40,000-49,999 SparkPoints 48,912

Using the Hacker's Diet for maintenance

Thursday, January 28, 2010

While Spark People is a fantastic site for LOSING weight, it has some way to go before it's equally good at supporting MAINTAINING weight.

Here's an example:

Here's a graph of my weight for the past week:

The points on the tips of the green and red shaded areas are my daily weight entries. The red area means that for that day, or period of days, my daily weight entries were above the blue trend line. The green area means that for that day, or period of days, my daily weight entries were below the blue trend line.

My blue trend line weight has changed almost not at all, while I've fluctuated around it with some red and some green areas. This is what maintenance looks like.

Those "losses" in the green areas are the ones people are seeing on my friend feed. You don't see the gains on a feed, so although I'm gaining and losing the same 1-2 pounds over time (which is the definition of maintenance), it looks to my friends as if I'm still losing.

In fact, DDOORN actually commented on my feed this morning and asked why I was still losing weight when I'd said I was pretty much in maintenance mode.

What maintainers need is a feed that says "X MAINTAINED his/her weight for a week!" Or something like that.

And as I've suggested before, we could really use a weight average graph line like this over here at SP. It's not so necessary for loss mode, but very very valuable for maintenance mode, because the two cornerstones of maintenance are:

1) Frequent monitoring
2) Immediate correction

Without an averaging trend line, the monitoring is pretty much useless in the face of daily fluctuations.

Weighing once a week still does not average out whatever fluctuation you might be experiencing on the particular day that you decide to weigh yourself, so it will look pretty much the same as this, once you're maintaining.

By the time you discover you're outside the normal fluctuations, you've got a substantial 5 lbs or so to re-lose.

This is why I log my numbers using a weighted moving average.

Which is based on the Hacker's Diet. Here is a detailed explanation of how the weight graphing works. Follow this link and scroll down until you get to the part that says "Dexter's Diet."

I also use True Weight on my iPod, which is similar.

To learn more about the Hacker's Diet, you can visit the team page:

The basic principle is to watch your weight TREND LINE rather than the raw data and adjust your exercise and calorie intake to control it.

The good news is that with sites like physicsdiet.com you don't need to understand the calculations; all you have to do is put in your daily numbers and the website will do the magic for you, and leave you free to just watch your blue trend line.

I think, in order to prevent confusing my friends anymore, until something more appropriate for maintenance is implemented here, I'm going to start reporting the TREND LINE weight here instead of the actual raw numbers.

The past few weeks have been kind of scary, after getting the news that I'm at 19% body fat. I eased up on my calorie restriction. The trend went up. I clamped back down on it a bit. The trend went down.

In fact, I'm kind of stunned about the SHAPE of my weight curve:

From the looks of it, I'd say that I'm actually doing pretty well at maintaining, so far! :-o

I'm going to gradually ease that average line down to 150 and see how that feels.

I'm actually kind of amazed by how CONSISTENT the curve is. It's a fairly straight line down to 157 and then just STOPS there. Like someone drew it on there, not like someone actually LIVED that line...

But she did. And she freaked out and panicked a few times, and binged BY A LOT a few times, and generally sweated it.

It sure didn't FEEL like I had any control, really, at all... That I was doing this out there without a net.

But I'll tell you what. I lost weight by living by numbers, and it sure seems like I can maintain it by living by numbers. So I suppose my iPod calorie tracker (Lean Me Pro) and bathroom scale ARE my net, at the moment...

And the proper software for interpreting the results.

See SEEBEES3's blog for a more statistically robust monitoring system:
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    816 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2461 days ago
    Thank you for the tools listed here. Maintenance is a really difficult aspect of lifestyle changes. I lost all my weight 2 years ago, and now I have 6 pounds to lose AGAIN. Not too bad, but it's still frustrating and scary.
    2965 days ago
    Thanks for the links. I have a statistics background so I have a problem with using only trendlines only as triggers though it is definitely better than nothing. Unfortunately I haven't found any online weight loss site using really solid statistical modeling and controls yet.

    The good news is for maintenance you can do this off line if you are an Excel or spreadsheet user. (Or you can use a statistical analysis package if you really want to.)

    First maintain your weight for 60 days and weigh daily. Once you have that data:

    Calculate the Mean [=average(cell1:cell60)] and the Standard Deviation [=stddev(cell1:cell60)] And check yourself. The Mean should be where you want to stay.

    Then set yourself up an upper and lower control limit
    Upper = average + 3 * Stddev
    Lower = average - 3 * Stddev

    And a upper and lower warning limit

    Upper = average + 2 * Stddev
    Lower = average - 2 * Stddev

    And plot your weight. If you have the following happen find out what went wrong and correct:
    1 point outside the control limits
    2 out of 3 points outside the warning limits
    8 points above/below the mean
    6 points rising or falling

    The standard deviation should be recalculated every 2 months and checked to the old standard deviation and if the new standard deviation is half the old one or smaller then new limits should be recalculated.

    Okay I'll stop Geeking now :0P

    Edited to add: This works for weight, calorie intake, calories expended, calorie deficit, etc. as long as it is Maintenance.
    2971 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/2/2010 12:49:01 AM
    Love the website. Looks to be very intuitive, especially with how is graphs your data and allows you to trend your data.

    Cool stuff.
    2972 days ago
    I so glad you post all this stuff. You are going to have all my maintenance questions answered before I even get there. Thanks you.
    2972 days ago
  • RENA1965
    I agree with you on the maintaince issue- I will be looking at the sites you recommend..
    2973 days ago
    I have tried the hackers diet and it makes logical sense to me but I am too much of a space cadet to remember to weigh daily (at least, in the morning after I pee & before I put on any clothes) - usually by the time I remember it's right after I eat the biggest meal of the day, or when I am nowhere near a scale or something like that!
    2975 days ago
  • CARRIE1948
    I need Hacker's Diet to just get through the last 20 pounds. If it weren't for that, I'd go nuts with the daily ups and downs
    2975 days ago
    I feel so stupid saying this, but I don't understand a word of it!!! I'm such a dork!! All I do know is that I'm doing the same thing weight wise as you are only it's because I'm not trying hard enough. You on the other hand work out like a pro and do all the right things. I know this blog somehow explains it but it's too complicated for my pea brain to disseminate the info.

    2975 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and experience!


    2976 days ago
  • _MAOMAO_
    Yes, this stuff needs to be tweaked. I know it will be. It's neat that you have friends that pay attention and care about you who will say, hey, why are you losing weight if you don't need to anymore?

    When I check the report on my weight progress here at Spark, my focus is on the direction of my graph. Years ago I went through a phase of weigh myself every day. It was really good for me, I learned to not worry about those little fluctuations.

    2976 days ago
    You have certainly accomplished amazing things with the numbers...!

    Maintenance strategies are going to be VERY important...especially as more and more of us are going to arrive at our goal weights and NEVER want to see those extra pounds again!

    2976 days ago
    I'm so glad you told me about physicsdiet.com. I went there and plotted my whole weight loss journey into the site and my graph is a bit wobblier than yours, but I'm really happy to see that trend line nudging down. Still need to read more about Hacker's diet, but I'll get there and I think you're right about it being excellent for maintainance mode. YOU are a star!!!
    2976 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.