The “Quantified Self” is a term being thrown around a lot lately. How many steps you’ve taken, how many calories you’ve burned, how many cumulative miles you’ve walked all week… When you add them all up, the result seems to say, “Look! I’m getting healthier!” But that’s not always the case.
Smartphone apps, gym equipment, and wearable trackers tell you how many calories you’ve burned, but that figure only means something if you keep track of the calories you consume. Stepping on a scale can be a quick way to erase any prior elation you felt about burning those pesky calories.
Everybody has one or two favorite high calorie guilty pleasures. Living in the micro-brew mecca that is Oregon, beer is my main squeeze. As it happens, beer is one of the last food stuffs that isn’t legally mandated to have nutrition facts on the label. Most brews have little more than the brand, style, and Surgeon General’s warning. This means without searching online for the info, I can easily throw back a 22 oz. cold one, and consume close to FIVE HUNDRED calories. Given that I’m usually doing this during dinner, my intake for one meal can quickly surpass a thousand calories. That’s a quick way to feeling bad on the scale.
I’ve been living with the Withings Smart Body Analyzer at my house for the last week or so. It’s a scale, heart rate monitor, Body Mass Index calculator, air quality analyzer, and comes bundled with a Bluetooth connected app. There are even little arrows that tell you if you’re leaning too far in one direction. What does that mean to me? No more mental excuses. “Maybe I’m standing on it wrong, and I really weigh a few pounds less!”
This article is starting to sound a bit pessimistic, but pedometers make it look like you’re burning a meaningful amount of calories all day, and this scale can spit out some cold hard facts! Sometimes a dose of reality is just what everybody needs. It’s not about feeling bad about being a few pounds overweight, or enjoying your favorite microbrew. It’s about asking real questions. Why is my resting heart rate so high? How long does my heart rate take to get back to normal after exercise? “What the heck did I eat to gain five pounds in a day!?”
The Withings Smart Body Analyzer is one of many new ways to measure yourself. There’s just no excuse to live by the old motto; if I feel fine, I must BE fine. So go forth and quantify yourself in the privacy of your own bathroom. You might find that the questions you ask about your diet and exercise habits today can prevent big problems tomorrow.