Sunday, 15 March 2015

Heavy days and light days - Mid-March training and weight loss update.

Those of you that weigh yourselves regularly will know that we all have "heavy" days and we all have "light" days.
Today is a heavy day (!)

After a week of low-ish weight numbers, and a 5k run at dusk yesterday, today my weight went up.
Paradoxical, no?

But that's just how weight works.
One is not only measuring fat, but also hydration.
We can all lose weight just by running about a bit, and sweating a bit, and not drinking.
All that sweat comes from somewhere (!)
But, of course, when we have a drink of water, we put all the "weight" back on again.

So how much can water/dehydration affect the weight numbers I get from our bathroom scales?
Well,the US Geological Society say that adult folks are about 60% water, while the Royal College of Nursing (in the UK) says that 50% to 65% is healthy for an adult man, while 45% to 60% is healthy for an adult woman.

The biggest "one day" jump I have yet seen in my weight measurements is 1.6 kg (about 3.6 lbs), which given I weigh about 95 kg (about 210 lbs!) is only about a 1.5% variation.
And that is the biggest (!)
Most day-to-day-comparisons involve much smaller weight swings, and sometimes I weigh in at exactly the same weight on two consecutive days.

Anyway, onto the training and weight loss update.

I had a "vacation" week recently, and I used the time well - three 5k runs, a 7k run and a 10K run.
OK, so the 7k run was an "accident" - I lost count on the laps, and when I looked at my smartphone screen, I found I had done an extra lap by mistake :-)

The opposite happened yesterday evening when I REALLY REALLY wanted to miss out the last hill, and I just had to force myself to plod up it to finish the 5K I had planned :-(
AND I still weighed in "heavy" this morning (see above!)

But I guess that is how it is - sometimes the miles come easily, and sometimes they don't!

I did a 50K bike ride in that "vacation" week, too, but then, of course, last week I was back at work, and four 12 hour days take too much time and energy and don't allow much training. Just a standard shift on Saturday, though, which allowed for that "determined" 5K run that I practically dragged myself around.

I am well ahead on my running target for March (50km including a 10K), but I have quite a bit of cycling still to do to get to my 300km target. I have already done the 50km ride I had targetted, and I have already passed my "climbing" target, too. So I just have to grind out some miles.

I have started a "Training Diary", too, listing each run and cycle I do, and logging my walking, too.
It is easy enough to write notes for anything unusual, like new shoes, or illness or injury.
Keeping a note makes it easier to see where you have done well, and, just as importantly, to avaoid overtraining.
Too much training, and not enough rest days, is always one of the beginner's biggest pitfalls.
The training provides the STIMULUS for your body to grow stronger/fitter, but you have to give it the chance to do so.
How much training you can do depends on how far you have already progressed - while a fit runner might run a 10K three or four times a week (I did 30 years ago, but I was 25kg/55lbs lighter back then!), a beginner (or in my case, I am more strictly a "late returner") is more likely to see 10K as a major achievement. More importantly, nowadays, my body sees the 10K as a MAJOR stimulus, and needs time to rebuild.
So keeping that diary helps me see what is what.

What is my "true" weight?
All 6 lines show different aspects of my "true" weight, and are equally "true".
Anyway. onto MY weight.

So how should I measure my weight?
Which way is the "truest"?
In the graphic above, I have given SIX different methodologies, and every one of them is as equally true as every other. They are all based on a "full" data set, warts and all, with no data points being ignored.

So let's look at the methodologies in a bit more detail.

