There are few things you can’t track using a smartphone app or the web these days. You can track packages and pizza deliveries, flight schedules, muscle movements, budgets, brain waves, blood glucose levels, etc. The list goes on. And most likely there’s someone tracking that list. Or maybe, 20 people.
I’m a big fan of tracking: I presented the very first data from REFUEL at a Quantified Self national conference in 2012, and invented a texting program for men who want to get strong, build stamina, boost testosterone and lose weight.
We used online video, blog posting of internal competition, detailed initial and followup measurements, and gender-specific messaging to keep people on track and to gather more data.
An 11 pound average weight loss and 3.3 inch waist loss
Over its 24 days, the program worked phenomenally well: e.g., an 11 pound average weight loss and 3.3 inch waist loss. And 75% gained muscle mass and improved sleep quality (ditto).
I think tracking really helps people who want to become fit–whether that’s getting strong, building stamina, changing a biomarker, or more. You have to know where you are starting to know when you’ve arrived.
Lifestyle change to prevent and treat chronic disease
For my own patients, I usually recommend an activity tracker for people who want an easy
device and a WiFi scale. I like the Withings Smart Body Analyzer even more, if you have an iPhone or Android phone. For people who like automation, ease, accuracy and reliability, and who are moderately geeky (CO2, temperature and heart rate data included) the scales are top notch.
Also for my patients, both men and women, we review the data together, weekly or twice weekly. I love this because it lets us look at performance objectively, and creates a jumping off point for a more in depth discussion. It also lets me help my patients separate forests from trees, which is not always easy to do when you are inundated by data.
Which tool people choose to use depends less on their interest in technology than on what fits into their lives, routine and schedule.
My practice focuses on lifestyle change to prevent and treat chronic disease, tracking has an important role. But which tool people choose to use depends less on their interest in technology than on what fits into their lives, routine and schedule.
A GUEST POST – John La Puma MD is a board-certified internist and a nutritionist. A New York Times best-selling author twice, Dr. La Puma’s new book REFUEL aims to change how men think about what they eat–as fuel too. He taught the first Nutrition and Cooking course for medical students in the U.S., at SUNY-Upstate with Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic, and the first Culinary Medicine clinical course for medical students in the U.S., at DMU. His “PBS ChefMD® Shorts” series can be seen available nationwide through 2016, and his “Refuel Minute” series is available on YouTube. He is based in and sees patients in Santa Barbara, California.