I just bought a new Nike+ GPS sports watch. Since Nike has a public API to get the data out I thought I’d give it a try. Anyway being a boy with a new toy I didn’t wait until I got home to start using the device. Nope put that baby on right away. Turns out that to really customise it you need to do it on a computer but I still was able to get it to record my walk to the train station. When I did get home I plugged it in and was annoyed by the fact that it wants to charge my device before configuring it. Really? Where’s the instant gratification? Ok but at least it made up for it by congratulating on running my longest run to date. Well ok my only run but it still seemed impressed by my feat. That’s of course until it made the comparison to other men of my age:
Yes it turns out that Nike is being a little two faced. Complimenting me one minute and then pointing me out that I’m shit relative to men my age (although interestingly not as shit as the Nike+ community). Well anyway, I’m not really that upset … I’m looking forward to see if this device has any shelf-life.
I’m happy to say … I finally got my MyBasis watch. I ordered it many moons ago but they’re now shipping to the folks who registered early and — via my mother in the states (they only ship to the US at the moment) — I am a proud owner as of last night. What has it told me so far? Well apparently I sweat more while sleeping than I do during the day. Is this abnormal? Who knows. Does it matter? Probably not. Am I excited to know this …. yeah kind of.
Some while back I signed up for a free service from Google that runs analysis on my email patterns. I often don’t look at it but when I do it’s kind of interesting. From this chart I can see the amount of emails I write steadily declines during the week from Monday through Saturday but then bounces back on Sunday. That seems right. What does it tell me? How does it help? Not really sure yet. It may make no difference at all and in which case I’d still give it some value as it was enjoyable to see this data and ponder what it meant.
Weight and Body Fat
In the mid of 2011 I decided to lose weight and get my cholesterol levels down (without taking drugs to do it). A lot’s changed since then and I thought I’d quickly share some metrics. First my weight. I view this as going through two — maybe three — stages:
- Initial Losses. The first stage started around a year ago where I was paying attention to my weight and it was slowly starting to come down
- Dramatic Decreases. By August of 2011 I was in full swing of weight loss and the pounds were just falling off. I attribute this to an increased amount of running and better diet (in particular a strong routine and controls around breakfast and lunch … dinner has always been my “do what you want” meal). This period was also the beneficiary of both my new work focus (aka, I was only 1/2 time at Sapient and starting to start my startup) and also a big increase in using FitBit, RunKeeper, Zeo, Withings, and other devices to track my personal metrics.
- End of the “big easy”. By January of this year my running routine was pretty strongly in place (more graphs on that in a moment) but the easy pounds were no gone. That was fine as I don’t really need to lose any more “pounds” anymore. In fact, at my lowest reading recently I weighed less than when I went to University 25 years ago! That said, I need to be honest and admit that these last few months I’ve been drinking a decent amount of wine and my uptick in chocolate (something I never really craved before) is through the roof!
What’s the next phase? Well for one thing, it needs to be more focused on body fat than on weight. Right now my body fat is around 16.5 to 17% (down from 24-25% at it’s peak). I’d like to get this down to 13-14% which in my mind is really good (big time cyclists would probably disagree). The way I see it, outside of genetic predisposition toward skinniness (which I’m not blessed with) getting below 12% is a huge investment of time and probably more than I can commit to right now. Still 13-14% and 16.5% are pretty different. I’m going to do three things to bridge that gap:
- Increase running mileage. I’m running a marathon in October so this should help to keep the focus on the one part of my exercise routine that’s been pretty constant.
- Increase other exercise. I’m now building good strength at the gym but this is just at its infancy and I’m no where close to where I used to be strength wise. I’m also playing tennis about 1/week but I’d like to get that back to twice a week on average. I might also try to get cycling back into my routine.
- Cut down on chocolate and wine. I’m not giving up on chocolate or wine but the amount I’ve been having is a bit off and a small adjustment will have an immediate impact on body fat percentage.
As for using tracking to achieve my goals … I’m already actively tracking running, and cycling (on the rare case that I do it). In order to make the above goals more quantifiable I feel I need to at least track the first two items. The third one is more difficult so what I think I’ll do is try and find a week or two as a “detox” period and then track for a week or two afterward to be more conscious of my behaviour but sustained dietary tracking isn’t something I’m likely to do. Here’s my total distance run on a monthly basis between Aug 2011 and April 2012:
I think there’ll be a slight downturn in running in May (relative to April) but April was a pretty strong month. Aim will be to beat my month record in June and July as I get closer to the Marathon deadline.
So what about my other goal of cholesterol reduction? Good news from a trend perspective but not as good from a static measurement perspective. Here’s a chart of my markers over time:
I’m due for another test soon but my current levels for Triglycerides are very good (they had been horrible in April of 2011). My LDL is still not quite as low as it ideally would be but it’s moved in the right direction from the high-water mark of April 2011. And my HDL % of overall cholesterol is also comfortably healthy although recent research around HDL may put the value of this marker in doubt. I continue to debate whether getting an at-home testing kit would be worth doing. The main thing I’m interested in with that would be to better understand the volatility of these measures. For instance, was April 2011 a statistical fluke? Personally I don’t think it was but I don’t have enough data to know how much “noise” there is related to just daily movement. I actually asked my doctor about general averages in the population but he didn’t know. Jeez.
Having recently read “The End of Illness” along with various conversations and online material I’m actually changing my view on Statins and starting to think they’re probably a good thing. That said, I’d like to do as much as possible before I switch onto them to move my markers into healthier ranges. I’ll have at least one more text pre-statins and likely two tests (I’m not in a rush to jump on the statin wagon).
Just got back from the first European QS conference hosted in Amsterdam. Great time. Lots of great likeminded folks and the energy and interest level would have been enough but cool ideas presented with panache and passion really pushed it over the top for me. Looking forward to more of these!
I thought I’d also post two things here. I had the pleasure of chairing the discussion on QS standards and I have posted the notes onto google docs with the appropriate links here. Also, I was going to do an Ignite talk on my rather unsuccessful attempts to track my diet and my rants (suggestions?) on how this area of tracking could be improved. Unfortunately it turns out my propensity to not read directions hurt me as the format is quite tight and each slide is forced into an auto-timed 15 sec interval. Probably a good constraint and an interesting format but being blissfully unaware I created a presentation that was completely incompatible with this format. Oops. Anyway, the presentation is here for anyone interested. Folks in the London QS group … I’ll probably present this soon if anyone’s interested.
PDF Version of Notes on Standards
Original Mindmap of Notes
(if you have the software this is what you want; if not then PDF or check out Mindjet Mindmanager… i can’t live w/o it)
Tracking Your Diet – My Observations on an Unsuccessful Journey