One reason to plot the trend daily or weekly is to overcome the psychological punishment day to day variations in weight would otherwise mete out: the awful week-long plateaus and day to day zig-zags in weight that reflect nothing more than how much water happens to be in the rubber bag. As we saw in the chronicle of Dexter's diet on page , you'll go nuts if you concentrate on daily weight. Focus exclusively on the trend to reveal the slow, inexorable progress of your diet.
If you encounter periods when your weight seems painted on the scale, or if one morning you wake up hungry as a cave bear yet five pounds heavier than yesterday, examine the trend line on the chart. As long as the trend line is falling, you're continuing to lose weight. As long as your daily weight, whatever it may be, is below the trend, it's continuing to drag the trend line downward. Recalling these simple facts and taking the time to plot a trend chart so you can see them in action lets you bypass the torture that drives most dieters to despair.
Every few months you may encounter a stronger kind of plateau: a period where the trend line itself falls more slowly or even remains constant for a few days. As we've discussed in connection with finding a permanent weight goal, there are certain weights where the body seems especially stable. I think these plateaus in the trend indicate you're passing through one of those stable points. If you're taking off lots of weight, it stands to reason there will be periods when the body pauses, adjusts to all the changes going on, then resumes losing weight. Stay with the diet and in a few more days the trend will resume its decline, usually at the same rate as before or steeper, making up for lost time. The simple arithmetic of the rubber bag always wins out in the end; as long as you're eating less than you burn, your weight will continue to fall at a rate determined by the calorie deficit.
If you encounter a plateau in the trend that's on the verge of driving you nuts you might, as a last resort, consider a one- or two-day fast of the kind described on page . That may be enough to break the temporary equilibrium and start the trend downward again. On the other hand, simple patience will certainly have the same effect in at most a few more days. The best way to treat these rare plateaus in the trend is philosophically and with patience; think of them as a preview of the stability you seek when you reach your weight goal. When the body settles in around the goal and you increase your calories to balance what you burn, you can expect a trend line that stays almost flat month after month.
By John Walker