Markers of Progress

Help me raise $500 for the homeless through the charity Back on My Feet.
In my last post, I explained that I had trouble determining what was success the last time I really focused on my fitness. Without a definitive determination, I undervalued the progress I had made and eventually regressed to a point that eliminated all my previous gains.

I think it is important then, to explain what I am doing now, in this attempt, to clearly define progress over the next several months.

My difficulty with simply relying on weight is that depending on a number of factors, such as time of day, or meals consumed, one’s weight fluctuates enough to limit its effectiveness in terms of daily monitoring. Rather, if you rely on a scale, it is probably best to only weigh yourself once a week, every week. Otherwise, you’ll become obsessed with things that appear to be improvements or setbacks that may be completely unrelated.

My own impatience prevents me from limiting myself to just a weekly measurement of my progress. I have a tough time trusting “the system” of waiting a week at a time between weigh-ins. So alternatively, I need a more minute frame of reference, preferably daily.

Good news: between my Basis B1 watch, and MyFitnessPal calorie journal, and a spreadsheet, I can keep myself occupied enough to stay engaged and on track with my training. Sure, I do record my weight weekly, but to satisfy my appetite for immediate information, I rely on the below approach to keep me sane.

I created a chart that derives an average of the calories consumed versus burned, and extrapolates what that trend would serve to do over the course of several months. To account for swings in either direction regarding my net calorie trend, I created four alternative scenarios as well. It allows me to see what impact an increase or decrease in calories from the average would have on my goals.  All I have to do is update the below table for each day, and the formulas do the rest (e.g., constantly revising the average based upon actual data, so I cannot cheat and assume a much better average than what I have historically performed):

calorie log

In addition to that chart, I have two others, one of which I will share here (click to enlarge), which translate the calorie deficit into pounds over the course of the next several months. The green trend line is my current path, and where the lines all diverge is where actual data is succeeded by the estimates. The Y-axis is pounds lost, the X-axis is the date. The trend line titles such as “Trend – .5k” equates to 500 calories less than the current trend per day.


I will continue to monitor the results, and make adjustments to the models if I realize my assumptions are a bit too rosy (or harsh, for that matter). We shall see what the chart looks like come the Broad Street Run. It is important to note that I am not limiting this effort to the run itself, as I have a target goal in mind that I will continue to chase into the summer. Wish me luck.


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