15 Weeks of Self Tracking - 40 Pounds Lost
diet and weight loss | food tracking | productivity
Justin Foo, studied data analysis in school and at first wasn't interested in Quantified Self until he got started with Fitbit. In this video, Justin discusses how he lost 40 pound by self-tracking with Fitbit. For 15 weeks, he used Fitbit to track his activity, his diet, and a little bit of his sleep. He shares what he did do, how he did it, and what he learned from it.
I’d like to take several minutes to share my introduction of my /quantified Self and self-tracking with you.
So over the past 15 weeks I started using the Fitbit to track my activity, my diet, and a little bit of sleep. And I would like to follow the three QS questions, one what did I do, two how did I do it, three, what did I learn.
So what did I do? Well, I lost 40 pounds in 15 weeks, and how did I do it, it’s really tracking what I do, calories what I expended and the calories which I consumed. And what did I learn? Well, you know at first, I didn’t really buy any of this Quantified Self. I studied data analysis in school and numbers. But it wasn’t until I really bought into the Fitbit and started using it every day, and getting my brother and mother connected that I really started using it.
So let’s get started with what I actually do. So here are three pictures of me, May 2011, just graduated college and 175 pounds and my body fat is low enough that I get a date. Things were pretty good.
But you know the past 40 years, first with working, I travel and I was eating at restaurants a lot. I wasn’t really regularly exercising. Wasn’t watching what I ate, and boom, I’m 214 pounds and my body fat is over 25%.
I went to the doctor and stepped on the scale and the nurse puts the scale on 100 pounds and she goes, it’s 150. And it bumps up to 214 and that’s when I realise you know, I’ve got a Fitbit I’ll start using it.
So 15 weeks later I've lost over 40 pounds and I got the Fitbit that tracks your body fat in July, and since then I have lost or decrease my body fat by 8%, so that’s what I’d done.
So, let’s talk about some of the numbers that I tracked. So in this picture, I use the Fitbit and in the top left you can see my weight. I started at 208 and got up to 214 and lost about 40 pounds. My body mass index was 30, so I was technically obese and I dropped that down to the average and normal. And with my body fat it was somewhere about 25%, which would largely be obese. Now it is 17% which is borderline average to fitness.
And you know what are the main numbers that I tracked? Well activities, steps, and calories. So on the bottom right we see the calories in and the calories out. And here we can see the core deficit, which is I think how that it is pretty simple math; you burn more calories than you consume and your weight goes down. And I can completely say I believe in that now.
So yeah, the body mass index and body fat are down to normal. And one of the interesting effects of tracking my food was I actually prefer to eat vegetarian now. You know, when you have to go to a computer and log the calories that are in a burger or steak or even any meat, you realise that veggies are tasty and healthy.
So, how did I do this? It was really through data driven habits, and I like to make a distinction between habits and decisions. So how many of you are familiar with the Fitbit dashboard and all that, so I won’t go too far into the details here, but essentially every day I would see how many calories I could still eat. My weight and my body fat, and how active I have been.
So I would glance when I went into log my food of you know, it’s 7 PM you have got 2000 steps in so far and the goal is 10,000. Maybe you want to go outside and see the sun, and walk around a little bit. And it’s this kind of passive awareness of how active I have been, and what have I eaten so far that helped me to really just passively with my habits lose weight.
A big factor for me was the social aspect of the data. So when I got the Fitbit in May I set my momma, and that’s fine because it’s a mother son thing, but more importantly, she is my Fitbit friend and so is my brother.
So over 4 July holiday. You know I wasn’t really active. I was sitting on my butt hanging out barbecuing and sure enough a few days later I got a call from my and she said, hey honey, mom, have you been active at all’.
That’s when she had logged on at her computer and checked my Fitbit and she knew that I wasn’t exercising, so that’s how. Also the gamification player helps to. I get badges. So you know, the first couple of times I was using the Fitbit I thought this was kind of weird tracking my steps. But I got used to seeing 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 steps, and more importantly for my specific goal of losing weight when I step on the scale Fitbit knows how much weight I have lost over time.
So you know, last week I stepped on the scale and immediately I got an email saying congratulations, you have lost 40 pounds! And that positive reinforcement with the data has made these healthy decisions to just become healthy habits.
So, kind of summarizing that, positive reinforcement with the data has helped a ton and these habits became easier. The game and the social made this fun and not a chore to track. And that these tracking became what I like to call good data hygiene. So every day, it’s easy. I’ve got my Fitbit in my pocket, I track my food and then I just know what is going on with myself.
So, it seems that I’ve talked to a couple of you before we started the session and it sounds like many people have tried the Fitbit, but it was too much of a chore to use it. And it seemed like the habit of I guess the task of tracking data outweighed the benefits of actually using it. So I guess what I am trying to say is the chore, but became less of a factor. I just became more motivated to be aware of what my numbers were talking.
So at the end of the day, what did I learn? Personally I think that buying is everything for what I took as the Quantified Self. Many people have seen the Fitbit, and everyone has probably heard how do you get in shape? Diet and exercise. Well, you know, it’s true. And all it really took was a little bit of effort and a little bit of awareness in my part. Once I started believing the numbers and tracking, then it worked. And that the awareness of my data and my habits really change my mindset. All of a sudden I’ve gone from picking out, eating delivery almost every day to cooking my own meals, eating salad, and just walking around.
Once I got that first taste of data it just had a huge appetite, and I needed more. So it went from weighing myself once a week to weighing myself twice a week, to weighing myself first thing in the morning.
I track my meals occasionally, and now I attract them every day and so and so forth, and the metrics that I tracked that has extended. So I started with my weight, and then it became weight and body fat. Then I started actually using the sleep tracking. Now I have got the mood tracker where I track my mood every day. Also just gone into tracking my time, and how efficient I am with various apps on my computer.
Additionally, my goals have changed to. I was 214 pounds and I thought well shoot, I want to get down to 180. And that seemed like it was just way too far away. Well I’m there, and now I want to get down to 170 and I realise that 160 is easily obtainable.
You know I hope to run a half marathon next year. So I guess this Quantified Self however you interpret it, it has helped me clarify my goals and what I’m trying to do.