diet and weight loss
Robert Calrsen wanted to lose a bit of weight, to get back to his days when he was an amateur bike racer. In this talk, he shares his weight tracking experience that he has been engaged in for the last 90 days or so. The experience is a direct relationship between input/output and body weight. It's a weight management plan based on small behavioral changes supported by several internet connected appliances and apps.
Lose It | Strava
Hey everybody, my name is Robert Carlsen. I work at JGA, I’m primarily a iOS software engineer. I think I mentioned earlier I’ve been working in the field and project for a little while, but I’m not going to talk about that tonight, I’m going to be talking about the weight tracking experience that I’ve been engaged in the past 90days or so.
I call it input/output and here is what I did.
I established the weight management plan based on small behavioral changes supported by several internet connected appliances and apps. So essentially, I wanted to lose a bit of weight, because several years ago I was an amateur bike racer and I felt pretty good about myself. I’m no longer an amateur bike racer and I’m feeling a little bit less good about myself. But you know I’m fairly active, I’m fairly fit, but I’ve never really had to budget my food and never really had to think about the weight that I am is just what I happen to weigh at the time.
I’m moving around a bunch and I happen to eat a lot, but I was starting to feel a little bit out of control. I was feeling like you know, as I was watching as I’m getting a little bit older, I’m 35, I’m pretty young but I’m noticing that I wasn’t as fit as I had been before, and I needed to regain a little bit of sense of control.
So back in December, I decided I was going to try to do something about that. So my high level approach was just to you know, establish my baseline, what do I way right now, and how much my eating right now. Set some goals; I decided to try to get close to my race weight, which is about 155 pounds. It’s a little ambitious and I’ll get to that in a moment, and then I set some daily goals, daily goals that I could achieve each day that would help me along towards that goal. Of course, I needed some way of measuring the progress, assess the goals, and update the goals and go on and so forth.
So the basic thesis of my experience here is that there is a direct relationship between input/output and body weight. So in other words, how much and eating, how much I’m expending or burning, and how much I weigh and whether or not I am maintaining stasis or that something is not changing; my increasing my weight, and light decreasing my weight.
There was a white paper that if I had my presenter notes I would be able to tell you the name of it, but I will try to dig it up in a moment that actually quantified this. They did a human study, they came up with mathematical model that they were able to then create a software tool to simulate your body weight over time, giving it certain calorie intake and certain amount of exercise.
So using that theory you know I was presuming that if I’m inputting less food or less calories that I’m using, that I will lose a bit of weight. I didn’t really want to modify my activity levels very much because I’m already fairly active, and my time is already pretty occupied with you know, coming to work, cooking at home, spending time with my wife. So I didn’t really having much leeway in carving out some more time to run or to cycle more than I already do. I commute by bike twice a day, that’s about an hour of just being active. I stand at my desk, I move around, just a bit.
So, to establish a baseline I weighed around 177 pounds in December. I was using the Lose It app to give myself an overall rough guess of how many calories I was eating, based on my normal habits which is 2,600 and 3,000 calories.
Again, I just mentioned a moment ago that I was fairly active and to actually come up with those calorie numbers, and I’m going to get into this in a moment I used some detailed tracking app like Strave, RunKeeper and my own app MobileLogger to figure out about how many calories I was burning in my normal activities.
The reason I’m going to get into that is a lot of my methodology which is very not scientific is based on guessing, like I’m not tracking each one of my rides because I do about the same amount of activity every day. I have to get to work, I have to get home, and it’s always about 300 cal. I don’t need to know if the wind affected my calories or if the route that I chose affected my calories. Really it was just about and I eating less than I’m using, so again guessing.
My overall goals were to get to 155, about a 22 pound loss. I set 90 days, which is at the higher end of what you probably should be losing on a per week basis of about 1.7 pounds per week. And according to that tool I mentioned earlier, the body weight simulator, they estimated that if I consumed 1600 daily calories, which is a 1000 calorie reduction that I should be able to hit my target goal.
This is what the simulator looks like. It was designed by engineers or academics it seems, but it gave me all the important information that I needed.
You enter in some biometrics, your height, your age, your weight, your gender. You enter in some targets, some goals, and then it will give you an estimate of what you need. Now this one says I should eat 1800 calories per day. This is an old screenshot and I tuned my activity level a bit, and ultimately it gave me about 1600 calories per day.
So my methodology was really that I wanted to use mobile apps and Internet connected devices, and this is kind of important. I was trying to minimize manual intervention, and try to streamline my routine as best as I could.
Now several years ago I mentioned I had been a bike racer, I was logging a lot, doing a lot of entry into a detailed log in notepads, doing entry into software that I was using and tracking my workouts. Then after that when I came to New York to go to NYU, I was also tracking my bike rides every day and trying to do something, and it was something bigger and I didn’t know what that was.
And eventually, I burned out on it. I just didn’t care to keep tracking the numbers anymore because I wasn’t modifying my behavior and I wasn’t getting value out of it, and that was just personal.
