After a minor rib injury that took two months to heal, I found myself no longer in what anyone would call running or yoga-ing shape. I was 20 pounds heavier, and my cardio game was non-existent.
I took to the gym as soon as I was able working my way from small hand weights to machines and elliptical work. After a month of training four days a week, I lost, wait for it, no weight. In fact, I gained.
This is where most people jump in and say, “Muscle weighs more than fat, so that’s good right?”
1) Muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat. Muscle is denser than fat meaning that a single pound of muscle takes up less space than a single pound of fat.
2) Working out was good. Not seeing movement on the scale wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great.
I had to get honest with myself.
Honesty with one’s self is where people often miss the mark when it comes to weight loss, muscle gain, or goals that are unrelated to health and wellness.
To get real with myself, I decided to collect data. Correction: Collect lots of data.
For two months, I tracked all of my foods without regard for calorie count. It was purely for the data.
In addition to this, I weighed myself every day without exception.
You might be thinking, “Didn’t that discourage you? I would feel so bad if I had to weigh myself every single day!”
1) Nothing is discouraging about the collecting of data. All I was doing was reading and recording a number every morning. There was nothing stressful about that even though that number was 20 pounds heavier than last I checked.
2) I didn’t have to do anything. I felt terrible, and I wanted to feel better. I wanted to make sure I was doing all that I could do to feel better. I wanted to fix the problem, but I needed first to identify the problem. Was I gaining weight daily? Was I gaining weight once or twice a month? I needed answers to these questions and the other questions that were to come.
For two months, I tracked my eating habits, exercise habits, and weight. While all three of these habits played into my weight loss, I was the most fascinated by my daily weight measurements.
Your Weight is Going to Rise and Fall
When I look at the graph from May and June 2018 weigh-ins, I get excited and feel confident in my health and wellness practice. While the trend on the chart continually jumps up and down, the overall trend is down.
My starting weight was 189.9 pounds on May 1. On May 2, I weighed in at 186.1 pounds. While I knew this was not a sustainable weight loss trend, it was nice to see it on the scale.
I won’t lie — That weigh-in gave me hope.
On May 3, I was up a pound at 187.1, but that was still less than my initial weigh-in!
The trend continues like this from May 1 to June 30. It rises and falls like clockwork. One day, I’ll be up 1.5 pounds and down 2.1 pounds the following day for example.
Comparing the scale measurements to my exercise and food data let me glean a lot about myself, the habits I had formed while injured, and my overall health.
On its own, the scale data taught me this:
1) I retain water like a camel in the luteal phase of my cycle (from ovulation to the first day of a period). I will gain three to five pounds and drop it all by the end of my period, so no need to panic.
2) As long as the weight data is trending down, I’m winning. Little gains and more significant losses add up. Being down one pound on Tuesday, and up .8 pounds on Wednesday doesn’t mean you failed! On Thursday, you’ll most likely be down weight again.
At the end of the two month period, I lost 6.1 pounds without making any significant changes to my life.
Because I am prideful, I feel compelled to tell you that I had lost 10.1 pounds, but I ended June in my luteal phase. (I do feel better now.)
While I enjoyed this experience (and still am as I have yet to stop collecting the data), I know this method is not for everyone.
Of course, you should only participate in this kind of activity if you do not have a negative history with scales or food. If you do have a history with food or the scale, you should talk to your doctor before attempting this kind of data collection.