For the first time I can review my new year’s resolutions (for this year). At the beginning of the year, among other things I had the following goal: Lose 40 lbs, get down to about 220.
The year went along with minor attempts at this goal, but in September something happened that helped me get serious. We (my wife and some other family) were bored and so we watched this semi-documentary/advertisement called, “Fat, sick, and nearly dead”. It’s about this Austrailian guy who goes on a vegetable juice only diet and loses 80 lbs in about 3 months.
So, we decided to try it. We got the $400 juicer that he uses in the show (we were serious) and started juicing. I started off eating a variety of vegetable and fruits and juicing, but I wasn’t 100%. In spite of that I lost about 10 pounds in two weeks. We committed ourselves to a two week trial of this diet. I have to say that the first five days I felt like I was starving, I had headaches, I was tired and irritable all the time. The first five days were painful.
Then it started to get better, and I started to lose. The other people that started the diet with me all had better results in those first two weeks than I did. My dad, who is a little smaller than me, lost 16 pounds.
So, after the first two weeks and a little break, I started again, with more commitment. I went full juice for the next two weeks. During this time I also went back to the gym and was doing weight lifting circuits, three times a week. I did this on two weeks, off for a few days three more times. By mid December I got down to 225 pounds. Which represented a 40 pound weight loss and my target goal.
Here’s my before and after.
I really feel good about what I was able to accomplish this year. I have had back problems (I sit a lot) and have for about three years. It’s much better now. I think a little more exercise and a few more pounds and I may able to forget that I ever had back pain.
In a previous life (pre-marriage) I was a personal trainer at a local gym. I was never super ripped, but I was in pretty good shape and I felt pretty good about how much weight I could lift. So looking the mirror for the last few years has been an exercise in shame. No more.
On to this year’s resolutions. I’d like to lose a few more pounds and put on some muscle. I’d like to be about 10% bodyfat. I’m not sure what I am now, I’ll have to go get tested. My guess is about 20%.
This year I’m gonna try some new things, the first is self tracking. I bought both a BodyMedia arm band and a fitbit. I’m going to play with both of them and see how they work. I’m a data geek and have some experience with the science behind weight loss and muscle building, so being able to track activity and calorie expenditure with these devices gets me going.
The other big benefit with both of these devices (and why I chose them over all the other available devices) is that they both have an API which can be used to build third party apps. I’m interested in putting something together after I’ve played with both and looked at what data is available. I’d thinking something that’s a cross between Fleetly and Epic Win.
Here’s my first impression of the two devices:
BodyMedia v Fitbit
BodyMedia is supposedly more accurate, and I believe that claim, because it is measuring things by making contact with your skin. The fitbit is essentially a pedometer. If I am lifting weights how does the fitbit even know that I’m expelling extra calories? At some point I’ll use both simultaneously to see what the data coming out of each looks like.
The fitbit is easier, it syncs wirelessly with it’s dock, the bodymedia requires that I plug it in. The fitbit can be placed anywhere, in a pocket, the bodymedia needs to be on my arm.
Both have iphone apps, but as far as I can tell so far, neither push data (from the device) to the central server. The fitbit app looks like it’s an extension of the website (you can log food, activities, etc), but it can’t read data off the device (even though the syncing with the dock is bluetooth, which the iphone can do). The bodymedia app pulls data off the device for realtime info, but it doesn’t push that information to the server.
Both have websites that record food intake, activity logging, etc. I haven’t dug in enough to know which I prefer. Both have APIs, but I’ll need to explore that more thoroughly to know the limitations of each.
The fitbit has a sexier design:
On each you still have to record your food and water intake manually (obviously). This process of recording is probably the hardest thing about dieting. You get tired of always stopping and writing things down. It can be a lot of work. The benefit of writing it all down is that it forces you to examine your behavior. We do a lot of things on auto-pilot, or we tell white lies to ourselves about how much we actually eat. It’s hard to eat a whole package of cookies when you know that you have to write down that you did it. I kind of think that just writing down what you eat is enough for most people to lose weight, because when you pay close attention to your behavior, that’s often enough incentive to make changes.
I’ll write again when I’ve played with each system a bit more.
I’ll write some more about the merits of each when I’ve used them both for a few weeks. I’m pretty excited to see how tracking data