John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Mathematics of Weight Loss

jyb_musingsWhen you are talking about gaining weight and you have gained a pound, you simply say you gained a pound. If you’ve gained five pounds, you say you gained five pounds. Simple, right?

But talking about weight loss is different.

If you are trying to lose weight and are talking to someone about your success so far, the weight you mention is always the most total pounds lost to date. Even if your weight has fluctuated by a few pounds that week.

For example, I mentioned the other day I had lost 19 pounds in 4 months. And have. I mean had. But I gained two pounds this week. But when asked this morning how my diet was going, I announced confidently that I had lost 19 pounds (not 17 pounds).

I figured it was just pointless to mention and didn’t make me feel as successful.

The rationale, I guess, is that when losing weight we are “in process” and a little backsliding is to be expected but isn’t representative. And we “will” continue to lose weight.

It’s a little like when economists distinguish “constant” dollars and “actual” dollars. Constant dollars are adjusted for inflation. And weight loss is adjusted for aspiration.

As of today, I may have only lost 17 actual pounds, but I have lost 19 pounds when adjusted for aspiration.


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