Friday, July 25, 2014

Quantified Chris.

Last month I bought a Jawbone UP24, a bracelet that collects data on your movements. It's part of the whole Quantified Self idea, which I've steadfastly ignored, but now the hardware and software have progressed to a point where I find it acceptably simple and unobtrusive. I actually bought it just because I read it would track your sleep (apparently through a sorcerous art called actigraphy), and that's worthwhile data to have, which I am far too lazy to write down myself. Instead I press the bracelet's button when I go to bed and when I wake up, and it figures out pretty well when I've fallen asleep, and I can look at the data in the iPhone app (and apparently download it from somewhere as well).

It also acts as a pedometer, which is vaguely interesting (on a recent overnight trip I walked 8 miles in the course of the day), but mostly I'm enjoying that the UP24 app integrates with a bunch of other apps. The ones I use are Strava, to record walking/running/cycling, and MyFitnessPal to record what I eat, so I can eat less and drop some weight.

The first thing I notice is that I don't eat as many calories as I thought I did. The app says that to lose 1 pound per week, I should eat 1,720 calories a day, which to my surprise requires just a bare minimum of austerity on my part. Then the 7-mile bike ride to work is about 375 calories one way (40 minutes or less), so with that or some other cycling on my shiny new bike that Anna made me buy, I'm not feeling deprived. I'm not sure I'm actually losing weight, either, but it's hard to tell since our trip to Cape Cod messed things up. We don't own a scale that can reliably measure a 1-pound difference, so I'm really looking at a sort of tendency over time.

There's no illuminating data about my sleep, except that when I have a few bad nights in a row, I often forget, and the app will both show me and occasionally alert me that I should sleep more. (No shit, Sherlock. Sleeping more hadn't occurred to me. Not their fault, really.) I still can't stretch my sleep out, nor do I have a lot of flexibility in the hours I'll sleep. Still, I'm functional and occasionally rested, so it's hard to complain too much.

Strava is a great app for tracking rides and runs and things, but it's really aimed at competitive people, like my friends who enjoy going out and riding up and down Mount Tamalpais twice in  day. That was about 4 hours; another guy with them did it 3 times, for a ride of over 7 hours.

Strava shows you where you are on various road segments compared to everyone else, which is how I know that on various stretches, people are going twice as fast as me. I've never quite understood the hypercompetitive thing. Super-competitive people often don't seem very happy.

Anyway. Fun toys.

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