Category Archives: tools
Just last month I shared with you my vision of the perfect tool for tracking diet. Turns out, Chef Sleeve’s team has the same idea, and they are now trying to raise funds to build a smart digital food scale connected to iPad. Check out their awesome Kickstarter campaign and join me in supporting this great project. I personally just pledged $79 for a promise to receive the scale before it is available to general public (at projected price of $99). The estimated shipping date is November 2013. Watch the video pitch after the jump.
The ultimate purpose of self-tracking, in my opinion, is control. Control over health conditions, performance, mood, and other aspects of your everyday life. To paraphrase the famous adage, we measure so we could manage. We also measure things that we can’t manage (e.g., weather). Because self-discovery through self-tracking leads to knowledge, and knowledge is another form of control. Or at least, it gives us a sense of control. But how much of our everyday life we can actually control? How this lack of control affects our everyday life? To some of us, these questions may sound philosophical, but I believe the answers can be found in our own data. In February and March, I have been tracking “entropy” in my everyday life: those occasions when things go beyond my control, and happen exclusively due to some external forces. The ultimate objective was to investigate to what extent such random uncontrollable events influence different aspects of my life.
I have been using RunKeeper to keep track of my walks and bike rides for a while now. In addition to distance and pace, RunKeeper offers an estimate of calories burned that is most likely derived based on my weight/age and distance information. Last month I had an idea to compare these estimates with those provided by my Bodymedia tracker, and to do that, I had to conduct an experiment, which lasted for about two weeks. The estimates provided by both trackers turned out to be very close.
Self-esteem refers to individual’s emotional evaluation of his/her own worth and personal abilities and capacities. Psychologists believe that self-esteem influences how we feel, act and relate to other people, which makes it one of the central concepts in positive psychology. In general, self-esteem considered to be a trait (a psychological construct that is relatively stable over-time, like personality characteristics), although some psychologists recognize also more short-terms expressions of self-esteem (self-esteem states). I have been tracking my self-esteem since February, and this week finally had a chance to look at the data. I was particularly interested to see its stability over time and throughout the day, and how self-esteem is related to everyday stress, mood and happiness.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared some lessons that I learned while tracking my diet for over six months. One of the conclusions was that tracking diet is one of the most cumbersome aspects of self-quantification/self-experimentation, mainly due to the lack of passive measurement tools and often overwhelming amount of nutritional information to collect and deal with. That naturally let me to the question: how can we make the diet tracking process easier? What would the perfect tool for tracking diet look like? The longer I am pondering this problem, the more I realize that we are talking not about a single stand-alone gadget or app, but rather a small ecosystem that includes digital scale, mobile phone and content. Let me now elaborate.
The March is almost over, so I thought it is a good time to tell what kind of things I am have been tracking and what self-experiments I have been conducting this month. As usual, at the end of the month I will export data from my rTracker log , analyze it and will share any interesting insights and findings with you.
I must admit that of all my self-tracking efforts that I took on in the past six months, tracking diet turned out to be THE most cumbersome so far. Of course, I am not giving up, and will continue testing and experimenting, until I find the most efficient tools and methods for quantifying diet and its effects on my everyday life. In the meantime, I would like to share some observations and lessons that I learned during the past six months, including what worked and did not work for me, and some interesting insights about my diet and eating habits.
If you have not noticed yet, the “modus operandi” for this blog and my self-tracking efforts is a bit different this year. The month of January was spent collecting data, testing apps and services, and blogging about various QS issues, and month of February was dedicated to analyzing collected data, reviewing tools, and sharing insights and recommendations. So I thought it would be helpful if I summarized briefly what I learned during the last two month, in one post.
One of the diet-related tools that I tested in January was 80 Bites app. Dubbed as a “pedometer for your mouth”, this simple app let’s you track how many “mouthfuls” (“bites”) of food you take during the day, and how much time, on average, you spend chewing the food between the bites. The premise behind the app is that eighty “bites” a day is usually enough to feel full and satisfied, and limiting your food intake on the long run can help you to shrink your stomach and eat less. I am not sure about the latter, but using this app for several weeks definitely helped me learn to eat my meals more mindfully. I also discovered something new and interesting about my eating habits from the data that I collected.
After reading about importance of maintaining body’s pH balance, I embarked on a self-tracking experiment in January, with the objective to see how often my pH balance changes on a daily basis and whether my diet has any effect on it. To do so, I measured my PH every morning and evening using litmus testing strips (I used Phinex diagnostic pH test strips). The strips proved to be a convenient and reliable way to track pH level on a daily basis, but I did not learn much from tracking it.