Beeminder Forum

Beeminding Bodyfat


#1

Hello Beeminder,

I read the Beeminder survivor challenge this new year and, after much ado, decided to commit to dropping body fat.

I am fully aware that there are more important goals that I could have picked. I’m not as fit as I’d like to be, but I don’t have a serious weight issue, and dropping to body fat to 9% is just vanity.

However, I put on a bit of extra weight a few years ago and the consequences were about so much more than pride or appearance. People treated me differently because I was fatter. It was subtle at first. Simple things like how people talk to you, or how much patience they have for you. It was as though letting myself go gave people permission to treat me like shit.

If I wasn’t important enough to look after myself, people took the cue and thought it was ok to treat me the same way. I don’t think any of this was explicit but the drop is social status was palatable.

Social intricacies aside, as I began to lose weight I had much more energy and focus at work. My general sense of purpose and motivation improved and I was much happier.

I’m not going to pretend the reason I want to drop my body fat to 9% isn’t entirely driven by a childhood desire for six pack abs. However, the reason I am taking this seriously is because looking after your body is about more than the way you look. It’s about social status, self-worth, purpose, how comfortable you feel, your ability for sustained focus, and your overall wellbeing.

Whether or not I chose to maintain 9% once I achieve the goal, I am hoping that pushing myself that far will leave me with healthy lifestyle habits. Specifically, sleeping well, buying and cooking fresh food regularly, exercising consistently, spending less time in front of a screen and taking care of my posture.

Now that you know why I want to beemind body fat, I want to get into the how.

Measuring body fat is noisy.

My understanding is that the reason body fat measurements are all over the place is because changes in hydration affect the way impedance scales measure fat.

I’m using a Nokia + scale at the moment. https://www.withings.com/uk/en/body-plus

Luckily it also measures your body’s water content.

My approach is to wake up and immediately drink a litre of water. I then wait about 45 minutes and measure myself.

The idea is that I will be consistently hydrated every day, any excess water will be peed out within the 45 minutes.

I don’t mind if the readings are not correct. I’m trying to make sure they are consistently incorrect so that I can compare readings over time.

Two years ago, I bought a Skulpt with the promise of it being the most precise body fat measurements money can buy (shy of weighing yourself in a water displacement tank). It wasn’t. A waste of money if you ask me, and doing the actual measurements was a hassle.

Nokia + might not be perfect but it’s good enough. You stand on a scale for two seconds, everything is hooked up and Beeminder gets updated.

In terms of losing the weight, I’m going to start off by going to kickboxing classes twice a week and cooking twice a week.

For shopping lists and recipes I am using the healthy meal prep cookbook https://www.amazon.com/Healthy-Meal-Prep-Time-saving-portion/dp/1465464867 . The idea is to prepare a bunch of portioned out meals so that I don’t have to deal with all the calorie counting nonsense. I’ll figure out my weekly calorie allowance, cook all the food on one go, and then just stick to eating what I have prepared.

I’m optimistic about this approach because it’s capitalising on my own laziness. Having tasty food ready in the fridge means all I have to do is heat it up in the oven for 10 minutes. I’ve managed to get rid of most of the garbage in my kitchen (there’s still some cookies for when people come round for tea). Now I have to actually go out and buy rubbish if I want to binge. I’m betting that If I can stick to cooking twice a week, I’m going to be my usual lazy self and fallback to eating the healthy food in my fridge. This idea of least resistance weight loss comes from an excellent article by Matt Might http://matt.might.net/articles/least-resistance-weight-loss/

I’ve also stocked up on some meal replacement packs so that I have a backup when I can’t eat at home.

Something I learned when I first started experimenting with diets (keto, slow carb and Shangri-la) is how social a phenomenon the act of eating is. Going on a diet can be an incredibly isolation experience. I don’t want to do this to myself again. I don’t have any dietary restrictions this time, just calorific ones. I’m free to eat whatever I want, I just have to control how much I eat. I have found that fresh, protein-rich food with lots of fibrous vegetables is usually more satiating per calorie than french fries or cake.

So that’s pretty much it, no dietary restrictions, no supplementation, just cooking and kickboxing twice a week. I know that this is not enough to see radical changes in 6 weeks but I have a whole year so I’m in no rush. I don’t want to make too many changes too fast.

Once I get used to kickboxing twice a week I would like gradually increase it to working out 5 times a week. It has to be gradual, I have a life and I can’t just be tired all the time. I enjoying strength training, running and skipping (and I’ve always wanted to be able to do a handstand) so I will incorporate those elements when I’m ready. In his article, Matt Might also talks about leaving weights around the house and office so that you get exercise through the day, I will probably start doing eventually.

