Monday, January 2, 2017

Quantifying Myself

Like everyone in the country, I'm constantly trying to lose weight. I'll have more posts on this topic later, but first I'd like to talk about the tools I keep handy. I like data. I like to know what I'm doing has an immediate effect - of some sort. This is how I figure that out.

The Withings Scale is a wifi-enabled scale. It will track weight and BMI. This data is uploaded to their website, and it can be linked to several other apps in this category. There is an API to pull that data out, I haven't taken a look in a few years but I remember it being a bit difficult to get access to. At a glance it looks friendlier now. Regardless, I've been using the scale for years, and I'm very much a fan.

Now that you know your weight, it's time to track what you're eating. I use MyFitnessPal. This is another tool I've had for years. It's free, with an optional subscription service. For my use, free is fine. It became a bit ad heavy when UnderArmor bought the app, so be warned. Key features: diet logging, social feed that shows your friends achievements/progress. It integrates with most of the other tools on this post - so when you step on your scale your friends are notified of your weight loss (never gain), and your calorie goals are updated. You can add me or check out my feed as an example, if you'd like:

The final thing I use is a fitness tracker. This one is a bit harder to recommend as it's future seems a little uncertain but.... the Microsoft band 2 is great. It does the basic FitBit stuff, but it also has a fairly accurate heart rate monitor that comes in handy when you're doing exercise that may not show up for other devices. You can also use it as a timer - so if you're about to go for a swim, tap the touchscreen, select the 'exercise' icon, choose 'swimming' from your personalized list, 'start workout,' then take the band off and jump in the pool. It integrates with MyFitnessPal, as well as several exercise tracking apps. It also has light smart watch functionality with integrations for Uber and Starbucks. A full charge lasts two days. Finally, it automatically detects when you fall asleep - and you can tell it when you go to bed. This is helpful if you're suffering from sleep-related issues. Again, it's not clear if Microsoft intends to continue to support this product; but for right now it's everything I want in a fitness tracker/smart watch.

That's it. I know how many calories I'm taking in, how much I weigh, and what I'm doing to burn calories. I have several years of data on all of these services, which is helpful for taking stock of changes in my health.

What do you use? Is there a better calorie tracker? Know a neat integration for the Withings Scale? Leave a comment.