If you needed any more proof that I’m a nerd, here it is. Times two.
I’ve been noticing a couple of patterns in my weight loss, which led me to do some data analysis. Fun, fun, fun!
The Relationship Between Post Frequency and Weight Loss
I may be the only one who has noticed this, but the frequency of my blog posts has really slowed down. In my mind, you are all keenly aware of that fact, and have been wondering why I haven’t been posting as much material lately. While deep down inside I know that most of you haven’t been that focused on my blog frequency, holding onto that thought helps sustain my weight loss, because if I think that you care that much about my blog, then I assume you also care that much about my weight loss, so it’s important to lose weight since I know you’re watching. In a nutshell, that’s what this blog is about: a way to incorporate the support of my friends and family into my weight loss program.
At the same time, my weight loss has slowed down. It appears that there is a relationship between how often I post and how well I do in my weight loss. The best way I can demonstrate this is graphically, as figure 1 shows.
Figure 1. Blog posts superimposed on weight chart, January 1 to November 30, 2013.
[The graphic is small, but you can click on it to see it larger.]
On the figure, each red dot corresponds to a post I made on this blog, while the blue line corresponds to my weight over the past 11 months. Notice that the slope of the line is steepest in the first half of the year, that it actually levels off for a while, before starting to move downward again in the last month. Notice also that when the weight is coming off at its fastest rate, the red dots are bunched together and appear more frequently (the exception being the first two weeks or so of weight loss, which happened before I started this blog), and that during the period of little or no weight loss, there are very few dots.
I think the chart demonstrates relatively clearly that my pace of weight loss and the frequency of my blog posts are correlated. But it doesn’t explain why there is a relationship: whether weight loss causes blog frequency, more frequent posts change my behavior so that I am more motivated to lose weight, or something else is causing both the rates of weight loss and blogging frequency to coincide. I suspect that the truth is a combination of all of these. When things are going well, I’m more likely to post. And when I am thinking things to post, I’m thinking about weight loss and more focused on eating right and getting plenty of exercise. And when neither weight loss nor blogging is going on, it may be because of other things in my life that get in the way of both blogging and eating healthy.
Ate Days a Week
I’ve mentioned before that I weigh myself almost every day. Recently, I thought I noticed that I was more likely to see progress on some days than on others. Naturally, I saw this as an opportunity to for data analysis.
I went to my weight loss chart and calculated the weight lost each day. Since I weigh myself when I first wake up, each day’s weight corresponds to the amount of weight lost (or gained) on the previous day. I then took all of these observations and grouped them by the day of the week so that I could calculate an average weight loss for each day of the week. The results are presented in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Average Weight Loss by Day of the Week, January 1 to November 30, 2013
The figure shows that on average, I lose weight on six days of the week, but I actually average a weight gain on Saturdays. My best days are Tuesdays and Mondays, on which I average losing more than half a pound, followed closely by Fridays, when I lose nearly half a pound. My average weight loss is negligible on Sundays and Thursdays. And then there’s Saturday.
I think I have explanations for each of these. Some of them correspond to actual weight loss behavior, while a couple of them are circumstantial. For example, I think that Tuesday works best because I have a standing lunch meeting on Tuesdays, when I generally have a salad with the ranch dressing provided at our meeting place. I record the dressing as being the full fat dressing and use it accordingly, but I’ve come to believe that it is more likely a reduced fat variety. By conservatively over-estimating (there’s an oxymoron for you) the calories I consume, I end up eating less than I record for that day. Fridays are more surprising because I’m less likely to exercise on Fridays (due to another standing meeting that cuts into my exercise time), and because we’re more likely to eat out on Friday evenings. I think that the timing of my Saturday weigh-in, which comes later in the morning (since I sleep later on most Saturdays) artificially increases my weight loss on those days. That effect is reversed on Monday mornings, when my weigh-in comes usually less than 24 hours after my previous weigh-in, giving me less time to burn calories, and slightly depressing my actual Sunday weight loss reading.
Most research papers that involve data analysis end with a conclusion that wraps everything up, so I’ll do the same here. I mostly did this because it was interesting, and, in my own nerdy way, fun. My challenge is to turn it into meaningful action. I’m going to try to post more often, and I’m going to watch my behavior more closely on those problem days. If I’m successful at both, then perhaps this will be more than just a nerd having fun with numbers, it will be a new push that will help me continue to make progress.