On the dietary side of things, once I get used to cooking regularly I will drop breakfast and start intermittent fasting to increase my calorific deficit. Dropping body fat becomes increasingly harder the skinnier you get. Eventually, I’ll start breaking my meals into tiny portions and eating at fixed times, but that’s a lot further down the road. I’m also open to using healthy supplementation if needed, but I’m fine for now.

I just weighed myself and today I am 69.3 kilos at 19.3% body fat. I will continue to add updates on this thread as the challenge progresses.

I hope this thread has been helpful if you’re thinking of starting something similar. Please let me know if you have questions, want to share useful advice or if you think I’ve missed something.

Happy new year everyone.


#2

My suggestion - don’t beemind bodyfat, beemind the actions you have control over. Have a goal for cooking, a goal for kickboxing, and a goal for not eating anything except for what you’ve portioned out.


#3

Thanks @zedmango,

So I thought about this for a while.

Initially I thought about tracking lead metrics like cooking and exercising but I decided against it for two reasons.

The first is that I don’t think any of these behaviours will last a whole year. I’m going to start off cooking twice a week but maybe that changes for something more effective. Same with exercise or any of the other behaviours. They are all a means to an end. The end being that thing that I will care about at the end of the year. If I cook twice a week all year and end up fatter then I won’t consider it a success.

The second reason is that I find beeminder works best with automatic goals. Goals where I manually enter data usually fall apart. If I cannot hook beeminder up to an api then I general don’t do it because it’s too easy to cheat when it counts.

So I will start beeminders to track cooking, sleeping and exercising (and whatever else comes up) but not as the main goal I commit to for the survivor challenge.


#4

Happy new year!
You can track bodyfat with beeminder? How? For me it only allows to track weight when I hook it up with withings.
9% Bodyfat, that’s… low. Like very low. Especially when you come from 19%. I’m at 16.7% and I’ll be super happy when I hit 15%. But then, I don’t do regular sports to help with that. I just eat less. I applaud your enthusiasm though and I guess with that much kickboxing you can get there.

And here’s my list of tips for your endeavour that you never asked for :grin::
The rest of your plan sounds great, too. I was once at 78kg and went all the way down to 64kg just by counting calories. No sport. It worked great. And the reason why I’m mentioning this is: My experience is exactly like you describe your plan to be. Restricting your caloric budget sharpens your sense for what is good food and what is not. Just eating some sugary sweet baked good for instance and when you log it you realise that instead of 8 bites of a sugary something you could have had a whole meal with diverse flavours instead. For me that worked great.
I also got rid of all sweets in my flat. All of them. I don’t even have anything around for guests.

When I do get sweets I get expensive ones. Like fresh hand made Lebkuchen from our local Bakery which are like 7€ for 5 piece. They are insanely good and with them being so pricey (in comparison) you don’t binge on them but savour them.

I don’t know about the portioned out meals. I rather count calories and have fresh food every day than prep an entire week upfront. But if that works for you, that will be super convenient I’m sure.

Anyways that’s how I feel about it. Good luck!


#5

I love the concept and thinking behind your goal but based on my experience (beeminding fat as well as the trend of it), it is quite messy. Unless you leave a good amount of leeway in your path you are about to derail quite often. @dreev will join up any moment now and post that one shouldn’t beemind fat :smiley:

That said, I just checked your goal and see that you already have data from last March, but not sure if you have been monitoring fat as part of a goal. I guess you can see for yourself that there is a lot of variation in the numbers, often outside your control.

A couple of suggestions: keep a diary of stuff like eating out, or working late or sleeping early so you can see what affects your numbers. And keep your beeminder goal to at least 15-20 days away from derailment.

Good luck!


#6

You can probably go through IFTTT to get body fat from Withings and then send it to Beeminder


#7

Updates…

So things are coming along well, but slow.

I was 19.3% when I started this thread, the mean reading today is 18.79 %.

If I don’t pick up the pace really soon I’m going to get kicked out the challenge.

  • I’ve been working out twice a week, so I’m going to bump it up to 4 workouts a week now.
  • My hydration has been poor, I’m switching to finishing a 5-litre bottle of water each day.
  • I’ve hacked together a makeshift kettlebell, which I keep in my office, and I’ll be doing 100 kettlebell swings over the course of the workday.
  • I’m going to be stricter with my post-dinner snacking. I’m going to take apolyton’s advice in the comment above and keep a diary. I’m going to start making a note of everything I eat, so that I am more careful of my snacking. It is the main culprit for the slow progress. I didn’t want to be too hard on myself to begin with, but I think I need to tighten things up a bit now.

