Micah Chalmer

It's a blog.

2013 Weight Loss Review

In 2013 I recorded my weight every day (with a few gaps for trips and the occasional missed day here and there). I lost exactly 39 pounds for the year–started off at 296 and ended at 257. Here is the chart:

Some observations:

  • There is a lot of noise in daily weight measurements. I did try to eliminate the obvious sources of extra noise–in all the weight measurements I was naked, and all used the same bathroom scale in my house, just before going to bed. Spikes and dips of around 4 pounds are common, and don’t seem to mean anything. This likely reflects water more than anything else.
  • I occasionally weighed myself in the morning (though I didn’t record these) and these measurements were consistently about 1-2 pounds lower than the night measurements. Is that how much I sweat over a night? (It seems implausible that it’s anything else.) Or was there some effect of humidity or something on the scale? In any case, it was quickly clear that comparing today to yesterday is pretty much meaningless in terms of progress. You have to look at trends over a week at least.
  • I lost about 1 pound per week until July or so, at which point I hit a plateau and stayed flat for most of the summer and fall. I think I may have broken it lately by changing diets again, but I’ll see as time goes on.

What I did:

For most of the year I was on something roughly like Tim Ferris’s Slow-Carb Diet. I didn’t follow it to the letter–in particular, I still ate quite a bit of cheese–but I kept to the basic formula of “no sugar, no carbs except on one cheat day a week in which I can go nuts.” I was very strict about the sugar and carbs at first. I know, and knew full well at the time, that this wasn’t ideal in terms of proper nutrition. But it had some features that allowed me to change my habits when I hadn’t been able to before. First: on normal days I was able to eat until I felt full. That means that sticking to the diet didn’t make me feel I was depriving myself of anything–I didn’t have to stop eating when I wanted to eat, I just had to limit it to certain things (which I liked anyway.) Second, the weekly “cheat day” made it much easier to change my habits. It wasn’t “no Reese’s cups ever again in your life”–it was “no Reese’s cups until this Saturday.” At the beginning, all of this was very important to me.

The funny part is that over time, those features became less important as my habits changed. When I stopped eating candy every day, after a few months it actually got less appealing to me even on the cheat days. The cheat days got less and less binge-y, not because I was trying to limit them, but because “what I wanted to eat” was changing to be more like what I ate on normal days. When I did eat candy or desserts, I started to actually feel a “sugar rush,” which is something I had never experienced before, and isn’t all that pleasant. I still love the taste of sweet foods while I’m eating it, but the weird shaky feeling actually signals me to stop. I’ve now been able to change my diet again and bring it into a better balance. (Which I’m hoping is breaking the plateau I’ve been on since around July.) I added back small portions of bread or potatoes to my daily diet, and instead of a “cheat day” I just moderate my sugar intake. I now use dessert about the same way I use alcohol–I have it in a party or group social setting, but not at home alone or just with my wife.

I did some weight training at the gym, but only about once a week. It was all I could manage between work, shows, and other stuff at home. I record my progress on that too (though I’m not publishing those numbers at this point) and I did significantly go up in weight even with one per week. Unfortunately, between all the trips and trying to do a show at the same time, I didn’t get any workouts in at all during December. I did get some exercise doing work on my wife’s grandmother’s house, including moving a bunch of heavy boxes, so hopefully that sustains it to some degree. I also hope that my going down in weight during December isn’t actually just muscle loss from not working out! Back to it in January I guess…