started doing some new and really honest ads about weight loss with a marketing campaign, called “Help With the Hard Part.”  I loved those commercials as I posted way back then.  However, as it turned out, most people didn’t love them.  In fact, Weight Watchers had a terrible January, which is normally when it has its best sign ups. It turned out that people didn’t like hearing, well, honesty about weight loss and how it is hard.

Weight Watchers started looking into why people didn’t like the new approach. The article details what happened when Weight Watchers head of consumer insights started talking to people:

Benovitz got to work. She traveled the country, interviewing members, former members and people they thought should be members about their attitudes toward dieting. She heard that they no longer wanted to talk about ‘‘dieting’’ and ‘‘weight loss.’’ They wanted to become ‘‘healthy’’ so they could be ‘‘fit.’’ They wanted to ‘‘eat clean’’ so they could be ‘‘strong.’’

[Read more…]

Where I Went Wrong

Since I am above my goal weight and having to pay at Weight Watchers, I wanted to really look at where I have gone wrong.  Yes, yes, right now I still have swelling and water retention from my surgery (liposuction tweaking post-tummy tuck) in May and I think that adds a couple of pounds.  Without that, I probably would not have had to pay at my meeting yesterday.  But, even so, I have gained weight over the last year and I wanted to really look at my data to see where the rot set in.  Thankfully, I have a lot of data.

What the Data Tells Me

I keep a lot of data on my weight loss efforts.  I have a spreadsheet where each day I record my steps, calories burned (per Fitbit), calories eaten (recorded in MyFitnessPal), and calorie deficit (or surplus).  I also have a scale that records my weight and body fat (body fat percentage is not very accurate but overall gives an idea of whether it is going up or down over time).  I usually weigh on a daily basis.  I have these numbers going back for years.  I’ve kept the spreadsheet of steps, etc. since the start of 2014.  I have weight loss data from my scale going back a few months before that.

So, I have a lot of data.  Looking at it, things became much clearer.  In 2014 and 2015, I was in weight loss mode until I got back to goal in July, 2015.  At that time, I weighed in at Weight Watchers at 145.8 pounds. During 2014, I ate an average of 1189 calories a day and ate a little less during the first 7 months of 2016. Once I got back to goal, I started eating a little more.  I ate an average of 1269 calories a day for the rest of the year. At my early December 2015 weigh in, I weighed 146.6.  I had gained .8 since getting back to goal. [Read more…]

August Weigh In

I weighed in for August and was down 1.2 pounds to 149.4 pounds.  I still had to pay, but things are moving in the right direction.  It was still frustrating since I know that some of this is still swelling/water retention related to my surgery in May.  The surgeon said that could persist for 3 to 4 months and I am only 2 1/2 months post-surgery.

On the good news front, I have just had 3 really good weeks in terms of eating and calorie deficit.  This is only the second time this year that I’ve had 3 consecutive great weeks.  For most of this year, my eating has been really inconsistent.  From February 4th to March 31st, I had only one good week.  Every other week, I had a calorie surplus which is why I was up 5.4 pounds at my March weigh in and then another 1.4 pounds in April which put me over my goal weight enough that I had to pay then.

I did lose enough in May that I didn’t have to pay and since then I’ve seemed to alternate one good week with a bad week.  But, in late June and early July, my eating was not stellar.  I think that part of it was I was so frustrated with the surgery related swelling and water retention that it was easy to get off track on eating.

Anyway, the last 3 weeks I’ve done well.  I’ve increased the activity a bit (not where I want to be) and overall in July had my best month this year for calorie burn.  So, even though I am still over goal and had one really bad week in early July, I’m feeling OK about where I am now.  I will keep doing what I am doing on eating and will continue to increase activity.  I’m not sure when I’ll be back in free lifetime range.  It could be next week or next month.  The swelling seems to come and go and I can’t always attribute it to anything.  That can definitely mess with the head.  On the one hand, I don’t want to assume weight gain (or lack of loss) is attributable to swelling if it is really attributable to bad eating choices.  At the same time, there are days that I’ve eaten well for several days and then I suddenly gain 2 pounds and 2 inches in my waist overnight and I know that is swelling and water retention and isn’t a real gain.

I recognize I just have to take it as it comes and just pay my $15 every week until I get back to where I should be.  And, if I continue to eat well, I will get there.