Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Champion of Change: Data

Data. Info. Also known as reality. The champion of change for today is good old fashioned knowing stuff.

Specifically knowing stuff about you: what's going in and what's coming out. And just so we're clear, I'm talking about diet and exercise.  This is a family blog! Actually it's not necessarily but anyway that's beside the point.

The point is, you can have all the consistency in your healthy behaviors that you want but if you're not paying attention to the cold hard facts of your wellness, it's like going for a run with your shoelaces untied - you're going to get tripped up.  You need to pay a certain amount of attention to the numbers, and the amount of effort you're willing to put in here will determine the rate of your success.  Of course, you can also go overboard like I do and be so laden down with data that you go insane.  But that's just me.

Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there for collecting, analyzing, and using your wellness data.  I'm going to focus on the most important and simplest ones today: what you eat and what you burn.

First, the food.  It's always the food, isn't it?  The most important thing you can do for your wellness is to eat clean. But healthy food has calories, too, so it also helps to measure your portions and log it so you can look for trends, stay accountable, and plan for obstacles like travel and parties.  I do this with a digital kitchen scale and the online food journal for my GoWearFit.  I also used Fitday.com for years, and there are dozens more.  Find one that works for you, enter your portions accurately, and use it!  I could talk for days on the value of a good food journal and maybe someday I will.  You've been warned.

Second, the body. You already know the formula for calculating your daily caloric burn, and your food journal will tell you whether you are staying within your chosen range.  But you can also get data about your body that can help you choose an exercise program, proper equipment, and prevent injury. Last week I underwent a movement screen at Boot Camps to Go, which taught me a lot about my body's range of motion, flexibility, potential for injury, and opened my eyes to some preventative maintenance I can do through stretching and strength training to make my workouts a lot more enjoyable.  Laurel Blackburn offers movement screens at her warehouse, and you can schedule one for yourself.  Now that I have some fun data about the bag of bones I've got to work with, I'm working on my weak points, building a better body, and looking forward to following up with her to see what kind of progress I made.  Check it out - it's really cool.

I can't end a post on data without foaming at the mouth over my GoWearFit.  This thing is like the data holy grail.  I can see my calorie burn, log my food, and even see my sleep quality. It's nuts. Six months after buying it, I'm still in love and use it every day.  In fact, it helped me lose five pounds over the holidays just because I had ready access to undeniable data.  If you're serious about weight loss or maintenance, get one.

Reality bites, man. Sometimes the data we collect isn't what we want to see. But I promise you 100% over and over, when you start using it and functioning in the reality of your wellness, you won't hate data for long. It will become your wing man. 

Yeah...let data become your wing man!  Now get going! :)


Jen said...

So true. It just takes effort. And obviously I don't care about my end goal enough when I don't log the details. Thanks for the reminder.

The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

That's a really great way to look at it - if I am not logging the details, its because I don't care enough about the end result. That's exactly what it is!