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.