Numbers aren’t all created equally

I have a favorite Liutenant in the Guard who has a catch phrase I adore: “Words mean things.” Being eloquent is of no use if the word you’re using isn’t the right one. When it comes to numbers, people think 10 is 10. They wouldn’t be wrong (another thing the LT says: “You’re not wrong,” meaning you’re also not right). However, when considering weight loss as a measure of success in regaining a healthy lifestyle, percentage of weight is a much better way to look at it.

Me, walking the dog after a run on the treadmill.

Consider this: when I did my first Whole30, I had lost 20 lbs in one month. People hear that and say, “Wow! That’s an incredible amount of weight to lose in one month.” And you know what? They’re not wrong. That was 6.41% of my total body weight at the start, and that’s a serious start to a trend that continued uninterrupted for a solid year culminating in 110 lbs lost. I won’t go into all the NSV’s (Non-Scale Victories) I also achieved; there are many posts on my blog about that. This post is about numbers.

On this fifth Whole30 (I counted; it’s only my fifth and not my sixth as I previously thought), in two weeks, I’ve lost 11 lbs. Again, that sounds pretty good, and puts me on-pace for the same kind of weight loss as I experienced on my first Whole30. Or does it? So far, I’ve already lost 5.37% of my starting weight. How is that possible considering I was allegedly much healthier this time around?

I don’t really understand. I was pretty certain that the percentages would align, and that I would have lost around 5 lbs less at this point, yet here I am. I know a good 3-5 lbs of it in the beginning was water weight that I lost, yet the same thing happened when I weighed 312 lbs. The only difference this time around is that I’ve added exercise to the mix.

Do I think that I will lose another 10 lbs in the next two weeks? Hardly. I figure I’ll be lucky if I can sustain a 2.5 lbs/week rate for the next two and a half weeks. A little optimistic part of my brain hopes for more, but the analytical side of my brain (which is the bigger side) says, “Nope. Not gonna happen.” 20 lbs would be 9.76%, and that’s highly unlikely and I believe, unsustainable.

Sherry has lost more weight than me already. This is backwards from our first Whole30 where I quickly overtook her rate of loss and ended up losing more weight. However, when looking at percentages, she actually lost around the same percentage from total body weight. They say men lose weight more easily than women, yet we lost the same percentage. Why? The difference: she was exercising and I was not.

This time, I’m running. I still can’t get back to my weightlifting due to my shoulder (which seems to be healing, but ever so slowly!), but I’m running at least 3 times a week. My goal is to run 4-5 times a week, but I’m not quite there yet.

Numbers mean things, and they’re not all created equally. Don’t get caught up on numbers of pounds lost. I’ve said time and time again that the scale is not the best measure of your health, but if you must use it as a data point, keep in mind the percentages. That’s where it’s really going to give you meaningful data when comparing to others.

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