Sneak peek at something I’m writing up from a year-long experiment. This is a graph of weight and waist measurements (plotted on the left in non-obvious units), and the ratio of those numbers (plotted on the right, x1000; so “2000” is a 2:1 ratio in the weird units of course) The measurements jump all over the place, but when I measure every day, a polynomial curve fit shows what’s going on over this three month window. Much much more to write about this…
“I should lose weight. Specifically, I should lose some of this fat. …actually, a lot of this fat.”
Since I began my health tracking grids I had been regularly tracking my weight, building the habit of stepping on the scale every day. I’ve read several opinions that this is a bad idea. Because one’s weight can fluctuate significantly day-to-day, daily weighing can lead to “fear of the scale” and stress. I disagree. After stepping on the scale every day for about 10 years, it is now simply something I do. The scale shows me a number and I write it down.
One day I started reading more about physiology. How your body composition changes. How a strength building session increases muscle mass (duh) and that can make your weight increase in the short term. Suddenly, the scale going up can be a good thing.
…and then I wondered, “how much should I optimally weigh?” At the time I began this “waist/weight ratio project,” I weighed about 230 pounds and the “male, 5 feet 11 inches tall” medical guideline is . . . 175 pounds. What?! I would be ecstatic if I weighted 220. I’m not sure what I would do if I weighed even 215— I’d probably fall down in a stiff breeze.
So how exactly should one “optimize” weight? Why should I select any specific weight target? Why 175 (as medically recommended,) or 220 (college body!). What if my weight isn’t changing as I make healthy improvements– how do I track that? I began to think perhaps I should optimize health markers: Blood sugar regulation, inflammation markers, and triglycerides, and that is far more complicated than “step on the scale.”
One day, I read the following article. It’s deceptively short, but quite complicated and subtle. You should go read this very carefully before continuing.
This post is from some quick notes I made in August 2018. I’m only just getting around to publishing it now, 8 months later, as part of this series. Today, at ~230 pounds, 215 seems like a dream.
I’m recently back from traveling to Denmark and France to attend two Parkour events back-to-back. As usual when I’m traveling, I don’t attempt to keep up my normal routines so there’s no data recorded for most of July 2018.
I’m happy to return still around 215 as I try to get back to my routine of “chaining together” my mornings. Compared to July, I’m not as active, but I’m trying to AVOID the, “let’s be super active and try the 100-days-of-activity challenge,” mistake I made in 2017 when I came home from the same events all excited about movement.
Anyway, what about that ratio of 1958? …it’s so low that it’s not even on the graph! This reminds me of two things I believe I’ve noticed:
The ratio lags behind when I’m actively losing weight. My guess is that the different components (water, subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, and muscle) change at different rates. So when losing fat from calorie deficit, the peripheral/subcutaneous is liberated first—which aligns with my recollection that visceral fat is more tenacious.
The best ratio is very hard to find—to actually see it in the measurements. I have to lose weight gradually, and then stay at the new weight for many weeks to see the ratio rebound to above 2000. (Reminder, the ratio is in wacky units of “tenths of pounds per millimeter midriff circumference” because of how I record the numbers. The numerical value of the ratio is of no concern; It’s only useful for trending.)