Otherwise, my sleep has been good, I’ve consistently been getting plenty of it.

The cooking has been coming along super well. The only times I’ve faltered is when I dropped the ball with the shopping. So far I’ve realised that the organising shopping lists and shopping consistently is more important than cooking for me. I’m enjoying the cooking and it’s much less of a hassle than I thought it would be.

I had a hard time with the snacking initially. It’s not that I was hungry, it was more the ingrained behaviour, I just didn’t know what to do with myself a lot of the time. There was a gapping snack shaped hole in my day. So I decided to stuff it with low-calorie snacks. I started making kimchi, I tried sugar-free jello, boiled a bunch of spinach and drizzled vinegar all over it, lots of gherkins, pickled onions too, and I’m making and drinking a lot of tea (since I’m too wired to sleep if I drink coffee past midday).

The snacking compulsion has died down significantly (except for just after dinner, that’s still a weak point) and I’ve found that eating before I get hungry has been really helpful. If I wait till I’m hungry then I eat a lot more. If I eat before I get hungry then I eat a lot more slowly and end up eating less.

Overall I have come to terms with the fact that I’m going to have to be a little hungry all the time trying to create a calorie deficit. If I go too hungry then I’m in a shitty mood, I can’t focus very well and if I keep it up I’m likely to just snap, and gorge on junk food. It’s happened like twice so far, ok maybe thrice. On the other hand, if I’m satiated and full then life is good but I’m not making any progress. So the balancing act for me has been about keeping an even keel amidst a mild state of hunger.

Will report back with more updates in a few weeks if I haven’t kicked out of the challenge yet.

If anyone wants to join the challenge please do. Company would be lovely. I have found that committing to public updates on this thread has really helped me take the project more seriously.

@phi Thank you so much. Also, yes, connected withing to IFTTT for tracking.
@apolyton Thank you for the diary suggestion. I’ve started making a note of everything I eat now.


#8

Glad to see the update!

In the meantime I read this book and highly recommend it

“The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss” by Dr. Jason Fung, Timothy Noakes.
Start reading it for free: http://a.co/1rZTsai


#9

Nice progress! Here’s more ideas:

  • Embrace the hunger! A friend of mine finds it helpful to have his last meal by 6pm and then won’t eat the rest of the evening. He says going to bed hungry is the easiest way to loose weight.
    I on the other hand can easily manage to be hungry at work while that’s something he can’t stand.
    I started doing fasting in the evenings as well. The first times I was laying in bed being hungry (and so miserable – not really but that’s what it felt like in that moment) but eventually you fall asleep. If not, I find it super helpful to read on an ebook reader. But this was only an issue the first one, two times. And while you’re asleep you can’t be snappy :wink: Problem solved!
  • In general: It’s all in your head. For better or worse.
  • If you can’t get yourself to not have snacks in the house try this: When you reach for a snack ask yourself if you genuinely wanted that chocolate right now or if you just wanted it because you happened to see it.
  • Put the snacks somewhere where it’s inconvenient to get to.
  • I use MyFitnessPal for the food diary AKA counting calories. For me it worked great and in my experience it is a lot less effort than what it sounds like. With a swipe you can copy previous meals from past days etc. I’m sure there’s other great apps for that but that’s the one I used.
  • Having access to low calorie snacks was to slippery a slope for me. I do function better with high calorie sweet unhealthy snacks that make me feel guilty. With healthy snacks I don’t feel bad and as a result I tend to overeat (when I’m not counting calories).

Maybe some of that helps! Again I did 0 sports at all back then. And there have been days where I made two sheets of cookies and then just ate cookies the entire day and still lost weight because I kept track.

re joining the challenge: I do have set up a weight loss goal and it is also in the survivor challenge:

But I’m certainly going to derail on that one because I didn’t think about where this weight will be at at the end of the year. For me it’s more feeling out the weight loss goals in Beeminder really. If I was serious about loosing weight I’d use MyFitnessPal and beemind my use of that. I will be once finals are over.

That’s a cute idea to connect withings with IFTTT for body fat, good to know!


#10

This kind of thing really worries me and doesn’t seem healthy - I know my opinion on these matters is unpopular on this forum, but just check this article out:


#11

This is just withdrawal symptoms. When your body is accustomed to eating 6-7 times per day, any time you haven’t eaten for a few hours, you feel lousy. The only solution (as many addictive states) is to wait it out. Eventually the symptoms go away. Staying hydrated (water, tea) help out to reduce a feeling (most of the time you’re not really hungry, it’s just a feeling) of hunger.