Wednesday, February 18, 2015

If you can measure it, you can barely change it.

Recently, my wife and I replaced our old scale, which had been broken since before the holidays. I really shot up from 160 pounds to a bit over 180. Part of the reason I gained so much weight was simply being unaware that it was happening. We splurged and got a Fitbit Aria to complement our Fitbit step counters.

I figured that so long as I put in my walking every day, I'd keep things under control. Obviously, that's not the case. So, now I'm being a bit more mindful about my weight. In addition, we have begun taking advantage of the food logging feature that comes with the Fitbit app, although for probably the wrong reason.

You see, as the day goes by and you add more steps, your calorie burn count goes up, which also increases the number of calories you can eat. Thus, one can drink that glass of wine for a few thousand steps.

All this makes a game out of exercise and diet. Keeping score tends to do that, I suppose. The ability to step on a scale and have it automatically update our accounts makes for a sustainable game. It removes a lot of the administrative hurdles that come with tracking data.

One drawback to automatic metrics is that frequency means that the changes are small. This can be discouraging. For example, the plans offered by Fitbit give you the option of 1 pound per week, 1.5 pounds per week, and I think 2 pounds per week. That means that from one day to the next you might lose an ounce. It can be disheartening to starve and then have the scale show no change. Or, perhaps you have some pants that you want to wear again, but can't even after a week of effort.

Obviously, you should play for the long-term. But, it's mentally difficult when you are keeping score daily and even from meal to meal.

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