About Fogdog's Weight Loss

Don't Focus on the Goal...

If you've followed this blog you know that I've struggled for many years with improving my health. I've finally reached a point where I've managed to maintain a small amount of success. Now it's time to take the next step, but I believe it requires a new way of thinking.

Instead of trying to get healthy, why not shift focus toward learning how to build healthy habits instead. Follow me as I try to teach myself how to Engineer healthy habits that will allow me to take my health to the next level. Let's see where this experiment goes!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weight Loss Data

DATA - Things known or assumed as facts, making the basis of reasoning or calculation

You may not have thought about it this way before, but you use data to make all your decisions.  When your gas gauge is on “E” in your car, you make the assumption that your car is almost out of gas.  You really don't know that your gar is almost out of gas, but the little needle says it's so and so you assume it's correct.  That assumption, based on available data, allows you to make the decision to stop at the gas station and add fuel. 

However, what happens when that gas gauge fails and the needle gets stuck in one spot?  What happens when our data fails us?  If data drives all our decisions then doesn't it stands to reason that bad data can also drive bad decisions?

Weight Loss Data... The Almighty Scale 
When it comes to losing weight we make a lot of decisions based on what the scale tells us.  When you step on the scale, you are not just reading a number  When you step on the scale you are collecting data.  Whether you record that data somewhere or not it really doesn't matter; your brain records the data for you and it compares the data with all the other data it has on your weight.  Though most of this happens without you realizing it, seeing that number adds to your pile of weight loss data, and that data is the basis for a lot of your future decisions.    

Since data drives decision, it's important to understand the quality of the data.  There's a lot of variability in stepping on the scale...

Scale Limitations 
Did you ever have (or do you still have) one of those old spring scales?  If you ever had one of those scales you probably remember that you could lean forward on those scales and actually see the weight drop by half a pound (to this day I lean forward slightly every time I stand on the Wii scale).  There are physical limitations to scales, and some are better than others.  Even the new electronic scales have variability.  Here’s something for you to try… Pick up your scale and carry it around the house.  Weigh yourself in every room and write it all down.  I’ll bet you didn’t get the same reading every time?  Slight changes in how level the scale is can actually have a pretty big impact on your scale’s accuracy.  What’s worse, the variability is not the same for everyone, it is amplified the heavier you are.  I tried this experiment and got a high/low range of 5 pounds.

Variability in Ourselves
Along with variability in the scales we use, there is also variability in ourselves.  The process of taking in energy, converting it to what our body can use, and getting rid of waste means a constant fluctuation of our actual weight; there's no way around it.  Weigh yourself 5 times in one day.  You can easily see 2-4 pounds of variability.  Weigh yourself every day for a week and if you are like me you could see 5-10 pounds of variability.  One of the biggest culprits is water.  You hear the term “water retention” a lot in weight loss circles.  Water retention can be listed as a legitimate problem and it can also be used as an excuse to justify poor performance; it just depends on how you want to use it.

The Great Scale Debate
There are those in the weight loss community who think you should weigh yourself frequently.  Frequent weigh-ins keeps you accountable and you just have to mentally "adjust" for the variability.  Since you weigh frequently you become an "expert" at identifying when the reading is skewed.

Then there are those who think you should weigh yourself infrequently.  It's impossible to separate true weight loss from normal variability so there's no point.  In fact, the "bad" data could cause you to make bad decisions so best to avoid the scale as much as possible.

Which way is right?  Both theories are credible; it really just depends on the person and their point of view.  If you are someone that needs to get on the scale to keep from drifting and you don’t see a lot of variability then daily or weekly weigh-ins is probably right for you.  However, if you are someone that doesn’t see the “point” to weighing frequently because of all the variability and not weighing in regularly doesn't cause you to drift, then maybe semi-monthly or monthly weigh-ins would be better.

Know Where You Stand
Everyone has to make their own decision about how often to weigh in and I’m not going to try to convince anyone that one way is better than the other.  If you scour the blogosphere you will find plenty of opinions on that subject ranging from multiple weigh-ins each day to never weighing in and everywhere else in between.  It's your journey and you need to decide what it looks like.  

In order to make the best decisions about your weight loss, you need to know how good or bad your data is.  If you don’t know the quality of your data then you are subject to making bad decisions and that's what eventually leads to you walking down the road with a gas can in hand.

-Stay Strong!


  1. You write such good, thought-provoking posts.

  2. Thanks Natalie! I enjoy putting these type of posts together; it's like a puzzle. You should see my process; The end product never looks anything like the beginning. This post actually started with a completely different idea in mind including the title. I appreciate the kind words, and rest assured I have a whole list of ideas that I'll be writing about in the months to come.

  3. Really enjoyed your post FD. I was afraid of getting on that scale for so many years that I was shocked when I saw my number the first time. I didn't think it would be THAT high and all blah blah blah. So now, getting on the scale regularly is a way I train my mind to face "reality" if that makes sense! I believe though that this may be something I change later on, as in spacing out weighins more because I know I can get obsessed with doing it and that is not good for me. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for the comment Alati. I know what you mean, I once stopped weighing for about 6 months and then was surprised with the result when I got back on. I'm hoping to find a balance between obsessing about the scale and ignoring it.

  4. I'm one of those that needs to avoid the scale . . . doing great on my eating plan seems to often give me the excuse to stray a little . . . then play "catch-up" later. That type of behavior usually leaves me catching up all the time and THAT can be depressing. Still doing okay on my eating plan but the weight comes off very slow as we age. Down 31 pounds since April.

    1. Good to hear from you Weezel! I'm impressed with your results, 31 pounds in 6 months is good in my book regardless of your age. I think it's the 6 months part that impresses me the most; it sounds more like a lifestyle change than just a diet.

  5. Great post man! I agree that there is no one right answer and it is according to what you KNOW about yourself and what the scale will do to your attitude. I personally have sworn off the scale as any type of data that plays into my plans. I have set clothes size as my goals for accountability. Having taken off 100 pounds in 2011, I have most of my clothes from being skinnier still. I am just working my way back down my wardrobe.

    1. Thanks for the comment Shane. I like your attitude toward losing weight; you give off this "Seize the day" kind of vibe. It's great!

  6. I agree that "to weigh or not to weigh" is primarily up to the person. I need to weigh every day, regardless of what the scale will show. When I don't weigh for a while, I always find that I have gained while I'm on my scale sabbatical. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

  7. Hi, you make good point about Fat Loss Diet I never thought of that. Now – If any of you are struggling with Fat Loss Diet Reviews, then I recommend you check out WEIGHT LOSS REVEIW. The is a thorough review on it here >>besttheweightloss.blogspot.com<< . I hope that helps some of you here at WEIGHT LOSS REVEIW!