Wow!  What a great response I got from my debut yesterday.  It seems like this is a topic that lots of others have thought about,  in the last day I have heard several stories of friends who have tried to log calories, track workouts, or monitor health on a regular basis.  Other friends of mine in the stats community are excited about the data collection and analysis side of things.  I’m overwhelmed by the response –  I got several re-tweets and re-posts, I got lots of messages of support,  and according to WordPress, in the first 24 hours this blog had almost 200 views.

So I guess I’m doing this!

I’ve got lots of things to learn and discuss in the next few weeks before the official start of my year of data.   I’m hoping to tackle roughly one topic per day.   Today I’m going to discuss exactly what is is that I plan to track, and how I might do that.

Steps:  Right now I am wearing an Omron Pedometer and have been for the last few days.  I’ve heard it said that you should aim for 10K steps per day.  Seems like a good goal.  When it arrives, my Fitbit should measure this also.

Exercise:  I’ve been using Runkeeper app for years to track my running.  Runkeeper is one of many apps that use your phone’s GPS to track your running routes, and calculate distance (and height) travelled .  Works great for biking too.  However, I’m a fair weather runner.  In the winter, I go sporadically to the gym to run, and I will have to enter that manually.

Strength Training:  I just signed up at my gym (the local YMCA) to use their tracking system.  All of the weight training machines have a Fitlinxx screen to keep track.  It’s pretty clunky interface.  They have a web site, but it is equally unsatisfying.  But I dont want to enter all of that manually.  Going to look for a different solution.  (not that I do a lot of lifting weights, but I’d like to do more)

Food: Ah, tracking food is maybe the hardest part of this.  I’m sure I will be blogging a lot about this topic.  I’m trying out a few iPhone apps for calorie and nutrition tracking, including Livestrong, LoseIt, and MyFitnessPal.    To do this well, you really need to think hard about what you eat, and be diligent in tracking it.  I’m sure this one will be hard to keep up.

Weight:   There are lots of apps and websites that can track weight, including all of the food tracking apps listed above. This week, I’ve been using the Weightbot app (a pretty lightweight and fun app).   I think the graphs are cool  And look, some early success!!

Weightbot graph

Weight graph from the iPhone Weightbot app

Sleep:  The Fitbit and Jawbone Up both claim to track how much and how well you sleep.  I’m curious to see how they work.

Blood Pressure / Pulse:  A colleague of mine showed me today that he has a BP monitor at work!  I checked it today and was 108 over 69, pulse = 78.  Will try and track this regularly.

Blood Counts / other medical factors:  I have a physical planned for a few weeks.  Definitely will get a blood screen, but also y gonna tell the doc to quantify whatever else he can!!

Productivity: There is a neat program called RescueTime that runs in the background on your computer, and monitors what programs you are working on and what web sites you are going to.   It measures how often you seem to be working (for me, running R or writing documents), or dealing with email, or surfing social net sites, or worse.   You can even use it as a disciplinary tool – say, for instance to block your access to Facebook during work hours.   Will definitely make sure this is running on all my machines.

Communication:  I dont know how useful this is, but I plan to collect all of the records of my calls, SMS and data usage from my phone.

Location: Similarly, I plan to collect information on where I travel in the coming year.  Earlier this year, the story broke about how Apple was collecting location data on iPhones.   I grabbed my own data and mapped where I had been.  I thought it was fascinating:


collecting this over a full year should be awesome.

The last thing I can think of is perhaps the one I should take most seriously.  Based on a suggestion I got yesterday, I am considering tracking my Genetic material23 and me is a “personal genome service” where you get your genome sequenced and can learn all kinds of things about your heredity, your proclivity for certain diseases, and perhaps whether or not you are related to Napolean.   Of course the controversial part is that you can learn about genetic factors in contracting certain diseases.   It can be extremely valuable if a diagnosis of some kind is needed in the future, but can also result in unneeded stress if you find out something you didn’t want to know.  I’ll want to research this more before I make the call.  Anyone out there done this?

Wow, that’s enough isn’t it?   Did I forget anything?  Let me know!   Stay tuned….my next post will talk about the devices that are out there to help me collect all of this info.