2012/03/17

What's Up With All That Quantified Self Stuff, Anyway?

The way I normally present myself is as a large land mammal. Part of that is my height: at about 6'4", I'm well into the tallest %1 of the population. But that metric is not the crucial one, and as an adult, any attempt to hack my height would require surgery and be painful.

The crucial one is that I am, as of about 8 this 9:14am EST and by the measure of my scale, 265 lbs. This is not the worst I've been; through my second degree and my first IT job, I was up to 330-350 lbs. I don't recall exactly how heavy I was at worst. Understandably, I wasn't too encouraged to keep track, because those are not numbers to be proud of. 265 is a number to be proud of only in context of being some 50 lbs away from it, but I am somewhat proud of it. 265 lbs means I can shop in the Men's section and not the Big-and-Tall section for jeans. I was ecstatically happy when I got jeans that had a waist size of less than 40".

You might say "50ish pounds is pretty impressive. How did you do it?"

I honestly don't have an answer.

I have some ideas. As mentioned, my top weight came with my time in school. During this time, I was running myself ragged, where I would go to campus about 8am and come home and break fast somewhere between 10pm and midnight, then crash out and start again. Many times, I would go to company presentations where students traded pizza for resumes with recruiters, and that would serve as my food for a day or two. Eventually, it got to the point where today, I eat breakfast when I get to my desk and usually have several microwave lunches in the office freezer. A large contributing factor for my weight loss is that I eat more meals.

During this time, there were a few times when I joined a health club and tried to keep up. There's the promises they give, like "You'll feel healthier, you'll have more energy". I can't say that any of that ever happened. It was more bored and sweaty. "You'll be stronger" is also a promise, but you know, I honestly don't want that. I have broken a number of things unintentionally, putting my strength and heft at things that couldn't take it, and I was embarrassed each time. There is not a single thing I have to do, either personally or professionally, that taxes the strength I have. My relationship to my body is a bit like Communism and the State, in that I had hoped that it would wither away, but instead it grew and became a problem.

I'm happy to be down to 265 lbs. but I'm not satisfied. That just means I'm down from "morbidly obese" to "obese" on the health graphs, that I can buy clothes at Wal-Mart. (For all the obesity jokes about Wal-Mart customers, their clothes selection certainly doesn't cater to that demographic.) I've plateaued at 265 for a while, I think, but it might be that weight loss is still ongoing but my method (eating slightly better but more regularly, drinking water, adding slight more walking into my life) is just slow. I just don't have data, and you can't accurately judge effectiveness without data. I'm curious to get more, and I've put a FitBit onto my Christmas wish-list. Once I get a baseline, I can start adding activities or changing my diet, and judging them with some objective measure of effectiveness, rather than what I feel.

Which is why I'm looking into this, and want to learn more and do more. I want to track and analyze the habitat of this large mammal.
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