So when I tried to do this again, I needed to find something that would be as a smaller burden on my daily routine as possible. So I used the device that I carried with me all the time; it’s my iPhone. I am using a couple of apps that are readily available. The Withing’s body scale app, which is linked again to the Wi-Fi connected scale I mentioned earlier. I’m using the Lose It app. That’s what I enter all of my meals into track my calories, and then to somewhat a lesser degree, you know, the Fuel Band it didn’t really factor in that much at this experiment. Because again, I was tracking specific types of exercise, my bike ride, my walking, and you know, again, the Fuel Band itself didn’t really capture the bike rides in the same way that I had wanted to.
These are just screenshots of the different types of apps that I used. I have a nice little dashboard of all the different quantification steps. This was just a quick capture comparing the activity measured by the Fuel Band, and the amount of my calorie budget. So you can notice that when I’m a bit more active my calorie budget is lower of course, the net is lower because I’m expending more calories. And then at the weekends when I’m not doing my commute to work my budget goes in the red; I go over my budget just about every weekend.
There is some light integration between having the Fuel Band and having the Lose It app. However, it waits until you get to a certain threshold, then it will give you bonus calories and it was messing up the tracking that I was already doing. So I, if I had any kind of influence. I would like to change that, but I have very little influence on their work. Anyway, there is some integration and you can see get the data in there, but you know I would prefer to have all of the calories from the Fuel Band input into the Lose It app so I don’t have to manually enter in the information.
So where am I currently? I’m currently at 163, that’s about a 14 pound loss since the beginning. I’m feeling pretty good about that even you know I’m off of my target. I was able to maintain about a one pound per week loss. My average is a little bit higher than my target, and I’m consuming about 1700 calories a day, and I’m exercising at least doing about 600 calories worth of activity per day.
This all came out of Lose It, they were really nice summary screen which just print out all of your metrics to date.
So again, I’m feeling pretty good about how this worked out. This is my weight curve over the entire timeframe of the experience. The one thing that I want to note is while I’m on a fairly positive trajectory there are a couple of plateaus. And one of the things that I will mention in a minute, is my habit is very very key. Anything that interrupts my routine will cause a noticeable effect on my weight, and we can see that the Lord of the Rings marathon caused my first blip, where we were locked in a house for 12 hours and eating lots of food. Travelling to work caused another big plateau, and then my birthday was just this past weekend and my mother made cake and how can you say no to your mother when she presents you vegan chocolate iced double layered cake so that caused one heck of a spike.
So again what have I learned about this? I didn’t really talk about my methodology exactly, but I weigh myself about the same time, 30 minutes after I wake up in the morning, usually when I get home from work. The weight does fluctuate within the day and it fluctuates from day-to-day, but I notice that the weight generally in the evening is higher than the weight than the morning.
But this is really what came out of it so far for me, and again I am only 90 days into this and you know, a lot can happen and I don’t know if I can keep doing this for a long time, but I feel pretty good about it. My habits, my routine, consistency is really what I need to keep myself on target.
What I didn’t really talk about again because I forgot my presenter notes, is that portion control is the main tactic that I used to try to achieve this. So instead of eating a larger meal that I was accustomed to eating with all of this bike racing, I have tried to start to eat slower and start to eat less at any given sitting and I also cut out snacking in between meals.
But because of that I have also started to notice that when my stomach tells me that it’s time to stop. And instead of pushing through and having second helpings, because I really like the taste of the food I’m eating, I’ve decided to just give myself a pause. And over time I’ve became very comfortable with that. So I mean at first I did feel a little bit hungry, but now you know in the morning and I have a protein shake and after that I feel great until noon. I have half a sandwich or salad or you know what did I have today; I had falafel today, so I felt great all throughout the afternoon. And then just before this presentation I had an apple and then I’ll go home and make myself some juice. Again, small meals, 300 calories or sell, and I just get through the day pretty easily.
And, ultimately, I’m feeling more in control and am feeling pretty satisfied with the progress so far and it’s been positive.
My tracking, and this is what I didn’t really get into, was really just in service of affecting behavioral changes. So I mentioned a little bit before, I was doing a bit of guessing. I’m guessing how many calories I’m burning when I’m riding. I’m guessing on some of the meals. I mean Clues It is pretty okay for about packaged goods, but when you are cooking your own meals you have to guess on the quantities, guess on the types of things that you’re entering. But for me again, it was about reinforcing the portion control. Reinforcing the fact that, I only wanted to eat a certain amount of food throughout the day. Reinforcing that, if I have a snack now I’m going to have to log it and that means I’m not going to be able to eat a little bit of desert later on tonight.
And on the other hand positively reinforcing the activity. If I know that I’m going to walk a little bit extra to get lunch, or I’m going to ride a little bit extra on my ride home, I’m going to enter that extra in and it’s going to bring my calorie balance a little bit lower, and maybe I can have that extra desert at the end.
So the tracking itself was really just a way to support the behavioral changes. I was trying to see in myself.
So here are some links on the tools that I happen to use. There is a link to the bodyweight simulator if you want to check it out, and I also have a link to the White Paper that they used, and there is some of my contact information and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.