Tales of Weight Tracking
diet and weight loss
Lisa Betts-LaCroix has been tracking her weight off and on since 2000. In this talk, Lisa details the trials and tribulations that go along with attempting to track her weight and other associated behavioral variables. From simple excel spreadsheets to using Google forms to finally using the Withings wireless scale Lisa explains why and how she’s finally been successful at reducing her weight.
Excel | google forms | Withings Scale
Tales of Weight Tracking
Hi everyone. My personal QS story is a girl meets geek story. It began back in 1995 when I was an actor and recently moved to California when I met an intriguing scientist and entrepreneur who was what I later came to realize a data whore.
So we played together, we danced and sometimes on our dates he even taught me a bit of math that I missed in high school. Eventually we got married and mostly his geekiness was kind of intriguing to me but when he started tracking my birth contractions and my medicines I realized I better start tracking personal data myself or this could happen.
So now I have been tracking for quite a while and I’ve experienced varying degrees of success. And mostly I have to say I’m a terrible self-tracker. I would track way to many things, I’m horrible at collating the data, I confuse the variables and I keep on tracking data anyway.
So my story is really a bit like everyone’s story, it’s a laypersons QS and I’m here to say that I truly believe that it is kept fun and intriguing self-tacking, even if its imperfect self-tracking is better than no tracking at all. So one of the things I’m trying to work on and I’ve been working on for quite a few years is to get back to my ideal weight of 135 pounds, which I slowly migrated from to the tune of about 10 pounds per year over the last couple of decades. And I know that I’m not alone.
According to web based the three things that self-describe the largest goal setting website the all-time most popular goal shared my 41,000 people is to lose weight. And apparently for a lot of people wanting to lose weight rates higher than wanting to get out of debt, wanting to build a house, wanting to write a book, travel the world.
For me personally my highest priorities are rather loving and home schooling my kids as well as learning for alders everywhere. But somehow amidst all that is still spend quite a bit of time tracking weight and the variables that I think must be related to it.
So I tried a number of excel approaches with varying degrees of success. This one definitely represents the very far low end of the effectiveness continuum generating exactly one data point.
Next I tracked my weight with pen and paper. I put a clipboard pen and paper in the bathroom and this approach generated quite a few more data points. But unfortunately I can’t show them to you because they are somewhere in there.
Then I tried a cooler, way way more complex spreadsheet and this one was awesome. It started in 2007 and designed to help me to put manual notes, and messiest exercise and it had this super cool formula that was going to tell me when I should fast. Once it hits the dark red and that was the time I was supposed to start fasting. If I hit the bottom dotted blue line, that’s when I could eat more that day and that never happened.
From a data acquisitions point of view it was a little bit more useful or a little bit more effective. It was supposed to take me on this downward path towards my ideal weight. But even although I captured 56 data points I abandoned it after two months. So it was essentially a failure in terms of consistency and longevity of data acquisitions.
It was also a barrier in terms of results, and I kind of flat lined on it for my weight loss.
More recently I went a little bit crazy with Google Doc and I attempted to track 21 variables. The only way that tracking 21 variables was even possible and this is showing me inputting the data and it manually uploads to my Google docs. So this approach lasted twice as long and it had pretty good tracking consistency and I still use regularly but I don’t count on the data, I consider it an adjunct.
And through this system I found myself going down about three pounds, which is just about what my goal was looking at 10 pounds over the course of two years, so there was slight improvement in that.
Now enter the whipping scale. This is a device that allows the user to simply step on it, and it tracks weight and BMI and uploads the information wirelessly to a web app which then can be accessed and manipulated on the computer or on your iPhone.
So why do I say success on this one. I consider the success to be twofold. So what I mean by success is that I consider success to be on three counts to this one. The first two had to do with the tracking itself. The ease of the use of scale resulted in me being able to have the longest and the most regular depth at acquisitions that I’ve been able to maintain.
And the third measure of success is the weight loss itself, which was about 11 pounds, which is not exactly where I want to be but it’s still encouraging.
So why would this scale work for me in terms of weight loss? I believe it was effectively because it softens the emotional reactivity that sometimes comes – probably not for any of you but for me trying to use weight. So here’s how it’s worked for me in the past.
I’m doing okay, I’m tracking my weight and I’m getting on the scale and there’s’ a few fluctuations here and there. And then one day I step on the scale and then bang, the number goes up. So what happens? I feel like this and then I feel like this. Now I know this probably isn’t true to any of you but for me if I want to cheat on the scale I sometimes just throw up my hands and I give up all the lifestyle changes I’ve been determined to make and sometimes I even head towards the refrigerator.
And so how is the withing scale different? For one thing it allows varying viewing options. In the screen shot that you’re looking at there is here to four weeks of data and the pink line the my raw weight data, and the white line is automatically generated and the smoothing function that averages out the trend for that particular period of time. So despite my 4.2 weight differentiate on and about 6 pound differentiate on this one, and seven pound on this one. Overall the smoothing function makes you realise that okay, you’re still doing okay, theres no need to get upset or to give up hope.
So even with this view you can see where my weight actually left out 3.4 pounds of a course of four days. If you view it in the context of three to four weeks, okay I’m pretty fine. So here’s what it looks like if you look at all these data over a 17 month period. This is 481 data points over 17 months. The green line represents the average and you can see I average downward.
So with the total weight loss of about 11 pounds you probably noticed I didn’t mention any of the lifestyle changes I made. And I did make lifestyle changes but that wasn’t the focus of this particular talk.
So the things I learned very quickly are and my primary takeaways is the easiest to track and map and yields the most in terms of data and if I focus on the moving averages rather than the individual data my motivation is preserved and that keeps me tracking.
I’ve also learned that if I’m tracking I do better, so there’s n element of the tracking success equals goal success.