Thursday, July 12, 2012

Weight loss on a vacation … is it possible? *updated*

Yes. But only to a point. The first five days of my visit in Winnipeg were very quiet with me working hard to avoid anything that would cause me to cheat my lifestyle too much. There was also a great deal of exercise as I walked for hours in hot sun with 30+ pounds of equipment on my back.

Even a shopping trip south of the border to Grand Forks, ND did not tempt me all that much. There were excellent salads along the way and I found that turkey and fish worked very well as a complement for protein.

The second half, though, when the boys joined me for the last 5 days, was much harder. All my kids’ favourite foods were brought in as a treat and I was not going to be shut out completely. Portion control helped a lot, but the high glycemic index and somewhat higher calorie counts worried me.

Well, not to worry. By sticking to my plan most of the time, I actually appear to have succeeded in slowing things only a bit, which is ok by me.


The angle of the last part of the graph is shallower than the overall angle, yet there are periods – like the one shown in April – where the angle is also shallower for a while. These local variations are not something to be concerned about, as the body adjusts along the way and the metabolism shifts back and forth, depending on parameters like exercise and calorie deficit.

Too much or too little just changes the angle locally, but the overall effort remains on track so long as the life style remains on track. And always remember that “if it is not being measured, it is not getting better.”

Update: It’s been just under a week now since our return home, and as I have fallen back into my rhythm, the weight has peeled off rather quickly. It appears that I have lost about 5 pounds since returning, of which 3 have to be water weight from all the restauranting we did the last 5 days or so.

imageFor those wondering, the lines mark 10 pound changes.

You can see there that I am losing at the same pace as before, and in fact this compressed graph completely squeezes out the huge bump caused by the vacation. The real graph from my spread sheet shows what really happened …


Of course, at some point very soon, the speed will slow again and come back to a more typical 2lbs+ per week.

For interest’s sake, here is a graph I keep that shows a running average weight loss per week with a real time weight loss over the last 7 days (sliding window.)


Your body never loses in a consistent fashion, so once you get used to these variations, you learn to simply ignore them. In the words of George HW Bush (senior) … stay the course. It really will work and you really just need patience. Also note that, as you lose weight, your base level metabolism burns fewer calories as you have less weight to sustain. So the running average weight loss slowly drifts downward, as is obvious from the graph above.

For those who want the wikipedia definition of what this phrase means:

"Stay the course" is a phrase used in the context of a war or battle meaning to pursue a goal regardless of any obstacles or criticism. The modern usage of this term was popularized by United States presidents George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush,[1] and Ronald Reagan.

And one more time … measure it and relax. You will naturally want to win this just as you do a video game. If you don’t measure it, you cannot easily see your progress.

This advice, of course, if not useful for everyone. Some people cannot stand to weight themselves every day. The standard advice for those people is to measure your progress by the fit of your clothes. I agree with this as well, and in fact it can be astoundingly motivating. I recently went out for the evening and put on a pair of pants in my closet that were 4 inches smaller than what I was wearing over the winter. These pants fit me fine. The previous ones had been tight and bulging in winter. Since my belt is showing close to 6 inches of extra play (I use a military web belt) now, I can confirm the loss both ways.

So if you have been wondering how to go about this, start by measuring your weight every day. From there, you might find that you start changing your life style a bit to make the numbers change.