I suspect we all have wake up triggers for health and wellness -- events or thresholds that inspire action and maybe behavior change. I had one after the July 4 weekend this year when I stepped on the scale and crossed the 190 lb threshold. I'm about 6'1" so that's not a terribly bad weight, but not where I want to be and not the sort of trend I'm comfortable with.
At the same time I was doing research on Quantified Self as well as social and online coaching and support networks. I enrolled in RunKeeper Elite and joined their "run for weight loss" coaching program. Calling it a coaching program is an exaggeration as it is nothing more than a running plan with some light social interaction with other participants through the RunKeeper site. Still, this was an aggressive program for me and I stuck to it religiously for 2 months, ramping to over 15 miles of running a week with a mix of longer distances and interval training. Signing up for a paid program like this seemed to provide motivation (guilt?) to stick with the plan.
I knew from past experience that exercise alone wouldn't address the weight loss. Diet change and calorie reduction would be required. To track this I installed the Lose It! iPhone app which provides two key features: an easy to use calorie counter and a personalized daily calorie intake forecast based on your individual characteristics and weight loss goals. My plan: lose 20 lbs by the end of September.
My final automation step was to purchase a Withings WiFi Body Scale. This scale connects to our WiFi network and automatically uploads weight and body fat measurements. It also does a decent job of distinguishing different members of the family. Matthew and I weigh about the same right now (and have a similar body fat % - the scale sends an electrical charge to measure this) and when I weigh in it has me confirm who I am after the measurement by leaning left or right.
Julie was a great partner in supporting my diet changes and I was very diligent throughout the two months in sticking to my plan. One great component of the RunKeeper / LoseIt automation is the ability to enter calories burned from running into LoseIt - it was like getting a surprise bonus check allowing me to eat something sweet or more likely have an extra beer or old fashioned. My net daily intake was about 1,700 calories.
Side note -- I also hooked up my RunKeeper feed into Earndit which awards me points and gift cards based on my activity. I've managed to get some great casual pants from Bonobos and a fine custom tailored shirt from Blank Label through this program. Highly recommended.
In early September I revised my goal a bit: to get the moving average weight in Withings to 172 lbs or lower. After achieving that I will move to a maintenance mode where I keep my moving average below 175 lbs. I'm happy to report that as of October 1 I've achieved the goal. Here is my raw data showing running mileage per week and weight trends:
One thing about Lose It! and calorie counting: 3-4 weeks into the process I stopped tracking because I intuitively new what I needed to do. I'm going to restart using the tool now that I'm going into maintenance mode to make sure my habits are sustainable. My daily calorie budget is now 2,506.
I believe without a doubt that had I just accelerated my running I wouldn't have seen the weight loss - the dietary change was critical. Not surprisingly, the weight loss has contributed to improved running quality and pace. I'm routinely running at a sub 9 minute pace while training, and Julie and I ran an 8:35 pace in a (mostly downhill) 10k two weeks ago. Earlier this year it was a challenge for me to run a sub 10 minute pace.