Simplify

Never use a long word where a diminutive one would suffice. When you want to keep a story moving don’t spend a lot of time going on circuitous side trips when you could instead proceed directly to the most interesting, active parts. Like that time I was in the Antarctic with Ernie and we had to abandon the Endurance to the ice, it’s important to use good visuals to make your point in as few word as possible. Also, there are clear rules for writing, such as: One should only write authoritatively about that which one actually knows. Other rules include: Don’t overuse colons; It’s important to know how to use a semi-colon.

Not sure how I got on that train of thought. It simply struck me to try writing a paragraph which was maximally incorrect. I should probably exercise more restraint. But what started this post— What prompted my title selection was:

I’ve decided to stop tracking my waist measurement. It simplifies my crazy list of things I try to do every day, sure. It also eliminates the number of times I go to weigh/measure and have to double-back for reading glasses to see the tailor’s tape. I had started tracking it so that I could calculate my waist to weight ratio. After a few years I’ve learned that the ratio is telling. Not in a depressing way, but it’s a very interesting number—I can tell my level of fitness, how I’ll feel if I try to do something (say, go run, or boulder,) and it’s a great indicator. But having the data didn’t enable to do anything. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So, lest I go ever onward adding processes and things and systems and numbers— ahem. Dropped it.

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Daily steps of weight tracking

My weight fluctuates a lot during the day, and day-to-day. So I picked a consistence time and procedure. I try not to over-think it, and simply do the same thing each time, generally, in the morning after I go to the bathroom.

After doing this for a few years, I no longer care about the fluctuations. The whole point of this is to get a handle on the trends. The individual jumping around of the numbers is irrelevant. Once you see the numbers jump all over the place for a few weeks, you learn to stop caring about what the scale says on any given day.

My scale measures in 2/10’s of pounds. So I can get “123.4” or “123.6”. It’s digital, has huge numbers, and it lives right in the open in the bathroom where I can just step on it at any time. This is important as it removes all possible “friction” to weighing myself. I don’t even need to slide the scale out to step on it.

Next to the scale hangs a tailor’s tape measure. I use the metric scale on the tape since that gives me centimeters and tenths. (If I used the inches scale, I’d have to convert the 1/8’s of inches into decimals, so it’s easier to get 4 digits from the metric side.)

I step on the scale and grab the tape measure. By the time I look down, the scale is done deciding my weight. I step off scale and measure the largest circumference. This requires honesty, but is very easy to do once I did it a few times: I just relax, let it all hang out, and slowly let the tape measure slip longer as I try to slip it down around my waist. (I suppose, that some day, when I have a “waist” in the proper definition, I’ll have to tweak my method. That will be a great problem to have.)

I might get 232.8 pounds– I just remember 2 3 2 8.
I might get 110.7 centimeters– I just remember 1 1 0 7.
…and I walk out of the bathroom mumbling, “2 3 2 8 1 1 0 7”

In subsequent posts I’ll go into what I do with the numbers in terms of math, spreadsheets and why the units are irrelevant. But for now, that’s the data capture that I try to do every day. It’s fast and easy. Step on scale, measure “waist”, and record eight digits.

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Flashback to August 2018

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)

Origin story

“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?”

http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2016/10/virtual-paleo-summit-video-what-is-your.html

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.”

Waist-to-weight ratio

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.

http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/search/label/waist-to-weight%20ratio

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Sneak peek

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…

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