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July End of Month Assessment

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I can't believe the end of month is already here!

My stats for these 30 days are as follows:

Weight change: -3.6lbs
Bodyfat: -1.1% | -3lbs
Lean Mass: -0.17lbs
Avg Exercise Minutes: 30
Avg Calories Burned during exercise: 217
Avg Carbs/Fat/Protein (g): 72/70/96
Avg Carbs/Fat/Protein (%): 22/48/30
Avg Calories Eaten: 1320
Avg Calorie Differential: -505

Skip the rest if you aren't interested in the analysis. :)


At the beginning of the month, I rebooted my weight loss goal after coming back from honeymoon.

In the past, restarting weight loss has been an exercise in frustration. Things just don't seem to work as well as they did before. It can be demotivating.

In the past year, I took a far deeper look at my weight loss journey than I ever have before. I made myself my own n=1 case study.

In "My n=1 Weight Loss Analysis" part 1 and 2, I described my methodology. I tracked a wide number of variable in an excel spreadsheet.



Now I have pretty good picture of how my body behaves on low-fat versus low-carb diet. I also know that it is possible to slip and lose gains, just like on any diet.

So how has rebooting my diet worked this time?

In February 2011, I restarted my low-fat diet and I barely lost anything. That was one of the events that lead me to research low-carb around April-May.

Having repeated this frustrating cycle too many times, I admit I was nervous rebooting low-carb.

Would history repeat itself?

According to the overlay of my weight last May versus this July, it is almost exactly the same.

Any perceptions I had about it being 'slower' than last time were just my impatience. I went back to the same way I ate last year, and my body is responding similarly.

I changed the method in which I track my bodyfat, so I recorded it more frequently than last year. The fluctuations are very confusing, and I don't know how to interpret them yet. I think more data collected next month might be more conclusive. Despite how much the bodyfat is varying, the important thing is my lean mass calculations consistently show I am maintaining lean mass. My weight loss is due to bodyfat.

When I started low-carb last year, I lost 6lbs and gained 1.6lbs lean mass in the first 30 days. I lost 3.6lbs this time and no lean mass gains, negligible loss. However, last year I was starting out with higher bodyfat, higher weight, and less lean mass. I probably lost more water weight last year, accounting for the bigger weight drop. I was also undereating protein on my low-fat diet, so the lean mass gains was due to eating an appropriate amount. My lack of lean mass gains this time tells me that my exercise level and protein consumption has reached homeostasis. If I want more gains, I will have to increase my resistance training/protein. I'm not ready for that yet. I want to maintain my LBM at this stage.

The main puzzle is the weight change is inconsistent with BF and LBM totals. I'm not sure what this means. Hoping August's data will help me figure it out. [Update: Fixed error in bodyfat reporting. Weight difference is within expected +/- margin.]

The calorie differential is interesting. According to calorie in-calorie out math, a differential of -500 calories per day should equate to a one pound loss in a week. I did lose almost 1lb per week this month. It didn't work that way last year, but that may have been because I was more biochemically imbalanced. Perhaps my metabolism is functioning in a way that the thermodynamics is applicable. It's too early to say, as this could be coincidental. We'll see if there's a pattern at the end of August.

In any case, I still believe the calorie composition matters for me. Eating more than 150(g)+ carbs would cause me to gain weight. You'll have to take my word for it, because I don't have any intention of experimenting with this further!

So what does this mean for August? If my historical pattern holds true, then my best gains in body shape will happen next month. I will be right where I left off in January before my schedule changed and the slight backslide.

Then looking farther ahead, my next challenge will be maintaining gains into the fall and holiday season.

Edit: Error in my bodyfat calculation. I reported it as 1.1lb change when it was supposed to be 1.1% change. 1.1% change in my bodyfat IS a 3lb loss, thus net weight change is consistent with what I expected. Correction made above.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Just for the record... you are one of the most BALANCED people I know!!!

    ...so easy to hide behind 'privacy' and take pot shots at those brave souls who live their lives with nothing to hide and who hide nothing (YOU).... for the purpose of making the world a healthier place.

    I put this in my blog today:

    "Don't try to win over the haters.. you are not the jackass whisperer."

    ...seemed apropos!

    {{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}
    2123 days ago
    Depends on what you mean by balance. Balanced meaning like South Beach? That would require me buying low-fat foods, and I'm not interested in pursuing that again. The only foods I have dropped to meet my low-carb fat loss requirements are grain and/or starch servings, which I can eat once per day while in maintenance. But not when weight loss is the goal.
    2123 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/31/2012 11:27:44 AM
    Your 30 day stats are impressive. You've done low-fat & low-carb, but have you tried balanced?
    2123 days ago
    Update: I made an error in my bodyfat. My BF was actually a -1.1% change, which is a 3lb fat loss. That is more consistent with what I expected with the net weight change. The remaining difference is within my expected margin of error.
    2123 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/31/2012 11:12:17 AM
    I know all of the numbers are estimates. ;) I don't need them to be precise...just generally accurate. As long as they are consistent, then that gives a general view of positive or negative trends. I don't really care what the 'real' numbers are. As long as the values and tracking methods are consistent, then it all averages out over a long period of time. It doesn't need to be precise to be useful.

    Here is 4A-Healthy-BMI's very excellent blog about the imprecision of using a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis device (and calorie calculators), and why she still chooses to use it. It sums up my feelings on it as well.


    My interest isn't in precision, but in trends. I'll discuss further after August. :)
    2123 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/31/2012 10:44:40 AM
    Unless you are getting an 'underwater' or hydrostatic body fat measurement, the BF/LBM fluctuations are most likely what is called 'measurement error' - that is, if you are using the electro-impedence method that's common on scales or with various hand-held devices, it measures much more than 'just' body fat - your water retention, even how full your bladder is at the moment, and other factors will all affect the measurement result. Calipers are also likely to yield wide fluctuations or variations in the measurement - the truth is, none of the body fat measurement methods are as precise as the underwater method.

    As for the calorie deficit, another 'hard truth' to swallow is that the measurements on calories, both on the intake and burning sides, are also just educated guestimates and may be off considerably - look at the research articles on the topic and in particular, look up the Atwater energy equivalents and read some of the problems associated. Again, unless you are using a special laboratory measurement called doubly labeled water, you're not getting very precise measurements. There are plenty of devices such as FitBit or Body Media that use indirect calorimetry but that's also just an estimate based on averages and not specific to the individual. There's also a 'special controversy' over measuring basal metabolic rates, predicting how much of the 'energy' [ie, calories] is metabolized and what an individual's specific energy expenditure might be at any given time. Keep in mind that just like the scale varies in its measurement throughout the day, so will any other measurements having to do with metabolism - in fact, they can vary wildly depending on a lot of other factors, many of which are outside our control.

    Finally, keep in mind that our bodies are NOT calculators and we don't run like machines, either. There are many, many variations to consider, both between individuals and also within ourselves, so it's futile to get too caught up in the numbers other than as a general guideline.

    Anyway, hope that helps you understand the significance [or really, the lack of precision] in various ways to generate the numbers a little more - and in the meantime, good job on your results plus a big thank you for sharing the comparisons!

    2123 days ago
    At the beginning of this month, I began a "reboot" as well after my honeymoon the first week of July.
    I seem to be doing better than I was before the wedding, but I have a long way to go.
    It looks like your stats are pretty good, at least you have not put weight back on! Looking at everything now you know where you can do things better and get back to your goals!
    emoticon emoticon
    2123 days ago
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