Tag Archives: weight loss

QS15 Conference Preview: Julie Price on Long-term Weight Tracking

On June 18-20 we’ll be hosting the QS15 Conference & Expo in San Francisco at the beautiful facilities at the Fort Mason Center. This will be a very special year with three days of inspiring talks, demos, and discussion with your fellow self-trackers and toolmakers. As we start to fill out our program we’ll be highlighting speakers, discussion leaders, sponsors, and attendees here.

JuliePhoto2Julie Price is a long time member of our Bay Area QS meetup group and will be attending the QS15 Conference & Activate Expo to share her self-tracking story. Julie has been using and experimenting with a wide range of self-tracking tools and behavioral techniques to understand herself. Previously she’s shared her experiences using commercial tools and self-designed methods to understand and improve her marathon training.

Over the past 4 years, Julie has tracked her weight as it moved within a 30 pound range, varying wildly within each year. In December, Julie shared the factors that influenced her weight the most: family visits, distance road races, and a variety of weight loss tactics. As part of our show&tell program, Julie will share an update that includes her newest insights into her weight fluctuations as well as what interventions have made the greatest impact on her weight.

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We’re excited to have Julie joining us and asked her a few questions about herself and what she’s looking forward to at the conference.

QS: What is your favorite self-tracking tool (device, service, app, etc)?

Julie: Hands-down, I love the Whistle to measure my dog’s activity. I use Basis Peak and my husband uses Jawbone Up. Both seem well-designed for certain scenarios and not for others. Between all the wearables we’ve tried, the Whistle has been the most successful in influencing our behavior.

QS: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Julie: I’m looking forward to meeting interesting people, learning from their stories, and learning from their creative experiments and observations. But, I’m most looking forward to exploring new ideas that impact the behavior of people who don’t necessarily enjoy data.

QS: What should people come talk to you about at the conference?

Julie: I’m an expert in UX, interaction design, usability, health behavior change, and fitness. I’d love to talk about creative tactics for eliciting behavior change and a process for ensuring the right product and experience is designed for the right person. I also love to talk about health gaming and the complexities of the space.

QS: What tools, devices, or apps do you want to see at the conference?

Julie: Any product in health and fitness that is truly different or thought through from the perspective of the user. I’d love to see any product built with a process that continually validates their direction with target users.

QS: What topic do you think that Quantified Self community is not talking enough about?

Julie: We should explore more innovative ways to meet people where they are and creatively influence them gradually in a way that is meaningful and lasting. It would be great to talk more about what progressive techniques could be applied in order to create impact over both short and long periods of time.

Julie’s session is just one of the many hands-on, up-to-date, expertly moderated sessions we’re planning for the QS15 Global Conference and Exposition. Register here!

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Julie Price: 30lbs of Family Visits, Races, and Games

Julie Price has been tracking her weight consistently for the last four years. Like many of us, she found that her weight goes up and down depending on various life events. In this talk, presented at the Bay Area QS meetup group, Julie discussed what she’s learned about her weight and what correlates with weight gain and weight loss. Specifically, she focuses on the role of family gatherings, exercise and running races, and how different food and dieting methods either helped of hindered her progress.

We’re excited to have Julie joining us at our 2015 QS Global Conference and Exposition on June 18-20th. Early bird tickets are now available, and we hope you can join us for a great three days of learning, sharing, and experiencing the latest in QS techniques and tools. Register now.

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What We Are Reading

It’s link-apolooza time! Enjoy these great news pieces, blog posts, personal data stories, and visualizations.

Articles

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Launches Initiative to Assess How Data Can Be Used to Improve Health by RWJF Staff. Some exciting news coming out of RWJF this week about their new program to explore how individuals and communities are using health data and information. Don’t forget to read the accompanying blog post to learn more.

“For These Times”: Dickens on Big Data by Irina Raicu. Who knew the philosophical debate on a life governed by measurable facts had such a pedigree!

How and Why We Are Working with the FDA: Background and a Brief Summary of the Recent Meeting with the FDA about the Nightscout Project by Scott Leibrand. We’re big fans of the Nightscout project here at QS Labs. It’s great to seem them moving forward with a productive dialogue with the FDA.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Speaks Out on Data Ownership by Alex Hern.

The data we create about ourselves should be owned by each of us, not by the large companies that harvest it, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, said today.

Sensors and Sensibility by Andrew Leonard. One day we might look back at our fears of insurers nefariously using our data to adjust premiums. Until then, that fear is alive and real. Thorough reporting here from the new Backchannel.

One Quantified Self App To Rule Them All by Chris Roth. As Chris explored the growing QS space and worked on his own open-source logging app he noticed a few things. Read on to see his take on where the space should be evolving.

Quantified Health and Software Apps by Sara K. Moir. What started as a Tweetstorm about her experience with MyFitnessPal expanded into a great exploration about what it means to be a user (and designer) of health behavior tracking tools.

Show&Tell

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How Text Messages Change from Dating to Marriage by Alice Zhao. Only a data scientist would celebrate a six-year anniversary with a thoughtful and thorough analysis of their communication. Alice did a great job here showing what’s changed over the years as her and her husband have moved from courtship to marriage.

