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Weight half-life? (More maintenance math)

Monday, December 10, 2012

I've noticed an odd pattern with how I lose (and gain) weight: I seem to go in half-lives.

It takes about the same amount of time to lose half of my remaining weight as it did to lose half of the previous total. So, my total weight lost is about 45 pounds - 166 down to 121 at my current 'ideal'. The first 22.5 dropped off fairly easily, bringing me down to around 142, which was a mild plateau that took me about a month to break. The next 11 (ish) took about the same amount of time as the first chunk and brought me into a 'normal' BMI at 131 pounds. After that, I dropped the next six and a bit to bring myself down to about 125, which is what I consider my 'high' maintenance weight; It's within a healthy BMI, but it's the point where I start to actively bring myself back down to a more comfortable number. The next 'half' brings me down to 122, which is my comfortable target maintenance weight. Dropping another 'half', to get to 120.5 has only happened once or twice and takes a lot of effort (or lucky hormonal timing).

It works going back the other way, too. If I show a gain, I seem to settle on certain points, and those fit the pattern. My comfortable zone centers on 121-122. That's where I hit the sweet spot between eating enough to not feel deprived, being active, and not feeling like I'm starting to bloat up. If I have a not-so-great period, like a vacation or just a couple crappy weeks like I had at the end of last month, I can almost guarantee that I'll settle around 125. I seem to bounce between those two weights, without a lot of stopping in between. I haven't gone heavier yet, and I don't intend to, but I wouldn't be surprised if breaking through that 125 barrier had me settle back on 131. My body's sweet spots seem to look like this:


The pattern is obviously rough, but it would explain why weight gain can sneak up on you. Most people aren't going to (and shouldn't) panic about a three pound gain, since that can easily be hidden in normal fluctuation. But if the next six pounds comes on as easily as that first three, and the next 12 after that is almost as easy, you can see how it could catch you off guard as a where-the-hell-did-that-come-f
rom 20 pound gain. 20 pounds seems to be the wake-up call for most people, and I could see how trying to lose that weight again could be discouraging if you're expecting it to drop off as quickly as 20 pounds did the first time you lost it.

It also explains my current loss pattern. I can always drop three pounds easily. If I do sneak up into the 125 zone, a week of cleaning up my act will bring me back down to 122. Getting the next half (or half of that half) off is a struggle, and I think part of that is because I lose momentum. If I adjust my expectations and prepare to work just as hard to lose the next 1.5 as I did for the previous three, then I'm more likely to stick with what I'm doing.

Anyway, these are piddly little numbers that don't really matter until I start creeping beyond that 125 limit, but I thought it was an interesting pattern. It also serves as a bit of a warning that the flip side having more difficulty losing weight as you get closer to your goal is that it's easier to gain as you move further away from it. I have no idea if this has any scientific basis or if it's just my own personal pattern, but it's at least something worth watching.

Has anyone else found the same thing?

The reason I'm paying attention to weight loss patterns is because I'm in clean-up mode from a bad November. It could have been worse, but I struggled to get my regular workouts in and had some questionable eating in there. So far it's been going okay: The week before last was almost spot on for exercise, but not so great for eating. This last week I stuck to my food plan to the letter, including managing a handful of work parties, but had trouble scheduling workouts around social events.

This week is an opportunity to hit the mark with both eating and exercise. I have only one food event, a work lunch tomorrow, and I was in charge of the menu for that so we're getting herb roasted chicken, mixed greens, wild rice, and seasonal veggies. You're welcome.

I got over another mental hump with exercise yesterday by doing my first really cold run. The sun came out halfway through, and it was absolutely gorgeous. It wasn't my most disciplined long run, since it was only 9k and I stopped to take a few pictures on the way back, but it was enjoyable and felt good.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I think I've mentioned this before: I tend to stay at around 175 or at around 125, and if I'm something between those two numbers, it's not usually for very long. Needless to say, I much prefer the 125!
    1890 days ago
    Yes, my weight follows a similar pattern. I'm having a very difficult time getting back down to my maintenance weight. These 3 lbs refuse to budge!
    1898 days ago
    I have definitely noticed a similar pattern in my weight loss and maintenance, there seem to be certain mulberry that my body likes to settle on.
    Thanks for an interesting blog! I love meeting new sparkfriends!
    1899 days ago
    I definitely have my happy zones for my body. I have been blessed to not struggle with my weight most of my life as I had a very active lifestyle. I worked retail loading and unloading trucks and stocking merchandise. After being injured on the job, I failed to adjust my eating. I am back on track to lose the weight again. MY biggest blessing through this journey has learning to be comfortable in my own skin, regardless of my size. I want to be healthy, but weight is just a number. It is more important to me to have the energy and strength to do the things I love to do.
    1899 days ago
    Your body seems to work the same way as mine. I just keep fluctuating in the same 3-4 pound range and it has been going on for a while. I actually wanted to lose a little more but it looks like I'm stuck in maintenance for now.
    1899 days ago
  • NEPTUNE1939
    There are different body types that handle Carbs, Proteins, and Fats differently. It takes trial and error to find your body type and is why tracking food accurately is so important. Body builders (men & women alike) and models have figured this out.

    Burn the Fat & Feed the Muscle is a good E-book if you have interest in this area. Your tracking as it is now is fantastic! Stay with it. May God bless your progress, Earl emoticon
    1899 days ago
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