I'm calling it

My weight on January first was 195 pounds, and it’s been 180 for three of the past four days, so I’m officially declaring my goal of a 15-pound weight loss to be met.

I fully expect to be above 180 again, but as you can see I was often above 195 early in the year, so I don’t think my declaration is cheating or premature.

I’m convinced that I wouldn’t have met the goal if I hadn’t weighed myself every day. I know this goes against a lot of weight loss orthodoxy—many people argue that keeping track of your daily fluctuations will drive you crazy. In my experience, that’s exactly wrong. It’s only by continual measurement that you can understand what your normal daily weight range is. More important, it’s only by continual measurement that you can curb the natural tendency to lie to yourself about how much you’ve eaten. Even though I’m happy with my current weight, I intend to keep up with the daily weighing to make sure I don’t gain it all back.

It wouldn’t be a blog post by me without some nerdy details, so here they are:

  1. I kept track of my weight on my iPhone, first with Simplenote, then with Elements.
  2. The scale would occasionally give inconsistent results. After I took it apart and cleaned it, it was more reliable. (My long meditation on Robert Hooke probably didn’t help, but it didn’t hurt, either.)
  3. I used a TextExpander snippet to auto-enter the date each morning.
  4. After the switch to Elements, I had a file called “Weight.txt” in my Dropbox folder, readily available for plotting.
  5. Because of an unfortunate—and probably Windows-related—file formatting choice made by Simple Gear, Elements saves the file with an initial byte order mark (BOM), which I have to delete before feeding the “Weight.txt” file to Gnuplot.
  6. With the BOM gone, I can plot my weight in Gnuplot through the following set of commands:

    set terminal aqua 0 title "Timeline" size 480 360 fname "Helvetica" fsize 12
    set xdata time
    set timefmt '%m/%d/%y'
    set ytics 5
    set mytics 5
    unset key
    plot 'Weight.txt' using 1:2 with lp

This may seem complicated, but it’s a hell of a lot easier—and more fun—than keeping track of calories or fat grams or points or carbs or…