One of the things I liked about the system of weight training I experimented with was the recording system. It was only simple paper graph but it clearly demonstrated a line of success over the 7-8 weeks the test ran. The outcome of that, and the reading I’m doing now, is that I decided any testing and work I did going forward had to have a testing method.
At issue is that some of the devices used by experimenters are very expensive so my task is to do this stuff on a budget.
For the next series of tests, I’ve added a few bits and bytes of tech and I thought you might find them interesting.
Starting And Finishing Weights
Two years ago, I started at 220 pounds. That was way too heavy but it had crept on month by month (that’s what happens when you live with an Italian-culture cook who loves to experiment in the kitchen). I got down to 190 and happily maintained that within a pound or three ever after.
But recently, for several reasons I’ll write about in the near future, I decided I was still overweight. I wanted to drop another 15 pounds. Those last 15 have resisted me for over 6 months now and I finally got serious.
What you’ll read (starting right below with the tech) are the results of my various experiments in fitness and weight loss over the next few months.
I’m using tech to both lose weight and measure that loss.
Digital scale. Nothing to see here folks. Simply a bathroom digital scales. It doesn’t talk to my phone, sits mute in the corner and only eats a battery or two a year. Funky operation. I stand on it and it flashes me a number. Mind you, that number is important so I a) try to keep the scale on the same area of floor so it’s constant and 2) step onto it in the same way every morning.
Garmin Vivosmart HR+ I got the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ (Amazon) fitness band because it not only counts steps and acts a regular watch, but also gives me a heart rate. It’s a simple heart rate – no heart interval measurement – but I can now measure my exercise against my maximum heart rate to ensure I’m working hard enough. It has several other screens for weather etc and a week into the tests I’m happy with it.
Blood Pressure Meter Vive Precision (Amazon) A simple, inexpensive, non-connected system, it only takes my blood pressure and flashes it at me on the screen. It works and gives me a consistent system that I then take an enter into relevant apps.
Omron Fat Loss Monitor This tool gives a basic fat measurement (Amazon) and calculates body mass index for evaluating my weight loss and fitness program. It’s a really basic body fat measurement system. I can’t afford to do serious testing such as oxygen uptakes etc so this is the poor man’s option. The first time I used it, I was impressed (not with the numbers it spit out but with the entire concept). (Update: after a few weeks of using it, I note it’s not very consistent. If I take 3 readings in a row, I’ll get 3 different readouts. So at best it’s a general guideline.)
My iPhone. That’s the hub of this system as it talks to the Garmin fitness band.
One of the questions I had was how accurate the above tools are? I decided as long as they were consistent, it didn’t matter whether they were spot-on accurate. After all, the two weigh scales in this house don’t agree at all so… As long as I use the same tools in the same way, they’ll be internally accurate. That’s all I really want to know. I want to track my changes and improvements and if they’re a point or pound out here or there, I’ll live with it.
Garmin Connect. This hooks up the fitness band to the watch and syncs some of its data over to Apple Health
Sleep Cycle: This app measures sleep quality and evaluates it against different characteristics you enter. For example, if I have a coffee after 3pm in the afternoon, that correlates with a poor night’s sleep. By eliminating coffee after 3, my sleep may be better. The Garmin simply measures length of time “sleeping” with no quality score so I’m sticking with Sleep Cycle.
Lose it. (Premium) This is my long term dieting app. I’ve been using it for at least 4 years now and I’m used to it. It also hooks up to Apple Health. The Garmin wanted me to hook up to the app MyFitnessPal. I did but after 3 hours of following every forum suggestion for successfully syncing them together, I gave up and deleted it off my system.
Apple Health is the apple health app and while I find it unfriendly and clearly not what I would have expected from Apple, it works as a central repository of all data.
Seconds This is an app for measuring exercise intervals. In other words, the user creates an exercise pattern of X minutes doing this and Y minutes doing that and this app keeps track of those minutes so you don’t have to. I’ll have LOTS more to say about how I use this app in the next exercise phase.
How I Record The Data
I enter the important ones manually. Some sync and that’s fine but I’m glad I’m doing it this way. At the end of the day, I add Garmin’s activity calories into Lose It. I know how active I’ve been.
In the morning, I manually add my weight and blood pressure to Lose It. I have to focus on my weight loss or gain.
Everything manual is something I need to focus on. And when I’m conscious of that measurement, I’ll work to improve it.
There are apps that do sync to Garmin and over to a diet app but my experiments in syncing and making them all work together got bogged down in help forums across half a day. I said to heck with it. Thought about it and decided the manual transfer would be better in the long run anyway.
I’ll be sharing the results of my study and work with you and I think it’s important you understand where the data is coming from. I’ll be able to show you all the results and (hopefully) improvements as I move forward.
This article is part of my ongoing Live Thirty project and you can find other notes about that right here.