## Volatility of Human Body Weight

Ever since I shed roughly 20 kilos over the course of the second half of last year, I’ve become extremely weight-conscious. Given how quickly I shed so much weight, I’m paranoid that I might gain back so much again as quickly. This means I monitor my weight as closely as I can, limit myself in terms of “sin foods” and check my weight as often as possible, typically whenever I manage to make it to the gym (about twice a week on average).

Having been used to analog scales lifelong (there’s one at home, but it is wrongly calibrated I think), the digital scales (with 7-segment display) that are there at a gym provide me with a bit of a problem. I think they are too precise – they show my weight up to 1 place of decimal (in kilograms), and thinking about it, I think that much detail is unwarranted.

The reason being that I think given the normal cycles, I think the weight of the human body is highly volatile and measuring a volatile commodity at a scale finer than the volatility (when all you are interested in is the long-term average) is fraught with danger and inaccuracy. For example, every time you drink two glasses of water, your weight shoots up by half a kilo. Every time you pee, your weight correspondingly comes down. Every time you eat, up the weight goes, and every time you defecate, down go the scales.

Given this, I find the digital weighing machine at my gym a bit of a pain, but then I’m trying to figure out what the normal volatilty of the human body weight is, so that I can quickly catch on to any upward trend and make amends as soon as I can help it. Over the last couple of months, the machine has shown up various numbers between 73.8 and 75.5 and I have currently made a mental note that I’m not going to panic unless I go past 76.

I wonder if I’m making enough allowances for the volatility of my own body weight, and if I should reset my panic limits. I have other metrics to track my weight also – though my various trousers are all calibrated as “size 34” some have smaller waists than the others, and my algo every morning is to start wearing my pants starting from the smallest available, and go to work in the first one that fits, and when I know that I’m having trouble buttoning up my black chinos, that’s another alarm button.

Yeah sometimes I do think I’m too paranoid about my weight, but again it’s due to the speed at which I reduced that I’m anxious to make sure I don’t go back up at the same rate!

Update

Economist Ajay Shah sends me (and other members of a mailing list we belong to) this wonderful piece he has put together on weight management. Do read. But my question remains – how do you measure your body’s weight volatility?

## Sweetie

I wrote this post last evening. Since I didn’t have broadband access then, I’m posting it only now. This was written on my blackberry, so excuse the typos. Also, blackberry meant that I was typing much slower than usual so this post will probably lack the sudden rush of thought that can be noticed in my other posts.

For the first time in my life I really ezperienced and enjoyed a sugar high today. I must say it was almost like being drunk, except for that it’s unlikely to scr3w my health and that I managed to drive fairly peacefully. It was a really wonderful feeling and though it’s unlikely to last as long as an alcohol high, I think it’s really worth it.

Now I was wondering about the reasons for my high today since the quantity of sweet I consumed today was nowhere close to peak consumption. Thinking about it, however, I realized it had everything to do with relative value and by that metric I’d eaten a lot today.

For the last three month, for health reasons, I’ve been competely off sweets. I don’t take sugar in my coffee. No sugar in fruit juice. Diet coke. No tea, since I can’t stomach it without sugar. Hardly any biscuits. Strictly no desserts, etc

Biologically speaking, the human body is favourably disposed towards sweets since sweets are extremely high in energy and in times when food was scarce (till 200 yrs back) it was a mechanism to make sure of getting the maximum possible energy. It can be argued that our instinctive love for sweets is a darwinian advantage. Since 200 yrs is too short for natural selection to act for humans, we still like sweets despite them not being good for us.

So the whole point of eating sweets on special occasions, I guess, is to give you that sugar high. And in times of less abundance when calorie consumption was low, eating the sweet would’ve been worth it for the sugar high alone, with taste being incidental.

So when you’re normally not used to consuming too muxh energy, as was the case with most people until 200 yrs ago, eating a sweet results in a sudden rush of energy to the brain. And this sudden extra rush, which is usually not accounted for by the body, gives the brain extra energy to do stuff. And hence you get what is called as ‘sugar high’. You suddenly become high energy. All the ned goes away. You want to do something to spend the energy stimulus. You get sudden enthu. You get high.

Unfortunately, given our high energy lifestyles, normal quantities of sweets are hardly enough to provide any sort of spike in energy flow to the brain, and hence don’t cause any high.  And thus the only thing we can enjoy from the sweets is the taste. The main advantage of sweets seems to have been lost, maybe forever.

I’m glad I’m on this diet. Apart from helping me in terms of general fitness and causing significant weight loss, it has also helped me appreciate sweets better. And experience the real high.

Here’s wishing all my blog readers a happy and prosperous deepAvaLi.