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Losing 58.3 Lbs For Science by Zachary Townsend. Zachary just finished up his participation in the One Diet Does Not Fit All: Weight Loss study. Over the last year he’s lost nearly 60lbs and learned a lot about himself and his diet.

Using JSL to import BodyMedia Fit Activity monitor data into JMP by Shannon Conners. We featured Shannon’s amazing visualization work in our September 20th edition of What We’re Reading. She returns here with a thorough how-to on how to explore BodyMedia and MyFitnessPal data in JMP. Even as a non-JMP user I was delighted to find out about the MyFitnessPal Data Downloader Chrome Extension she used to download her meal data.

Visualizations
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My Up Skyline for the Week by Abe Gong. Abe is a data scientist at Jawbone was taking a look at his own activity data and decided to use the then new Jawbone API to download his data and make some interesting visualizations.

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Your Life on Earth by the BBC. Not a typical QS visualization, but unique and interesting to see what’s happened in and around the world over the course of your life.

I’ve been exploring upgrading my data visualization skills by learning D3. If you’re in the same boat or want know someone who is then you can point them towards this great intro from the engineers at Square.

From the Forum

Decode Your Chronic Illness
The Ethics of QS
Tasks & Measures
Lifelogging to Prevent Depression
Wearable Body Temperature Tool
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Looking for Android Time Tracking App

Today’s Number is 35: The age of the spreadsheet!

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Rosane Oliveira on The Quantified Double Self

Rosane Oliveiria is a researcher and scholar that focuses on integrative medicine, genomics, and nutrition. She’s also an identical twin. In 2012 she was struck by the different patterns of weight fluctuations that she and her sister, Renata, had been experiencing. Using historical data and medical records she was able to go back in time and track their paired histories, dietary changes, and blood markers. Rosane and Renata started adding to there data-rich story by exploring genetic testing, additional biomarkers, and are looking to incorporate activity and microbiome data in the future. Watch her presentation, from the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference, to learn more about this interesting quantified double self story.

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Fit Fifties, Sound Sixties: Maria Benet on Active Aging

Maria Benet began tracking her activity a few years ago as a way to lose weight and take control of her health. What started with a simple pedometer and a few custom Access databases has morphed into a multi-year tracking project that includes news apps and tools. Her progress and data has even spurred her on to new experiences and athletic endeavors. Watch her talk, filmed at the Bay Area QS meetup group, and read the transcript below.

(Editors Note: We’re excited to have Maria attending the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference where we hope to hear an updated version of this wonderful talk.)

What did I do?

Hi, my name is Maria Benet and I am happy to tell you that only about two-thirds of me is here to talk about my tracking project. I mean that literarily, because in the 10 years since I’ve been self-tracking I lost over 50 pounds while getting fitter.

In my early 50s, I was overweight, out of shape, with bad knees, and when not cranky, depressed. I was already on meds for high blood pressure and was looking at the prospect of more prescriptions down the road.

So, what did I do to change my situation? I set about tracking my activity levels, my weight and my food intake with the help of apps, wearable devices – plus — in databases and Excel spreadsheets that I designed. Until late 2011, I tracked inconsistently, but once I discovered mobile apps and wearable devices — I became more systematic and consistent about tracking weight, food intake, and fitness data.

How did I do it? 

When I first started — losing 50 pounds seemed daunting, but going for a walk at least 5 days a week seemed less formidable. To track walks I was going to take in the hilly neighborhood where I live, I created a simple Access database.

I bought a pedometer, hiking shoes, and off I went. After walking, I recorded the duration, the number of steps, and calculated the distances I covered. I also charted my routes by naming the streets, and made notes about the weather and my mood during the walk.

Recording the data turned out to be a form of reward in itself. At the start of this tracking project, I enjoyed seeing the database grow a little more than I enjoyed the actual walks themselves.

Over time, the walks got longer, steeper, and eventually included actual hikes. I also took up the practice of Yoga regularly, and then added Pilates to my exercise repertoire.

Along the way, I also started to lose weight. Though I didn’t weigh myself every day, I began to pay attention to the kinds of foods I ate and tried to wean myself off processed foods in general.

They say you get fit in the gym, but lose weight in the kitchen. In September 2011, when I discovered LoseIt, it became my virtual kitchen: LoseIt helped me see what foods I ate regularly, which of these spiked my weight, even if my calorie intake stayed the same. I noticed these relationships anecdotally, rather than by finding statistical correlations between them.

Tracking in LoseIt helped me realize that as much as I love bread and beer, they are not my friends. Two years ago, an allergist confirmed my wheat sensitivity through blood tests and an elimination diet.

I added Endomondo to my tool box a few months later, since I liked having the maps and stats it offered, in addition to the other data it showed. By December I also added a Fitbit, as with it I could track more accurately how many steps I took and approximate better the number of calories I burned. The Fitbit was like going back to the pedometer, but to one on steroids.

With the Fitibit, I focus mostly on the Very Active Minutes it claims to measure. Increasing that number over time became a game. In 2012, I was averaging about 57 minutes a day, which put me in the 98th percentile. Increasing to 69 minutes only brought me to the 99th percentile, as the Fitbit population also has increased over time.

