I have, at different intervals in my lifetime so far, attempted and succeeded to lose weight.  My weakness and where I research for help is keeping weight off and breaking the one plateau I've had, not losing weight.  I love data, lists and tracking.  My most successful diets were also the diets where I meticulously and obsessively tracked multiple variables.  Tracking keeps my head in the game and just as importantly, gives me data to help my attempts to lose weight be more successful.  Some people loath the busy-work of tracking and won't ever crack open a notebook or a weight loss app.  So, I am not going to tell anyone to have to track, I'm only going to share what have learned from my own personal obsession.  Thanks to my love of cooking and eating fantastic richly flavored food, it's a path I have and will continue to travel often. 

Tracked Variables


-Calories Consumed

-Calories Burned 

-Exercise done. including duration, intensity and type

-Salt intake 

-Percentage of each macro nutrient (protein, fat and carbohydrates)

-How I slept the night before

-Amount of conflict/stress that day

-If the calories were liquid -vs- solid

-Were the bulk of calories late in the day

Yeah, it's a lot.  But if it works and doesn't hurt anyone, I'm all in.  And it doesn't take as long as it seems.  Before I share anything, let me be crystal clear.  I am not a doctor.  These results are for my personal journey (lord do I hate that word) and mine alone.  It is likely to not work for you identically as it has for me.  You should always first consult a medical professional before undertaking anything that may have a significant impact on your body.  I'm sure someone will question some of my results, and let me be clear.  I don't care.  It's my body and this is my data.  Period.  Some people need a reminder that not all bodies lose weight identically, so let me be that reminder for those who need it. I also remind people that correlation is not causation, even though I tended to eat generally the same kinds of foods.  That said, using some of the lessons learned has streamlined my weight loss when I needed it.

These were my takeaways, resulting from years of health tracking.

Primary Factors causing my weight loss/gain:

-CICO.  Calories in, calories out.  Generally, the fewer number of calories consumed, the higher the weight loss.  Exceptions were rare and only persistent during the single evil plateau I experienced.

-HIIT.  The day after any HIIT workout, I gained .8 lbs.  Without exception.  Assuming because of the inflammation of muscle tissues while they repair.  I actually liked this, as it demonstrated the effort I was putting into the workout.  I really enjoy a good HIIT workout (15-20 min) and will likely recommend a few of my favorites down the road.

- I have done a couple of partial liquid diets.  I lost weight faster on a liquid diet versus a solid food diet of similar calorie count.  Not really surprising, imo.

Secondary Factors causing weight loss/gain:

- Salt.  Even if I kept calories in check, but the meal was very salty, my losses were lower. or there was a slight gain.

- Cardio.  Low impact cardio seemed to impact weight loss the most out of all exercise types, but only on a small level.

Late Night eating.  I am a night eater.  I experienced smaller losses or a small gain if I ate later at night.  Makes sense, with less time to get rid of those calories.

Factors that seem to impact nothing.  Surprises.

-Time of the month.  There was no time of the month where I was more likely to lose or gain weight.  

-Macros don't matter, for me .  I tracked my percentages of each macro and if anything, there was a very slight preference to lose weight when carbs were a higher percentage, but not significantly.  With the exception of the occasional nighttime snack, I love the "healthier" fruits and vegetables and eat them often.  I love oatmeal and I adore bread.  I try to eat fewer saltines and cereal but I don't ban anything from my diet.  Many people exclude carbs from their diets but I simply don't want to.  And since my tracking says it doesn't matter, I don't have to.  Thank the god of crispy crust baguettes!

-Walking.  I love my walks but they do not seem to have an impact on my weight either way, no matter the speed or duration.  Nothing beats a nightly walk.  It's great for my mental health and likely helps my physical health in way I can't quantify.

That's my overview.  One of my many Someday projects is to create charts with all this data I've collected over the years.  While this information may not be personally helpful to you, I hope you found it interesting.  I am 100% sure that a few of you are shaking your heads screaming that MACROS MATTER and other critiques.  Please go back and review the comments in bold and italics.  Maybe it will encourage you to do some tracking, so you can write your own completely different article, to share what works for you.  Perhaps someone will write an article on becoming a horrible cook and hating food, to help me maintain!  

Thanks for reading.