Newbie loss, plateaus and weight loss math... With graphs:)

Hi there,

I work with numbers for a living and when I started this journey 2 months ago I decided to gather as much "data" as I can in order to figure this weight loss thing out - I weigh myself daily and keep track of calories in and out.

Since I've seen a lot of posts from disheartened people that feel they're plateau-ing few weeks in or that have gained weight when started a new exercise routine, I thought I'd share my results with you:)

First, a graph of my daily weigh-ins and the intuitive interpretation many people give to what they see:

Seeing your weight stagnating (even going up!) after 2 encouraging, huge-loss weeks, is definitely unsettling, especially if you've picked up a new exercise routine (I was doing 30DS). It's often the point where many start wondering if they should lower or increase their calories, question their health and "metabolism", making up for half of the threads around :)

Now here's a closer look at the same graph, with some added perks: Light red line shows the daily weigh-ins, dark red line shows their linear trend and the black line is the EXPECTED weight (calculated as "previous weight - (TDEE - NET calories)/7700", 7700 corresponding to calories for 1 kg fat loss).

Now this looks a bit better, doesn't it?

Few points I want to make:

1. If you follow the "expected loss" vs. the actual weigh-ins you can see there's no real plateau, because it did not "stall" the weight loss. It's simply a temporary weight retention of some sort (most likely water retention from the muscle-burn inducing 30DS program). IT DID GO AWAY (dropped 1.5 kg in 2 days).

2. The same effect did not appear with the Insanity workout, but I have heard many people doing Insanity complain about weight not dropping, so I'm inclined to think it's because my muscles were already "in shape" due to the previous workout - and I don't feel the "burn" anymore - it's mostly cardio for me. So if you're doing something new that hurts, be patient!

3. "Calories in minus calories out" gave me a very accurate estimate of my actual weight loss. I don't even have fitbit or HRM, I have to guess food calories sometimes. I have used a ballpark 1600 calories for my TDEE excluding exercise (a rough average of values a few calculators gave me). And yet, results don't lie: net calories = weight loss.

4. Emotional rollercoasters and daily weigh-ins.
I know the common wisdom is to only weigh yourself once a week. I also understand why. However, if you're the sort of person that feels "knowledge is power", having such data can actually help control emotional breakouts, because you can learn a lot about how your body works and are less prone to being mislead. Seeing numbers really adding up to a T makes me feel in control.

5. TMI section

For ladies, I have included my periods (purple *) and expected ovulation (pink *) dates. I personally do not think there's much of an effect BUT I did notice I eat a bit saltier or simply more during that period which might trigger a temporary weight gain (A lot of the spikes up are days after high-sodium sushi dinners :) )

There's no surprise there but I'll say it anyway: all those drops in weight = BMs. It's the one most reliable factor. So before you panic about your weight stalling, think about when's the last time you went to the bathroom.

That's about it. Hope it helps!


  • YAYJules
    YAYJules Posts: 282 Member
    I'm definitely interested to see what Insanity does to your graph. Thanks so much for sharing!!!! This is amazing.
  • KinoM
    KinoM Posts: 359 Member
    I do like me some good stats & graphs, and that right there is some nice stats & graphs work. Thanks for taking the time & effort!
  • Cindyinpg
    Cindyinpg Posts: 3,902 Member
    This is really cool. Thanks! I have found this in my own weight loss as well.
  • Laura3BB
    Laura3BB Posts: 250 Member
    that IS helpful, thanks!
  • nelinelineli
    nelinelineli Posts: 330 Member
    I'm definitely interested to see what Insanity does to your graph. Thanks so much for sharing!!!! This is amazing.

    Thank you! I'm planning to gather more data and include measurements as well, which I'll start taking regularly. I'll be back after Insanity :)
  • floop1207
    floop1207 Posts: 194 Member
    ooohhh i love a good graph :happy: very interesting - and motivating. i want to do one of my own now........old style with graph paper probably.
  • sufferlandrian
    sufferlandrian Posts: 8,134 Member
    @ Nelinelineli - Wow! I've never looked at it like that. Thanks for the info. That was pretty interesting and helpful.
  • fimary
    fimary Posts: 286 Member
    that was brilliant thank you, love graphs
  • EvgeniZyntx
    EvgeniZyntx Posts: 24,208 Member
    Very nice.
  • Fuax75
    Fuax75 Posts: 70 Member
    bump need to read later
  • sola24
    sola24 Posts: 334 Member
    This is soo informative.. I feel much motivated now.. May be I have just hit the temp plateau after the initial weight loss.. :)
  • nelinelineli
    nelinelineli Posts: 330 Member
    This is soo informative.. I feel much motivated now.. May be I have just hit the temp plateau after the initial weight loss.. :)

    As long as you're eating under maintainance, you'll lose weight so keep at it:)
  • cateyedkp
    cateyedkp Posts: 70 Member
    This is great- thank you for sharing! I think we all watch shows like The Biggest Loser and see all the hype about "lose x pounds in x days on x diet," so we think that long term weight loss should look like fast initial weight loss. That's been my biggest realization this time around- just keep doing what you are doing, and try (as hard as you can, it's not easy!) to not let the scale be your biggest indicator of success. It will come off, even if you have stalls on the scale if you stay consistent. Thank you for spelling it out so clearly :)
  • AmandaAnne307
    AmandaAnne307 Posts: 113 Member
    This is the best post I've seen in a LONG time - love it!

    I'd also like to see an update with the Insanity, but thanks for sharing!!
  • YAYJules
    YAYJules Posts: 282 Member
    OP, will you keep us updated? :flowerforyou:
  • Love it! I made a graph, but I didn't take into account the average or TDEE... Thanks, this was very informative.
  • mnm424
    mnm424 Posts: 259 Member
    bump :) nice work!!
  • SairahRose
    SairahRose Posts: 412 Member

    This is an amazing graph.
  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,842 Member
    I think it's important to note too, that you seemed to take a reasonable deficit for your amount to lose and amount of activity.

    Many people selecting their own settings in MFP cause that NOT to happen, and then they make it worse by not following the program either.

    Great job, great numbers, great graph, great results to continue I'm sure.

    Thanks for showing that when you do it smart, just keep doing it and your body will respond.
  • ChristineinMA
    ChristineinMA Posts: 312 Member
    Thank you - you put into pictures what I have always experienced!