First the chart on the left - the daily weights.
  • The "blue" line is the "raw" data - the numbers I got from the scales each morning, having weighed myself before breakfast and my all-important morning cup of tea. The data shows the variation that daily measurement can naturally bring. Even in this graph, and even over only a period of 11 weeks, a trend is apparent - the "peaks" are getting lower, and the "troughs" are getting deeper, so I am slowly losing weight.
  • The "red" line shows the method suggested to me by Cam Caine, and he says he got it from "The Hacker's Diet". Work out each day's "smoothed" number by taking 90% of yesterday's "smoothed" number, and adding 10% of today's new figure. The purpose is to iron out the "spikes" from the numbers, and show the trend more clearly. Note, however, that the 90%+10% methodology produces some "lag" when looking at data which is falling or rising over a period - the "red" line is almost always ABOVE the "blue" line.
  • The "green" line represents a much simpler smoothing method - three data points are averaged each time. This method also smooths out the "peaks" and "troughs", and is usually MUCH closer to the "blue" (raw data) line that the red (90% + 10%) line is.
The chart on the right shows another way of displaying the data. The daily weight data is first of all averaged out to give a "weekly" average weight (the methodology is simply that of taking the arithmetic mean - add all the numbers for a given week together, and then divide by the number of data points you added together, e.g. 7)
  • The "blue" line shows the raw data set (as used in the blue line on the left-hand chart), but this time averaged out per week.
  • The "red" line uses the same "90% + 10%" smoothing algorithm as the green line on the laft-hand chart, but this time it is the "weekly" ("blue") data set (from the right-hand chart) that is smoothed, not the "daily" set used in the left-hand chart. Again the "red" line lags behind a set of falling data (like my weight)!!
  • The "green" line is the average of three "weekly" weights, and, again, follows the blue line much more closely than the red line does.
So, enough of all that.
Allowing for daily swings, how much weight have I lost in the 11 weeks I have been measuring?
Well, for a start, I don't know if the first weight I got from the scales on January 1st was a "heavy" day or a "light" day!!!
But anyway, lets see what the graphs say:
Using the "daily" chart on the left, I have lost 1.3 kg (blue line), 1.5 kg (red line) or 2 kg (green line).
Using the "weekly" chart on the right, I have lost 2.4kg (blue line), 1 kg (red line) or 2.2kg (green line).
So, confusingly, the "blue line method" results in the lowest weight loss in the "daily" chart, but the biggest in the "weekly" chart.

So how much weight have I lost?
Well, I can say with confidence that I have lost between 1 kg and 2.4 kg this year (2015), although any attempt to pin a more exact number on it than that runs into problems with the methodology of the calculation (!) I personally feel that the green line (the "three day"/"three week" lines) are probably the closest, and most realistic assessment, and they give a range of 2 kg (4.4 lbs) to 2.2 kg (4.8 lbs) for my weight loss.

The "red" line, from the "Hacker's Diet" methodology seems to give a better PSYCHOLOGICAL, rather than PHYSIOLOGICAL, result - the "red" line is consistently moving downwards, and "proves" that my "plan" is "working" and that I should continue with it.
That, however, brings up one of the biggest issue with diets and weight-loss plans - sticking to them.
All of us know plenty of "yo-yo" dieters that do well with the latest "fad", then a year later are back where they started.
For some the pschological support from the "Hacker's Diet" method could, maybe, make the difference.

But for me, where food intake is a secondary part of the plan, and exercise is the primary part, any chart that shows weight loss WITHOUT considering exercise as well is only telling half the story ...

And talking of telling only half the story, knowing my weight without thinking about my height isn't exactly a complete picture either - am I tall like, say, John Wayne, or smaller like, say, Danny DeVito?
Well, I am 6 foot 2 or 3. about 1 metre 90-92, so I am much closer to the cowboy than the comic actor :-)
I always seem to get "approximately" measured, which is why I give a small range.

So, taking my weight as being about 95 kg (you can see from the pair of charts that I certainly could have chosen a slightly lower number!), That gives me a Body Mass index of in the region of 26.5 (depends whether I think I am 74 or 74 inches tall!).
That puts me into the "overweight" category, although fortunately at the lower end of that range.
the heaviest I have ever been was about 100kg, which would give me a BMI close to 29!

How does that measure up against "typical" folks?
Well, each country is different, but if I was an American, I would be pretty much exactly "in the middle" of the range of folks - that is to say, my BMI is about that of a typical American. As we Brits only seem to be a touch behind America on obesity, I'm going to be in that area compared to Brits as well.

Shortly after writing this piece, I went for a 10K run - and got my best 10K time so far :-)
Perhaps tomorrow's weigh-in will be a "light" one :-)

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