Thursday, July 23, 2015

Weight Loss (How I Am Breaking The Pattern)

One of my favourite things to do is open up and talk about things that are going on in my life. If you want to hear about me in more detail, I convinced my co-hosts on Ottawhat? to let me talk about myself for an hour this week (listen here).

But that's not what today is about. Today, I want to tell you what's been going on with my weight in the last month or so. You can see all the past stuff I've written about Soylent here, but this isn't really about Soylent either. This is all about my weight, and health.

Trust me, I was too small.
For the majority of my adult life, I have weighed between 230 and 250 pounds. Most health experts will tell you that for my height, that makes me about 50-70 pounds overweight. This puts me just a smidge past overweight, and into "obese" territory. For almost a year, when I tore my ACL in 2010-11 and couldn't do any real physical activity, my weight actually dropped down as far as 190 pounds, and I honestly looked like a skeleton. That is my "healthy" weight, so I know that I can't depend on a measure like BMI (which doesn't take density or body structure into account) to measure my health. Buoyancy is dependent on density, and I would drown if I tried to float, so I know I'm pretty dense.

All of that being said, in the last few weeks, I have been cycling to and from work about 70% of the time, and I have also not been taking a lunch. Instead, I have been having one serving of Soylent around 12:15 PM every day, in addition to breakfast and whatever I eat in the evening. The result of this is a pretty drastic drop in my weight since the second week of July, as you can see here.
The last month of weight measurements.
Luckily for me, since I first bought a WiFi-connected scale in February 2014, my weight has been a known quantity as long as I stand on it every day. What I saw from the last 18 months is that what I had been "doing" to lose weight, wasn't doing much. Even Soylent and cycling, as you can see from the graph above (starting at the end of June), weren't really having any effect on my weight.

The thing that finally started me down the path you see on the right side of the graph is a pretty simple change, that is, using this graph. I am currently using the measurements from my scale, and feeding them into the graph described here. It keeps a moving average of the last 10 days (so 9 days ago is weighted at 0.1 in the average, 4 days ago is weighted 0.6, etc., and today is weighted as 1). What this means, as described if you read the article above, is that if you have an off day or eat a whole pizza, it doesn't completely ruin your weight trend, because you will still have a string of good days before it that are factored in to your weight.

What I've been trying to do with this information is keep the blue line up there below the red line. That makes weight loss incredibly simple, and it means that I can in theory eat whatever I want on a given day, just that I have to be healthy overall. As you can see, I went to a birthday party last weekend where I ate a little bit too much. Where that would normally be a huge discouragement, with this data available, I can see that as long as I put work in to make up for it, everything will be fine.
This was a really good, too big meal, from 2012.
What all of this really comes down to is that to lose weight, I have had to limit what I eat. I don't necessarily need to eat healthy foods, but that definitely helps. Even more than losing weight though, this has come from a desire to be healthier. I know that I just plain eat too much food. At home, I have a lot more control over what I eat, and that really helps, but restaurants are becoming a bigger and bigger pain to eat at. The problem that I end up having is: the portions restaurants give you is WAY too big. Any restaurant worth its salt (heh) will know that the economics of food mean that they will make more money if they give you bigger portions. As meals (and servings) get bigger, you can charge more for them, and the only downside is that it's WAY too much food for any one person in one sitting.

What I have to get into the mindset of doing is mentally setting aside some of the food on my plate when I'm at a restaurant, and knowing ahead of time that I actively shouldn't be eating all of the food I'm given. At the moment, I treat the food on my plate at restaurants as a goal, even though I stop being hungry very early in the meal. I think, if I can keep up these measurements and motivations, and actually change my restaurant habits, I can keep this up and get to a weight where I feel a little better about myself and feel healthy all the time, as opposed to feeling like I should eat a salad more often (because salads are the worst).

That being said, as a work food replacement, Soylent has been unbelievable. It's all I'm eating at work these days, and it's been filling enough that I don't need to eat any snacks before lunch, and I don't feel starved biking home if I only have one small portion in the morning. Although I still don't love the sucralose taste.