The Fitbit turned out to be a catalytic tool, because it spurred me on to push the perceived limits of my fitness abilities and possibilities further. It ended up putting wheels under my dreams.

In the spring of 2012,I took up cycling to increase my active minutes and challenge a mental habit of opting out of things because of a fear of failure or thinking of them as not age appropriate. Biking, in turn, added to my collection of gadgets and apps for tracking the metrics involved.

By 2012 then, in addition to LoseIt and Fitbit, I was tracking workouts with a Garmin GPS watch with a HR monitor and my bike rides with a Garmin Edge computer, uploading the data to the Garmin site, to Endomondo and Strava, as each had strengths the other lacked, from my perspective.

To complicate data gathering, back in January 2012, I started a basic Excel spreadsheet that tracks highlights from each of these apps in an application-independent reference for me. In Excel I track the type of activity, duration, distance, if applicable, average and maximum heart rate, Strava suffer points, (a measure of exertion), the hours I slept and how that sleep seemed to me, and additional notes about the day I might think relevant.

The plethora of my gadgets and apps might earn me an entry into the next edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But exploring these tools was, and still is, my way of looking for a comprehensive and personalized way to track the quantities in my habits and activities that make for a qualitative difference in my life … which brings me to what I learned so far:

What did I learn?

I learned that small quantitative changes in particular daily habits add up to a big difference in quality of life in general.

The incremental additions in my tracking methods and number of gadgets I added produced a lot of data, which I haven’t analyzed closely, because I was already getting a lot of return from them in the form of new experiences in my life.

The most memorable of these experiences is my having completed the metric century ride on the Tour de Fuzz in Sonoma last September. In the space of a little over a year I went from covering barely 8 miles in an hour on my first rides to completing 63 miles in 5 and ½ hours and feeling ready to ride a lot more.

It has been said that motivation is what gets us up and going, but it’s habit that keeps us going. So it is with my tracking: though the motivation was to lose weight, the habit of tracking and keeping an eye on the numbers are what allowed me to go from daily small changes to a much bigger transformation from the overweight, depressed, and achy person I was 10 years ago to who I am now: someone interested in health and fitness and setting goals I can meet.

I learned that for me the act of tracking is the project itself. Although the data I generate can be charted and described in numerical relationships the number that brings me the information that makes a difference in my life, is a simple 1 – or tracking one day at a time.

I love to see the numbers my Garmin and Fitbit generate, but in the end, the quantified self for me is not so much about the measured life as it is about keeping those numbers coming through a well-lived and, more importantly, well-enjoyed life as I go from my fitter fifties into what I hope will be my sounder sixties.

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Toronto Meetup Recap

A few weeks ago the Toronto QS Meetup group hosted their 22nd show&tell meetup. Check out these great sketchnotes from Sacha Chua then hit the links below to watch videos of the meetup talks.

 

Mike talks about Push Strength, a strength and fitness tracking device.

Duane Hewitt gives an update on his 23&Me data and what he’s started doing since he received his results.

Dmitri Gomon describes how he tracked his way to losing 9kg over four months.

Jim gave a brief overview of how and why he’s tracking his Starbucks intake.

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David Sweet on Fist-Sized Volume and Weight Control

It seems that food tracking can have an enormous impact on weight loss and weight control, but counting calories can be difficult. David Sweet was looking to lose weight and wanted to use a system that kept him engaged for a long period of time. He devised a unique system to track his food – the Fist-Sized Volume. Watch this interesting talk, filmed at the New York QS Meetup, to learn how he did it and what he learned (stick around for the great Q&A).

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Matthew Ames on Stepping on the Scale

We’ve covered weight tracking here many times. It’s a very popular topic, and one of the easiest ways to get started with self-tracking. In this insightful talk from Matthew Ames we learn how weight tracking, in conjunction with diet and activity tracking, positively impact his weight loss and improved his fitness. (filmed at the Boston QS Meetup).

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John Schrom on Locating Weight

John Schrom is a data scientist, graduate student, and avid self-tracker. After taking a look at his historical weight data he decided to dig a bit deeper into the story. Luckily, in addition to collecting his weight (via a Withings scale), he’s also been using Foursquare to collect his geolocation history. With these two data sources in hand he asked himself, “What kind of places do I visit when I’m gaining or losing weight?” Watch this great talk talk recored at the Bay Area QS Meetup to learn how he used association rule mining to explore his data, and what he found. When you’re done with the video make sure to go and read his excellent write-up here.

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Robert Carlsen on Tracking Weight

“I was starting to feel a little bit out of control.”

Robert Carlsen used to be an amateur bike racer. When he moved to New York and stopped racing he found that his weight was slowly creeping up. He was still leading an active lifestyle, but he soon realized that most of daily food choices were the result of guess work. In this video, filmed at the New York City QS Meetup, Robert explains how he used different apps and tools to track his caloric inputs and outputs in order to move towards his goal weight.

Tools:
Body Weight Simulator
Lose It!
Runkeeper
Strava
MobileLogger
Withings Scale + App
Nike Fuelband

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