Pursuing The Quantified Self

Having owned an iPhone since the launch of the 3G and being an avid app explorer from the get-go, I’ve long experimented with using technology as a supporting mechanism in my weight loss efforts. Initially, they were really unimpressive. Back in the late 2000’s, LoseIt! was the go-to app for calorie and exercise tracking. I found it really limited and lacking. As mobile computing evolved as a platform, my technological investments scaled accordingly. For a long time now, I’ve used a Wahoo heart rate monitor strap and a stride sensor to capture detailed data about my workouts. However, as I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve found myself plateaued, fluctuating between a 195–200 lb weight range. Part of it, I realize, has to do with the reality that I think I’ve accomplished as much as I can using strictly cardio. As much as I run, I do very little by way of working out muscles. I avoid non-cardio workouts because the muscle recovery time renders me unable to run, and getting back on the cardio kick after a break of even a few days is always a complete drag, not to mention the guilt I feel over days gone without running. To that end, I’ve been coaching myself to get over it and jump the hurdle. Last week, I only went running two days after getting started on an arm workout. Two days ago, I did a light arm workout and some squats before heading out on my run; I felt it all day yesterday, but was mostly recovered by the end of the workday today. Slowly but surely, I suppose.

The other part of it concerns motivation. I’ve analyzed and broken that down into two factors: some fear-based aversions which I’ve dealt with in my head, and the realization that I’m not actually using the data I’m collecting and the tools at my disposal to really make structured progress. In other words, lack of focus. That’s due to the overwhelming number of options that are available today. With so many solutions of varying areas of focus and feature depth, it’s easy to fall into the productivity trap of investing time seeking out the “perfect” tool instead of using a suitable one to get the job done. Even once you settle on a set, it’s just as easy to collect the data and never actually review it. i have my Withings smart scale piping data to it’s online dashboard and my other fitness services. I have a MyFitnessPal account that I don’t actively use because I get frustrated when it comes to logging food that doesn’t come from a menu with calorie info or packaged with a scannable barcode. Though I could enumerate the apps and services I’ve experimented with ad nauseam, the bottom line is that I’ve weeded out a good clutch of highly capable and integrated services that I use but don’t utilize.

So, problem identified, I’ve brainstormed my solution set. First, I need to start fulfilling the commitment to the weekly weight/measurement table update and taking the progress photos. There are data points that can be outsourced to my phone, and the effort that goes into it is so minimal it shouldn’t deter me from doing the necessary work. I also need to take same time and put a little design into that table; another reason I dislike those updates is because they look so drab and do not present the data in a visually attractive format; it fails to hold even my own attention. Secondly, I need to loosen my expectations. With all the running I do, it’s frustrating to not see any progress, but as I already mentioned, I’m well aware that more and different kinds of effort are required. Plus, I’ve been doing a very abysmal job on the nutritional front lately. Lastly, I need to actually need to take my scheduled review times (a la GTD methodology), and incorporate fitness tracking data into part of the review process.

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