Friday, January 26, 2007

End of month report

Back at the end of December, I decided that rather than trying to Do A Proper Diet, I was going to try and make some habit changes.So, it's almost the end of January - how's it going so far?

Change No 1: Reduce sugar in coffee by ½. Instant coffee is fine with the reduced sugar. I'm still getting used to proper filter coffee with less sugar in it, but its getting to me more acceptable. In some ways I'm finding it's taking longer to adjust to the taste than I expected, but it's also not proving too difficult. Score: 10/10

Change No 2: Limit alcohol intake. With the exception of the last week, this is working pretty well. Again, I haven't tried to cut things out completely, so I'm not feeling I'm missing things. I'm usually grabbing some fizzy water to drink instead in the evenings, since it's zero points, and coffee isn't really a help. The last week has been a bit of a challenge - very stressful long days at work, so I've bent the rules a little, but still kept points totals down to an acceptable level. Score: 7/10.

Change No 3: Healthier snacks. Sell your shared in Cadburys, ladies and gentlemen. I haven't bought a bar of chcolate all year. I finished up the Christmas goodies, and have been eating WW toffee bars, special K bars, and Jordans' cereal bars instead. Score: 10/10

Change No 4: Limit pub lunches and takeaways. I think the guys at work are also trying to be good, since there's less of a "oh, let's go down the pub" mentality, which is helping. With one exception I've had stuff with rice instead of chips. I also made the discovery that I can have two King Prawn Chown Meins for the same points as a tuna baguette! Score: 10/10.

I've been pretty generous with the scores, because I've been keeping track of my intake using the WW points system. This is easy for me since my wife has been doing the diet for a while, and both of us can look at a plate of food -- especially the stuff we eat a lot -- and tell you pretty much how many points are in it.

The official WW diet says I should have been on 33 points a day. You're not supposed to go more than 4 points under that on a given day, or to go too much over. I've been tracking the AVERAGE points over a week: 44½, 43, 39½, 40. More than WW says.

So the real question, then, is "is this working?" Am I losing weight?


I started out saying I'd be happy if that was enought that I lost 1lb a week. In fact, I've lost 8lbs so far. And a little bit of maths suggests that as long as I stay below 46points a week, I should keep losing weight. Not cutting right down to the minimum points has meant that I'm not encouraging my body to slow it's metabolism right down.

There are a few rocks ahead in the road: a week in the US on business next month, and a holiday at the end of the month. But as long as I steer away from too many sticky desserts and watch the alcohol a little, I don't forsee too much of a setback.

One of the things that a I see a lot of people struggling with on the WW message boards is that they've been good all week, but have still put on a pound - or haven't been good and still lost 2lbs. Well, I've been weighing every day, and I've put a graph together of the results.

The blue line is my actual weight each morning. Almost the same time, after a cup of coffee, and any (ahem) natural needs have been taken care of. Look at the variation, though. The big drop early in Jan that recovered the next day was a hangover: I awoke feeling very dehydrated and thirsty, and felt much better after a couple of pints of liquid. The spike at the end was a couple of higher point days (40, 51 and 40) over the weekend. But I can't explain most of the ups and downs - just variation in water intake, probably.

Weighing every day is WW heresy. You have to be very careful about not attaching too much importance to any one day. That's where the purple line comes in. It's a logarithmic average of the last 10 days weight. You don't need to understand the maths degree, drop me a line and I'll send a spreadsheet that'll work it out. And this is the line I've been looking at. When it's started to level out, I've tried a bit harder to find low point options for the next few days. When it's been dropping steadily I've been quietly congratulating myself and keeping at it. At NO TIME have I used this as an excuse to go on an eating binge. The two options are "carry on" or "try harder".

Another important difference between my approach and "Pure WW" is shown up by the reactions when I dropped below 19st. My wife asked "aren't you excited?" No, I wasn't. Now that I've seen a few consecutive days below 19st, I'm more excited about it, and I fully expect to sneak back over 19st before the middle of next week.

As I said, February will be more of a challenge. Let's see if I can continue to be this optimistic with a few challenges ahead.

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