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How Data Helped Me Lose 50 Pounds

08 Apr 2013

Last January I became the proud new papa of twin boys. But I was also pushing 182 pounds, a 26.9 BMI, and 25% body fat. It was time to make some changes.

I had lost weight before, but my motivation this time was very different. This was about getting and staying healthy for the sake of my new family.

I had to do two things for this to work.

Correct the fundamental problem.

This was simple to identify and correct. I was eating like a jerk. Entire pizzas, burritos, cakes, chips, cookies, sodas, no fruit, no vegetables. You get the picture.

Solution: stop eating like a jerk, and start eating a well-balanced diet.

Create a system to manage and sustain weight loss.

This was the far more challenging (and interesting) part. How would I know if the changes to my diet were working?

I needed data every day. I created a system around this idea.

  1. Track my food with MyFitnessPal. Most importantly I would track every calorie input and output. Calories expended must always exceed calories taken in, period.
  2. Track my physical activity with a Fitbit. If I was being lazy, I would get moving. If I was being active, I could treat myself to a donut. (This may sound silly, but an occasional treat was crucial to staying motivated.)
  3. Track my weight with a Withings wifi scale. Did my food and activity choices show positive progress in my weight loss? The ability to adjust daily was absolutely crucial. I could immediately see what foods and levels of activity worked well.

I'm now at a healthy weight and BMI, have great cholesterol and blood pressure readings, and most importantly, feel great every day.