Week 8 of my second 13 week season: low carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own.

A few days ago, PJ Lifestyle ran an excerpt from Leonard Mosely’s book Disney’s World, in which Walt Disney, in a letter to his partner Ub Iwerks, expressed his frustration with the his first sound cartoon, the now-iconic Steamboat Willie.

He’s pretty depressed. he doesn’t like Hollywood, he doesn’t like being away from home, and he’s losing confidence in the still-unfinished film.  You can see why, when he was having trouble selling the idea, and animation is a frustrating process anyway.  This was in the days of the most primitive hand-drawn animation, where every frame of the film had to be hand drawn on clear acetate, with tiny changes from frame to frame. Twenty-four times for each second of film.  In this 7 minute 23 second film, that’s something like 10,600 frames.  He was tired, and he was bored, and he had trouble seeing any progress.

Why did this strike me, he asked rhetorically?  Well, it reminds me of my ongoing glucose/bodyfat/weight project.  Here I am, eight weeks into my second season, 147 days since I first started tracking this, and it’s a little frustrating and hard. I’ve been less diligent about the exercise, and I do find myself missing things I used to eat.  Like chocolate. And pasta. And bread.  And while I have lost some weight, it’s slow and the day to day variations make it hard to see.  It’s like Disney must have felt — another 24 frames, another day’s work, and what did he have? Another lousy second of film.  That no one wanted to distribute.  He was past the initial excitement and into the slog.

Right now, this project feels much the same.  I’m actually losing weight, and I can see changes — more muscle coming back to my arms, and to put it bluntly, my boobs are smaller.  I’ve lost six inches around my waist, and I can feel that every time I put on a pair of pants that were in the back of the closet because I hadn’t been able to wear them.  But at the same time, the progress is a little slow and hard to see, and it’s a little hard to explain why it should matter to anyone — especially me.

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But then I got thinking, and a little Excel-fu got me this.  Here’s my actual weight, charted over the last sixty days, with a trend line.  This is very much like the other charts I’ve been posting.

My actual weight for the last 60 days.

Trend line is down. This is good. It’s not down very fast, and the added muscle certainly explains that — but also notice that individuual weights vary pretty wildly around that trend line. So here’s another chart.

Weight simulation assuming normally-distributed weights around the slope.

That chart is a simulation: I made a line that had the same rough slope as my weight loss, and then made synthetic data points around that line. The points are normally distributed — the famous bell curve beloved of statisticians — and the variance is around 5 pounds. Notice how similar they look?

And that’s the point. I am losing weight — and yes, my glucose is also dropping still, and the tape measure shows I’m losing body fat. Day to day, though, it’s hard to see — perfectly normal randomness is hiding it. It’s hard to see.

But then, I’ve only got 147 frames of this animation — a little over 6 seconds of film. It might be a little early to be discouraged.

Date 7 day Weight 7 day Glucose 7 day Bodyfat Sum Fitocracy Points Weekly Fitocracy Points
2013-02-01 272.50 116.43 33.1 447 447
2013-02-07 272.63 114.57 30.79% 1881 1881
2013-02-14 271.91 110.43 30.36% 2606 725
2013-02-21 273.79 115.29 29.16% 3775 1169
2013-02-28 274.44 104.00 30.00% 4929 1154
2013-03-07 273.11 115.86 30.24% 6022 1093
2013-03-14 269.86 101.86 30.10% 7233 1211
2013-03-14 272.08 112.25 30.64% 7681 448
2013-03-14 270.57 113.86 30.26% (??) 8180 499
Δ since 2-1 -1.93 -2.57 -2.88% N/A N/A