tracking my progress

I’m an engineer. I went to Electrical Engineering school, and they gave me a piece of paper that says I can call myself an engineer. I even took a really annoying test (the Fundamentals of Engineering) so I can call myself an Engineer-in-Training. Because of this background, I like to collect data on things. After coming up with an idea on how to accomplish my weight loss goal, I figured that the only way to ensure I was making progress was to make a record of my progress.

Tracking My Progress

My goal is weight loss, so I decided I needed to track my weight. I take my weight measurements in the morning, before taking a shower and eating breakfast, but after “necessary activities”. I figured that since this will be a long term project, I will probably want to write these numbers down. Excel seemed to be the ideal candidate for this; however, I wanted to be able to edit the numbers from other places—usually I don’t have time to do anything extra before heading to work. After looking at both Google Docs’ and Microsoft SkyDrive’s spreadsheet and writing programs, I decided on SkyDrive because of its integration with Excel.

Before tracking my weight, I had no idea that weight varied so much from day to day. My graph looked like a jigsaw—it wasn’t very helpful; so, I added a trend line to it. This was much more helpful than the raw data, and showed that my early measures were working well. I didn’t change much about the spreadsheet for the first couple of months.

After a couple months of tracking, I decided to start making a monthly goal for my weight. Adding a simple “pounds to progress” box was too simple, so I added a daily goal which would show me where I need to be for a nice, constant loss. I added that line to the graph.

A few days later, I ran across the Hacker’s Diet (Edition Four). I liked a lot of the ideas in it, and it gave me some other ideas for my tracking. After getting a good exponential moving average formula, I added it to the spreadsheet and the graph.

Because of holidays and business trips, I sometimes can’t make my daily weight measurement. Prior to adding the moving average, I would average the two surrounding days’ measurements. After adding the moving average, I started using the projections from that algorithm on those days instead. I don’t mark these days any different in the spreadsheet, but I probably should.

That’s all there is to it, really. I’ve been thinking about adding a body fat measurement to my tracking, but I don’t have a way to measure that—I’m too cheap to convince myself to buy a body fat meter. Since my primary goal is weight loss, I don’t see it as a big problem. If you would like to try it out, you can download my monthly spreadsheet.

Next week, I will write about changing to a healthier diet.

3 Replies to “tracking my progress”

  1. Big thanks for this tool, it’s turning out to be the biggest motivator for my dieting (3rd month now). Easy to drop out, but whenever I open the sheet I am forced back on track. I especially like the average line.

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