Weight Weight... Don't Tell Me!
I’ve been logging my weight every week since 2011, and the primitive data always left me with the impression that I put a little weight on in the off-season, then trimmed down to “race weight” during the summer. But I wasn’t really sure…
So I did what any OCPD data junkie would do and made a pivot table to average those six years worth of body weight data and charted the result. Here’s what my average year looks like:
Not wanting to humiliate anyone, rather than disclosing my weight, I’ve labeled my seasonal weight change as pounds above and below my long-term average weight.
Now, what did I learn?
First, it sorta confirmed my hypothesis of seasonally-correlated weight gain and loss. I do gain a little weight in the winter, and lose it in the summer.
However, as the flatness of the curve shows, the range of variance is surprisingly narrow. Leaving aside specious outliers, we’re basically talking about a range of plus-or-minus two pounds from average. So that big seasonal swing usually amounts to a total of just four pounds.
But the thing that most surprised me was that the timing was off.
I expected my weight loss to begin in February, when I typically commit to my training diet, and to start gaining it back in August, after all my major events are done and I take full advantage of being free of those dietary restrictions.
But in reality the transitions occur a couple months later than expected. Even though I start dieting in February, I keep gaining weight until May; and although I end my training diet in August, I keep losing weight until mid-November!
The poor correspondence between dieting and weight confused me for a minute, until I realized that there’s something else that has a better correlation with this data: my cycling.
Due to the weather, I don’t start riding in February; the overwhelming bulk of my riding takes place between late April and the beginning of December. Taking that into account, my seasonal weight change is far more closely correlated with my activity level during the cycling season than with my self-imposed training diet.
Obviously correlation doesn’t imply causation, and I don’t know if the same result would hold for anyone else, but I found that really interesting.