Wall Street Weight Loss: How to Use Stock Charts to Get Healthy
October 3, 2014
What do the zigzags of stock charts possibly have in common with weight loss?
It turns out that they tell us quite a lot. Tracking your daily weight is very similar to watching a stock's price movements. With the correct interpretation, you can see whether you are likely to lose or gain weight and how to get back on the right track toward your target.
Technical stock analysts watch a stock's daily highs and lows, the up and down trends, and whether a stock's price is fluctuating within its current norms or headed toward uncharted territory.
Like stock prices, your weight usually fluctuates within a "channel." If you are experiencing higher highs and higher lows, your weight is trending upward. When your weight chart shows lower highs and lower lows, your weight is trending downward.
At Retrofit, we create weight charts that show your 10-day moving average, which smooths out the fluctuations created by daily weigh-ins. You should weigh yourself daily and make a note of it, but don't let yourself get caught up in the day-to-day variations. Our bodies aren't perfect machines, just as the stock market isn't perfect at assessing the value of a company on a daily basis. One Chinese meal can cause 3 pounds of water retention, just as a news release can cause a stock to drop 3 points. In either case, its easy to overstate its importance relative to the target.
What the 10-day moving average tells us about weight management is that when the trend line reverses, it's a sign that we need to take action because our client is at risk of falling off the wagon. With an overall fitness management system, if we address a reversal quickly, we can prevent a serious backslide, such as regaining 10 or more pounds.
We discovered the similarities between stock and weight charts through working with our client (and stock technical analyst) Jon Boorman, who told us how much he likes the way Retrofit weight loss charts match the charts he follows. Jon has already lost 15 pounds with Retrofit and happily reports that he has been able to keep it off, despite the fact that his chart shows a recent plateau.
With both weight and stock charts, "moving averages help reduce your emotional reaction to daily price fluctuations," Boorman says. "Human emotion always gets in the way of sound decision-making, so if you can see what's actually happening over time, you can remove the emotion from the process."
Boorman has been tweeting about his Retrofit experience (@jboorman), and has posted his weight charts, such as the one below. You can check out all of the tweets about his experience on his Twitter feed by clicking this link.
Another useful analogy to stock trend lines is the appearance of a "weight gap" on your weight chart. On a stock chart, they are called a "price gap," which is a day when a stock opens up higher (or lower) from the prior day's previous high (or low).
On a weight chart, we usually see a weight gap when the person avoids weighing in via our remote Wi-Fi scale for a few days. If they haven't weighed in for three or more days (and if they haven't told us previously that they're traveling), we know that when we finally do get them back on the scale, we'll probably see a "gap up" – meaning they put three-to-five pounds back on. (As a rule, people don't normally avoid the scale when things are going well; it's the quickest way to get positive reinforcement).
Studies show that staying on top of your weight is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your fitness, endurance, energy and overall well-being. Even if you're not using a data-driven weight and fitness program such as the one we offer at Retrofit, you can create your own moving-average chart in Excel to keep track of your weight trends over time. In recent years, there has been much discussion and research surrounding data-tracking and the use of technology for weight loss. Charting your progress will keep you accountable, which is the best bet for finding success and keeping the graph on a downward trend.
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