Coming from the Quantified Self movement, I’ve been attracted to products that enable me to quantify my vital signs. “You can only manage what you can measure” is a saying that really works for me and has helped me move from a sedentary, overweight, chronically unfit person who – 7 years later – has finished 10 marathons and 50+ half marathons. Withings was there already in a very early stage – I bought the first Withings scale back in November 2009 – and from there, the company has evolved, in my view, into one of the leading solutions in the market.
From weight to full context
From the beginning, the scale just worked. A one-off setup and stepping onto the scale every day became a routine that would down the line yield immense benefits. It’s not so much about daily accountability as it is about the power of being able to see the trends to deep detail, from weight to fat mass and BMI, over extended periods of time.
“Patterns started emerging that I did not see before”
Mid 2011, I personally added the Blood Pressure Monitor into the mix, which started giving data an entirely different context – patterns started emerging that I would not see before. Seeing how your weight correlates to your blood pressure is a very powerful motivator to improve one’s lifestyle and see progress develop real-time. At the time, I did not know that just by using these products, I would create a baseline of health for myself that would be immensely important once my health would (inexorably) be in danger.
“Overnight, from a completely healthy marathon runner, I became a heart patient”
Becoming a heart patient
Then in 2012, before my first triathlon, I went for a routine check-up to a cardiologist and overnight, from a completely healthy marathon runner, I became a heart patient. I was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease (something 2-3% of all people have, many undiagnosed) and had to look critically at what kind of changes I would need to make in my lifestyle to ensure I deal with the issue as well as possible.
The health data I collected almost unconsciously became very relevant.
- The weight curve and accompanying blood pressure showed how much I could really improve my vitals.
- The systolic blood pressure became an indicator of the health of my heart valve – even today, any long-term changes to that number prompt me to consult with a cardiologist.
And for the conceivable future, I know that by tracking my health in a very unobtrusive way through Withings products, I generate the data that I (and my doctor) need to stay on top of my heart problem.
Completing the picture – Withings Pulse
Finally, in 2013, I was probably one of the first people who pre-ordered Withings Pulse. Combining activity, sleep, weight and heart rate puts together the most comprehensive picture of one’s health without going into more invasive and complicated and less reliable measurements such as blood glucose.
I didn’t make friends with Pulse from day 1 – it took a few product changes to get it to work for me without glitches. To their credit, Withings Customer Service provided excellent support and kept me as a loyal user and today, I don’t leave the house without the Pulse. And completing the loop on the daily measurement of my health, I find that I’ve gone a really long way when it comes to a healthy and active lifestyle.
“Withings works with a number of popular apps that add further context into one’s health data”
What I learned by using Withings
Today, despite the health setbacks, I am still a very active athlete, doing more than 5-6 hours of intense activity every week and easily delivering my average of 10.000 steps per day. I continue to run marathons and half marathons and am back into triathlons.
Importantly, Withings works with a number of popular apps that add further context into one’s health data, so my nutrition measurement is covered through MyFitnessPal and automatically synchronized with all of the rest of the data.
- I am easily able to manage 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Just in case I do drop the ball, I am able to pick up on the gap and catch up during the weekend which really makes a bit difference when it comes to the energy I bring into life every day,
- Being an international manager, I spend a lot of time travelling or just sitting at work. Very often, a day or two get completely lost when it comes to activity, but the picture of not reaching your weekly targets in the Withings Health Mate app often motivates me to get up and pick up my pace. That’ll very often mean a late evening run when my motivation is dwindling and skipping a dessert when it’s really not needed.
- My systolic pressure is still very low compared to an average person, but it gets measured every couple of days. As my cardiologist says, while I am in the sixties, I am still fine. If it starts dropping further, I will know it’s time to address my health more aggressively – but it’s a big reassurance to know that I have a detailed overview of this, so my health is really fully in my hands.
What my health looks like today
Available on desktop and mobile, the free Health Mate app provides a general view of one’s health through the intuitive butterfly indicator and a really in-depth view across different vitals categories on demand. Today, with data going back 5 years, it’s very easy to see trend lines across extended period of times, sometimes even coinciding with life events.
“A role model of hardware and software coming together to provide an excellent service”
Withings, in my view, is an excellent way to holistically track your health and stay in control of your lifestyle. It’s unobstrusive, easy to integrate in one’s life and as everything happens in the background, it’s a role model of hardware and software coming together to provide an excellent service. It just works and despite trying many other health trackers out of curiosity, neither has been able to replace Withings for me.
A testimonial kindly submitted by Danijel (Netherlands).